How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus

How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus by Karen Jurgens

The Hanukkah celebration isn’t just for Jews. If we look closely, we’ll find Jesus Christ, both the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, at its very core.

First, some history…

The significance of Hanukkah is embedded in a miracle. The second Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem following the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Seleucid Empire. The Jews expelled these pagans, after which the Jews purified the Temple. During this Feast of Dedication, eight menorah candles were lighted, one for each day. The flames required sacred olive oil, but there was only enough oil to last one day. In spite of the impossible circumstances, the flames miraculously burned all eight days.

Today, Jews celebrate this minor religious holiday not only to remember this miracle but also to commemorate the victory God gave to Jewish freedom fighters, the Maccabees, in 139 B.C.

Jesus celebrated Hanukkah…

The gospel of John gives us the only account of Jesus during Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication. In John 10, we find Jesus walking in the Temple along Solomon’s porch.

Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’

John 10:24 NKJV

This group of unbelievers (much like a lynching mob) didn’t want the truth—they had already decided Jesus was a blasphemer, and they only wanted His words to legally condemn Him. But Jesus responded with a clever answer.

Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.’

John 10:25-30 NKJV

Then the Jews took up stones to kill Jesus, claiming their right to do so since He had made Himself equal with God, a sin in Jewish law punishable by death. But Jesus proved His deity another way.

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.’ 

John 10:37-38 NKJV

This mob refused to believe Jesus’s miraculous works, which proved His supernatural identity. Instead of waiting for them to cast their stones, Jesus slipped away and withdrew to the region of the Jordan.

But isn’t it ironic that just as the Maccabees had driven unbelievers out of the Jewish Temple, now unbelievers were driving out the Son of God from that very Temple?

Jesus’s true identity…

Jesus claimed to be the light of the world.

He [John] was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.’

‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’

John 1:8-9; John 8:12; John 9:5 NKJV

What does Jesus, the Light of the world, have in common with this Festival of Lights, beginning at sundown on December 18th and concluding at nightfall on December 26th?

The symbol of lights comes from the lighted menorah candles, which burn for eight days and nights. As Hanukkah’s candles light Jewish homes, so Jesus lights the lives of believers.

God created our spirits with a God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. When we’re born again, the war against unbelief is won, expelled from our hearts. Then our spirit’s “temple” is purified by the blood of the Lamb shed at the cross. The Holy Spirit fills our spiritual “menorah” with His sacred oil and ignites our hearts with the flame of belief. We shine with the eternal light of Jesus living within us, as a lighted lamp for the world to see.

The lamp of the body…

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.’

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Matthew 6:22; 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:8 NKJV

Jesus is Messiah…

God provides several prototypes of the miraculous advent of Messiah in the Old Testament. Messianic Jewish believers will understand how Jesus shines through the eight candles of the Hanukkah miracle, but now it’s time that Christians also discover this truth. Judaism and Christianity fit together like a hand in a glove.

As we come into this season of Christmas, let’s remember that the light of God came into the world through the birth of His Son, Jesus. May we rejoice, as did the shepherds that Holy Night, in the salvation message the angels brought to earth, announcing that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’

Luke 2:8-14 NKJV

Dear Father in heaven, May our hearts be filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and may our eternal spiritual menorahs burn brightly. May all the world see the light of Jesus, our Messiah, shine through our lives. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2018 and 2022, All rights reserved.

Feasting on the Word of God

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”

Psalm 34:8

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Some people will enjoy a meal out, while others will be guests at another’s table. Perhaps some will prepare a dish to take, while others may be hosting the entire dinner, like me.

Wherever we take our places at the table this year, it’s always a special time to pause and reflect on our blessings over the past year.

As we feast on traditional or not-so-traditional dishes, let’s also feast on some “delicious” scriptures—specifically, the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here is a list of some of my favorite Bible verses, from both the Old and New Testament—several for each spiritual fruit (all taken from the New American Standard Version).

LOVE

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

Matthew 22:37

But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people.

Luke 6:35

JOY 

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

John 15:11

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials,

James 1:2

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

John 16:24

PEACE

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Philippians 4:7

These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you.

Psalm 122:6

When a person’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He causes even his enemies to make peace with him.

Proverbs 16:7

PATIENCE 

And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.

Hebrews 6:15

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;

Colossians 3:12

Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost sinner Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:16

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

1 Peter 2:20

KINDNESS 

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 

Romans 2:4

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3

He has told you, mortal one, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal turban on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.

Esther 2:17

GOODNESS 

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will consider you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power,

2 Thessalonians 1:11


You have granted me life and goodness; And Your care has guarded my spirit.

Job 10:12

FAITHFULNESS 

They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness 

Lamentations 3:23

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and just is He.

Deuteronomy 32:4

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His faithfulness is everlasting.

1 Chronicles 16:34

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?

Romans 3:3

GENTLENESS

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

Matthew 11:29

Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near.

Philippians 4:5

Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.

Galatians 6:1

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

James 3:13

SELF-CONTROL 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Like a city that is broken into and without walls So is a person who has no self-control over his spirit.

proverbs 25:28

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. So they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

1 Corinthians 9:25

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

Titus 2:2

Which scripture verses are your favorites?

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for all your blessings this year. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, may we look to You as our source of provision. May we feast on Your Word and hide its truths in our hearts so as to live sanctified lives, pleasing to You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Feasting on the Word of God by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“’Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.'”

Matthew 7:15 NKJV

How close are we to the days of deception? The Bible tells us that it will sweep the world and deceive many just before the Great Tribulation. Jesus warns us Himself to beware of false Christs and false prophets who will deceive with signs and wonders in an effort to mislead the elect (Mark 13:21-23).

Throughout Scripture we are repeatedly warned about false teachers and prophets. The Apostle John tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). The Apostle Paul warns us that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). The Apostle Peter explains that these false teachers will teach destructive heresies, even denying Jesus as they twist truth and exploit with lies, motivated by their greed (2 Peter 2:1-3).

The Book of Jude addresses this danger by describing apostates as …grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage (Jude 1:16 NKJV). They are also… mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit (Jude 1:18-19 NKJV).

God warns about false prophets in Jeremiah:

Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.

Jeremiah 14:14 NIV

How do these warnings apply to the contemporary church?

A growing hunger for knowing God exists today like never before. Many teens and young adults are fed up with the world’s lies, and they are earnestly seeking God’s truth. Drawn into non-denominational, charismatic churches, they are taught to experience God through singing, praising, and prayer–minus the all-important and necessary emphasis on the Word of God. As recent proselytes, they become easy prey for Satan to mix truth with lies and lead them astray from the true gospel. In short, they may eventually fall into a cult without even realizing that they are being deceived.

What are these false teachings that have crept into the church?

New Apostolic Reformation

History: The NAR has crept into many charismatic churches and is very dangerous. It originated in the 1940s and has mushroomed into its current form through various ministries and teachings, such as Kansas City Prophets, Toronto Blessing, Brownsville, and Lakeland, Florida. C. Peter Wagner, its founder, coined the movement as NAR, which is also known as “network Christianity.” It lacks a central organizing body or statement of beliefs and is made up of a loose connection of charismatic churches.

Basic Beliefs: This movement has flipped the importance of the pastor and biblical teaching with the role of apostles and prophets. Instead of studying the Word of God, they emphasize experiencing God–especially through singing, prayer, prophecy, and signs and wonders. They concentrate on teaching followers how to become “gods” and usurp God’s power for themselves.

Here is a good outline of their beliefs according to Prophecy Today UK, November 3, 2022:

  1. The leadership of modern-day ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’
  2. Dominionism: the teaching that ahead of Jesus’ return, the Church will become all-powerful on earth and make it ready for the Lord7
  3. The belief that unlimited divine power and blessing is available to believers to equip them for this task
  4. An over-emphasis on the supernatural and extra-biblical revelation
  5. An over-emphasis on power and human agency

(Read more at ProphecyToday.UK, BereanResearch.com, NAR churches in your area, PirateChristian.com, Biola.edu.)

Ministry Schools

Another great concern is the recruitment of young people into their ministry schools. These churches are known world-wide for their Christian music, which makes big bucks for the top echelon. For a large fee, students are housed and spend twelve to eighteen hours a day in classes, serving in the prayer rooms, and doing the bidding of their mentors. Over time, their weariness may break down their emotional and cognitive defenses so that they obey and believe without thinking, becoming programmed zombies.

Which churches are NAR? The most well-known are Bethel Church in Redding, California (Bill and Beni Johnson); Hillsong Church in Australia; Catch the Fire in Toronto; Iris Ministries (Heidi Baker); and Morningstar Ministries (Rick Joyner). The network also includes hundreds of small churches and fellowships across the globe.

What is the penalty for entering into these false beliefs and practices? Here is what Jesus has to say:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’* And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV

*The emphasis above is mine. Jesus seems to be outlining the very beliefs and practices of NAR, doesn’t He? Although God’s prophecy, spiritual gifts, and power over the enemy are very real, this warning is about Satan’s counterfeit. We must discern the difference, the true from the false. Let’s be sober-minded and pay close attention to Jesus’s warning. Where we will spend eternity may be at stake.

Sozo Prayer

“Prayer” is a misnomer because Sozo is actually hypnosis with a spirit guide experience, full of mysticism and witchcraft. Christians seeking answers to personal problems or who want to draw closer to God are candidates for this false experience. Placed under a mild trance, they travel into their subconscious with a spirit guide whom they believe is either Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit, visiting various places in the mind. Often suppressed childhood memories may resurface, including false memories, leading to further distress.

Christians only need the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, prayer, and fellowship with other believers to draw close to God. Spirit guides are demons from hell, but we Christians rely solely on the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, comforter, and the one who leads us into all truth. Jesus tells us:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you.

John 16:13-15 NASB

I encourage you to research these topics yourself for a richer understanding of these dangerous teachings and practices. I pray that the Lord keeps us from the spirit of deception, embodied in false teachers and false prophets. Let’s defeat the plans of Satan, who counterfeits God’s truth with his lies and deception, by putting on the full spiritual armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-18). Remember, we always overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

(Read more about the dangers of Sozo prayer at CompellingTruth.org , WomenofGrace.com, Bereanresearch.org, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS9KCAOmK7s.)

Let’s allow Jude to close us out in prayer with his beautiful doxology:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.

Amen.

Jude 1:24-25 NASB

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2022 All rights reserved

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

“Awake, sleeper,

And arise from the dead,

And Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14 NASB

Driving through the neighborhood, orange lights shimmer after dark, outlining houses. Snarling ghosts, the size of giants, stand illumined and poised with hands raised and ready to pounce. Thick spider webs shimmer around bare branches of trees, and several black spiders hang in every direction. Illumined Halloween blow-ups of witches and goblins rock in the wind. Carved pumpkins are on every doorstep.

stock-photo-47819144-halloween-cutie

On Halloween night, children will fill the sidewalks, costumed, masked, and carrying open bags, ringing doorbells, shouting “Trick of Treat!” The tiny ones, precious in their princess or bunny costumes, will be led by their parents who prompt them in what to say. The older kids will be dressed in scarier costumes, some too tall or too old to be trick-or-treating. (Have you noticed how truly evil some of those costumes look?) Even some adults will be dressed up too, perhaps as witches with broomsticks, seated at their doorsteps as they hand out candy. It’s all in good fun.

Or is it?

At home, parents sift through their kids’ bags, making sure all the candy is wrapped. Anything look suspicious? Remember not long ago when razor blades were hidden inside those delicious-looking treats? Sounds like the evil queen in Snow White may be lurking behind some of those decorated doors. But surely not in 2022.

stock-photo-17862684-jack-o-lantern-in-moonlight

Our children are our most precious possessions and can never be replaced. Should they be taught to dress up like devils and witches? To believe that fear is fun? I hope we can remember the origins of this festival and what the Bible says about this issue.

As Christians, let’s think twice about participating in this holiday glorifying Satan and his world of evil.

Here is an interesting perspective in the article below, written by a former witch high priest.

Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

by William J. Schnoebelen

“An old proverb says, “When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.” Presumably, NO genuine Christian would want to sup with the devil at all and yet many may be doing so in ignorance.

As a former witch high priest now saved by Jesus, I was astonished by how many Christians let their kids celebrate Halloween. Some churches even sponsor “haunted houses” and similar events on what is the Number One satanic “helliday” of the year. Halloween used to be called Samhain, and is still celebrated as an ancient pagan festival of the dead by witches all over the world. Unfortunately, just giving the date a “holy” name like All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve cannot change its grisly character. Halloween is an occasion when the ancient gods (actually demons) are worshiped with human sacrifice. The apostle Paul warns us: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:20).

If you are a Christian parent, God has given you a precious responsibility in your children. Remember, their ability to resist spiritual wickedness is much less than yours. If you allow your children to participate in Halloween (Trick or Treating, costume parties, etc.) you are allowing them to play on “the devil’s turf,” and Satan will definitely press his home court advantage. You are opening up doorways into their young lives for evil by bringing them into a kind of “fellowship” with these ancient “gods.”

We are commanded not to become involved with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Both from my experience as a witch, and since getting saved, as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have seen far too many examples of how breaking this command works out in lives. Remember, while we have God’s promise of protection for ourselves and our children, that promise may not hold if we allow our children to celebrate this dark holiday. Case after case has come to us of children in rebellion. In many of these families, the problem can be traced back to the children being exposed to Halloween at a young age. It is hard enough to raise children these days in a Godly way without exposing them to Satan’s realm.”

stock-photo-68865945-spooky-halloween-party

but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:18b-21 NASB

Dear Father in heaven, may we wisely guide our innocent children away from Satan’s evil influence. Thank you for defeating the devil at the cross. We come against the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? by Karen Jurgens copyright 2015 and 2022, All rights reserved.

How to Get Rid of Stains

This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father … to keep oneself unstained by the world .”

James 1:27 NASB

Do you like organic beets? Those deep-red purplish ones. Occasionally, I used to bring some home to cook, but I had to bribe my daughters to eat them. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Why the need for culinary creativity? When the girls were small, vegetables weren’t on their menu, unless French fries counted. Cait, the younger one, had taste buds that could laser-out any veggie, no matter how cleverly I tried to disguise it.

One evening my mother joined us for dinner, and I served a new creation: beets in a lovely orange sauce. After one bite, Cait screwed up her mouth as though she had just tasted poison and refused to eat it. Meg wasn’t sure about the new combination, but my mother adored it. Having already cautioned them not to splash beets on their clothes, I turned to admire Mother’s appreciation for all my careful work. To my dismay, a big red spot glared at me from her white, dry clean-only blouse.

No, that red circle would not come out completely, even after the cleaners had tried every available remedy. The shirt was ruined.

Have you ever had a stain that refused to wash out? In the Word, sin is also described as a stain. Try as we might, this kind can’t be washed out with worldly products. We might think that attending church, doing good deeds, and volunteering, for example, can remove those stains, but instead, they set more deeply. We don blinders and refuse to look, convincing ourselves that we are clean and white. Although invisible on the outside, how do our hearts appear in God’s eyes? He alone can see into the depths of our souls, and try as we might, we can’t hide from His scrutiny.

Have you ever accidentally fallen or cut yourself? Whenever I’m injured, I can never look. I grasp the wound and squeeze while I grimace and look away. The sight of blood nauseates me and makes my ears buzz. But when I finally get enough courage to peek and am convinced that I won’t die, then I can deal with cleaning and bandaging it. (No, I could never have become a nurse. Obviously.)

But, can we take off our blinders and examine our souls? We can cover up our sins with all kinds of excuses and home-remedies, but we have to open our wounds to God’s scrutiny. He is the One who cleans, sterilizes, and bandages so it can heal. He cleans out all the sin from our hearts and makes us whole, erasing the stain so completely that it is as though we had never sinned.

King David cried out to God when confronted by Nathan the prophet regarding his sin with Bathsheba:

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.

Psalm 51:1-2, 7, 9, NASB

We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the Good News is that our sins can be washed away in the blood of the Lamb. May our salvation give us joy and be a testimony to bring others to the cross of Christ.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,

And sinners will be converted to You.

Psalm 51:10-13, NASB

Dear Father, cleanse our hearts and make them new by the power of Your blood. Erase the stain of sin, and make us whiter than snow. Use us to witness to the lost and bring them into Your kingdom. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

How to Get Rid of Stains by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Feast of Tabernacles

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.”‘” 

Leviticus 23:33-34 NIV

Welcome to the celebration of Sukkot, the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. As the last of the fall feasts, this time climaxes into a joyous celebration of giving thanks to God for His provision. This feast lasts for seven days, beginning on sunset on October 9th, 2022, and concluding on October 16th. It’s one of three times a year when God commanded Israel to go to Jerusalem to worship Him and present an offering of thanksgiving.

Building a Sukkah

On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.

Leviticus 23:40 NIV

A sukkah is a tabernacle or booth made out of a natural substance and decorated with tree branches, flowers, leaves, fruits, and vegetables. People live in it as a temporary structure for seven days as a reminder of the their forefathers’ 40-year journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. It celebrates their complete dependence on God and His provision. God provided manna in the mornings, water out of a rock, and clothes and shoes that never wore out.

Waving of the Lulav

This Jewish tradition symbolizes God’s beauty and bounty. It’s made up of a palm branch, a myrtle bough, a willow branch, and citron fruit. These are waved before the Lord in all directions to declare that He is omnipresent and that all good gifts come from Him.

Set Apart from the Rest

When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, ‘He is good;
    his love endures forever.

2 Chronicles 7:3 NIV

The first Temple celebrated its dedication during the Feast of Tabernacles (Read more HERE). The glory of the Lord fell with such power that the priests weren’t able to stand. As they bowed and worshipped then, so we are reminded that the glory of the Lord is still with us today in the same way.

The Testing of Trials

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV

Just as these trials in the wilderness tested the Israelites, they also prepared them to receive the blessings God had prepared for them. The same is true for us today. We must walk through the valleys of trials before we can rejoice with the Lord on the mountaintops.

Feast of Tabernacles and Christianity

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 

Zechariah 14:16 NIV

Zechariah tells of a time during the Millennium when all people celebrate Sukkot with Jesus in Jerusalem. This festival will be an everlasting reminder of how the Lord tabernacled with His people in the wilderness with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. It relates to us today through Yeshua’s promise: ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

The Ultimate Fulfillment

‘For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Isaiah 65:17 NKJV

The ultimate fulfillment of this feast will be after the thousand year reign of Christ. God will create a new heaven and a new earth where God will tabernacle with us, His people, for eternity.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV

Dear Lord, we rejoice in Your divine provision for us in the past, present, and future. We bow before You and worship You, for You alone are worthy. May we rejoice in this season of thanksgiving along with all of Israel as they celebrate Sukkot. We pray for the salvation of Your people. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

The Feast of Tabernacles by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved

Celebrating the Day of Atonement

“‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”

Leviticus 17:11 NKJV

Welcome to the second Fall Feast, also known as Yom Kippur, which is celebrated on October 4th beginning at sunset through October 5th. It falls at the end of the 10 days of Awe–a time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Yom means “day,” and Kippur means “covering,” so this feast means “the day of covering.” As the holiest day of the year in Judaism, people celebrate with fasting, prayer, and repentance.

Atonement in the Old Testament

‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’

Leviticus 23:27 NKJV

God can be in covenant with humanity only through a blood atonement. Each and every year, an atonement had to be made for the sins of the people, which required animal blood. On this most holy day, the high priest would take the blood of both a bull and a goat and enter through the veil into the Holy of Holies. Then he would pour out the blood on top of the Ark of the Covenant in which the Ten Commandments laid. When God saw the sacrifice, He would forgive the people’s sins for one year.

Fulfillment of Atonement in the New Testament

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

Matthew 27:51 NKJV

The animal sacrifice was simply a harbinger of the permanent sacrifice to come through Yeshua’s crucifixion. As Jesus shed His sinless blood on the cross, the veil in the Temple was ripped in two. No longer will mankind be separated from God. The blood of the Lamb of God paid the price for the sins of every person on earth. Now we can have fellowship with God and know Him personally through the blood of Jesus Christ.

He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. 

Hebrews 9:26b-28a NKJV

The Meaning of Yom Kippur for Christians

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Ephesians 1:7 NKJV

For Christians, Yom Kippur means a time to give special thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. We remember His sacrifice on the cross, His suffering in our place, and His forgiveness of our sins. We rejoice in His precious blood covering that delivers us from sin, hell, and the grave.

A Joyous Prophecy for Israel

‘And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.’

Zechariah 12:10 NKJV

This prophetic aspect of Yom Kippur has yet to be fulfilled. What a glorious day it will be when the Jewish people will understand and know that Jesus was always their awaited Messiah. The veil covering their eyes of understanding will be lifted, and they will have a glorious and emotional reunion with the Lord.

The Book of Revelation also describes this future event prophesied by Zechariah:

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Revelation 1:7 NKJV

Paul also predicts this future event:

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

Romans 11:26 NKJV

On that future day–not too far away–God will cover His Jewish people and bring His kingdom to earth where all believers will dwell forever with our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Dear Lord, we rejoice in Your sacrifice of sinless blood so we can be saved. Thank you for fulfilling Yom Kippur and being our permanent atonement for forgiveness of sins. We anxiously look for Your return and for the salvation of Israel. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Celebrating the Day of Atonement by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved.

