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

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

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.