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

Happy Independence Day

God bless America and all the freedoms our Constitution affords to our citizens!

May we also be mindful in the midst of our celebrations that freedom isn’t free. It comes with a great price–the priceless blood of those who have fought and died for the political freedom we celebrate today.

Jesus also paid the ultimate price on the cross for our spiritual freedom. His shed blood sets us free from death, hell, and the grave. His resurrection power seals our eternity with Him in heaven. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NASB).

How has America’s freedoms blessed your life?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year by Karen Jurgens
Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, and blessed New Year.

Are you excited about all the new things the Lord will do in 2019? For many, 2018 has been a difficult year, and they are anxious to leave it behind.

Several challenges have faced my own family, including my mother’s two eye surgeries and each of my daughters relocating to a new apartment unexpectedly. We have prayed and sought the Lord together like never before, and He always saw us through our trials. We are so thankful!

For such a time as this, let me share one of my favorite Scriptures:

“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19, NKJV


Remember to look forward, not behind. Let’s experience His blessings and rejoice together this year. What are you anticipating in 2019?

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.

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 December 2, 2018, and concluding December 10th?

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!

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit by Karen Jurgens

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 family, 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 my favorite Bible verses, from both the Old and New Testament—one 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).

 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).

 PEACE: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

 PATIENCE: And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:15).

 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).

 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 (Psalms 23:6).

 FAITHFULNESS: They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

 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).

 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).

Now it’s your turn … what are your favorite verses we can feast on today?

 

Unjustly Accused: The Story of Joseph

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Joseph’s story, although thousands of years old, could be a headline in today’s news: Powerful government official accused of sexual assault.

When Pharaoh ruled Egypt, laws didn’t defend the innocent until proven guilty. (In fact, countries whose laws do defend the innocent aren’t plentiful, even today.)  So, no surprise about the instant condemnation that swiftly followed when Potiphar’s wife held up Joseph’s garment and screamed, “Guilty!”  That innocent man landed in prison for years due to her lie of revenge, all because he refused her advances of seduction.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

However, God was weaving a plan for Joseph’s life, and this unjust accusation was only one of many threads. Not only did God intend to deliver Joseph from prison and reunite him with his family, but He also planned to use him to deliver the nations from a coming famine.

How did God work this out?

 

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Although doomed to serve out an unjust sentence, Joseph found favor with the keeper of the prison and immediately was given charge of all the prisoners. After a passage of time, Joseph met Pharaoh’s baker and butler, who had both been thrown into jail for insulting their master.

One night they each had a troubling dream and asked Joseph to interpret its meaning. Three days later the baker was hanged, but the butler was reinstated into Pharaoh’s service, just as Joseph had prophesied. As the butler was released, Joseph pleaded with him to ask Pharaoh to free him from his own unjust prison sentence.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Time passed. The butler forgot all about Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh dreamed two strange dreams on the same night. As no one in Egypt had the wisdom to interpret it, the butler finally remembered Joseph and advised his master.  Immediately Joseph shaved, donned clean clothes, and came into Pharaoh’s presence.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’  So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace’ ~ Genesis 41:15-16 NKJV.

After hearing the dreams, Joseph declared that both had the same meaning and gave the following interpretation:

 God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.  Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land so the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.  And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass ~ Genesis 41: 28-32 NKJV.

 Not only did God give wisdom to Joseph to correctly interpret those dreams, but He also gave him a plan for how to avert the coming disaster. When Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was discerning and wise, he set him over the land of Egypt as the second-in-command. Joseph saved one-fifth of all the bountiful Egyptian grain for seven years to offset the future years of famine.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. After his brothers happened to come to Egypt from Canaan to buy grain, God brought Joseph’s dreams to pass when his brothers bowed before him—the very dreams from his youth that had turned his jealous brothers against him.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.  So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:  There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’

 And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me’ ~ Genesis 37:5-9 NKJV.

Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth…Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them… ~ Genesis 42: 6, 9a NKJV.