Referenced from Discovering the Jewish Jesus by Rabbi Schneider, September 2022 Special Edition

Verses of God’s Blessings

“Yevarekhekha Hashem”

Thirteen specific Bible verses communicate the Hebrew phrase above, which means, “God has blessed you.” As we enter into celebration of the three Fall Feasts (Trumpets, Atonement, and Booths), may these sacred words bring divine blessings to your homes, family, and friends. May you receive God’s blessings of generosity, blessings of plenty, and the blessings of the Holy Land. May these verses bring the favor of God upon every believer in a new and powerful way .

The Priestly Blessing

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV

The Blessing in Zion

“Now when the Lord your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the Lord your God has chosen.”

Deuteronomy 14:24-25 NLT

The Blessing for the Needy

“Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.”

Deuteronomy 14:29 NLT

The Blessing of the Holy Land

“There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession.”

Deuteronomy 15:4 NLT

The Blessing of a Good Heart

“Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.”

Deuteronomy 15:10 NLT

The Blessing of Giving

“Then celebrate the Festival of Harvest to honor the Lord your God. Bring him a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him.”

Deuteronomy 16:10 NLT

The Blessing of the Festivals

“For seven days you must celebrate this festival to honor the Lord your God at the place he chooses, for it is he who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work. This festival will be a time of great joy for all.”

Deuteronomy 16:15 NLT

The Blessing of Propriety / Commerce

“When you make a vow to the Lord your God, be prompt in fulfilling whatever you promised him. For the Lord your God demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows, or you will be guilty of sin.”

Deuteronomy 23:21 NLT

The Blessing of Generosity

“When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do.”

Deuteronomy 24:19 NLT

The Blessing of the Return to Judea

“How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new to happen—Israel will embrace her God.”

Jeremiah 31:22 NLT

The Blessing of Jerusalem

“May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!”

Psalms 128:5-6 NLT

The Blessing of the Servants of God

“Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
    you who serve at night in the house of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary,
    and praise the Lord.

May the Lord, who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem.”

Psalms 134:1-3 NLT

The Blessing of Those Who Toil

“While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. ‘The Lord be with you!’ he said. ‘The Lord bless you!’ the harvesters replied.”

Ruth 2:4 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for Your divine blessings. We open our hearts to receive from Your hand. We worship you, Lord, with praises and thanksgiving. In Jesus’s, Name, Amen.

Verses of God’s Blessings by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All rights reserved

Let it Rain

“It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “’Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.’” 

1 Kings 18:44 NASB

It’s been a sizzling summer in Texas. For months, dry, cracked earth has been begging for a drink. Grass—green last week—broils in the heat, turning yellow. Scorched air sucks up every droplet of water from the sprinklers as it makes rainbows through the sun’s reflection. Moisture never reaches those wilted blades with open, thirsty mouths. Trees’ leaves flip over, showing only their undersides to the blazing heat. All things green pant through the day, melting in surrender as the sun dissolves under the horizon. Darkness removes the fire but not the hot simmer that radiates incessantly from the parched ground. No relief is in sight.

Our spirits sometimes travel through deserts, just like Texas in August, begging for rain from heaven. The skies turn to brass, and we wonder if our prayers ascend higher than the treetops. Or do they lay with the straw that used to be grass? No answers, just silence and heat … so, we pray for rain. And watch.

That’s when it happens.

According to the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18, a cloud the size of a man’s hand formed at the horizon, promising a coming deluge after a long drought. The clouds bubbled and gathered until the entire sky darkened with promise.

He waited … then felt droplets splash, becoming pelts of drenching wet.

In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. 

1 Kings 18:45 NASB

Like Elijah, let’s rejoice and dance in the rain, thanking the Lord for His answer. His living water brings our spirits back to life, opening the floodgates of communion with our Saviour, and once again we come alive in Jesus Christ through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for reviving us today with an outpouring of Your anointing. May the floodgates of heaven open and may we testify of Your glory, In Jesus’s Name we ask and receive, Amen.

Let’s dance and worship in the rain with Michael W. Smith today and refresh our spirits. It will be the best five minutes of your day, I promise.

Let it Rain by Karen Jurgens copyright 2016 and 2022 All rights reserved

A Season of Spiritual Renewal

“Take words with you and return to the Lord.
Say to Him, ‘Take away all guilt
And receive us graciously,
So that we may present the fruit of our lips.'”

Hosea 14:2 NASB

After a dry season, do you feel God tugging at your heart? The fall season highlights three Jewish feasts which usher in a time of spiritual renewal where we turn our hearts and minds back to God. This time of inward self-assessment leads us to repentance and a change of course. It’s a spiritual reset where we confess our sins, forgive those who have sinned against us, and give offerings for a blessed new year. This forty-day Jewish cycle, called Teshuvah, reminds us of God’s mercy as well as our need to repent and forgive others.

What is the connection between Moses and Teshuvah?

We might all agree that Moses, as meek as he was, had an anger problem. Although he grew up as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he was still a Hebrew boy with a burning hate of injustice. As a young man, he witnessed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave who toiled in his labor.

So he looked this way and that, and when he saw that there was no one around, he struck and killed the Egyptian, and hid his body in the sand. 

Exodus 2:12 NASB

After this act of murder was disclosed to Pharaoh, Moses’s fear of execution became the catalyst that propelled him out of the palace and into hiding. He moved to the land of Midian where he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, and tended his father-in-law’s flocks. Moses expected to live and die in Midian as a simple shepherd.

But God unexpectedly intervened.

No one was more surprised than Moses when God spoke to him from a burning bush. Although God tapped him with the incredible assignment of leading the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, Moses balked. He argued that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him, and he was terrified to be a spokesman to the Hebrews. God reassured Moses by giving him miracle power to turn his staff into a snake, and He chose Aaron to do the speaking for his brother.

Let my people go!

Moses struggled with Pharaoh over permission for the Israelites to go worship in the desert, which was his excuse for the people to leave. But after God sent the death angel to every firstborn Egyptian child, Pharaoh relented. Their escape was a nail-biter as God miraculously parted the Red Sea for the Hebrews but allowed it to close on top of the Egyptians, who were in hot pursuit.

So the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.  When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.

Exodus 14:30-31 NASB

A reflection of God’s righteous anger

When He had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.

Exodus 31:18 NASB

We can only imagine the holy mountaintop experience Moses shared with God as he received the Ten Commandments. Before he descended to the people, however, God told Moses that the Hebrews were worshiping a golden calf in direct violation of His commandments. In His burning anger, God vowed to destroy the people but still make Moses a great nation. Moses, however, pleaded with God to forgive the Hebrews and give them another chance. In the end, God relented.

But this anger didn’t stop with God. When Moses saw what the people were doing, he became righteously outraged and threw the tablets to the ground, shattering them. Then Moses and God both punished the people.

Then he took the calf which they had made and completely burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it.

Exodus 32:20 NASB

Then the Lord struck the people with a plague, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.

Exodus 32;35 NASB

The Establishment of Teshuvah

Moses ascended a second time up the mountain for a new set of tablets to replace the ones he had broken. Israel spent those forty days repenting and atoning for their sins while Moses met with God, thus establishing the season called Teshuvah.

Jews observe this fall season, the moadim, which is a forty-day season of repentance and forgiveness. In 2022, or the Hebraic year 5782, this cycle of spiritual renewal begins during the Hebrew month of Elul, from August 29th to October 5th. Teshuvah involves participation in three basic steps:

  • The first step is to repent of sin and return to God. As we change course, we pledge to not return to our former sinful ways, but to leave them behind forever with God’s help and strength.

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

Acts 20:21 NIV
  • Forgiveness also plays a key role. Not only do we need to ask and receive God’s forgiveness, but we also need to actively forgive those who have sinned against us.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you for your offenses.

Mark 11:25 NASB
  • Last is self-assessment where we look inwardly and examine our hearts.

Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139 23-24 NASB

How does Teshuvah apply to Christians?

Christians initially repent of sin and receive forgiveness when we accept Jesus into or hearts as our Lord and Savior. We don’t wait for a specific date on a calendar to draw close to God or forgive others. Our walk of repentance and forgiveness is ongoing from the point of salvation and continues for the rest of our lives.

Thus, Teshuvah reminds us of God’s mercy and our need to repent and forgive others. During this season, we look toward a good year and seek the favor of God in the coming (Jewish) New Year.


Create in me a clean heart, God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Lord, open my lips, So that my mouth may declare Your praise.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.

Psalm 51:10, 15, 17 NASB

Dear Father in heaven, draw us close to You during this season of repentance and forgiveness. May we rejoice in Your free gift of salvation, and may we forgive people who have hurt us in any way. Fill us up with the anointing of Your Holy Spirit, and bless us with a peaceful life full of abundant joy. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

A Season of Spiritual Renewal by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved

We Shall Behold Him

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”

Psalm 73:25 NKJV

A tour bus plunged through a dark Missouri night and into the early morning hours on May 11, 2008. Pounding rain and swirling winds from earlier tornadoes swayed the large vehicle transporting eight people. Regardless of the storms, the schedule demanded that they arrive in Texas by daylight, and Dottie Rambo had retired early. She had to be dressed and ready to sing at a Mother’s Day performance that morning. Her clothes were laid out and her songs practiced in anticipation of her guest appearance.

The driver zipped along Interstate 44, two miles east of Mount Vernon, when the bus ran off the road. Had he fallen asleep at the wheel? Had oncoming headlights caused him to misjudge the shiny wet highway in the blackness? Or had a strong gust of wind blown the vehicle off the road? All we know is that the bus hit an embankment, sending seven people to the hospital with moderate to severe injuries. Unfortunately, Dottie was the only one to die instantly in the crash.

How does Dottie’s life encourage us as we travel down our roads?

An interesting fact is that angels played a major role in the singer-songwriter’s life. She told a story about her “angel room” in her home in Atlanta where she received the words and lyrics to many of her famous songs. (Click HERE to watch.) Sheila Walsh shared a powerful interview with Dottie regarding her testimony about her nine back surgeries and unrelenting pain. (Click HERE to watch.)

Dottie was well-acquainted with sorrows. Not only did she suffer physical pain, but also emotional heartbreak of a divorce from her husband Buck. In spite of unbelievable circumstances, she soldiered on through the power of the Word and prayer, eventually regaining the strength to walk again and minister to others. She testified that no medicine could remove the pain–not even morphine–but when she ministered, God mercifully blocked it.

God’s mercy certainly covered Dottie on the night of that fatal crash. God’s angels were all around, ready to usher her into the presence of her Lord and Savior, whom she loved so dearly. Her assignment on earth was complete, and it was her time to go to heaven.

On Mother’s Day, Dottie was set to sing and minister in a church in Texas. Instead, she sang before the Lord in His kingdom in heaven. I’m sure it was a glorious performance as she beheld Him and worshiped Jesus face to face in all of His glory.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

1 John 3:2 NKJV

Are you suffering emotionally or physically today?

Dear Father, may we take heart in remembering how much Jesus suffered for us during His passion. We know that God will minister to us through our pain and use it for His glory. Empower us to soldier on, praising and worshiping our Lord and Savior. Soon we, too, will behold the Lamb of God face to face in all of His glory. What a wonderful day that will be! In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

We Shall Behold Him by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved

Heaven’s Supreme Court

Heaven's Supreme Court awaits every person who has ever lived. Are you ready to face God on Judgment Day?

“Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge.” 

Psalm 50:6 NKJV

Did you know that there is not only a Supreme Court in the United States, but also one in God’s kingdom? Although few of us will appear in the highest court in Washington D.C., all of us will appear at one of heaven’s supreme courts: either the Great White Throne Judgment or the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Interestingly, God gives each of us free will to choose which court we will attend. After death, our fate is irreversible. It’s crucial to understand what the Word of God says regarding salvation in order to choose wisely. Not choosing at all? That’s still rejecting God’s gift of salvation.

‘Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Matthew 12:30 NKJV

Here’s the bottom line. Sinners who reject Jesus will stand before God at The Great White Throne Judgment, while believers will stand before Jesus at The Judgment Seat of Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 NKJV

The good news is that God sent His Son to save mankind from our just punishment of death, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Through the shed blood of Jesus, we have the free gift of forgiveness, and through His resurrection, we have eternal life as heirs with Christ.

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12 NKJV

But what happens after death to a person who didn’t accept Christ as Savior?

What the Bible says about The Great White Throne Judgment:

 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15 NKJV

Those who reject Christ will be cast into the lake of fire, which burns for eternity. We can only imagine the agony of regret and despair the lost will suffer on that terrible day. God will judge them based on their deeds, and this court holds no hope of forgiveness.

Hell and the lake of fire were originally created by God for Satan and his angels, not for man. What a tragedy to reject Christ and be sentenced to such a place! It’s too late for the dead, but for us, the living, it’s not too late to choose eternal life in heaven by accepting Jesus as Savior.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NKJV

What happens after death to a believer?

What the Bible says about The Judgment Seat of Christ:

For we [believers] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 

2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV

Are we saved by works? Absolutely not.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

But works do count for believers at this judgment.

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NKJV

Although the deeds of the lost will result in condemnation, the deeds of the righteous will reap reward. All our individual works will be presented to Jesus, who will set them on fire. If they aren’t burned up, we will receive a reward. No matter if some or all of a believer’s works are burned up, that person will still be saved.

When will these judgments happen?

For believers…

The Bible doesn’t specify exactly when believers will be judged. Sometime after the Church is raptured, believers will appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Afterward, the church will become the Bride of Christ and celebrate at the marriage supper of the Lamb. According to the pre-tribulation belief, this takes place in heaven at the same time that the Great Tribulation ravages the earth for seven years.

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”‘ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 19:7-9 NKJV

For the lost…

The Great White Throne Judgment occurs after the end of the 1,000 year millennium. Before then, all the souls of the dead remain in hell to await their sentences of eternal death.

Some of the saddest verses in the Bible refer to those who never knew Him.

‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!

Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV

Don’t put off the decision to come to the cross of Christ. We are not promised tomorrow. Today is the day to make a decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NKJV

Dear Father, thank you for sending Your Son to die in our place. We praise You for making a way for us to be saved and escape eternal damnation. I pray that you would pierce hearts unto repentance and salvation. May we choose to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and spend eternity in God’s kingdom. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Heaven’s Supreme Court by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022, all rights reserved.

Happy Independence Day!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.

Psalm 33:12 NIV

What are you thankful for this Fourth of July?

Living in this land of freedom is something we no longer take for granted. We have always known that freedom isn’t free–its price is paid in blood. The price was paid in full on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. To find out more about our American history and freedom, click HERE for a comprehensive history authored by David and Tim Barton of Wallbuilders.

Most people realize that the basis of our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights are based on the laws and precepts of the Bible. God’s laws came through covenants in the Old and New Testaments, and they formed the basis for our Judeo-Christian nation. Most importantly, our country grants freedom to all citizens to pursue life, liberty, happiness, and freedom of religion without government interference. Our laws also protect us from criminals and allow us to live without fear. Additionally, we are legally innocent until proven guilty.

Let’s take today and remind ourselves of all the wonderful blessings we still enjoy in the United States. Re-read the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence and thank God for our protection and freedom. Let’s teach our children patriotism and instill in them deep love and respect for our flag.

The battle to destroy our freedom is raging.

The fight for freedom is once again upon us. As we refresh our memories about the truth of who we are as a nation and review what our Founding Fathers wrote, let’s rise up in unity and take back what is rightfully ours: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Dear Father, Thank you for the 246th anniversary of our freedom in this land. Thank you for answering our prayers to save the unborn. However, the battle is just beginning. May we confess our sins and turn back to You as our Lord and Savior. Help us reestablish our land as one nation under God, a land where freedom rings forever. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Happy Independence Day! by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 all rights reserved

In Search of Truth

 ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’

John 14:6 NKJV

Before Jesus went to the cross, He prepared His disciples for what would soon happen. He explained that He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven and that He would return for them. When Thomas asked Him how they would know the way to this place, Jesus revealed a truth, not only relevant over 2,000 years ago, but also relevant today.

The way to God is not a physical path; it is a spiritual one.

The path is Jesus Himself, who leads us to the Father. The world claims there are many ways to God, but Jesus tells us the truth: no one can come to God except through Jesus Christ, His Son.

When Philip asked the Lord to show them the Father, Jesus explained that if they had seen Jesus, they had seen the Father. We can believe that Jesus and the Father are one, or belief may come through the testimony of the works Jesus did on earth.

Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

John 14:11 NKJV

The Spirit of truth has come.

Jesus taught the disciples that after He was gone, He would ask His Father to send them the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, so they wouldn’t be left as orphans.

‘…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:17 NKJV

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

John 16:13 NKJV

Truth sets us free.

No surprise that the world cannot know the truth because the world is controlled by Satan, the father of lies. When the Pharisees argued with Jesus over His identity, He explained that they were slaves to sin and needed to be set free.

Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

John 8:34-36 NKJV

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:31-33 NKJV

Truth versus lies

Jesus states a truth that applies to us today, and it clarifies why we’re living in such a frustrating world of constant lies swirling about. The world cannot hear the truth because it belongs to the father of lies. Christians hear and believe the truth, which sets us free from sin and death; the world is deaf and dumb to truth because it is bound in chains of deception, sin, and lies through its father, the devil.

 ‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’ 

John 8:44 NKJV

Rejecting truth

Even before His crucifixion, Jesus stated that He was a witness to truth during His conversation with Pilate. Pilate came close to believing in Jesus in that moment, but he ultimately rejected truth.

Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.

John 18:37-38 NKJV

The call to choose truth

We have a clear-cut choice: to believe truth or believe lies; to listen to the voice of Jesus or listen to the voice of satan.

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.

Psalm 35:9 NIV

Which will you choose?

Dear Father, I pray that every lost person would hear your voice of truth and respond by accepting You as Lord and Savior. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins and shedding your innocent blood. Break the chains of sin and death and make us free indeed in Your Son, Jesus Christ. May we know the truth of Your Word that sets us free from the world’s lies and deception. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

In Search of Truth by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 all rights reserved

Blessed Shavuot and Pentecost Sunday

Wishing everyone a joyous celebration of Shavuot and Pentecost Sunday! This is the time to re-read the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. This story teaches us that sacrifice is an important part of unconditional love. Like Ruth, God always blesses those who show kindness with His goodness and mercy. Let’s remember anew the quote Ruth made famous: “…for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:116b).

What exactly is Shavuot? As Christians, we are more familiar with the term Pentecost. Let’s explore this festival’s Jewish and Christian roots for a deeper understanding of its meaning.

Jewish Shavuot…

Tori Avey explains in her words: “Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people, and occurs on the 50th day after the 49 days of counting the Omer. Shavuot is one of the three biblically based pilgrimage holidays known as the shalosh regalim. It is associated with the grain harvest in the Torah.” (Read more at Toriavey.com)

Chabad.org also has some interesting festival background: “Shavuot 2022 (a two-day holiday, celebrated from sunset on June 4 until nightfall on June 6) coincides with the date that G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai exactly 3,333 (!) years ago. It comes after 49 days of eager counting, as we prepared ourselves for this special day. People celebrate by lighting candlesstaying up all night to learn Torahhearing the reading of the Ten Commandmentsfeasting on dairy foods and more. Learn more about Shavuot” at Chabad.org

Another interesting fact is the belief that King David’s birth as well as his death occurred during Shavuot. Ruth and Boaz were the great-grandparents of King David, all part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Christian Pentecost…

When did Shavuot turn into Pentecost (its Greek name)? It began on the forty-ninth day or seven weeks after Jesus ascended into heaven. Christ spoke of His sending the Holy Spirit several times to the disciples.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

JOHN 14:16-17 NKJV

Tell me more

Jesus also explained the Holy Spirit’s role in their lives, and why it was necessary for the Spirit to come.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

JOHN 16:7-11 NKJV

That day arrived

Acts 2 tells about this supernatural event. The disciples, along with Mary and a few others, had convened in the Upper Room, praying and waiting on the promised Helper. On that Pentecost day, the Holy Spirit descended like flames of fire resting above each person’s head.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

ACTS 2:1-4 NKJV

Peter preached…

Many Jews from different countries happened to be in Jerusalem at that time to celebrate Shavuot, and they heard these men, full of the Holy Spirit, speak in each one’s native language about the mighty deeds of God. The Jews laughed, claiming the disciples must be drunk, but Peter rose up and preached to them all, quoting from the prophet Joel:

“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

ACTS 2:14B-21 NKJV

Jesus also explained the difference between John the Baptist’s water baptism and the fire baptism of the Holy Spirit:

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

ACTS 1:4-5 NKJV

Water versus Fire…

At salvation, Christians are water baptized, which represents the washing away of sin and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. But Pentecost is a baptism of fire by Jesus Himself through the Holy Spirit, usually with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. What is the purpose of this second baptism?

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

JOHN 16:13-15 NKJV

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

ACTS 1:8 NKJV

May we all experience the wonderful power of Pentecost in our lives. Pentecost Sunday is June 5, 2022.

