Date: 7/27/2014 08:18 - Subscribe


“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask,
‘How have you loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s
brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved
Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned
his hill country into a wasteland and left his
inheritance to the desert jackals.” —
Malachi 1:2–3

The Sages teach that we acknowledge God as
our own personal God before we mention that He
is the God of our forefathers in order to
emphasize that our relationship with God must
be personal.

Sure, we all benefit from being the spiritual heirs
of such holy and beloved men and women, but it’s
not enough. If we worship God only because our
parents did, that’s not enough. If we go to church
or synagogue only because it’s our family tradition,
it’s not enough. First we must discover our own
connection to the Lord, and only then can we enjoy
the benefits of our heritage.

God is not inherited. A relationship with the Lord
has to be earned and cultivated by every individual
who walks this earth. We must all go through our
own trials and develop our own faith. And then, we
will know He loves us for our own sake and not
based on our family ties.

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

(excerpts taken from Holy Land Moments)

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Date: 7/20/2014 08:37 - Subscribe

But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine." Isaiah 43:1

If it's difficult to set a value on human life, how much more
difficult is it to set a price on part of a human life? Well, not to
be put off by difficulty, American insurance companies have tried.

For example, one company figured the premiums for a young
woman who made a living judging perfumes. She was allowed to
insure her nose for $50,000. Jan Kubelik, the great violinist, had
the fingers of his left hand insured for $250,000, and Paderewski,
the great pianist, had his fingers underwritten for $10 million.

How much are you worth? I guess it depends on who gives the
answer. Ask the terrorist who is filled with hatred. He will gladly
tell you, "You are worth more to me dead than alive." He reasons,
if you die, all your friends and fellow citizens will quiver and quake
with fear. If you die, the media will focus on his cause and give it
free publicity. If you die, money from hidden sources will become
available for his organization. If you die, firebrands and ne'er-do-
wells will flock to his gang in search of glory. To the terrorist, you
are worth less than nothing.

How much are you worth? To the government, your value is a
series of formulas on a spreadsheet. To the politician, your value
is a vote to be tabulated. To your employer, your value is weighed
by what you give versus what you cost. To the advertiser, your
value is computed by your spending power. To the credit card
company, your value is how much debt you can incur without

So, what are you worth? Hearing that question, most of us end
up saying, "not very much." That's because life has hurt us;
people have walked on us, and their words have injured us. It's
easy to feel neglected, unrecognized, under-appreciated and
un-applauded. Then, if we look in ourselves and see the sins
that are harbored in our hearts, we really can be depressed.

In contrast to all this negative input, we have the thoughts of
the Lord.

The Lord who formed and created us, who knows us better than
anyone else, assures us of His love which has been personified
in His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the physical proof
that our Lord doesn't love us only with words. No, He shows us
His love in the Person of His Son. Jesus was sent to bear our
sins and carry our sorrows. Because of the Savior's supreme
sacrifice, the Lord offers us the assurance we need not be afraid.
Indeed, we can be at peace for He has called us by name, and
through the Savior's work, we belong to Him.

So there, my friends, you should have your answer.

If you don't, take another look. On one side of the scale is
placed all the negatives and nastiness the world and Satan can
muster. On the other side of the scale is placed the rescue that
has been won for us by the Redeemer.

What are you worth?

Look to the Bethlehem manger, Calvary's cross, and the
Garden's empty tomb and you will see God's answer. It is an
answer which outweighs all others combined.


Dear Lord, I give thanks You have the capacity to love the
unlovable and decided to rescue that which was worthless. Now
I ask that You will grant me the grace to live as the valuable,
blood-bought person You have made me through Jesus. It is in
His Name I pray. Amen.

(Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour)

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Date: 7/16/2014 10:13 - Subscribe

Jesus: “Let the little children come to me.”

Pastor: “Children stuck at the border? Build a bigger fence.”

Yep, that’s right – Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress
recently told Fox News that the “Christian” way to respond
to immigrant children in distress is to build a stronger border
fence. You’ve heard the stories: tens of thousands of children
are currently stuck at the border after fleeing crime and
violence in their home countries. These children need our
compassion – not calls for a bigger fence.

This pastor has gone too far. Let’s make sure he knows that
Christians need to welcome immigrants and love our neighbors.

Pastor Jeffress has a history of making shameful statements
posing as religious truth. In January, he said that President
Obama was paving the way for the antichrist. He’s now on the
record saying that the “right thing to do” with children alone in
the desert is to lock them out.

We know better. Let’s make a strong statement against these
outrageous claims.

Tell Pastor Jeffress that it’s time for him to read Jesus’ words
in Matthew 25: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

In faith,
Janelle, Tim, and the rest of the Sojourners team

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Date: 7/12/2014 09:46 - Subscribe


"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself
through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..."
-2 Corinthians 5:18

I remember at my wedding, because my parents were
divorced when I was three, this was the first time in my
life where both families - the Schullers and the Persleys
were all in one place. They were standing in the Crystal
Cathedral in front of the choir loft. My mom, my dad, my
stepmom, my stepdad, all my siblings, all my cousins
on both sides were in one section all standing together
with smiles on their faces, united because Hannah and
I were getting married.

At one point, I had to step out of the group to walk down
the stairs in front of them. When I turned back to look at
them together, I said, "Just wait a second. I want to see
this." They all laughed, right? And I started weeping. It
was a good weeping because I was so very moved to see
that, at least for a moment, there was reconciliation in
these two families, which for me is one family. Oh, what
a moving experience.

This is a good illustration of what happens between
humankind and God because of Jesus Christ. You are at
peace with your Father. You do not need to carry around
in your heart a sense of guilt or regret or to stand off from
God. God is now as close to you as your breath if you
have faith in what Jesus did for you. You are at peace
with God.


Dear Lord, no matter how relationships go in life, in you
I am reconciled. Help me to stay connected with others,
in love, as you have sacrificed so much to be close to me.

Reflection: With whom do you need to reconcile?
How might God help you to make that effort?

(By Pastor Bobby Schuller)

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Date: 6/29/2014 08:09 - Subscribe

As human beings, we want so much to understand everything
that is going on in our lives. We’d like to see everything that
has happened and everything that will happen in a neat box all
tied up with a pretty ribbon. However, God doesn’t work that
way. You can’t place God in a box. Our God is way too big
and far too great to be contained. He works in ways that we
can’t possibly comprehend. As it says in Proverbs 20:24,
“A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can
anyone understand their own way?” No, we can’t understand
how God works – and that’s a good thing.

If we could understand God’s ways, then His actions would
be limited to our intellectual capabilities. I don’t know about
you, but I want a God who is limited by nothing! A colleague
of mine once put it this way: “I don’t want to pray to a God
who I can understand!” I want God to have ways to make
things happen in my life when I don’t see a way. I want a
God who can make sense out of my messy life when I can’t
see a way to clean it up myself. I want a God who is bigger
and smarter than me!

Friends, let’s remember that when we go through things in
life that we can’t understand, it’s OK. We don’t have to
understand. God understands and that’s all that matters.
As it says in Proverb 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD … lean not
on your own understanding … and he will make your paths

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

(excerpts taken from Holy Land Moments)

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