The Takeaway

Joseph had a blessed ending in spite of his trial of unjust accusation. In addition to saving Egypt from starvation, he lived as an Egyptian ruler with a wife and children. His brothers and father moved to Goshen where Pharaoh gave them land for herding sheep.

God blessed Joseph and his family with rich abundance. But doesn’t it also make you wonder whatever happened to Potiphar’s wife? We’ll never know.

If we’re ever falsely accused, let’s remember Joseph’s story and be encouraged. God is always working to deliver us from our enemies and their lies. Let’s live by our faith and in obedience to God. At the perfect time, Almighty God will deliver us from our situation of suffering and promote us to live a blessed and peaceful life.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
 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: 5-6.

Have you experienced God’s blessings through an unjust accusation?

 

 

 

Happy Rosh Hashanah

 

Happy Rosh Hashanah by Karen Jurgens

‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you’ ~ Numbers 29:1 KJV.

Happy Rosh Hashanah! This day of the Jewish New Year (5779) is also referred to as Feast of Trumpets. A shofar blast signals its beginning and Yom Kippur its end. This celebration is referred to in the Jewish community as the “Days of Awe.” It also marks the sixth day of creation when God created man on Mount Moriah.

Right now Jewish people are taking this time to repent of all known sin and to restore broken relationships.

Do you see a connection to Christianity? Through the blood and resurrection of Christ, all men have access to salvation through repentance and belief in Jesus.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation ~ Romans 10:10 KJV.

We are also instructed to be at peace with all men.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men ~ Romans 12:18 KJV.

Additionally, hearing the shofar is vitally important. Christianity teaches that this sound precedes the Rapture at the time Jesus returns for His church.

Happy Rosh Hashanah by Karen Jurgens

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord ~ 1Thesselonians 4: 16-17 KJV.

And

Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality ~ 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53 KJV.

From the Jewish perspective, I’d like to share a summary about this day, taken from The Temple Institute:

” ‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation: you shall do no manner of servile work; it is a day of blowing the horn unto you. And you shall prepare a burnt-offering for a sweet savour unto the L-rd: one young bullock, one ram, seven he-lambs of the first year without blemish; and their meal-offering, fine flour mingled with oil, three tenth parts for the bullock, two tenth part for the ram, and one tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs; and one he-goat for a sin-offering, to make atonement for you; beside the burnt-offering of the new moon, and the meal-offering thereof, and the continual burnt-offering and the meal-offering thereof, and their drink-offerings, according unto their ordinance, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the L-rd.’ (Numbers 29:1-6)

Our sages teach us that Rosh Hashana marks the sixth day of creation, the day that adam harishon – the first man – was created. The particular place was none other than what would come to be known as Mount Moriah. We further learn that it was on this very spot that Adam first sinned and repented. Here he built an altar and presented an offering. Some twenty generations later it was here that the angel stayed the hand of Abraham at the binding of Isaac. It ws here that the ram appeared, providing Abraham with the means through which to express his love for G-d.

Rosh Hashana is the day that we recognize the sovereignty of G-d the King, Creator of the universe and Judge of all mankind. The day on which “all beings pass before Him like tender sheep,” Rosh Hashana’s message is truly universal: it is incumbent upon all mankind to accept upon ourselves G-d’s sovereignty, and to take account of our thoughts and actions, in light of this awesome recognition.

The trumpets sounded before the entrance to the Kodesh – the Sanctuary – of the Holy Temple on Rosh Hashana are reminders of G-d’s dominion. The sound of the shofar – likewise blown on the Sanctuary steps, eminates from breath itself, the breath that comes from deep within us, where it was placed, for the first time, by G-d, in Adam, on the sixth day. ” (https://www.templeinstitute.org/rosh_hashana/introduction.htm)

Studying the Jewish Feast Days completes and deepens our understanding of the Scriptures. The Old Testament mirrors the New Testament, fitting together perfectly. Isn’t it fascinating?

To learn more, go to https://www.templeinstitute.org/events.htm.

Shana Tova!