Dear Father, thank you for sending us the Comforter, our Helper, to live inside our spirits. As you did in the day of your disciples, send us fire from heaven and baptize us in Your power and anointing. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

https://www.chabad.org/recipes/recipe_cdo/aid/5513774/jewish/17-Scrumptious-Dairy-Recipes-for-Shavuot.htm

Blessed Shavuot and Pentecost Sunday by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All rights reserved

Honoring Our Mothers

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Ephesians 6:2-3 NKJV

This Mother’s Day is more special than any other because my mother just turned 100 years old in March, and I still have to pinch myself. She has outlived everyone in her family and has won the longevity award. God has truly blessed her with a long and healthy life where she still walks without a cane and doesn’t look a day over eighty. She is one amazing woman.

People ask her how she has lived so long, and her answer is always the same: “No smoking or drinking, and living a godly life.” But I would add that she has always had a healthy fear of God–in the sense of deeply respecting Him and His Word. If I’ve heard her admonition once, I’ve heard it hundreds of times: “Always walk softly before the Lord.”

Lots of people live the same lifestyle, but they don’t live a long life.

Why is that? Good genes play a part, of course. But could it have something to do with God’s promise in Ephesians 6:2-3? How important is it to honor your parents–no matter what?

My mother’s parents struggled in their marriage, but they stayed together ” for better or worse.” Despite the hardships of growing up during the Depression, Mother always respected and obeyed them. As a twelve-year-old, her parents sent her to live with her maternal grandparents on their Kentucky farm. In hindsight, what a blessing that decision turned out to be. Her grandmother loved and affirmed her, nurturing that empty, hungry place in her heart. Most importantly, Mother attended a Christian boarding school nearby where she gave her life to Christ and studied the Word of God for the first time.

Her four years with her grandparents shaped her life and sealed her future.

Her grandfather read the Bible daily with his family and led them in prayer, thus planting Scripture in her heart. The farm became her forever home and her grandparents her forever surrogate parents. When she had to return to live with her own parents, her soul overflowed with the stability of a mother’s love and a new identity in Christ.

After high school, Mother married at eighteen and gave birth to a son at nineteen. A few years later, she experienced a tubal pregnancy, and her doctor advised that she would probably never have more children. Much to her surprise, I came along eleven years later. From the beginning, Mother and I established a bond that still endures to this day, and we have always been the best of friends.

Fortunately, I experienced an upbringing that was the opposite of Mother’s. She and my father were excellent parents to me, and they raised me in a Christian home where I met Jesus as Savior at the age of eight. That foundation turned out to be my source of strength when I became a single mother and raised my two young daughters alone. Today they are both strong Christian women who are prepared to pass on a godly foundation of love and stability to their future children. Our three generations overflow with loving honor for one another, and God has blessed us beyond measure.

Do you honor your mother?

It’s easy to honor a parent who treats you well and loves you, as was my experience. But a true test of honor comes when a parent doesn’t treat a child well. In Mother’s case, I witnessed episodes during her adult life where I would beg her to break ties with her emotionally abusive family. I hated to see her hurt over and over and go back for more. It made no sense.

At the time, I didn’t understand her motives because I didn’t come from an abusive home. But now, I see. Her healthy fear of God propelled her to respect and honor her parents, despite how they may have treated her. I firmly believe that she is a witness to the truth of Ephesians 6:2-3 and an encouragement to others to follow in her footsteps.

Jesus understands abuse.

Jesus also encourages us to obey God and live in forgiveness. From the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who had falsely accused Him of blasphemy and had sentenced Him to death. Little did Christ’s enemies know that His death on the cross would become the supreme sacrifice for sin. This resulted in our free gift of salvation through grace and physical healing through His shed blood. His resurrection on the third day sealed our eternal life with Him in heaven. During the horrific suffering that Jesus endured, He honored and obeyed His Father all the way to death and purchased our redemption through His sinless blood.

Let’s take hold of God’s promise for a long, well-lived life.

This is one of the Ten Commandments with a promise we can count on. It benefits us in ways that we cannot imagine. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, let’s remember to shower our mothers with blessing and honor.

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Proverbs 31:25-28a NKJV

Dear Lord, for those whose mothers have passed on, we pray for comfort as we bless their memory. For those who have a broken relationship, we pray for divine forgiveness and restoration. We thank you for our mothers and pray honor and blessing on them as we celebrate Mother’s Day. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Honoring Our Mothers by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All rights reserved

He is Risen!

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

I trust your Easter weekend has been a wonderful experience, from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Hasn’t it been a mixture of emotions?

The Garden of Gethsemane

We witnessed the dread of Jesus’s coming to terms with His assignment in the Garden of Gethsemane where He shed drops of blood in fervent prayer.

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’

Matthew 26:39, NASB

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we turned our heads as Judas hanged himself and Peter denied Christ three times.

We agonized with Jesus as He was unjustly accused and sentenced to die by crucifixion.

We cringed in horror as they lashed His back thirty-nine times and slapped the crown of thorns on His head.

We wept as He carried His cross, assisted by Simon the Cyrene, up the hill to Golgotha where they drove nails into His hands and feet.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’

Luke 23:34

We sat amazed when He forgave His tormentors as well as the thief crucified next to Him.

And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”  And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’

Luke 23:42b-43

We mourned with Mary, His mother, as she watched her Son suffer unto death.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household

John 19:25-28

We waited on Saturday. But where was Jesus from Friday night to Sunday morning?

Descent into Sheol

After death, Jesus descended into the bowels of the earth to Sheol. Sheol is a two-sided holding tank for the dead, with the righteous on one side and the wicked on the other, separated by a chasm. We know this from the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-30.

First, Jesus took away the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan. Then He preached the Good News to the damned, giving them the opportunity to escape from their prison of hell. Every person who has ever lived must make the choice to accept or reject Jesus as Saviour. Last, the righteous vacated Sheol to live in heaven.

I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades

Revelation 1:17b-18

Good Friday seals the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our physical bodies through Jesus’s shed blood at Calvary.

The Third Day

The miracle of Jesus’s bodily resurrection on Sunday seals our eternity with Jesus Christ in heaven. We rejoice because His tomb is empty! Our Lord is risen, just as He said.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

What joy fills our souls as we rejoice in the goodness of our Saviour! To realize that He loved us that much–to come down from heaven to be the perfect sacrifice for us. We owed a debt we couldn’t pay, and He paid a debt He didn’t owe. He restored our broken relationship with God out of his abundant love for each one of us.

Christianity isn’t a dry, dead religion. It’s a living, personal relationship with the One True God Jesus Christ.

Dear Father, May we carry Easter in our hearts all year long. May we be forever humbled and grateful, showing our sincere thanks to Jesus for providing us with the precious, priceless gift of salvation. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

He is Risen! by Karen Jurgens copyright 2018 and 2022, All rights reserved

Despising the Shame

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2 NKJV

As Christian believers, we observe the crucifixion of Christ beginning on Maundy Thursday and concluding on Good Friday. Interestingly, this year Passover will also fall on April 15th. The Passover story celebrates the Israelites’ deliverance from Egyptian bondage and their redemption through the blood of a lamb. Jesus became that Passover lamb when he died for our sins and redeemed us with His blood. Christ is truly the fulfillment of Passover as seen in the book of Revelation where He is referred to as “the Lamb of God” twenty-nine times.

The definition of shame

When Jesus died as our Passover Lamb, He bore our sins and despised the shame. What is the meaning of shame? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as, “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety;  a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute; something that brings censure or reproach” (Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shame).

We have all experienced shame at some point in our lives. The good news is that Jesus not only took our sins to the cross, He also took away our disgrace. When we humbly confess our sin and receive God’s forgiveness, He throws both sin and shame into the Sea of Forgetfulness.

Freedom from sin involves Jesus’s blood, which cleanses our spirits, while freedom from shame involves cleansing our minds and emotions. Since habits and memories dwell in a deep place in our souls, we must allow the Lord to purify them with His sinless and atoning blood. We may not be able to forget them completely, but Jesus can take away the sorrow and pain, and give us His perfect peace that defies logic.

Let’s regard shame another way. Did you know that it can also refer to physical nakedness?

Adam and Eve’s shame

 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25 NKJV

Adam and Eve experienced shame and fear after they ate of the forbidden fruit. Their sin opened their eyes to their nakedness, and they hid from God’s presence. How did God react?

Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21 NKJV

Why is this act significant? God slayed an innocent animal–most likely a lamb–marking this event as the first blood covering for forgiveness of sins. God requires a blood sacrifice for sin, which continued until Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, shed His sinless blood once for all for the sins of mankind.

King David’s guilt

Psalm 51 reveals King David’s heart when he repented from his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7 NKJV

David also pleaded with God to cleanse his guilty conscience so he could again sing praises to Him:

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.

Psalm 51:14 NKJV

Jesus bore our shame

Let’s envision Jesus as He hung on the cross. Do you know that the familiar artwork of Christ is partly wrong? The Romans imposed a cruel penalty, crucifying a person naked. On that Passover day, Jesus wore no loin cloth. Yet, although He despised the shame of His nakedness, He endured it for our sakes and for the joy placed before Him.

For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’

Romans 10:11 NKJV

What a wonderful promise! No shame for believers! No condemnation, as Romans 8 explains:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2 NKJV

As we ponder the wondrous cross on this day of Christ’s passion, may God give us a deeper and fuller understanding of what Jesus purchased for each one of us. He has freely given us this priceless gift of salvation and taken away our guilt and shame.

Let’s pray with King David:

O Lord, open my lips,

And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;

You do not delight in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,

A broken and a contrite heart—

These, O God, You will not despise.

Psalm 51:15-17 NKJV

“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

Revelation 16:15 NKJV

Dear Father, we humbly worship You on this day when You suffered and died for our sin and shame. Apply Your blood to our hearts, just as the Jews applied lamb’s blood to their doorposts. Deliver us from the evil one, just as You delivered the enslaved Jews from the Egyptian Pharaoh. Thank you for freeing us from sin and shame through the cross of Christ. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Despising the Shame by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2022 All rights reserved

Mordecai, a Reflection of Christ

During the month of March we celebrated Purim, the day the Jews were legally allowed to defend themselves against annihilation. Most people are familiar with the story of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus, but Mordecai shines as one anointed and appointed by Goda reflection of Christ.

A protector of an orphaned girl

Mordecai was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.

Esther 2:7 NASB

How blessed was orphaned Hadassah when her cousin took her to raise as his own child. When King Ahasuerus invited the virgins of the land to audition for queen, Mordecai supported Esther’s participation. He had wisely cautioned her to keep her Jewish race a secret. After the king chose Esther to be his bride, Mordecai stayed close, monitoring daily for news of her at the king’s gate.

A protector of the king

In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s officials from those who guarded the door, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 

Esther 2:21 NASB

God placed Mordecai in a key position at the exact time to overhear a plot against the king’s life. Mordecai immediately reported what he had heard to Queen Esther, who informed the king in Mordecai’s name. The two officials were immediately hanged, and the scribes recorded it in the king’s Book of the Chronicles.

An honored man

The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

Esther 6:3 NASB

After the king understood from reading his Book of the Chronicles that Mordecai had saved his life, the king asked Haman what should be done for the man the king wished to honor. Haman pridefully believed the king wanted to honor him, so he thought up an ostentatious list. When the king ordered Haman to do just as he said for Mordecai the Jew, Haman was mortified.

 So Haman took the robe and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.”

Esther 6:11 NASB

A protector of his people

Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.

Esther 3:13 NKJV

Not only did Mordecai save the king’s life, but he also saved the Jewish nation from annihilation. After Mordecai refused to bow before Haman, whom the king had promoted above all other nobles, Haman became furious. When he discovered that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman talked the king into killing all the Jews in the kingdom through a decree sealed with the king’s signet ring. In fact, evil Haman constructed a gallows on his land on which to personally hang Mordecai.

The news of the approaching genocide spread far and wide. Mordecai fasted in sackcloth and ashes along with every Jew in the kingdom. He appealed to Queen Esther and urged her to beg for the king’s mercy. She explained that her husband hadn’t sent for her in thirty days, and appearing without being summoned could cost her her life. Then Mordecai uttered his renowned response:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14 NASB

A promoted man

The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced.


Esther 8:2, 15 NASB

During her second banquet, Queen Esther exposed her ethnicity to her husband and Haman as an enemy of the Jews. King Ahasuerus, furious, witnessed Haman falling on the queen’s couch, begging for his life. The king ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows at once. Afterward, he granted Esther’s plea to save her people by giving Mordecai authority to write each province a letter, sealed with the king’s signet ring. This allowed the Jews to defend themselves against Haman’s edict of destruction.

The Jews killed 75,000 of their enemies, and the twelve sons of Haman were also hanged on the same gallows, which Haman had constructed for Mordecai. Mordecai became greater and greater in the kingdom because he had saved the Jewish people.

The Feast of Purim established

Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

Esther 9:20-22 NASB

Instead of genocide, the Jewish race flourished with feasting and rejoicing. They celebrated Purim from that day forward, even until today.

As a savior of his people, we can also discern our Savior in Mordecai.

How does Mordecai reflect Christ?

Just as Mordecai adopted orphaned Hadassah, we Christians are all adopted sons and daughters of God.

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

Ephesians 1:5 NASB

 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:4-7 NASB

Just as Mordecai saved the king and the Jewish nation, Jesus came to save the world from death, hell, and the grave.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12 NASB

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

Just like Mordecai, Jesus was honored and promoted in His Father’s kingdom.

So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

Mark 16:19 NASB

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Revelation 5:11-14 NASB

How do these attributes apply to our lives?

  • May we fight for the safety and freedom of our children in these evil days. May we protect these innocent ones from all harm and wickedness lurking in the darkness.
  • May we promote truth, righteousness, and peace in our world, protecting those who stand up and fight for our godly freedoms.
  • May we expose wicked plans to destroy our free societies and see to it that those evil ones face justice.
  • May we thank God and rejoice when He defeats our enemies. Let’s remember that we always have the victory through Christ!

Dear Father, let us mature in our faith so that when people look on us, they see Jesus. May we reflect Your attributes and proclaim Your salvation to a lost and dying world. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Mordecai, a Reflection of Christ by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2022 All rights reserved

A Time for Everything

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB

Timing is of the utmost importance in our lives. Solomon, the son of King David, outlines examples in Ecclesiastes using parallelism and juxtaposing two contrasting ideas in each line.

What does that look like? Let’s examine verses 2-8:

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

Solomon’s beautiful poetry captures the very essence of life. No matter the year, month, or day, one of more of these lines will apply to each time.

What are we to learn from Solomon’s wisdom? The beauty of these truths is encouraging as we sojourn through life. We may have times of pain, but there are also times of joy. Times of destruction but times of rebuilding. Times of despair but times of hope.

Whatever painful time you may be experiencing right now, be encouraged. Its anthesis — its opposite– will also come. Remember how Habakkuk cried out to God for justice from the Chaldeans who were destroying Judah?

Then the Lord answered me and said,
‘Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:2-8 NASB

Take heart in the knowledge that God is in control of everything. His justice and truth will ultimately conquer the evil in our world. But the key is God’s timing, a crucial point which generally escapes our understanding.

Let’s learn from Solomon’s wisdom. Life may be full of vanities, but our toil in the Lord is never in vain.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime;  moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 NASB

Which of these lines in Ecclesiastes relates to your life today?

The Byrds recorded the lyrics to the song, Turn, Turn, Turn in 1965. It’s a beautiful song that records the words in verses 2-8. Do you remember it?

A Time for Everything by Karen Jurgens copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved.

The Author of Love

This post was originally published in February, 2021, and was updated in February, 2022.

Who is the author of love? On Valentine’s Day, the world may claim it’s Cupid. But as Christians, we know who is the real author is—Jesus Christ.

cupid

What are the characteristics of love?

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB

On Valentine’s Day, most of us have someone special on our minds. The day lends a unique opportunity to express our appreciation in a way that demonstrates devotion to our loved ones.

What about exchanging valentines with Jesus?

valentines-day-1955238_1280

God gave us His valentine when He sent Jesus into the world.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 

John 3:16-17 NASB

Jesus signed his valentine in red from the Cross.

valentines-cross

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

Romans 5:8 NASB

How much does He love us?

15 Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.  

Isaiah 49:15-16 NASB

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV

Let’s rejoice in His love!

9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 

1 John 4:9 NKJV

I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

Psalm 145:1-3a NKJV

How will you celebrate your love for Jesus during this Valentine’s month?

The Author of Love by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All rights reserved

You Are Chosen

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 NIV

We all desire to be chosen.

Remember elementary school days when the gym class played team sports? The P.E. teacher would appoint two kids to pick sides. The rest of us would wave our hands frantically, calling out, “Choose me! Choose me!”

Or in our early teen years, girls and boys would stand on opposite sides of the dance floor. We girls would wait, some impatient and others nervous, while the boys chose whom they would ask to dance. Every girl’s heart cried out, “Choose me!”

When a young woman reached the age of marriage, she hoped the right man would choose her to be his wife. Wearing a wedding band symbolized that she had been chosen from all others to love and be loved by her husband.

Jesus has a love letter written in red for each of us. He assures us:

You are chosen.

The Bible has many examples of everyday people being chosen for great things in God’s Kingdom.

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Luke 1:30-33 NKJV

Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist

But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

Luke 1:7 NKJV

But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,” and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:13, 17 NKJV

Sarah, Mother of Isaac

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.’ 

Genesis 17:17-19 NIV

Hannah, Mother of Samuel

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.

1 Samuel 1:10-11 NKJV

Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.  So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked for him from the Lord.’

1 Samuel 1:19-20

Queen Esther

The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 

Esther 2:17 NKJV

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14 NKJV

The Apostle Paul

But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

Acts 9:15 NKJV

The Twelve Apostles

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.

Luke 6:12-16 NKJV

God has chosen you, too, for a great purpose.

Don’t ever feel left out of life. You are a chosen vessel of the Lord. Let His Holy Spirit be born in you. Carry the heart of heaven, full of hope, out of which faith grows.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

God has a wonderful plan for every person who belongs to Him. The Lord has chosen all of us to praise and worship Him. He alone receives the glory from mankind, who is the crown of His creation.

God has chosen each of us. But, have you chosen God? God has made a way of salvation through the blood, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as Savior is the key to living a chosen life full of blessings and hope.

Will you choose Jesus today?

Dear Father, I choose to receive Jesus into my life. I repent of my sins and ask you to wash them away in Your precious blood. I ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and write my name in the Book of Life. Thank you for your mercy and grace, and thank you for Your promise of eternal salvation. I will love and serve You all the days of my life. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

You are Chosen by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Be Born in Me by Francesca Battistelli.

The Christmas Star

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Christmas-Star-2020-header--1024x341.jpg

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; ”

(Luke 21:25a NKJV)

Did you hear that the Christmas star reappeared last year on December 21st?  Saturn and Jupiter once again came together in the night sky to form what is also known as the Bethlehem Star. This sign in the heavens hasn’t been witnessed exactly like this since the 13th century. (Read more HERE.)

But what about the star’s appearance in the first century?

 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’”

Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV

The birth of Christ occurred during an era of political unrest and upheaval, much like our day.

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”

Matthew 2:3-4 NKJV

The chief priests and scribes knew the prophecy well. They told the magi,

“In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel’” (Matthew 2:5-6 NKJV).

Herod’s heart was black with envy and murder. He pinned down the magi about the exact time the star had first appeared. Then he instructed them to report back to him regarding the Child’s whereabouts, pretending that he also wished to worship Him.

This star led the three magi on until it rested above the place sheltering the holy family.  

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV

God supplied the material and spiritual needs for His Son’s thirty-three years on earth. The gold represented His kingship; frankincense was for His high priesthood; and myrrh was for His suffering and burial.

“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

Matthew 2:12 NKJV

This Christmas season is another unlike any the world has experienced. The political upheaval and worldwide plague we are still suffering has led us down a dark path. But on December 21st, great hope appeared in the night’s sky. We witnessed the same star that will lead us, like the magi, to our Lord and Saviour.  May we fall on our knees and worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, as we enter into His holy presence. May we give Him our gifts–our whole hearts–and rejoice in the true meaning of this Christmas season.

Let’s commemorate this amazing event together with one of my favorite carols, We Three Kings. Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., wrote the lyrics and music in 1857. It was published in Carols, Hymns, and Songs in 1863. Below are the lyrics along with a YouTube video from King’s College, Cambridge.

We Three Kings (lyrics)

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Let’s follow the Christmas star, which points the way to peace, hope, and salvation. Wishing you a blessed Christmas season!

Lyricsforchristmas.com

The Christmas Star copyright 2020 by Karen Jurgens

Road to Bethlehem

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

 Have you ever had to travel a road to a new destination, not knowing what to expect? God alone held your future, and all you could do was trust Him to take care of you. Mary and Joseph must have felt the same way on their long road to Bethlehem. Let’s imagine together what that journey may have been like.

Mary sat, rocking gently side-to-side on a donkey led by her husband Joseph. As they traveled the ninety long miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, she had several days to ponder about the supernatural events of the last nine months.

Beginning with Gabriel’s angelic visitation, Mary was astounded at the announcement that God had chosen her, a virgin, to be the mother of His promised Messiah.

And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’ ~ Luke 1:35 NKJV.

Why her?

A poor, fourteen-year-old Jewish girl from a strict, religious family who was betrothed to a carpenter, also devout. But why couldn’t God have waited until after their marriage to avoid the scandal of a child conceived out-of-wedlock?

