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Praying: Non Christians and Christians

I am trying to write blog posts so that all would benefit. The way Christ lived his life is inspiring for all. However, I have overlooked something. Christian readers should be praying about their sins to Christ. Christ died to save us from our sins. To pray about sins you need to confess them, then repent and ask for forgiveness. You pray to Christ to forgive others their sins also.

Prayer: Everyone could pray a prayer of forgiveness. Christians pray to Christ for forgiveness.

Jesus and the Samaritans

John 4: 7-30. I am reading John, and I have come across an incident that is not covered in the other gospel books. Twice during this incident it is brought up that Jesus should not be talking to a Samaritan woman. The woman herself says in John 4: 9 “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a women of Samaria?”

This is a significant encounter. He is talking with a woman from another culture. That is something that God wants us to do: interact with people who are different from us. Jesus was not supposed to be talking with a Samaritan. The woman goes on to say, “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria? For Jews, have no dealings with Samaritans.’” The disciples’ reaction to this encounter is telling. John 4:27 “Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman,…”

At some point, Jesus is trying to make a point about being a good neighbor. From Wikipedia, “The parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is a parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. It is about a traveler who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead…” A priest and a Levite come along but neither stops. “Then a Samaritan comes by. Samaritans and Jews despise each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man.” I have heard this story many times, but never had it pointed out that it was highly unusual for a Jew to have a Samaritan be “the good person” in the story. “The Good Samaritan” turns out to be the good neighbor.

Both of these excerpts are examples of how we can use Jesus Christ as a role model.

Note: Notice encounters with people from divergent “groups” get along.

Prayer – Pray that you can grow as a person and a person of God

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ

One person who was important in the story of Christ is John the Baptist. He was actually a relative of Christ’s. His birth was somewhat of a miracle also. John’s father was Zechariah. Zechariah was told by an angel that his wife, who was too old to bear a child, would bear a child. This child would be a son and would be called John. “…And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God…and he will go before him in the spirit and the power of Elijah.” (Luke 1: 16-17) (This prophecy turned out to mean that John would be going out before Jesus to prepare people for Jesus’ coming.

Now, this John was John the baptist. One doesn’t have to be baptized to be taken up to Heaven. However, this is something that God would like people to do. It is sort of a seal to a pack. You can get baptized in a church, have a friend baptized you or do it yourself. Get a hand wet and say the following as you wet the top of your head, “I baptize thee (your name) in the name of God”, or I baptize thee (your name) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Zechariah’s wife was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a kinswoman to Mary. Mary had been told by the Angel Gabriel that she would bear a son after the Holy Spirit visited her. A few things Gabriel said were, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke1-32) Gabriel also said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

From “Who Was John the Baptist“ gotquestions.org, I learned that John wore clothes of camel hair, and he wore a leather belt. He was a preacher who lived simply. He was known to live out in the “wilderness” including mountainous regions. At one point or more in the Bible it refers to John’s disciples. He is an important figure and considered a prophet. He was doing his works when he said in Luke 3:11, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is combining after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Jesus come from Galilee to the Jordan River. He wishes to be baptized by John. Jesus is characteristically humble. In Matthew 3: 13-16 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John…John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’”

Prayer – Pray for those people who are “ministering” to people. They could be ministers, but many people who have no title linked to ministering help people with their emotional wellness.

Miracles

The Bible is full of miracles. For my purposes, I am going to write about some of the miracles in the New Testament. The greatest miracle of all was Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus prophesied that and this miracle came true. That miracle was God’s miracle.

For the following I used, “What Miracles Did Jesus Perform?” from: christianity.com. Jesus also performs many miracles. He sometimes wants what he does kept quiet and other times not. Having the person who asked for the miracle to believe was also important to Jesus. One woman touched his garment and demonstrated that she was a believer. Jesus indicated that he approved of her faith. Also, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11). He cured a nobleman’s son of an illness (John 4:46-47). Jesus healed a leper (Mark 1:40-45) and he cures a paralyzed man (Matthew 8:5-13).