Joseph had confessed to her that he had been planning to “put her away” quietly so that she wouldn’t be disgraced in their community—not to mention avoiding the penalty of death by stoning.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

She shuddered and drew her cloak more tightly around her shoulders, recalling the dream Joseph had shared with her. God had reassured him that her unborn child belonged to the Holy Spirit and not to a man.

‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’ ~ Matthew 1:20b-21 NKJV.

She bowed her head and silently thanked God for His protection, deliverance, and especially for her husband’s obedience to God’s instruction.

Her thoughts turned to her relative, Elizabeth.

More supernatural signs had appeared before her eyes that revealed she herself wasn’t the only woman who had conceived by a miracle.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible ~ Luke 1: 36-37 NKJV.

After Gabriel’s announcement, Mary had risen in haste to visit Elizabeth. Upon her unexpected arrival, Mary’s voice called out a greeting, and Elizabeth returned it with a prophecy.

And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord’~ Luke 1:41-45 NKJV.

What role was Elizabeth’s child going to play in this drama of the ages? As Mary witnessed the miracle of Elizabeth’s swollen belly, she marveled. It was just as Gabriel had announced.

Then Mary’s heart surged with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and words of thankfulness and praise poured from her lips.

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever’
~ Luke 1:46-55 NKJV.

For three months Mary had stayed with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth recounted the puzzling story of how her husband Zacharias had been serving in the Temple six months earlier and had experienced some sort of angelic vision. He couldn’t relate what had happened because he was now mute and unable to speak. Right after that, Elizabeth had become pregnant and was rejoicing that the Lord had graciously taken away the shame of barrenness in her old age.

No one understood what had happened to Zacharias, but Mary reasoned that the silent man seemed to be at peace, waiting expectantly for the baby’s birth, no doubt.

After three months, Mary had returned home, and her belly continued to swell.

She hadn’t meant to worry, but what could she and Joseph possibly offer in the way of parenting such a precious, Holy child? People continued to gossip and look down on her as time progressed. She dreaded fighting the rejection and ridicule this Child would likely face in their community. Raising Jesus would not prove easy.

Then the unexpected occurred.

She heard the news of the census, which forced the couple to register in Bethlehem, as Joseph was of the house and lineage of David. She welcomed an escape from the gossip surrounding this Holy Child. Much better to give birth in a strange place where no one would question the parentage of God’s Son. Though difficult and seemingly unending, this trip proved far better than staying in Nazareth.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

Joseph paused at the top of a hill, halting the donkey and interrupting Mary’s thoughts. He turned around to her, eyes shining, and he ran his hand through his dusty beard. He pointed. “Look up ahead! Bethlehem. Our journey will be over soon.”

Relief and thankfulness swept through Mary. God had brought them safely to their destination. She joined hands with her husband and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. The baby in her womb kicked, and she cradled her belly. As the first contraction stabbed her, she doubled over. 

She searched Joseph’s face anxiously. “Please, let’s hurry. Time is short.” 

Dear Father in heaven, may we give birth this season to the heart of heaven that has been growing and swelling in our spirits. May this next year be full of God’s glory, and may the Lord’s light shine upon us with favor and blessing. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens copyright 2018 All rights reserved

The Birth of Hope

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 NKJV

Christmas Day may only last 24 hours, but its message of hope to the world rings strong and true 365 days a year. Let’s enjoy a post that brings HOPE to the forefront during this Christmas season.

Do you think Mary dreamed God-given dreams? Perhaps even becoming the Mother of God? From their study of the Scriptures, every girl knew of the promise that Messiah would one day be born of a virgin. So, can you imagine her shock when Gabriel appeared, unfolding God’s purpose for her life? Chosen above every other woman, Mary listened as the angel told her she would carry the Promised One, Messiah, in her womb. She even discussed with this heavenly messenger the biological technicality of how this pregnancy were possible, seeing as how she was a virgin. All she had to do was trust God, and the Holy Spirit would deposit this immaculate conception inside her—a marvelous mystery of Scripture fulfilled.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel ~ Isaiah 7:14 NASB.

Like Mary’s physical womb, God fills up our spiritual wombs with godly hope and dreams. We must guard them carefully to avoid spiritual abortion. Our enemy, described as a roaring lion, is secretly lurking to devour us and steal our deepest desires.

But sometimes God may give us a dream and then call us to move. And it may seem to make absolutely no sense.

God moved Mary in the last days of her pregnancy due to a census registration in the land. Instead of staying home in her warm bed surrounded by family and friends, Joseph placed her on the back of a donkey and led her to Bethlehem.

Why did God do that to her at a time so close to her delivery date?

When they arrived, Mary was in hard labor. Although imperative that Joseph find a place for her immediately, even that was tenuous. No room at the inn for a mother-to-be, but a smelly stable full of animals and straw was available. I imagine that Mary was grateful for any place she could lie down and give birth to Jesus, even if it meant being surrounded by a chorus of moos, baas, and neighs of animals witnessing this great event.

The blessing of the birth taking place in Bethlehem is also a fulfillment of Scripture.

‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity’ ~ Micah 5:2 NASB.

It’s easy to understand from a human perspective how a stable in Bethlehem would be God’s perfect plan. In Nazareth, Mary’s reputation was tarnished by this out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Which of those prejudiced townsfolk would have understood that this was the Savior of the World? This great event had to take place where Mary and Joseph were strangers, as well as apart from crowds registering for the census.

The angels appeared in the skies that night to the shepherds in the fields, who came running to witness the miracle told to them. Could that announcement have been possible in Nazareth? With all the gossip during those nine months, perhaps no one would have believed that Messiah, instead of an illigitimate baby, had been born.

God always brings glory to Himself, and that is what He did the night of Jesus’s birth. He glorified His name through the birth of His Son, who was born both fully God and fully man. The sinless One was born to die thirty-three years later for the sins of every person. The time to worship Him is now as we celebrate His divine entrance into the world.

No matter what trials you face in this life, Jesus brings ultimate hope. Like Mary, may you conceive and carry God-given dreams, and may this Christmas season birth in you the hope of heaven.

Finding Jesus in Hanukkah

Although Hanukkah has come and gone early in 2021, its truths are still relevant as we enter the season of Christmas.

The Hanukkah celebration isn’t just for Jews. If we look closely, we’ll find Jesus Christ, both the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, at its very core.

First, some history…

The significance of Hanukkah is embedded in a miracle. The second Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem following the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Seleucid Empire. The Jews expelled these pagans, after which the Jews purified the Temple. During this Feast of Dedication, eight menorah candles were lighted, one for each day. The flames required sacred olive oil, but there was only enough oil to last one day. In spite of the impossible circumstances, the flames miraculously burned all eight days.

Today, Jews celebrate this minor religious holiday not only to remember this miracle but also to commemorate the victory God gave to Jewish freedom fighters, the Maccabees, in 139 B.C.

Jesus celebrated Hanukkah…

The gospel of John gives us the only account of Jesus during Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication. In John 10, we find Jesus walking in the Temple along Solomon’s porch.

Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly’ ~ John 10:24 NKJV.

This group of unbelievers (much like a lynching mob) didn’t want the truth—they had already decided Jesus was a blasphemer, and they only wanted His words to legally condemn Him. But Jesus responded with a clever answer.

Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one’ ~ John 10:25-30.

Then the Jews took up stones to kill Jesus, claiming their right to do so since He had made Himself equal with God, a sin in Jewish law punishable by death. But Jesus proved His deity another way.

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him ~ John 10:37-38.

This mob refused to believe Jesus’s miraculous works, which proved His supernatural identity. Instead of waiting for them to cast their stones, Jesus slipped away and withdrew to the region of the Jordan.

But isn’t it ironic that just as the Maccabees had driven unbelievers out of the Jewish Temple, now unbelievers were driving out the Son of God from that very Temple?

Jesus’s true identity…

Jesus claimed to be the light of the world.

He [John] was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world ~ John 1:8-9.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life’ ~ John 8:12.

‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world ~ John 9:5.

What does Jesus, the light of the world, have in common with this Festival of Lights, beginning at sundown on November 28th, 2021, and concluding on December 6th?

The symbol of lights comes from the lighted menorah candles, which burn for eight days and nights. As Hanukkah’s candles light Jewish homes, so Jesus lights the lives of believers.

God created our spirits with a God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. When we’re born again, the war against unbelief is won, expelled from our hearts. Then our spirit’s “temple” is purified by the blood of the Lamb shed at the cross. The Holy Spirit fills our spiritual “menorah” with His sacred oil and ignites our hearts with the flame of belief. We shine with the eternal light of Jesus living within us, as a lighted lamp for the world to see.

The lamp of the body…

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light’ ~ Matthew 6:22.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ ~ Matthew 5:14-16.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light ~ Ephesians 5:8.

Final Thoughts…

God provides several prototypes of the miraculous advent of Messiah in the Old Testament. Jewish believers will understand how Jesus shines through the eight candles of the Hanukkah miracle, but now it’s time that Christians also discover this truth. Judaism and Christianity fit together like a hand in a glove.

As we come into this season of Christmas, let’s remember that the light of God came into the world through the birth of His Son, Jesus. May we rejoice, as did the shepherds that Holy Night, in the salvation message the angels brought to earth, announcing that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14.

May our eternal spiritual menorahs burn brightly. May all the world see the light of Jesus, our Messiah, shine through our lives. 

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2020: Finding Jesus in Hanukkah by Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Freedom from Chains of Injustice

 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Acts 16:22-24 NKJV

Some people may have experienced landing in a prison cell, like Paul and Silas, guilty of no wrongdoing. Although the agony of confinement tortures the guilty, it must be unbearable for the innocent. We would expect nothing but grumbling and complaining about such injustice, but Paul and Silas’s reaction was just the opposite.

How did Paul and Silas land in prison?

A slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination brought her masters great profit by telling fortunes. Paul became annoyed as she followed them around the city, declaring that they were servants of the Most High God who proclaimed the way of salvation. After several days of this constant repetition, Paul had enough and cast out the spirits speaking through her. Her masters became enraged at their financial loss, so they dragged the two men before the town’s magistrates and blamed them for teaching unlawful customs.

With their clothes torn off and their bodies bruised and bleeding, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison and their feet bound with chains. Around midnight–a dark, cold, and hopeless time–they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners listened, amazed that anyone could express joy and love for God in such terrible circumstances.

The result? God also listened and responded from heaven.

Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 

Acts 16:26 NKJV

The jailer awoke and, supposing all the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword to kill himself. Paul cried out to him, “‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!'” (Acts 16:28b NKJV). This supernatural display of God’s power brought the jailer to his knees, asking Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved.

They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.

Acts 16:31 NKJV

The jailer took Paul and Silas to his home where he washed their wounds. Then Paul preached the gospel to the jailer’s entire household and baptized them into their new faith. Afterward, the jailer fed them a meal and greatly rejoiced in his and his family’s new spiritual birth.

And justice is served…

The next day, the magistrates heard what had happened, and the prison keeper told Paul and Silas they had their freedom. Instead, Paul objected to their unjust treatment as Roman citizens, which scared the magistrates because they had acted unlawfully.

 But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.’

Acts 16:37 NKJV

Not only did they escort them out of prison, but they pleaded with the men to leave their city.

What is the key to deliverance from chains of injustice?

Singing songs of worship and praise. Prayer. When we glorify God, He responds with His everlasting love, which breaks every chain of bondage.

Let’s turn our eyes away from our unjust suffering and look to God.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

1 Peter 3:14, 17 NKJV

Here is an old hymn you may remember that captures the spirit of Acts 16, called Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

His word shall not fail you he promised
Believe him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

by Helen H. Lemmel

Therefore, let us hope in God. Whatever chains of injustice may bind us, let’s pray and sing, resting in the knowledge that He alone is able to deliver us out of bondage.

Freedom from Chains of Injustice copyright by Karen Jurgens 2021

The Sixth Trumpet

 One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

Revelation 9:12 NKJV

Great interest abounds on the subject of Bible prophecy, especially concerning where we may be on the timeline of the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments. In my studies I have come across some amazing discoveries that may support where we now stand.

Many students of prophecy pinpoint Jesus’s return for His bride at the sounding of the seventh trumpet judgment in Revelation 11:15-19, which is based on 1 Corinthians 15:51-52:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV

How does this relate to the sixth trumpet?

Assuming the last trumpet in 1 Corinthians occurs during the seventh trumpet judgment in Revelation, what will happen when the sixth trumpet sounds? Let’s take a look at how close we may be to that day when all believers will go up to meet Jesus in the clouds.

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.

Revelation 9:13-14 NKJV

Spiritual eyesight…

How amazing to realize there is a world of activity around us and in the heavens that we cannot see with our mortal eyes. Revelation, however, is a book that gives us a look into that invisible world. Our glimpse in chapter nine reveals four fallen angels who initiate the slaughter of one-third of earth’s population. How do they do that? The next verses explain:

So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. 

Revelation 9:15-17 NKJV

Some scholars claim these two hundred million riders to be actual troops, perhaps from the Orient. (It is an interesting side note that several of their national flags use the same colors: red, yellow, and blue.) Others, like myself, believe these verses describe an invisible army, perhaps originating from that part of the world.

Another question: why are the horses’ heads like lions? Nothing terrifies people nor animals more than a lion’s roar. Scripture describes Satan as as a roaring lion, roaming about and seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The implication here is that great fear accompanies these plagues.

Mortal eyesight…

What is the literal explanation of this army, two hundred million strong? We see them plainly in the spiritual dimension, but what do they look like in the physical dimension? Let’s observe them by examining the following microscopic picture taken by the CDC:

Do you recognize it? Isn’t it interesting that its colors are the same as the breastplates described above. Another interesting fact is that fire, smoke, and brimstone are also red, blue, and yellow, respectively. Additionally, Scripture tells us these three things are in hell and the lake of fire.

By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their [the horses’] mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.

Revelation 18:19 NKJV

The horses’ tails look like serpents’ heads, whose bites can be lethal. The serpent reminds us of Satan in the Garden of Eden who deceived Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, resulting in spiritual death. So, deception may also play a big part in these plagues, the same as fear does.

We may conclude that the four fallen angels have unleashed deep fear and deception regarding three deadly plagues via two million invisible “horsemen.” These affect the entire world, killing one-third of the earth’s population.

Could we be living in the days of the sixth trumpet?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your protection from the fear and deception of these three plagues sweeping the earth. As we wait for Your glorious appearing, may we purify our hearts and proclaim Your gospel of salvation to a lost and dying world. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Launch out into the Deep

“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Luke 5:4b NKJV

Have you ever gone fishing? Today we have fishing poles, but in Jesus’s day, fisherman used nets. As their main income and food source, a bulging net of wiggling beauties was every fisherman’s hope. Let’s see how Jesus used this industry to teach a kingdom principle we can apply to our lives today.

In the beginning…

Jesus began His ministry by speaking to crowds even before He had called His disciples. One day at the Lake of Gennesaret, the people pressed around Him, yearning to hear the word of God. Jesus saw two fishing boats tied up at the shore, so He got into one and asked a fisherman, Simon, to push the boat out a little from the land. This became a pulpit from where He taught the multitudes.

Obedience became the catalyst for a miracle…

After Jesus had finished speaking, He made a strange request of Simon, who sat in the adjoining boat. “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4b). Simon, along with other fishermen, had toiled all night without catching a single fish. Although weary, he agreed to do so at the Lord’s bidding.

And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

Luke 5:6-7 NKJV

The astounding result…

When both boats began to sink under the weight of hundreds of fish, Simon Peter fell down at Jesus’s knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (v.8). Jesus replied, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (v.10).

The two brothers, James and John, were amazed at such a miracle. As soon as their boats reached land, they left everything behind and followed the Lord. Thus, Jesus had tapped three men to become His first disciples.

How does this same principle apply to us?

When Jesus enters our lives, everything changes! God performed a miracle at the cross where He took our sin and placed it on Jesus, the only One who could pay the price with His sinless blood. May we fall on our knees and thank Him for offering us His righteousness and the priceless gift of salvation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

But it doesn’t stop there–He also makes us fishers of men and gives us power through the Holy Spirit to witness to the lost.

 ‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'”

Acts 1:8 NKJV

As we are living in the last days before Jesus’s return, how important it is to witness to the lost! These are crucial days, and the time is short. As Jesus said, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest‘ (Luke 10:2 NKJV). Many people are still waiting to hear the good news of the gospel. As believers, we are called to to spread the gospel in our own spheres, wherever we are planted.

Today Jesus is calling us to launch out into the deep. Are you willing to let down your net for a catch?

Dear Heavenly Father, let us not fear, but give us boldness to take the good news of the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth. May our nets overflow with saved souls for Your kingdom. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Miraculous Deliverance in Revelation

As we saw in the previous post, King Darius believed in the God of Daniel after witnessing Daniel’s miraculous deliverance from the lions. The king declared:

‘I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.’

Daniel 6:26 NKJV

However, in a day soon to come, a different ruler will arise who will do just the opposite. Instead of a world of peace and godliness, it will be a terrible day where God will pour out his wrath on all the earth. However, just as He rescued Daniel, God has a miraculous deliverance planned for His church.

How it all began…

Jealousy

Remember Satan’s desire to overthrow God’s kingdom, which sealed his eternal fate? God cast him and one-third of his angel followers out of heaven. Since then, Satan’s goal has been to deceive mankind into worshiping him instead of God and to add their souls to hell’s kingdom.

How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15 NKJV

Deception

Unlike King Darius, a new ruler (who Scripture calls the beast) will arise to control the world with a one-world political and economic system. His sidekick, the false prophet, will create a one-world religion and perform great signs, deceiving people to worship the beast as God.

The beast will face assassination but will magically come back to life after three days, indwelt by Satan himself as Anti-Christ. Following this miraculous sign, he will force every person on earth to take his mark (his name or his number 666) on either the right hand or forehead, without which no one can buy nor sell. The Anti-Christ will force all people to worship the image of the beast or lose their lives, just as in the story of Daniel.

The Anti-Christ will then make a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, but halfway through will break it by seating himself in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, proclaiming to be God. Every person who has his mark will fall down and worship his image, but the Jews will flee to the mountains in Jordan, called Petra, where God will protect them until Christ’s Second Coming. (See Revelation 12:6)

Capture

During the seven-year Tribulation, suffering will occur on all sides. God will pour out His wrath through the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments, while the Anti-Christ will persecute Christians and Jews.

Where will the Church be now?

God’s wrath is meant for the wicked, not the righteous. Although there is debate about the timing, the Rapture will snatch away all believers in Christ in a nano second and take them to heaven for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV

Those left behind who get saved after the Rapture will endure unbelievable suffering, as they cannot buy or sell without the mark. If caught and captured, they will face a guillotine as punishment for their faith in Jesus. On the other hand, those who take the mark of the beast are cursed by God forever. These will suffer under God’s judgment poured out upon all mankind.

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.

Revelation 14:9-11 NKJV

Miraculous Deliverance

The last great battle, the Battle of Armageddon, will take place on the plains of Meggido. Many nations will converge on tiny Israel to annihilate it from the earth, thus believing they are annihilating God from the earth. Instead, they are in for the greatest surprise of their lives as they look upward.

‘Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’

Revelation 19:11-16 NKJV

Justice

Jesus will defeat the beast and his armies, and He will cast the false prophet and the anti-Christ into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. The double-edged sword from Jesus’s mouth will kill the armies, and the birds will feast on their flesh. Also, God will bind Satan for 1,000 years then release him for a short time and finally cast him into the lake of fire. The White Throne Judgment will take place where God will judge the wicked and also cast them into the lake of fire.

Decree

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), King of heaven and earth and all creation.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’

Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV

Conclusion

As one man, Daniel, experienced miraculous deliverance, so shall all the earth one day soon. The pages of Revelation write the next story, and many of us will witness it. Perhaps its pages are a mystery to those who have never read or studied it. This is the time to take part in the blessing promised to all those who read that book.

Although Revelation describes deep mysteries, the most important thing to understand is that Jesus is coming again soon, and we must make ourselves ready for His return. Revelation reveals Jesus Christ as King above all kings and Lord of all. Salvation in Him protects believers and frees us from fear of the coming tribulation.

‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.’

‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’

And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:12,16-17 NKJV

Are you ready for God’s miraculous deliverance?

Dear Lord, may we understand the greatness of Your glory as our Deliverer from the wrath to come. Draw all men to Yourself that we may know You as Lord and Savior. Thank you for providing miraculous deliverance through salvation in Your Son. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Miraculous Deliverance in Revelation by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All rights reserved

Miraculous Deliverance in Daniel

Have you ever experienced a miraculous deliverance? Many stories exist about God’s delivering His people from bondage. Today I’m going to relate the first of two—one from antiquity and the other yet to come.

“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss.”

Daniel 6:1-2 NKJV

Jealousy

Due to the excellent spirit in him, Daniel received high favor from King Darius such that the king considered giving him authority over the entire realm. The kingdom’s satraps and governors, smitten with envy, plotted against Daniel. They tried to dig up charges against him or find mistakes he had made, but all they could uncover was his faithfulness. “Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God’” (v.6:5 NKJV).

Deception

“‘King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree…’” (v. 6b-7a NKJV). These men connived a plan to remove Daniel from his lofty political position by appealing to the king’s vanity. If anyone prayed for thirty days to a man or god and not King Darius, he would be cast into a lion’s den. What’s more, they insisted that the law be signed according to the law of the Medes and Persians, making it unalterable. Even if the king wanted to, he wouldn’t be able to reverse it.

Capture

Although aware of the decree, Daniel continued in prayer three times a day, as was his custom. These men found Daniel in the act and reported his guilt to the king. Darius, forlorn, realized he had been tricked, but there was nothing he could do to save Daniel from the irrevocable law. “So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you’” (v.6:16 NKJV).

The king spent a fitful night fasting from food and pleasures, unable to sleep. Early the next morning, he ran to the den and cried out, “‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’” (v.20b NKJV)

Miraculous Deliverance

“Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you’”(v.6:21-22 NKJV).The king was thrilled and gave orders that Daniel be lifted out of the den. What’s more, Daniel had no injuries whatsoever because of his belief in his God.

Justice

Furious, the king then ordered the guilty accusers, along with their wives and children, to be thrown into the lion’s den. Before they hit bottom, the lions crushed their bones and devoured them alive.

A New Decree

King Darius wrote a worldwide decree to all the people of every nation and language on the earth.

“I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” (v.26-27 NKJV).

Can you imagine what the world then must have been like after such a decree? What a wonderful command to fear and worship the living God!

Our present-day, however, is just the opposite. Like the story of Daniel, godless men plot and plan to persecute those who worship the true and living God, bringing us to the second story, which is yet to be. (To be continued in the next blog post…)

Dear Lord, thank you for encouraging us through the story of Daniel. You are a God of miracles and a God of deliverance both then and today. May we trust You to deliver us in a day of persecution. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Miraculous Deliverance in Daniel by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2021 All rights reserved

A Blessed Memory on Father’s Day

How many of us have Fathers who are in heaven? For those like me, Father’s Day is empty. I miss those times of celebration when we would have a big meal together. To show my love and appreciation, I would give Daddy a gift and a Father’s Day card inscribed with a personal note. Year after year, our routine never faltered. But sometimes a foreboding thought would dimly cross my mind: Would this be our last year to celebrate?

The last celebration arrived, but thankfully, I didn’t know it. Fortunately, we camcorded it back in 1994, and I was able to watch it again today. It’s odd to watch yourself twenty-seven years ago, but perhaps the oddest revelation is seeing what you missed at the time. I had never noticed how lovingly protective my father was, especially toward my two young daughters. Behind his easy-going and joking nature, a lion kept serious vigilance.

That lion would protect us through a terrible, unexpected time when my marriage ripped in two. He provided for us so that the girls and I could have secure and happy lives. The lessons he taught me gave me courage and strength to face the future. The older I become, the more I grow like him, and the beauty of his legacy lives on.

Our heavenly Father

In addition to our earthly fathers, we Christians take comfort in our relationship with Father God. When Jesus walked the earth, He taught about His heavenly Father, who is perfect in every way. Let’s count some of those ways together:

God is a good, good Father. So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God’ (Mark 10:18 NKJV).

God sent us a Savior. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16 NKJV).

God gives us good gifts. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17 NKJV).

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).

God is our provider. ‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!‘ (Matthew 7:11 NKJV).

God is our healer. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:14-16 NKJV).

God has a good plan for our lives.For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).

This day of remembering our earthly fathers may be bittersweet, but feasting on our good memories brings comfort. May we also be deeply thankful to our heavenly Father who has provided not only for our sojourn on the earth but also for our eternity with Him. As Christians, we have the blessed hope of being reunited with our fathers and loved ones in heaven. Most importantly, we will see Jesus face-to-face and spend eternity worshiping Him.

Now, won’t that be a grand Father’s Day?

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NKJV

May the Lord grant you comfort, joy, and peace on this special day.

A Blessed Memory on Father’s Day by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All rights reserved

Blessed Shavuot and Pentecost

Wishing everyone a joyous celebration of Shavuot and Pentecost! This is the time to re-read the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. This story teaches us that sacrifice is an important part of unconditional love. Like Ruth, God always blesses those who show kindness with His goodness and mercy. Let’s remember anew the quote Ruth made famous: “…for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:116b).

What exactly is Shavuot? As Christians, we are more familiar with the term Pentecost. Let’s explore this festival’s Jewish and Christian roots for a deeper understanding of its meaning.

Jewish Shavuot…

Tori Avey explains in her words: “Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people, and occurs on the 50th day after the 49 days of counting the Omer. Shavuot is one of the three biblically based pilgrimage holidays known as the shalosh regalim. It is associated with the grain harvest in the Torah.” (Read more at Toriavey.com)

Chabad.org also has some interesting festival background: “Shavuot 2021 (a two-day holiday, celebrated from sunset on May 16 until nightfall on May 18) coincides with the date that G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai exactly 3,333 (!) years ago. It comes after 49 days of eager counting, as we prepared ourselves for this special day. It is celebrated by lighting candlesstaying up all night to learn Torahhearing the reading of the Ten Commandmentsfeasting on dairy foods and more. Learn more about Shavuot” at Chabad.org

Christian Pentecost…

When did Shavuot turn into Pentecost (its Greek name)? It began on the forty-ninth day or seven weeks after Jesus ascended into heaven. Christ spoke of His sending the Holy Spirit several times to the disciples.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

JOHN 14:16-17 NKJV

Tell me more

Jesus also explained the Holy Spirit’s role in their lives, and why it was necessary for the Spirit to come.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

JOHN 16:7-11 NKJV

That day arrived

Acts 2 tells about this supernatural event. The disciples, along with Mary and a few others, had convened in the Upper Room, praying and waiting on the promised Helper. On that Pentecost day, the Holy Spirit descended like flames of fire resting above each person’s head.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

ACTS 2:1-4 NKJV

Peter preached…

Many Jews from different countries happened to be in Jerusalem at that time to celebrate Shavuot, and they heard these men, full of the Holy Spirit, speak in each one’s native language about the mighty deeds of God. The Jews laughed, claiming the disciples must be drunk, but Peter rose up and preached to them all, quoting from the prophet Joel:

“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

ACTS 2:14B-21 NKJV

Jesus also explained the difference between John the Baptist’s water baptism and the fire baptism of the Holy Spirit:

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

ACTS 1:4-5 NKJV

Water versus Fire…

At salvation, Christians are baptized with water, which represents the washing away of sin and being filled with the Holy Spirit. But Pentecost is a baptism of fire by Jesus Himself through the Holy Spirit, usually with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. What is the purpose of this second baptism?

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

JOHN 16:13-15 NKJV

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

ACTS 1:8 NKJV

May we all experience the wonderful power of Pentecost in our lives.

Dear Father, thank you for sending us the Comforter, our Helper, to live inside our spirits. As you did in the day of your disciples, send us fire from heaven and baptize us in Your power and anointing. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Blessed Shavuot and Pentecost by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All rights reserved

Have You had Your Vaccination?

Today’s most popular topic of conversation revolves around the question, Have you had your Covid vaccination?

I’m not going to meddle in anyone’s personal decision, whether it’s a Sign me up, gotta have it or a No thanks, I’ll pass response. Much debate bats back and forth and will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Instead, I want to inquire about your spiritual vaccination.

A Spiritual Vaccination?

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: (Psalm 103: 2 NKJV)

As Christians, let’s remind ourselves of the wonderful “vaccination” of benefits we receive from the Lord, beginning at salvation. Here’s one list from Psalm 103. It is the Lord Jesus…

3 Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:3-5 NKJV

His shed blood erases our sins and heals us from sickness and disease (v.3).

The wonderful feeling of freedom from all guilt and shame is only available at the foot of the cross through the blood of the Lamb. God casts our sins into the Sea of Forgetfulness and never fishes for them again. Also, the blood Jesus shed at the whipping post heals us from sickness and disease. Our spirits mature in His blessed sanctification, and the Lord clothes us in His robes of righteousness.

As our Redeemer, He mends the breaches in the walls of our souls and pulls us out of destruction (v.4a)

This last year has inundated us with varied breaches of one kind or another. We may have experienced overwhelming physical, mental, financial, or emotional hardships that have punched like a fist out of the blue. Regardless of the destruction we may have suffered, Jesus is our wall mender. He builds back the places that have holes to make us complete in Him. We can place whatever needs repair at the foot of the cross and rest assured that the carpenter from Nazareth will mend the breaches in our lives.

He blesses us with His tender love, overflowing with kindness and mercy (v.4b).

The Bible warns that in the Last Days, men’s love will grow cold. Witnessing riots, shootings, and lawlessness strips souls of innocence and hardens hearts. The remedy? Spending time with Jesus in prayer and reading God’s Word. He restores our damaged hearts with His tender love, kindness, and mercy, which we then freely give away to others. As David writes in Psalm 23, He restores my soul (v.3) and Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (v. 6).

He blesses us with good food for a healthy life and slows down our aging process (v.5).

Choosing whole organic foods is our ticket to good health and long life. The expression, You are what you eat, is full of wisdom. God has provided us with all good things which we can fully enjoy for our physical and spiritual health: O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8).

A spiritual vaccine passport?

Along with the vaccine debate is the idea of the vaccine passport, which would divide everyone into one of two camps: either freedom to move about normally or imprisonment. How does the idea of a “vaccine passport” apply to us spiritually?

Did you know that believers have marks in the spirit?

The born-again Christian has a passport of freedom that God bestows on each one at the point of salvation. Let’s look at Scripture in Leviticus 8:22 where sacrificial blood was applied to the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe. Blood on the ear symbolizes the mind of Christ to think pure thoughts; the thumb symbolizes our hands to do the work of the Lord, and the toe represents our commitment as the Lord’s servants to follow where He leads.

Another important benefit is our “passport” into heaven.

At salvation, all believers’ names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21: 27 describes the New Jerusalem as follows: …And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (NASB). Consequently, at the judgment of sinners (called the Great White Throne Judgment), those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Revelation 20:15).

Have you had your spiritual vaccination yet?

Debate may rage over the Covid vaccine, but not over God’s spiritual vaccine. Its safety and benefits cancel all debate. If you’ve never accepted Jesus as Savior, today is the day to receive salvation and rejoice as the angels write your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. This spiritual vaccination cleanses us of sin, transforms us into a child of God, and guarantees our entrance into heaven where all believers will live with the Lord for eternity.

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation! Selah

Psalm 68:19 NKJV

Thank you, Lord, for the many benefits we enjoy as believers. We praise you for spiritually vaccinating us with Your blood against sin, sickness, and disease. Thank you for our spiritual passport that marks us for blessings on earth and opens the doors of heaven to us in eternity. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Have You had Your Vaccination? by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved

The Blessedness of Dwelling in the House of God

The Blessedness of Dwelling in the House of God by Karen Jurgens
 
Who desires God’s blessings today? Let’s come together in His house for spiritual refreshment.
 
How lovely is Your tabernacle,
Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.
Selah
 
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage?
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
Selah
 
God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You! ~ Psalm 84 NKJV
 
 
 

The Passion of Christ

The Passion of Christ

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness

Romans 3:23-25a NKJV

How will you be spending Good Friday this year? My desires today are:

  • to humble myself before Him;
  • to be still and know that He is God, my Saviour, and my Redeemer;
  • to meditate through Scripture on the depths of His sufferings;
  • to remember His sacrifice through taking communion;
  • to thank and worship Him for His gift of salvation;
  • to listen to what the Holy Spirit would speak to me.

On this holy day of Passion week, may we take time to prayerfully ponder the meaning of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Let’s remember the ways Jesus shed His precious blood and the benefits He purchased for each of us. It cost Him everything, but by His grace, it costs us nothing. How wonderful that salvation is a free gift!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

Christ shed His blood in seven places.

Let’s discuss the seven places Christ shed His blood (if you wish to read a medical explanation of how Jesus could be born with pure and sinless blood, click HERE).

The seven places where Jesus shed His blood fulfilled Old Testament Scripture in Leviticus 16. When the Jewish High Priest made atonement for the sins of the people once a year, he sprinkled blood seven times on the mercy seat, seven times in front of the mercy seat, and seven times on the horns of the altar. (Click HERE to read the full account in Leviticus 16:11-19 NKJV.)

The first place Jesus shed His blood happened during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NKJV). Just as in the Garden of Eden where Man lost his state of innocence through Adam’s sin, it was in this garden that Jesus’s blood began the redemption process for all mankind.

The second place occurred when Pilate ordered His scourging.

They flogged the back of Jesus with thirty-nine lashesjust under the legal limit of forty. “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26 NKJV). This blood paid for all our sicknesses and diseases: “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b NKJV).

The bruises he bore under His skin marked the third place He bled for us. 

“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’ (Matthew 26:67-68 NKJV). This blood was shed for our inherited weaknesses or iniquities, as Isaiah states. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5a NKJV).

The crown of long thorns the soldiers wove and pushed onto Jesus’s head was the fourth place He shed His holy blood. 

This blood gives us the mind of Christ, freeing our thoughts from the control of the enemy. (Click HERE to read this account in Matthew 27:27-31 NKJV.)

When the centurion drove the nails into Jesus’s hands and feet, these were the fifth and sixth places Christ bled for us. 

His blood-stained hands freed us to receive all that God has for us and to lift our hands in holy prayer (Click HERE to read 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV). His blood-stained feet gave us back dominion on the earth that we lost through Adam’s sin. Through His blood, we can claim righteousness and power over Satan wherever our feet touch the ground (Click HERE to read Luke 10:19 NKJV).

The blood and water that came out of His side was the seventh place He shed His blood for us. 

After Jesus had surrendered His spirit into God’s hands, the centurion speared His side. (Click HERE to read John 19:31-37 NKJV). The release of blood and water proved medically that Jesus’s heart had burst, making this blood the provision for the healing of our broken hearts.

Dear Lord, may we truly understand the depth of Your love for us. Thank you for suffering and dying in our place on this holy day. We worship You, precious Lamb of God. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

May the Lord touch you as we continue worshiping with “Oh The Blood” by Kari Jobe with Gateway Worship.

The Passion of Christ, copyright 2021 by Karen Jurgens

Resurrection Week: Palm Sunday

Have you ever wondered about the significance of waving palm branches to the Lord? Let’s glean a richer understanding of this Palm Sunday celebration. Come along as I share this nugget from God’s treasure chest with you.

“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna!“ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The King of Israel!’”

John 12:12-13 NKJV

Here’s the story…

As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them ahead to find and untie a colt on which no one had sat. The Lord instructed them to answer anyone who questioned their actions by saying that the Lord had need of it, so they would allow it. As the disciples obeyed, it happened exactly as Jesus had said. They spread their cloaks over the animal’s back where Jesus then sat and led him down the hill into Jerusalem.

When the multitudes who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they ran to meet Him. They laid their cloaks on the ground and cut down leafy branches as a “red carpet” for Jesus’s entrance into the city. The excited crowds consisted of those from Bethany who had witnessed Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead and those in Jerusalem who had heard about this great sign. They congregated joyfully around Him, waving palm branches and chanting Scripture taken from Psalm 118:25-26:  “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13 NKJV).

The Jews intended to cast off Caesar and his Roman rule and crown Jesus as their king. This uproar, however, distressed the Pharisees because they were losing the fight to suppress His popularity. Caiaphas expressed fear over what would happen to them politically, realizing they had to side with Rome against Jesus in order to save themselves.

What’s the significance?

What is the significance of people waving palm branches? We can trace this practice in both the Old and New Testaments.

In Leviticus 23:39-44 (Click HERE), the Israelites waved beautiful palm branches for seven days during the Feast of Tabernacles (also called the Feast of Booths or Sukkot). This feast memorializes how God brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt.  (For more study about the Feast of Tabernacles, click HERE.)

During Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people rejoiced by waving palm branches in His honor.  They welcomed the deliverance they believed He was bringing to them—freedom from Roman tyranny and the political occupation of Israel. They honored Him as a king riding victoriously into His kingdom. A worldly king would come riding on a horse—a symbol of war—but He came riding on a donkey’s colt—a symbol of peace.  Later the disciples would understand how this act fulfilled Zechariah 9:9:

“‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

NKJV

Lastly, we find a future waving of palm branches during a thrilling time in heaven.  Revelation 7:9 describes those who will be saved out of the Great Tribulation wearing white robes and holding palm branches. They will cry out, “‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (v.10). (Click HERE to read more about it.)

Do you understand why waving palm branches is significant to God?  It represents people showing thanks for God’s deliverance.

  • In Leviticus, God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and entrance back into their Promised Land.
  • The Gospels describe how the Jews expected deliverance from Rome’s political tyranny and the beginning of Messiah’s reign.
  • Revelation reveals the Lamb of God who will deliver a multitude from the evil rule of the Anti-Christ. They will stand before God’s throne and will serve Him day and night in His temple.

The triumphant entry into Jerusalem will happen one day in the future.
At the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus will be riding on a white horse, not a donkey’s colt.  He will come to make war on the Anti-Christ and destroy his reign. This is the age when the Messiah’s eternal reign will begin. (Click HERE to read Revelation 19:11-16.)

As we joyfully wave our palm branches on Palm Sunday, let’s remember to be deeply thankful to God for His gift of deliverance.  Jesus loosed us from the bondage of sin and death and gave us the right to become God’s sons and daughters through Jesus’s shed blood. We will be joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom forever.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

John 1:12 NKJV

Dear Lord, thank you for becoming our King of kings and Lord of lords. We wave our palm branches to you with hearts full of thanksgiving and praise for Your gift of deliverance. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

For Such a Time as This

For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens

Happy Purim! Purim takes place this year on February 25-26, 2021. I’m re-posting to again commemorate this blessed season and share Queen Esther’s amazing story. Jerusalem is now the official capital of Israel, and Netanyahu is still Prime Minister of Israel. God had strategically placed President Trump in the White House for this time in history. Let’s remember that God is in control, not a political party or a European secret society. Let’s not fear but rejoice as we look to God and place our trust in Him and His perfect plan.

God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing.

International secret societies may laugh at us common folks. Their ultra-rich members think they’re the ones who clandestinely hide an evil secret—that they control the world’s future, driving it headlong into the coming one-world government.

However, as Christians, we’ve read the end of the Book. Revelation comforts us that Jesus will return, destroying the anti-Christ’s seven-year one-world system at the Battle of Armageddon. Then Jesus will set up His kingdom without end—the Judeo-Christian Kingdom of God.

What about today? God made no mistake about our existence at this time in history. You and I are destined to be here now.

So it was with Hadassah, a beautiful Jewish girl who attained royalty in Persia during the 5th-century BC. She had no idea she had been chosen by God to deliver her Jewish people from annihilation until she was in the thick of a life-and-death battle. Her story began when her cousin, Mordecai, sent word about what wicked Haman, a close adviser to the King, had plotted.

And Mordecai told [Hathach] all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews.He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people ~  Esther 4:6-8 NKJV.

What could Esther do to defend the Jews from Haman’s evil plan?  Mordecai had directed her not to breathe a word about her ethnic background. Her husband, King Ahasuerus, had no idea she was a Jew.

Esther communicated with frantic messages back and forth to Mordecai, who was clothed in sackcloth and ashes. In response to her questions, her cousin replied with deep wisdom—words we quote even today:

‘For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’  

Esther 4:14 NKJV

Esther threw herself into her destiny, willing to sacrifice her life for the Jews if necessary—and she broke a law that could have done just that.

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’

Esther 4:15-16 NKJV.

God anointed Esther with great favor in the king’s sight, and he promised to grant her petition up to half his kingdom. In response, Esther extended an invitation for the king and Haman to attend a banquet on the following two days.

Then Queen Esther replied, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated.’  … Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!’

Esther 7:3-4, 5-6a NASB

After the King understood that his top political adviser had devised the plan to annihilate the Jews, he commanded Haman to be hanged on the gallows—ironically, the one on which Haman had constructed to hang Mordecai.

In response to their deliverance, the Jews celebrated, feasting and sending food to one another. This feast is called Purim, named for the lot Haman cast for the day he would annihilate the Jews.

It’s clear that Queen Esther was promoted to the palace to serve God’s purpose, which came to pass through her humility and obedience.

But Esther’s story has recently been repeated in our modern times.

On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United States Congress. He pled his case for protecting Israel from her enemies, today’s Persia. Like Queen Esther, Netanyahu is a Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin. Like her, he pled before the mightiest nation of the world on the afternoon before a very auspicious day: PurimCoincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.

God answered Netanyahu by placing a pro-Israel President into the Oval Office in 2017. This is a man who not only honors and defends Israel and her rights of existence but also defends the rights of Christians to worship in freedom. Coincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.

God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing. You and I were born for such a time as this.

What is God asking you to do for His kingdom in these days?

For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021. All rights reserved.

The Birth of Hope

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 NKJV

Christmas Day may be almost a week behind us, but its message of hope to the world still rings strong and true. Let’s enjoy a former post that brings HOPE to the forefront as we ring in 2021.

Do you think Mary dreamed God-given dreams? Perhaps even becoming the Mother of God? From their study of the scriptures, every girl knew of the promise that Messiah would one day be born of a virgin. So, can you imagine her shock when Gabriel appeared, unfolding God’s purpose for her life? Chosen above every other woman, Mary listened as the angel told her she would carry the Promised One, Messiah, in her womb. She even discussed with this heavenly messenger the biological technicality of how this pregnancy were possible, seeing as how she was a virgin. All she had to do was trust God and the Holy Spirit would deposit this immaculate conception inside her—a marvelous mystery of Scripture fulfilled.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel ~ Isaiah 7:14 NASB.

Like Mary’s physical womb, God fills up our spiritual wombs with godly hope and dreams. We must guard them carefully to avoid spiritual abortion. Our enemy, described as a roaring lion, is secretly lurking to devour us and steal our deepest desires.

But sometimes God may give us a dream and then call us to move. And it may seem to make absolutely no sense.

God moved Mary in the last days of her pregnancy due to a census registration in the land. Instead of staying home in her warm bed surrounded by family and friends, Joseph placed her on the back of a donkey and led her to Bethlehem.

Why did God do that to her at a time so close to her delivery date?

When they arrived, Mary was in hard labor. Although imperative that Joseph find a place for her immediately, even that was tenuous. No room at the inn for a mother-to-be, but a smelly stable full of animals and straw was available. I imagine that Mary was grateful for any place she could lie down and give birth to Jesus, even if it meant being surrounded by a chorus of moos, baas, and neighs of animals witnessing this great event.

The blessing of the birth taking place in Bethlehem is also a fulfillment of Scripture.

‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity’ ~ Micah 5:2 NASB.

It’s easy to understand from a human perspective how a stable in Bethlehem would be God’s perfect plan. In Nazareth, Mary’s reputation was tarnished by this out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Which of those prejudiced townsfolk would have understood that this was the Savior of the World? This great event had to take place where Mary and Joseph were strangers, as well as apart from crowds registering for the census.

The angels appeared in the skies that night to the shepherds in the fields, who came running to witness the miracle told to them. Could that announcement have been possible in Nazareth? With all the gossip during those nine months, perhaps no one would have believed that Messiah, instead of an illigitimate baby, had been born.

God always brings glory to Himself, and that is what He did the night of Jesus’s birth. He glorified His name through the birth of His Son, who was born both fully God and fully man. The sinless One was born to die thirty-three years later for the sins of every person. The time to worship Him is now as we celebrate His divine entrance into the world.

No matter what trials you face in this life, Jesus brings ultimate hope. Like Mary, may you conceive and carry God-given dreams, and may this Christmas season birth in you the hope of heaven.

The Birth of Hope by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2020

The Christmas Star

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; ”

(Luke 21:25a NKJV)

Did you hear that the Christmas star is reappearing on December 21st?  Saturn and Jupiter will once again come together in the night sky and form what is also called the Bethlehem Star. This sign in the heavens hasn’t been witnessed exactly like this since the 13th century. (Read more HERE.)

But what about the star’s appearance in the first century?

 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’”

Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV

The birth of Christ occurred during an era of political unrest and upheaval, much like our day.

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”

Matthew 2:3-4 NKJV

The chief priests and scribes knew the prophecy well. They told the magi,

“In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel’” (Matthew 2:5-6 NKJV).

Herod’s heart was black with envy and murder. He pinned down the magi about the exact time the star had first appeared. Then he instructed them to report back to him regarding the Child’s whereabouts, pretending that he also wished to worship Him.

This star led the three magi on until it rested above the place sheltering the holy family.  

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV

God supplied the material and spiritual needs for His Son’s thirty-three years on earth. The gold represented His kingship; frankincense for His high priesthood; and myrrh for His suffering and burial.

“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

Matthew 2:12 NKJV

This Christmas season is unlike any the world has experienced. Ever. The political upheaval and worldwide plague we are suffering have led us down a dark path. But on December 21st, great hope will appear in the night’s sky. Look up! We will witness the same star that will lead us, like the magi, to our Lord and Saviour.  May we fall on our knees and worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, as we enter into His holy presence. May we give Him our gifts–our whole hearts–and rejoice in the true meaning of this Christmas season.

Let’s commemorate this amazing event together with of my favorite carols, We Three Kings. Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., wrote the lyrics and music in 1857. It was published in Carols, Hymns, and Songs in 1863. Below are the lyrics along with a youtube video from King’s College, Cambridge.

We Three Kings (lyrics)

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Let’s follow the Christmas star, which points the way to peace, hope, and salvation. Wishing you a blessed Christmas season!

Lyricsforchristmas.com

The Christmas Star copyright 2020 by Karen Jurgens

True Thankfulness

What does true thankfulness look like? Let’s delve into the Scriptures for a picture of this deep emotion, that it may inspire us as we thank God for our blessings this year.

“’I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.'”

John 11:25-26 NASB

Have you ever been disappointed if your prayer wasn’t answered in your timing?

We can surmise that Mary and Martha felt intense disappointment when Jesus came too late to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Each sister had a unique emotional reaction to Jesus’s arrival, although each greeted Him with the same words: “‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11: 20-21 NASB). I imagine that in the four days since Lazarus’s death, they had often repeated this wish as they grieved.

The sister of reason and responsibility

As soon as Martha heard that the Lord was approaching, she didn’t wait for Him to call her. She ran to Him first. No tears, no scolding for tarrying. Instead, she professed her deep faith in the Messiah.  “Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You’” (John 11:22 NASB).

 They conversed about the concept of resurrection in relation to her deceased brother, and Jesus announced that Lazarus would live again. Martha acknowledged that Lazarus would be raised at the resurrection, but Jesus took the opportunity to clarify His true identity.

“’I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.’ She replied, ‘Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.’”

John 11:25-27 NASB

The sister of deep love and emotion

Mary, on the other hand, had chosen not to accompany Martha to the outskirts of town to meet Jesus. Perhaps her heart was too torn with grief.  But when her sister raced back and whispered secretly that Jesus was calling for her, Mary ran to Him.

“So when Mary came to the place where Jesus was, she saw Him and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.”

John 11:32-33 NASB

Next, we see Jesus weeping, and we observe the reaction of the crowd to His display of emotion. Not only did they marvel at the Lord’s deep love for Lazarus, but they also wondered. Why hadn’t He come sooner to save this man’s life?

Can’t we imagine the crowd’s shock when Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away? Even Martha cautioned Him about a four-day stench. Jesus, however, commanded: “’Lazarus, come out!’” (John 11:43 NASB).

Although the story ends with the miracle of Lazarus in his graveclothes hobbling to the entrance of the tomb, we aren’t privy to the rest of the story. But we can imagine everyone on their knees, believing in and worshiping the Messiah who had just proved His identity as the resurrection and the life.

The last visit

The next time we find Jesus in Bethany was shortly before His crucifixion. Martha again served the meal as Mary sat at the feet of the Lord.

 “Mary then took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

John 12:3 NASB

Her sacrifice of lavishing a year’s wage upon Jesus was an act of deepest gratitude for resurrecting her brother.

How does this story relate to us?

What a valuable lesson! No, Jesus isn’t ignoring our prayers, even when all appears lost. He arrives at the right time and performs a miracle of resurrection in a way we couldn’t have imagined.

Some of us may be rational like Martha and question God. The Lord will reason with us about our disappointments and help us to understand. He is the resurrection and the life every day, not just on Resurrection Day. Like Martha, may we serve Him with a gift of deep gratitude.

Others may be emotional like Mary and weep at Jesus’s feet. The Lord is kind and compassionate, and He weeps with us. He shares our deepest grief out of His perfect love. Like Mary, may we fall at Jesus’s feet and lavish Him with a sacrificial gift of worship.

Since we are all born in original sin, our spirits are like that dead body stinking in the grave. But Jesus doesn’t turn away from us in our spiritual rottenness. Instead, He calls us to come forth into His marvelous light of salvation, making our spirits alive.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

Are you truly thankful this year? As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables, let’s express deep gratefulness to Jesus, especially for His free gift of salvation and grace.

Dear Father, we thank you out of a grateful heart for all Your blessings in 2020. We bring you our unanswered prayers and lay them at the foot of the cross. We believe in a God of resurrection power who can bring life to what appears to be dead. Most of all, we praise You for Your free gift of salvation and pray that many would believe in You today. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2020: True Thankfulness: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Walking on the Water

This year has shaken the world to its core. I’m more than ready to return to normal life. How about you? Has your life changed? Regardless of what you may have lost, there is a lighthouse of hope and faith shining in the distance. We may be uncertain about our future, but we can be certain of WHO holds our future. Jesus. He will always be our answer to whatever we face along life’s road.

Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’

Matthew 14: 28-29a NASB

Has Jesus ever extended His hand, called you, and said, Come?”  In this topsy-turvy boat of 2020, we yearn to grasp the comforting, outstretched hand of our Savior, but there’s a catch.

Walk on the water?

Jesus had sent his disciples ahead of him to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During that windy night, the Lord appeared in the distance, walking on the water. The disciples initially cried out, thinking they had seen a ghost.

“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid’”

Matthew 14:27 NASB

Peter’s boldness tested the veracity of the Lord’s identity. After Jesus called to him, he stepped out of the rocking boat and kept his eyes on Jesus. Miraculously, the water supported his weight. He took one step, then another. Just when he might have grown a bit confident, the wind kicked up, causing a distraction.

“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” 

Matthew 14:30 NASB

When we take our eyes of faith off the Lord, fear causes us to sink into a sea of doubt.

Twenty-twenty has been a year of immense change.

In some ways, our lives may never be the same. Regardless, we mustn’t be fearful of the windy, unfamiliar days on which we now tread. Jesus will always keep us safe. We can trust Him with all our hearts.

“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

Matthew 14:31 NASB

How did the story end? Here is the best part.

“When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind stopped. And the rest of the disciples who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’”

Matthew 14:32-33 NASB

As Jesus calms the storms in our lives, our hearts will burst with gratitude. We will fall on our knees and worship Him. Like the disciples, we have proof of His identity—He is indeed the Son of God.

Jesus is extending His hand and saying, Come!” Are you ready to step out of your boat and walk on the water?

Dear Jesus, when we’re in a storm, may our eyes stay focused on You. Give us courageous faith to walk on the water to Your outstretched hand. We praise You for keeping us safe in Your loving arms. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Copyright 2020: Walking on the Water: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Trusting God Through Devastating Circumstances

I scrolled through social media posts and fell to my knees.

“The fires are getting closer and we have been ordered to evacuate. We don’t know what to take with us or if our house will even be here when we can return. Please pray!”

“Our business has been ransacked and our building is on fire. We’ve lost everything. Please pray!”

“We’re at the hospital after we were attacked at a restaurant. My husband may not survive his injuries. Please pray!”

These messages of despair–just a few of many others– bring tears to my eyes, and I pray for God’s merciful hand of protection and deliverance for each one.

National Upheavals

When have there ever been such upheavals in our land? The United States has been blessed not to have fought a war on our soil until September 11, 2001. But today we have an internal war raging unlike anything since the Civil War. It is still hard to make sense of this conflict, although many theories abound.

In addition to our present circumstances, Friday marked the nineteenth anniversary of 9-11. We need to pause and remember what our nation suffered on that fateful day so it will never be repeated. Despite the horrors, we see its heroes—the police and firefighters who rescued so many trapped in burning buildings before the towers collapsed in a nightmarish heap of steel and dust. Those who lived to tell their story will be forever in debt to those brave people who sacrificed everything to save innocent lives. And let’s not forget the brave souls on flight 93 who sacrificed their lives. We will forever remember those who lost their lives that tragic day.

Where is God?

Through the current rioting, plagues, floods, and fires, where is comfort? Hope? Answers? Where is God?

The prophet Habakkuk shows us the answer. He takes us into his time of terror and destruction about 2,500 years ago when he also cried out to God:

How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 NKJV

How does this apply to us?

What applies to our lives from the study of the Babylonians’ (a.k.a. Chaldeans’) ancient invasion of Judah? When Habakkuk cried out to God to save the temple and God’s people, how did God respond?

Instead of stopping the overthrow of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, God assured Habakkuk that He, God, was in total control, and the Babylonians would be accountable for their evil actions. The prophet realized that God’s knowledge and wisdom was far above Man’s when God said, “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you (Habakkuk 1:5 NKJV).

But the prophet continued to question God, much like we do.

How can a holy God look on evil and allow the wicked to swallow up the righteous? Why doesn’t God stop this injustice?

God had an answer that we must hear, for it is as relevant today as it was in 588 B.C.

Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay. “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:2-4 NASB

Timing, patience, and faith

We must understand that God has a much bigger plan than we can imagine, and it has its own timetable. We must wait patiently for the answer to arrive, which is neither early nor late. God’s timing is perfect.

And most importantly…we, the just, must live by our faith, and, at the same time, understand that the lawless ones cannot due to the evil in their souls.

The rest of the book describes God’s greatness, strength, and goodness, which encourages Habakkuk. He prays an emotional prayer, asking God to show mercy through His coming wrath.

Can we praise God through our pain? Our suffering? Our fears? Habakkuk began with frantic desperation but ended with confident trust. His prayer inspires us to praise God, live in faith, and trust Him to guide us along narrow, rocky paths. Here are his words:

I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade us.
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Like Habakkuk, are you willing to trust God through devastating circumstances?

Dear Lord, help us who are suffering through these painful days. Even when we can’t understand why, we know you have a good plan to save us. Deliver us from evil, plagues, and natural disasters, and let us place all our trust in You. You are a good, good Father. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Copyright 2020: Trusting God Through Devastating Circumstances: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Is This the End of the Church Age?

Just as the disciples witnessed the beginning of the Church Age, are we witnessing its end?

Nothing about 2020 has been ordinary. This New Year’s cup has gushed over with one surprise after another. First, the Covid-19 Pandemic has gripped most of the world inside its tight fist.  Then civil unrest around our country and the world has produced rampant lawlessness. Many lives have been turned upside down by fear of the future as jobs and businesses disappear overnight. The swiftness of these events occurring almost simultaneously have left us stunned, asking, “What’s next?” Could this be the end of our civilization and culture as we know it?

What did the disciples live through?

The disciples lived through frightening upheavals after Jesus’s arrest, torture, and crucifixion. Peter had sworn only hours before that he would never forsake the Lord, even if he had to die with Him. As Jesus had predicted, Peter denied Him three times out of his fear of man.

While the distraught disciples took refuge together, Judas hanged himself over the regret of his denial of Jesus. Only John stood with the Lord and the women at the foot of the cross where they witnessed His death.

Although Jesus had told his disciples several times that the Son of Man would be crucified, they still acted in surprise. And even though Jesus had explained that He would be resurrected to life on the third day, it took time for them to believe it—especially doubting Thomas.

 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

John 20:24-26 NKJV

Nothing turned out the way the disciples had planned a few days earlier when Jesus had ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem. Following His death, they sorrowed in deep depression as evidenced by the two men who had walked to Emmaus and encountered Jesus unaware.

And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

Luke 24:17 NKJV

2020 hasn’t turned out as we planned.

So we find ourselves in unexpected turmoil and sadness today, questioning God about what is going on. Separation from friends and loved ones, closed churches, masked faces, and the rise of lawlessness—nothing has turned out the way we had planned in 2020. Like the disciples, we are sorrowing in depression over what we have lost.

But just as the disciples joyfully realized that all wasn’t lost after Jesus had appeared to them, so should we. They found Jesus, who gave them newfound hope and victory through the power of His death and resurrection. Every word Jesus had spoken to them had come true. Then they understood, and Jesus took the next forty days to prepare and commission them to be the foundation of the Church Age. The Age of Grace entered the world with free salvation of eternal life for whoever would receive it.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

The curtain of this age is closing.

This Church Age of God’s grace has endured for two thousand years, but I believe the curtain is starting to close. We are entering the final phase before the Tribulation begins, and it is perfectly normal that we are shaking in our shoes as we wonder what to expect. We are so like the disciples, aren’t we?

But just as the disciples had Jesus to prepare them for what to expect, so do we. God has spoken to us in His Word, telling us what these last days will be like and not to fear.

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32 NKJV

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV

 Read the words of Jesus as He explains the end of the age HERE. (Matthew 24: 3-44.)

We mustn’t waste time wringing our hands in anxiety and finding a place to hide until this evil time passes over us. We may feel lost like the men on the road to Emmaus, but Jesus will join us on our journey. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit in Acts Chapter 2 to give His disciples the power to witness to the world about Christ and His wonderful plan of salvation. Jesus is also giving us a new anointing, stronger than before, to live and witness in these last days before the Rapture.

As the disciples received this fresh anointing after they had gathered and prayed in the Upper Room, so we will also receive our fresh anointing as we gather to pray for revival.

We will receive a new anointing for these last days.

This is the hour to receive our fresh end-time anointing, just as in Acts Chapter 2. We are to use it to witness to the lost and invite everyone to enter the ark of salvation.

It’s also time for us to repent, wash our sins in the blood of the Lamb, and put on our white wedding clothes. We must get ready for our Groom to come to get us and take us to His home in heaven.

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:2-3 NKJV

Let’s rejoice that we are alive and participating in the end of this age. What a privilege to make ourselves ready to meet our King Jesus in the air! The time is short. Are you getting ready?

 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NKJV

As the world grows darker, the church grows brighter. As the world grows more evil, the church is growing stronger in righteousness and courage. Allow your faith to grow and sustain you during these transitional days. We may be mourning our past, but it doesn’t begin to compare to our future in heaven. Look up! The trump of God will soon be calling us home.

Are you ready to meet Jesus? If you’re not sure, you can be sure today. Please pray this prayer with me.

Dear Lord, I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I confess my sins and ask you to wash them away in the blood of the Lamb. I receive You into my life to be my Savior and Lord. I thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to be my Teacher and Comforter. Thank you, Lord, for saving me and writing my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And I rejoice that I will live forever with You in Your kingdom. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Final Grains of Sand

sands in hourglass

First published in 2015, I want to again share my thoughts with you this Father’s Day. This year marks the twenty-fifth year of my dad’s passing, and I miss him so very much. But I look forward to heaven where we’ll all be reunited with our loved ones forever.

During my regular run in a nearby park, I slowed to a walk in the midst of the growing afternoon heat, mopping away the perspiration dripping down my face. Close behind me, a father and his little girl held hands as they went along. Proximity provided me an ear to their conversation.

“I love you, Daddy, on Father’s Day.” Her excited voice bubbled up to him.

“I love you, sweetheart, every day!” His tone promised forever, unconditional love.

The exchange was precious, and a smile spread across my face, reminding me of my own father. The only thing I have of him now are my sweet memories since he went to heaven twenty years ago. How I yearn to have him on earth again, to walk hand in hand and tell him that I love him. Even though that’s not possible, I still have the rich legacy he left behind.

His love of sports…

Growing up, he shared his love of baseball with me. In summer, he taught me how to play softball by practicing batting and playing catch in the backyard after dinner. He took my mother and me to practically every Reds game, beginning at the old Crosley Field and continuing years later at Riverfront Stadium. We had great seats in the section where visiting VIPs would watch Opening Day, the Playoffs, or the World Series, and I have lots of famous signatures on my scorecard books tucked away for permanent safe-keeping.

IMG_1826 (4)

Although I still have his valuable collection of autographed baseballs and bats, my most precious possession is my memory of sitting next to him at the games, sharing a bag of fresh roasted peanuts while pestering him with all my annoying questions–whether foul tips count as balls or strikes, and who the players were—all which he patiently answered. Whether quoting RBI or home run averages, he lit up and was at his happiest when discussing the sport he loved most.IMG_1824IMG_1480

IMG_1817

Around the house, cutting the grass was one of his favorite jobs. Anyone who knew him would remember that because his lawn was always perfect. When I was a kid, our lawn’s size was an acre, and I used to sit on the front steps for hours and watch him mow. After he finished, we would sit together for a while and admire the fruit of his labor. Afterward, he would invite me to go with him to a nearby fast-food restaurant, Henry’s, for a celebratory orange soda. Each week during grass season we followed the same routine, and that memory of sharing those times with him is still a comfort today.

Another one of Daddy’s loves was water. Our family enjoyed boating on the Ohio River every summer, and I have fond memories of our outings. He loved to water ski, and it was his encouragement that helped me learn to slalom.

Skelton_dood_it_1942My dad was also a big tease with a great sense of humor. I can remember his laughter at comedy shows back in the ’60s like Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Carol Burnette. But he also played jokes on his own family. When I was about five or so, he convinced me that if I could sprinkle salt on a bunny’s tail, then I could catch it. That entire summer I ran around the backyard with a salt shaker but never could catch a single rabbit. I didn’t learn the truth until school began that fall, and I thought that he must have had a good laugh watching me zigzag around the lawn with that salt shaker. Just like with skiing and softball, he always encouraged me to keep trying.

His godly character…

He also passed on important lessons of character through his own example, for which I am eternally grateful. I learned about developing a strong work ethic as I witnessed him work tirelessly to provide well for his family. He is a true example of how to capture and attain the American Dream.

He taught me to be honest and never lie (the few times I tried, I always got caught).

I learned to be obedient to his rules and respectful to others in authority (he only had to take me over his knee once, never twice).

He always instructed me, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.” (I’m always working on that one.)

His example of keeping everything clean, neat, and in its place made a huge impression on me. Order and peace reigned in our home and, to this day, is an important priority. He always said, “Everything has a place, so put everything in it.”

IMG_1829 (2)Most of all, his love of Jesus Christ and public profession of his Christian faith spoke volumes to me, teaching me to always be an active church member, study the Word of God, and tithe the first ten percent of my income to the church. His courage and fearlessness to stand up and speak up for what’s right have been my bedrock over the years. Even though he is not physically here, the Christian convictions that he modeled live within me as my rich heritage.

Those dreaded words: It’s cancer…

In November 1994, a time arrived when he could no longer play his role as protector, and our roles reversed. On a day when he had routine prostate surgery, the doctor gave my mother the bad news. She wrote a note on the back of a dry cleaning receipt she found in her purse and handed it to me when I walked into his hospital recovery room. It’s bladder cancer. The doctor says it’s hopeless. At that point, my mother and I became his caregivers until his death on June 13, 1995—just a few days shy of Father’s Day.

Amid the sadness of that time, two specific occasions are picture-framed in my memory’s gallery. The first was after he was diagnosed with cancer and my mother had just told him the bad news. I entered their bedroom where he was standing and hugged him, saying, “I love you, Daddy.” We both shed tears. The last grains of sand in his life’s hourglass were swiftly slipping away.

The second was after he had been admitted to a nursing care facility for Hospice patients. His memory would come and go as he slipped into dementia, due to big doses of experimental chemo. One afternoon when he was lucid, I was guiding his wheelchair through the outdoor gardens where we stopped to admire beautiful flowers. I took that opportunity to thank him for being such a wonderful father and told him how much I loved and appreciated him. That was one of the final days that he recognized me, and I am eternally thankful to God that I was given a window to tell him one last time. Such a priceless gift.

So, as I look into the sky this Father’s Day, I breathe out these words toward heaven. “I love you, Daddy. On Father’s Day and every day.”

depression dove

Understanding Shavuot and Pentecost

What exactly is Shavuot? As Christians, we are more familiar with the term Pentecost. Let’s explore this festival’s Jewish and Christian roots for a deeper understanding of its meaning.

Jewish Shavuot…

Tori Avey explains in her words: “Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people, and occurs on the 50th day after the 49 days of counting the Omer. Shavuot is one of the three biblically based pilgrimage holidays known as the shalosh regalim. It is associated with the grain harvest in the Torah.” (Read more at Toriavey.com)

Chabad.org also has some interesting festival background: “Shavuot 2020 (a two-day holiday, celebrated from sunset on May 28 until nightfall on May 30) coincides with the date that G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai more than 3,300 years ago. It comes after 49 days of eager counting, as we prepared ourselves for this special day.”

“It is celebrated by lighting candlesstaying up all night to learn Torahhearing the reading of the Ten Commandmentsfeasting on dairy foods and more. Learn more about Shavuot” at Chabad.org

Christian Pentecost…

When did Shavuot turn into Pentecost (its Greek name)? It began on the forty-ninth day or seven weeks after Jesus ascended into heaven. Christ spoke of His sending the Holy Spirit several times to the disciples.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

John 14:16-17 NKJV

Tell me more

Jesus also explained the Holy Spirit’s role in their lives, and why it was necessary for the Spirit to come.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

John 16:7-11 NKJV

That day arrived

Acts 2 tells about this supernatural event. The disciples, along with Mary and a few others, had convened in the Upper Room, praying and waiting on the promised Helper. On that Pentecost day, the Holy Spirit descended like flames of fire resting above each person’s head.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

Acts 2:1-4 NKJV

Peter preached…

Many Jews from different countries happened to be in Jerusalem at that time to celebrate Shavuot, and they heard these men, full of the Holy Spirit, speak in each one’s native language about the mighty deeds of God. The Jews laughed, claiming the disciples must be drunk, but Peter rose up and preached to them all, quoting from the prophet Joel:

“Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Acts 2:14b-21 NKJV

Jesus also explained the difference between John the Baptist’s water baptism and the fire baptism of the Holy Spirit:

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:4-5 NKJV

Water versus Fire…

At salvation, Christians are baptized with water, which represents the washing away of sin and being filled with the Holy Spirit. But Pentecost is a baptism of fire from Jesus Himself through the Holy Spirit, usually with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. What is the purpose of this second baptism?

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

John 16:13-15 NKJV

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Acts 1:8 NKJV

May we all experience the wonderful power of Pentecost in our lives.

Dear Father, thank you for sending us the Comforter, our Helper, to live inside our spirits. As you did in the day of your disciples, send us fire from heaven and baptize us in Your power and anointing. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Trusting in the Mercy of God

The pandemic has taken the world by surprise, and daily information about its cause and remedy has poured forth from every direction. Conflicting opinions abound, making it difficult to know what to believe. How can we know the truth?

Instead of looking to the world, let’s search for answers by refreshing ourselves in the only source of Truth–God’s Word. What can we learn about such a time as this? I guarantee you’ll find a delightful surprise that will lift your spirits with hope and joy.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night

Psalm 92:1-2 NKJV

The Lord God is so faithful. He promises to always care for us, to never leave nor forsake us. The Old Testament tells one story after another of God’s care for His children through perilous times. Let’s review a few of them.

Story #1: Noah and the Ark

The Lord shut up Noah’s righteous family for forty rain-filled days and nights while He destroyed all life on the earth with a flood. Do you think those six persons got a bit claustrophobic as they waited several additional months for the waters to recede? What joy when they could set foot on dry ground and free the animals who must have also wearied of their confinement. Afterward, God made an eternal covenant with Noah.

It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Genesis 9:14-15 NKJV

What a blessed ending to such a long trial! People around the world have been shut up at home for a month or more, making us all the more empathetic for Noah. Fortunately, like the ark, our pandemic has an ending in sight.

Story #2: Moses and the Passover

“Let my people go!” Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Destination: the Promised Land.

But before Pharoah finally agreed to free the Jewish slaves, many plagues befell Egypt: blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased animals, boils on man and beast, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of the firstborn of both men and animals. God purposely hardened Pharoah’s heart in order to reveal His power and glory to the stubborn, unbelieving king of Egypt.

Let’s keep in mind that not only were the Israelites present when God sent these plagues, but also God supernaturally protected them. As the Jews witnessed Egypt’s suffering, their camp was spared. Only the final plague demanded that the Israelites take action in order to be saved—the establishment of Passover–a Jewish feast celebrated to this day.

‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Exodus 12:12-13 NKJV

Can’t we imagine the joy those captives experienced at their moment of freedom? After 430 years, God’s grace rescued them from slavery and set their feet on a path to the Promised Land. Likewise, God will supernaturally rescue us and set us on a path to freedom from this health crisis.

Story #3: Jonah and the Whale

Remember Jonah and the big fish? His disobedience to God’s command to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to the Ninevites had landed him in that dark, stinky jail cell. Shut up in the fish’s foul-smelling belly for three days and nights, Jonah repented and prayed mightily for deliverance.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
” (Read the rest of Chapter 2 HERE)

Jonah 2:1-2 NKJV

After Jonah vowed to be obedient to God’s command, the fish vomited him up onto dry land. Then God spoke again: “’Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you’” (Jonah 3:2 NKJV).

So, Jonah walked across that city–a three-days’ journey–and cried out that God was going to destroy Nineveh in forty days. The people, as well as the king, believed and heeded the warning. They donned sackcloth, proclaimed a fast, and earnestly repented of their sins.

Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Jonah 3:10 NKJV

Thus the people of Nineveh were rescued from certain destruction through citywide repentance centered on fasting and prayer. If this pandemic is the judgment of God for our rebellion against His Laws, can’t we also stay God’s hand through repentance, prayer, and fasting, just like Nineveh?

How does this apply to the current pandemic?

Calamities of all shapes and sizes have come to the earth in response to man’s disobedience and sin. But the Bible tells story after story of man’s repentance followed by God’s responses of forgiveness and deliverance.

By studying the character of God during distressing times, we find comfort and hope. We can rest assured that God will always protect and bring His children safely through all sorts of disasters. But do we have a role to play?

Let’s take action…

This Easter and Passover season, let’s repent, fast, and pray for God’s divine deliverance from the virus that has our world in its grasp. Just as the Israelites painted their doorposts with the blood of their Passover lamb, let’s plead the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, over our homes and families for supernatural protection. We can trust the Lord to keep us safe and bring us into His Promised Land. (Click to read Ephesians 6:10-18.)

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.

Psalm 57:1 NKJV

How are you trusting in the mercy of God during these present trials?

Dear Father God, we look to You in these times of pestilence and distress. We repent of our sins and ask You to forgive us and heal our nations from this virus. May we turn to You for protection and comfort. We plead the blood of the Lamb over us and our loved ones. Hide us under Your wings until this pestilence passes by. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

©KarenJurgens All rights reserved

Defeating Satan’s Deception

How can we defeat Satan’s deception?

Think back to all those magic shows we loved as kids. We would be spellbound, watching a man in a tuxedo tap his magic wand over a top hat and pull out a rabbit. Or how about those fascinating card tricks? And best of all was a woman sawn in two. All hoaxes, but we loved the thrill of being tricked.

But magic is evil. Think of a dark veil made up of lies and trickery that we wouldn’t—and couldn’t—see through. As Christians, though, aren’t we immune to deception?

In order to answer that question, let’s begin with a definition. According to Merriam-Webster, deception means:

the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid :  TRICK fooled by a scam artist’s clever deception

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deception

Where did deception originate? We would all point to Genesis. That old serpent, the devil, deceived Eve to believe a lie and commit an act of sinful disobedience. Let’s listen in on their conversation and pinpoint how Satan’s trickery worked.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Genesis 3:1-7 NKJV

Step 1: Twisting the truth

The first step involves questioning what God has said. (“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” ) Satan expected Eve to refute his question in order to engage her in a conversation to confuse her logic. But let’s review God’s exact words:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 NKJV

Now let’s backtrack. When God spoke this command to Adam, where was Eve? Apparently, not yet created. So if Adam had instructed her himself, it may explain Eve’s embellishment–that even touching the tree would result in death.

Step 2: Using Naivety Against Us

Satan knew that if he could deceive Eve about what God had said, he could win a battle against the Almighty. How? By dragging His trusting creation into the devil’s evil world of sin.

When Eve misquoted God’s command, the serpent used her mistake to his advantage. The serpent played upon Eve’s emotional naivety to convince her to bite the forbidden fruit. He dangled sparkling lies to convince her it wasn’t dangerous but would make her wise like God. He tricked her into trusting his words to be true.

Step 3: No Fear

Step 3: The serpent took away Eve’s fear of death. (“You will not surely die.” v.4) Remember, no one had ever died yet (her son Abel, not yet born, would be the first), so the concept of death was a great mystery. Satan’s false assurance must have given Eve comfort from her fears as she trusted the serpent’s words.

Step 4: Be Smart and Powerful

Step 4: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v.4). Here Satan claims to know God’s words, which he falsely twists. He tells Eve the end result of her potential disobedience, promising her that she will be equal to God Himself in power and knowledge. No longer will she take orders from God–she will be wise enough to make her own rules, to live her own way. The tantalizing promise of the knowledge of good and evil would be a glorious promotion to omniscience and omnipotence. And she fell for Satan’s bait–hook, line, and sinker.

Step 5: Justification of a lie

Step 5: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (v.6). Eve, no longer afraid to touch it, listened to Satan’s voice of justification. Who doesn’t want to be wise? Why not eat such beautiful fruit? Eve reached out to pluck the fruit and share it with Adam. At that moment, deception led to sin.

Like Adam and Eve, we can use our God-given free will to either obey or disobey. Our choice, yes, but also we must face the consequences.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

James 1:13-16 NKJV

How do we apply these truths to our lives today?

Lesson 1: Know God’s exact Word

Let’s make sure we know God’s exact Word so Satan can’t deceive us. He’s a master at serving up a glass of truth with a twist of lies. If the devil can confuse us about the truth, we drink it down, falling into deception and thus into sin. Memorizing and knowing the Word will cancel those plans.

When Satan tempted Jesus

Remember when Satan came to tempt Jesus after the Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness? Each time Satan tried to deceive Him, Jesus quoted Scripture to refute those lies mixed with truth. (Click HERE to read about it.)

Lesson 2: Naivety, our worst enemy

Satan deceives us to turn away from our beliefs at any age. Especially when we’re young, about to enter teen years, Satan uses our naivety to trick us into sin.

For example, kids will entice those who are inexperienced about the world, luring them with the promise of thrilling fun–drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. If they balk at first, the tempter will use other ploys, such as shaming them for not being cool, being a scaredy-cat, or threatening their inclusion in a group of friends. As innocent kids submit to rejecting their true beliefs in exchange for lies, their lives can be ruined, or in extreme cases, ended too soon.

Thankfully, Jesus provided forgiveness of our sins at the cross.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NKJV

Lesson 3: Living without fear of God

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:4 NKJV

Not too many years ago—back in the ’80s—kids used to wear tee-shirts emblazoned with No Fear. When the fear of authority and a living God are absent in the human heart and mind, falsely-enlightened people easily break rules and laws. No longer afraid of any repercussion or punishment, they have a cyclonic heyday, leaving behind a wake of destruction. Today we can especially witness the results of this deception in many crime-infested cities, failing schools, and corrupt governments around the world.

Beware of NO FEAR deception in the church. Have you wondered why Seeker-Friendly churches never display a cross or mention sin and its consequences? Their weekly talk is only positive, laced with the serpent’s classic cunning found in Genesis 3:1: “Has God indeed said,” and verse 4: “You will not surely die.” But a one-sided or twisted gospel is a deceptive gospel, smearing the truth of salvation and sanctification to afford sinners comfort and acceptance to remain as they are. And it’s another way Satan’s kingdom grows.

Churches must preach the truth of the whole gospel, which convicts sinners and brings them to the altar of repentance and saving grace.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23 NKJV

Lesson 4: Not little gods

Satan also promises to give us God’s power and knowledge to make us equal to God. His false reasoning convinces us that we won’t need God anymore. We can be our own little gods, following our own false wisdom.

This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

James 3:15-17 NKJV

Lesson 5: Don’t buy the lie

Where do we find this principle? Advertising, for example. Companies pay a fortune for an ad or video to convince consumers they can’t live happy, complete lives without their product. That’s the lie. They play on our emotions and our five senses to make us crave it, rather like Eve: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3:6)

Satan is waiting to deceive each one of us with his lies: good is evil and evil is good. He tempts us through sight, arousing our desire. He reasons falsely that we will benefit in some way–beauty, wealth, comfort, or status.

Here’s a description of Satan in Jesus’s words:

‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’

John 8:44b NKJV

Are Christians exempt?

No. Satan comes to everyone with his deception—even Christians. The difference is that the Holy Spirit provides us with the gift of discernment to know the truth so we don’t fall for Satan’s lies.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: …to another discerning of spirits, …

1 Corinthians 12: 7, 10b NKJV

Let’s discern the spirit of truth by reading and memorizing God’s Word. His Word is truth–our sword of the Spirit that divides truth from lies. With the Word in our mouths, Satan can never deceive us with his false trickery.

Let’s always be prayerful that God will give us His truth and wisdom to discern Satan’s clever deception.

Let’s conclude in agreement with Paul’s prayer:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Amen.

Philippians 1:9-11 KJV

How have you been victorious in using God’s Word to destroy Satan’s deceptive lies?

A Musical Christmas Lesson

Wishing you a belated Happy New Year!

I’ve missed posting on my blog since December, but these weeks have been reserved for resting and recuperating from the flu. The good news is that I was finally on the upswing and feeling back to normal, just in time for tying on my apron and heading to the kitchen for Christmas dinner. And although Christmas is many weeks behind us, it’s still a good memory. I want to share a story with you about what the Lord taught me during that season.

Early in December—before the flu—our family had planned a special holiday outing. I had purchased tickets for a concert in a nearby town where the venue was described as a charming theater in an old courthouse building. A relaxing evening with a symphonic jazz band and featured singers sounded like a good way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Upon our arrival, what a surprising sight greeted us inside. We had stepped back in time to creaking wooden floors, cement walls painted gunmetal grey covered with old posters of bygone days, narrow staircases with steel handrails, and groaning elevators designed more for carrying janitorial equipment rather than people.

After locating the second-floor theater, we settled into well-worn seats of red plush velveteen. The stale air roared with voices. Bobbing heads of every shade and style exchanged merry greetings with passersby searching for their ticketed rows of seats. On stage, high-heels and oxford dress shoes rushed across the floor on a time-sensitive mission. Violas and bass violins stood straight, and violins found their perches under tucked chins. Sequined dresses swept the floor, shimmering in bright stage lights. At one end, drums rat-a-tat-tatted and piano keys tinkled. A complete cacophony of dissonance.

Eventually a quiet swept over the stage, and its contagion gripped the audience into a hushed silence. The conductor walked solemnly to the front of a platform and bowed, signaling our applause. Clapping exploded like a bomb into the room’s acoustics, then subsided. One piano key sang out, and every instrument slid collectively into tune.

What good can come out of this?

My eyes roamed around the room. What kind of inspiring music could come out of such a musty, ancient place? I already regretted not traveling the extra miles to a downtown state-of-the-art venue featuring famous professionals. As I mourned over my mistake, beautiful string music began and sweetly beckoned a finger at the door of my heart.

My rising yawns cut off as the upbeat music carried me into its rhapsody. It didn’t take long before I was hooked. My soul stirred with delight and appreciation as each new song swelled from the stage and swept through the auditorium. Songs about Christ’s birth and the miracle of God coming down to earth in the form of a perfect, holy newborn. Angels trumpeting horns, proclaiming His birth as they led choruses of rejoicing. From jazz band to cultured symphony to rich-throated singers, I acknowledged my grateful surprise of this unexpected gift: deep love from the heart and soul of every stage performer’s instrument lavished itself upon the audience.

What must that holy night have been like?

I could envision through the music the rustic stable where Mary gave birth to Messiah. Almost smelling the animals’ earthy scent which enveloped the holy couple, I could imagine their clouded breath in the air as they snorted questions about who these intruders might be. The rough, wooden trough filled with straw would not feed them this night but would instead cradle the swaddled baby. Sweet peace must have filled the air and quieted the animal audience into reverent submission from their front-row seats as they witnessed the greatest story that would ever be told.

Have you ever wondered why God chose for His Son to make His earthly entrance into such poor circumstances? Humble, common parents in the midst of traveling for the census. Not even a decent indoor retreat for Mary’s labor and delivery. Yet, God provided and created a celebration fit for a king. The angels announced His birth—not to the world’s wealthy and royal—but to the lowliest class of people at that time–shepherds tending their sheep on nearby hills, drawn to that stable as human witnesses. Such a wonderful miracle, yet such a great mystery.

We can fully understand God’s symbolism as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He was placed in a manger, a trough from which animals eat, because He is our Bread of Life.

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ ”

Matthew 26:26 NKJV

Prophecy also described Him as the Good Shepherd, which made us, His followers, His sheep. We can likely recite Psalm 23, but here is another reference:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel. ”

Matthew 2:6 NKJV

The comparison between this humble concert venue and Jesus’s humble birth meshed with clarity. From this simple stage on a chilly December night came something more than wonderful: the message of God’s divine, perfect love poured from a blend of harmonious instruments and voices, just as the angels sang and played for the shepherds and all of heaven on the night of Christ’s birth, set in a simple stable.

This message isn’t just for Christmas–it’s for today and every day of the year.

Finally, the Lord showed me these concerns for 2020. Are you feeling inadequate or discouraged about your life? Have you recently lost a loved one and feel as though you don’t know how to continue? Are you unsure about your financial future? Seeking a godly mate? Trying to find God’s purpose to chart your future? Seeking physical healing and health?

God takes our commonplace lives and works miracles for His glory, just like He did on the night Jesus was born. Something very special can come out of a humbled life. He can take our lives and make them into something wonderful, but we must first lay down our selfish god of SELF on God’s holy altar. We all must die to SELF.

“ ‘But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’ “

Isaiah 66:2 NKJV

Have you been born again?

Have you surrendered your life to Jesus and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? You can do that now by praying a simple prayer, confessing your sins, turning away from them, and asking Jesus into your heart.

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ ”

Romans 10:9-11 NKJV

It’s what God does best–making us new creations in Christ Jesus, cleansing us from sin by His blood, and filling us with His Holy Spirit. Writing our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life and the Book of Remembrance. Making our lives a clean slate with a new story to write. Giving us the assurance of eternity in heaven where we will dwell in His presence forever.

May this be your best year yet as you serve the Lord. May He transform you and play His beautiful music through your life to bless others.

Wishing you all a blessed and prosperous 2020!

What do you need the Lord to do for you in 2020? Leave your prayer request in the comments and I will pray with you and for you. May God bless you richly.

Rejoicing in Christ’s Holy Birth

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas! God bless you as we celebrate the holy birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus. May His everlasting love and salvation be born in your hearts today. Please join me prayerfully in the lyrics of a familiar Christmas hymn.

It came upon the midnight clear,
    That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
    To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
    From heaven’s all-gracious King” –
The world in solemn stillness lay
    To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
    With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
    O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
    They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel-sounds
    The blessed angels sing.

But with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love song which they bring; –
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
    And hear the angels sing!

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
    Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
    With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
    Come swiftly on the wing; –
Oh, rest beside the weary road
    And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on
    By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever circling years
    Shall come the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth,
    Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song,
    Which now the angels sing.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Also seen occasionally as “It Came Upon A
 Midnight Clear”
 Erik Routley, University Carol Book (Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961)

Words: 
Edmund Hamilton Sears, in the Christian Register (Boston, Massachusetts: December 29, 1849), Vol. 28, #52, p. 206.
Afterwards published in Sermons and Songs, 1875, 5 stanzas of 8 lines.
Source: Edmund H. Sears, Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life (Boston: Noyes, Holmes, and Company, 1875), pp. 17-18.
©KarenJurgens All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 41: Conclusion

Welcome to the final chapter of our year-long study. What a wonderful time we’ve had studying God’s Word together! It’s been my honor to host you here and also on the Heart”wings” Ministry Facebook Page. Let’s take one last look at what we’ve learned this year about growing in the Fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Let’s take a look back and enjoy what we studied this year. All of our former posts will be linked under each heading for you to access here.

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Spiritual Renewal for the New Year / Exercise Your Faith / Born-Again Salvation / Fighting Spiritual Battles

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV

Intercessory Prayer / Servanthood / Bearing Fruit for the Kingdom / The Perfect Sacrifice

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV

Finding JOY in the midst of trials / Lost and Found / The Bride of Christ / The Joy of Resurrection

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. “
Matthew 28:6 NKJV

The Alabaster Jar / Palm Sunday / The Last Supper / The Passion of Christ / The Resurrection

“Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
Mark 9:50 NKJV

Peace with God / Finding God’s Peace in Relationships / Finding God’s Peace in the Sabbath / Finding God’s Peace in Conflicts

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
James 1:4 NKJV

Patience in Trials / The Patience of Job / The Parable of the Sower / Waiting on the Lord

“Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
2 Peter 1:5b-7 NKJV

The Woman at the Well / The Good Samaritan / David and Mephibosheth / Ruth and Boaz

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
Psalm 23:6 NKJV

God’s Goodness / God’s Good Creation / Christ’s Goodness / God’s Good Promises

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Defining Faith / Faith and Works / God’s Faithfulness / Our Covenant-Keeping God

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Philippians 4:5 NKJV

Meekness is Not Weakness / Strength in Gentleness

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
Romans 7:15 NKJV

Our Dual Natures

I trust you have grown in the fruit of the Spirit along with me this year. The fascinating thing about the Christian walk is that we are always in the process of growth. No matter how many times we may read a particular Scripture or study a specific topic, the Lord always teaches us something new.

We’ve reached the end of our journey, and bidding you farewell is bittersweet. I have been very blessed to walk with you down life’s path this year. May you be blessed each day as you continue to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

Please continue to follow me here on my blog, Touched By Him, for future posts where I’ll be sharing some thoughts for Christmas. I plan to continue posting as usual in January, as the Lord leads.

Dear Lord, thank you for this past year of growth in the fruit of the Spirit. Bless Your Word richly in each person, and water the seeds to grow up into mature plants. May we be known by our fruit, that we are Your disciples. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 40: Self-Control

Welcome to our study on the last Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL. Just because self-control is last doesn’t make it least important. On the contrary, it is the strongest one, holding the other eight fruits in place. Without the discipline of self-control, the other fruits of the Spirit would spiral wildly out of control. Let’s see how increasing self-control accelerates our spiritual growth and gives us victory in our lives. This week we’ll look at our struggle against the flesh.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

Romans 7:15 NKJV

The Legend about Two Dogs…

Have you ever heard the legend about two dogs living inside us? One is disobedient and selfish, the other gentle and loving. They constantly fight, like an eternal tug-of-war.

The Apostle Paul decried this human condition. As Christians, we try to quash our former rebellious nature (our iniquities) and walk in obedience to please God. When we accept Jesus as Savior, our sin nature dies but never goes away in this life. Hence, our two natures continuously struggle.

How do we win the struggle?

We win the struggle through self-control and sanctification–by studying the Word and communing with God through Jesus in prayer. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to control how we react to temptations that enter our lives. Without Him, we would have no hope. With Him, we always have the victory. As Paul gratefully proclaims, “It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (Romans 7:25 TLB).

The flesh and self-control…

The flesh certainly has its specific appetites, doesn’t it? We all have our own particular battles to fight. Check off which ones apply to your life:

  • The mouth-gate:
    • what we eat and drink
    • words we speak
    • oral addictions
  • The ear-gate:
    • The message we receive through music or the spoken word
  • The eye-gate:
    • What we watch on television, the computer, or at the theater
    • What we read
  • The feet-gate:
    • The places we allow ourselves to go
  • The hand-gate:
    • What we allow ourselves to do, hold, or touch

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

Back to the legend…which dog wins the fight? The one we feed the most. As we grow in sanctification, the struggle lessens. God gives us the power to overcome and be victorious through the fruit of self-control. Although we never “arrive” at perfection in this life, our blessed hope is that we will attain it in heaven through our Savior’s perfection.

How are you overcoming your struggles against fleshly desires? How are you developing self-control in areas of weakness?

Dear Lord, thank you for understanding our temptations and giving us the power to overcome them. It’s through Your Holy Spirit that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we live in victory as we grow in the fruit of self-control. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 39: Gentleness

Welcome to the second part of our study on GENTLENESS. This week we’ll look at James’s teaching as he defines meekness in greater detail. We’ll conclude with examples of strength founded in humble meekness that we can model from the lives of Moses and our Lord Jesus.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James 4:10 NKJV

How do gentleness and wisdom fit together? Click HERE to read James 3:13-18.

According to James, worldly wisdom is…

Unspiritual, earthly, and demonic, a kind of wisdom that has no substance of goodness. When others get ahead or attain success, bitter envy and jealousy rear their green heads. In competition, its red-hot ambition is not for the good of others–it’s purely selfish. James declares that envy and selfish ambition yield disorder and every kind of evil practice.

But heavenly wisdom…

The yield of heavenly wisdom is good deeds rooted in humility. Peacemakers sow seeds of peace and reap a crop of righteousness. Godly wisdom overflows with purity, peace, consideration for others, submissiveness, mercy, good fruit, impartiality, and sincerity.

May we always pray to receive God’s heavenly wisdom that allows us to grow in humble meekness.

Moses…

“(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)”

Numbers 12:3 NKJV

This passage of Scripture describes Moses as the meekest and most humble of all men. Bearing these powerful credentials of spiritual strength, God chose him to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land–a gargantuan task. He faced problems no one man has ever encountered, but God brought him through each one with success. Here are a few of God’s miraculous provisions: water in the barren desert pouring from rocks; daily manna from heaven; clothes and shoes that lasted forty years; a dry path through the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians; speaking face-to-face with Moses on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments on stone tablets; and God’s guiding presence in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

One story shows Moses’s humble gentleness toward his siblings, Aaron and Miriam. Apparently these two became upset after Moses had married a Cushite woman, and they began to criticize their brother’s leadership. “’Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). The Lord heard their words and became angry, dressing them down in front of the tent of meeting and dealing out retribution by making Miriam leprous. Aaron repented, and Moses pled with the Lord to take away Miriam’s punishment. (Click HERE to find out the rest of the story.)

Jesus…

Jesus shows His strength like a lion and His humble meekness like a lamb. From the Gospels through Revelation, He is depicted as the strong Lion of Judah as well as the humble Lamb of God. He embraced the little children to bless them (Matthew 19:13-14), and He treated women with respect and forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50).

The Scriptures about Jesus’s road to Calvary reveal the most about His gentle humility and controlled strength. Here are a few examples:

  • When Peter cut off the slave’s ear during Jesus’s arrest, Jesus rebuked Peter and performed a healing miracle (Luke 22:49-51).
  • Later when Peter denied knowing Him, Jesus sadly looked over at His disciple without a word (Luke 22:54-62).
  • He remained silent at the lying accusations of a mock trial and submitted to their physical torture (Mark 15:1-20)
  • When Pilate threatened Jesus that he held the power to either release or crucify Him, Jesus responded that God alone was in control of His fate (John 19:10-11).
  • Even as He was dying on the cross, Jesus forgave His enemies and voiced His will concerning His mother, Mary (John 19:25-27).
  • He forgave the sins of the thief on the cross next to Him (Luke 23:39-43).

Like Moses, have you ever struggled with humble gentleness as a leader of obstinate people? Have you ever forgiven an undeserving sibling or family member?

Like Jesus, have you forgiven your enemies–even in the face of the threat of death? Have you extended grace to them? Held your tongue when rejected or wrongly accused?

Whatever our trials, may we count them all joy because through them we will be made perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4) Our triumph and victory glorify our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we follow the humblest, gentlest and meekest man, the Son of God, and emulate His example.

Dear Father, thank you for teaching us about spiritual strength found within humble meekness. May we follow Your example and grow to be like You as we study Your Word and commune with You in prayer. May Your controlled strength shine through our lives as we humbly submit to You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 38: Gentleness

Welcome to our final month of study. During the next two weeks, we’ll define GENTLENESS and examine what meekness looks like through Scriptural examples. Our goal is to understand how to do our part so God can grow seeds of gentleness in our hearts and lives.

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:5 NKJV

Psalm 37

Let’s begin by defining GENTLENESS, also commonly called MEEKNESS. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being gentle, especiallymildness of manners or disposition.”

We’re weaned as children to understand meekness as someone who’s a wimp. Do you remember the cartoon, Popeye? One of the characters was a rotund man, even named Wimpy, who constantly ate hamburgers. Another example is hen-pecked Dagwood Bumstead in the cartoon, Blondie, who made the Dagwood sandwich an American cultural fixture. Even from childhood, we’ve been indoctrinated into the world’s definition: meekness equals weakness.

πράγματα / prágmata

But the Bible’s definition is the complete opposite. The Greek word written above is “prautes,” a challenging word to define in English. Picture a wild horse that’s broken and now under the control of a bridle. R.C. Trench in his classic work “Synonyms of the New Testament” says that “Prautes does not consist in a person’s outward behaviour only, nor yet in his relations to his fellow man…rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.  It is that temper of spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.”

Meekness means we have surrendered and entrusted our soul and spirit to God’s good control without argument or resistance. Therefore, gentleness implies great strength under control. It’s courage, not mousey fear; true humility, not false modesty; “a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense while being free from any desire for revenge or retribution.” (John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary)

How do we personally measure up to these standards? Let’s explore this divine strength in the Scripture by reading Psalm 37.

We see how Matthew 5:5 relates directly to Psalm 37:11. It says, “The meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” So, what does meekness mean in this Psalm and what does it have to do with God? Let’s read verses 5-8:

“Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.”

Psalm 37:5-8 NKJV

A portrait of meekness…

  • COMMIT: We commit everything to the Lord–our business, relationships, finances, health, fears–because we realize we are insufficient to deal with all the complexities of life. God is willing and able to sustain, guide, and protect us. (Verse 5a)
  • TRUST: We confidently place our trust in the Lord because we know God is on the side of the righteous. He will defend and vindicate us whenever the enemy attacks. (Verse 5b)
  • WAIT: This is perhaps the most difficult for us to do. Meekness means we are still and patiently wait for the Lord to bring His will to pass in our lives. In the middle of life’s storms, we are still and calm, trusting in God’s control and His willingness to work things out for our good. (Verse 7a)
  • DON’T FRET: Another challenge for sure! When the wicked go on their merry way in prosperity, it’s hard not to be upset or angry. Yes, it may feel very unjust and unfair. But since we trust God completely, it’s possible to rest in Him when we encounter opposition or setbacks. (Verse 7b-8)

If we have ever previously regarded gentleness as weakness, we now have a clear picture of its powerful, controlled strength. As Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, the meek will inherit the earth. What an amazing blessing awaits us as we understand how important it is to cultivate this strong fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Next week we’ll look at how the Book of James defines meekness and also how we see it reflected in the lives of Moses and especially our Lord Jesus.

How is God growing seeds of gentleness in your soul and spirit?

Dear Father, thank you for teaching us that meekness is strength under control. It takes divine strength to answer with a soft word or to turn the other cheek. Help us to commit, trust, wait patiently, and not fret as You work out Your good will in our lives. May we grow in Your sweet gentleness each day. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 37: Faithfulness

Welcome to our fourth study about FAITHFULNESS. This week will wrap up our study on this fruit of the Spirit. Let’s examine God’s faithfulness by continuing to look at the last four covenants. There is one that is very special to us Christians–do you know which one?

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV)

Various Scriptures will be included in today’s lesson.

The Mosaic Covenant…

This covenant between God and Israel was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God’s finger wrote out the Ten Commandments on tablets, and He also spelled out 613 laws for the Jews to live by. Breaking even one commandment made them guilty of all. The only path to forgiveness was the shedding of animal blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.

Leviticus 17:11 NKJV

The Law contained blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Signed and sealed by the Shechinah Glory in Exodus 24:1-11, this covenant was rendered conditional. (If you would like to read the 613 commandments, click HERE.)

The Land Covenant…

Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be you a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you will I curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

The Land Covenant, an unconditional covenant, is still very much in effect. It is an expansion of the original Abrahamic Covenant and emphasizes the promise of the Land to God’s earthly Jewish people in spite of their unbelief. The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership for the Land is unconditional. The Land Covenant, however, teaches that the enjoyment of the Land is conditional on obedience. (Read some provisions of the Land Covenant HERE.)

The Davidic Covenant…

The unconditional Davidic Covenant was between God and King David. You can read two accounts: the first emphasizes Solomon (click HERE) and the second emphasizes the Messiah (click HERE).

In summary, God made David four eternal promises: an eternal House or dynasty, an eternal Throne, an eternal Kingdom, and an eternal Descendant. This guarantees the eternal covenant since the Seed of David produces One who is Himself eternal: the Messianic God-Man, Jesus Christ.

The New Covenant and The Law of Messiah…

In relationship to the Church, the New Covenant is the basis of the Dispensation of Grace. In relationship to Israel, the New Covenant is the basis for the Dispensation of the Kingdom. The New Covenant itself is an unconditional covenant and therefore eternally in effect.

Behold, the days come,” says Jehovah, “that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them,” says Jehovah. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says Jehovah: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” says Jehovah: “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 NKJV

This unconditional covenant is between God and the entire nation of Israel. (Please note that this covenant is not Replacement Theology. It applies to the Church but is not made with the Church.) Further, it is now a replacement of the Mosaic Covenant, considered broken. It promises the blessings of salvation and the regeneration of the nation of Israel. It provides for the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and material blessings as well as the rebuilding of the Temple during the Millenial Age.

The New Covenant also contains the Law of Messiah: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), and “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Although the Law of Messiah has some of the same commandments as the Law of Moses, it is different in many respects. We now have no Sabbath law (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16) and no dietary code (Mark. 7:19; Romans 14:20).

Here is another difference. The Law of Moses said: “Love your neighbor as yourself “(Leviticus 19:18), making man the standard. The Law of the Messiah said: “Love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 15:12), making Messiah, who died for mankind, the standard.

Last, the Law of the Messiah provides a new motivation. Instead of the Law of Moses teaching, “Do, in order to be blessed,” the Law of the Messiah teaches, “You have been and are blessed, therefore, do.”

One New Man…

Here is a mystery: Gentiles have been grafted into this Jewish heritage and share in the blessings of this New Covenant. Two passages clearly explain it. The first is Ephesians 2:11-16: 

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Ephesians 2:11-16 NKJV

Romans 11:17 also describes the concept of partaking:

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, the Gentile believers.”

Romans 11:17 NKJV

The Olive Tree represents the place of spiritual blessings of the Jewish Covenants. The two types of branches partaking of the blessings are the natural branches, which are the Jewish believers, and wild olive branches, which are the Gentile believers.

However, the Blessing aspect, as highlighted by the New Covenant, included the Gentiles. The Church enjoys the spiritual blessings of these covenants, but not the material and physical benefits. The physical promises still belong to Israel and will be fulfilled exclusively with Israel, especially those involving the Land. However, the Church now also shares all spiritual benefits.

The blood of the Messiah shed at the Cross is the basis of salvation in the New Covenant. The blood of the Messiah ratified, signed, and sealed the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:1-10:18). The Church has become a partaker of Jewish spiritual blessings, but the Church is not a replacement for the Jewish people.

The Mosaic Covenant’s purpose…

An important purpose of the Mosaic Covenant jumps out at us. Is it possible for Man to keep all 613 commandments without breaking one of them? Of course not. Its purpose is to point out our sins and our need for a Savior.

Only Jesus lived a perfect life on earth without breaking one commandment. As God and Man, Jesus alone can identify with our human struggles, yet without sin. He is the Promise of God sent to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it.

The Land Covenant’s importance…

The special importance of the Land Covenant is that it reaffirms the title deed to the Land as belonging to Israel. Although she would prove unfaithful and disobedient, the right to the Land would never be taken from her. Furthermore, it shows that the conditional Mosaic Covenant did not lay aside the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant. It might be interpreted by some that the Mosaic Covenant displaced the Abrahamic Covenant, but the Land Covenant shows that this is not true.

The Impact of the Davidic Covenant…

The impact of the Davidic Covenant is its magnification of the Seed aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. According to the prophecy, Messiah would come from the Seed of Abraham, the Tribe of Judah, the family or house of David.

The Benefits of the New Covenant…

Our gift of salvation comes through Jesus’s death and resurrection. He died for all mankind. Although the majority of Jews don’t believe in Jesus as Messiah now, they will believe in the future. In Romans 11, Paul taught that the Gentiles share in spiritual blessings, but these are Jewish spiritual blessings attained through the Jewish covenants.

As believers in Messiah, all spiritual blessings are available to us, whether we’re Jews or Gentiles. Through Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins, believers reap spiritual benefits that would never be ours otherwise. The eight covenants of the Bible pinpoint exact provisions, which are valuable for a full understanding of Scripture.

Thanks for joining me this month for a fascinating study about faithfulness. Not only are we to be faithful to God and to one another, but God shows His faithfulness to us through His covenants. I’ve learned a lot from studying God’s eight covenants–I hope you did too.

Next month I’ll be combining each of our last two fruits of the Spirit, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL, into two-week studies. I’m looking forward to concluding our year-long Bible study and hope you’ll join me in November.

Which covenant of God’s faithfulness means the most to you?

Dear Father God, we give You thanks for teaching us about Your holy covenants with Israel. As Christians, we also enjoy the blessings and benefits of them, especially the New Covenant. Thank You for Your faithfulness to us. We praise and glorify Your Name throughout all the earth. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 36: Faithfulness

Welcome to our third study on faithfulness. This week we’ll explore how God shows His faithfulness to us and how we experience it in our personal lives. Just as in a marriage ceremony, God makes a covenant to be a faithful husband to us. Let’s relish every moment with this covenant-keeping God who never breaks a promise and who vows to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV

Today’s Scriptures are linked below in our study.

God’s Old Testament Covenants…

In the Holy Scriptures, God proves His faithfulness and the truth of His Word. Hebrews 6:18 states that God is not a liar, nor is He a promise-breaker of an unconditional promise He vows to fulfill. He keeps every covenant, every promise or foretelling that has or will come true. The Bible is full of one testimony after another of God’s faithfulness, which people still testify to today.

Did you know that the Bible mentions covenants between God and His people about 277 times? Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV).

Conditional versus unconditional...

A conditional covenant means God will fulfill His promise if Man is obedient to do his part first. Man’s failure to do so results in some type of punishment, but his obedience results in God’s blessings. The Edenic and the Mosaic Covenants are both conditional.

The Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Palestinian or Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant are unconditional. These are dependant on God Himself and are a sovereign act of God to bring blessings to His people.

How are these covenants meaningful to us? Today we’ll discuss four: the Edenic, Adamic, Abrahamic, and Noahic. As we progress, be thinking about how each one affects your life.

The Edenic Covenant…

God first made a conditional covenant with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and spelled out the rules for a blessed life. However, they had to first obey God’s direction.

“And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:15-17 NK

The Adamic Covenant…

This unconditional covenant came about after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Throughout the ages, mankind has been affected by this covenant, causing us all to be born in sin. God pronounced judgment on Adam, Eve, and the serpent as follows:


“And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’

Unto the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.’

And unto Adam he said, Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.'”

Genesis 3:14-19

The Abrahamic Covenant…

God made several promises to Abraham, specifically to multiply his seed into a great nation. The token of this covenant is the male child’s circumcision on the eighth day after birth. This unconditional covenant is very lengthy, so I will quote one and link more Scriptures for deeper study.

“And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, ‘By myself have I sworn, says Jehovah, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.'”

Genesis 22:15-18; Genesis 12:11-3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21; Genesis 17:1-21 NKJV

The Noahic Covenant…

God wiped out His creation of Man due to their rampant wickedness. However, He saved righteous Noah and his family along with pairs of all the birds and animals. The token promise of this unconditional covenant is the rainbow. Do you remember God’s promise every time you see a colorful bow in the sky?

“… I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.’ And God said unto Noah, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'”

Genesis 9:1-17 NKJV

Our God demonstrates His faithfulness to us through His covenant-making and covenant-keeping. What impact do these promises have on your life? How has God personally shown you His faithfulness?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your covenants. They prove Your love and eternal faithfulness to us, Your people. We bless Your Name, O God, for You are worthy of worship and praise. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 35: Faithfulness

Welcome back to our second study on faithfulness. This week we’ll be focusing on how faith comes alive through works. Although works alone don’t save us, they are important in relation to our faith. Let’s explore this important teaching by studying what James tells us in the New Testament.