Personal Miracles

My first personal miracle that I know of happened at least 20 years ago. I was on a four lane road with stoplights and left turn lanes. It was often very busy. I was driving and pulled into the left turn lane. I looked for traffic and there was none – there truly was not. A devil was making it so that I could not see the oncoming traffic. Something very strange and wondrous happened. It was like the car was in slow motion. It also felt to me like the car was lifter up. I could see cars, but none of them hit my car. As the car reached the area where I was to finish the turn, everything became normal. I was so dazed by this miracle that I pulled my car to a point where I could watch the intersection. I knew it was a miracle, but I didn’t thank God or the Angels until today.

The next miracle, I have called a family miracle. However, I asked today and there definitely some divine intervention. I was in the middle of a long depression. I also had not fully regained full mobility after an incident where I broke my ankle. I could walk, but not far at all. My daughter was getting ready to graduate from college. I was in no shape to get myself there. My family then worked together to see that I got there. My eldest sister took me to a large airport so that I could fly to my daughter’s graduation. My second sister and her husband picked me up from the airport, took me to the graduation and a family dinner afterwards. My daughter was elated. She told me later that she wasn’t sure I would make it. My great nephew pushed my wheelchair on campus. I was given a ride back to the airport. It truly was a miracle.

The latest miracle has to do with something called lymphedema. I got lymphedema as a result of my broken ankle. There was brown mottling on my skin. I still have some, but it went up much further than it does now. I had a sore on my leg. It is finally healing after the angels started working on it. It is incredible. I am so incredibly thankful!

Think back over times when you did or might have had a miracle happen in your life.

Prayer – Thank god for all the miracles that have happened to you.

Jerusalem, A Treasured City

Jerusalem is mentioned often in the Bible. Wikipedia gives a good overview: “Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East…It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to three major Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” The Abrahamic religions are the religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites, and the worship of the same one God of that of Abraham. Each of these religions is a monotheistic religion, which means that the people worship one god.

For centuries people have been fighting over Jerusalem, even to the point of its destruction- twice. God accepts good people from each one of these religions into his Heavenly home. Unfortunately, these religious groups have been at war often; they have been at war despite each of them worshipping the one God. I have a very simplistic way of looking at the fighting between the three groups. Christianity was seen as a threat to Judaism. Some Jewish people killed some of the early Christians. Some Jewish people have killed some Muslim people. Some Christians killed some Jews and some Muslims. Some Muslims have killed some Jewish people and some Christian people. God wants this to stop!

Quite a bit of the fighting has involved the sacred city of Jerusalem and surrounding countries. Yet, it is a sacred place. “Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE.” A very sacred Jewish temple was destroyed in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a pilgrimage location during Passover, Shavuot, and Sukhot. (myjewishlearning.com)

Jerusalem is also considered to be a holy city in Christianity. Jesus was brought to Jerusalem when he was a child to attend religious events and festivals. According to the gospels, “Jesus preached and healed in Jerusalem….” (Wikipedia). The Last Supper, Jesus’ trial, the crucifixion, and resurrection took place in Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is considered a sacred site in Islamic tradition, along with Mecca and Medina. Islamic tradition holds that the previous prophets were associated with the city….” One Muslim pilgrimage site is the Ali-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Wikipedia (Note, prophets previous to Muhammad)

Interfaith site: uri.org “Islam: Basic Beliefs“

whyislam? “What is Islam?”

Prayer – It would be nice is people could work out some of their differences during our battle with the Corona Virus. A prayer for resolving differences and looking beyond those difference would be good.

Repentance

The last post was about salvation. I went over how to pray. I almost forgot to put in repentance. It’s easy to forget, but it’s very important. The definition that I am going to start with is from dictionary.com. “to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc.” It’s not enough to say that I have sinned, and forgive me. We need to repent.

biblestudytools.com On this site there is an article called “Repentance Bible Verses.” According to the article, “The most common translation of repent (in the Bible) is ‘turn’ or ‘return.’ We need to turn towards God and turn away from evil. The article goes on to say that the old prophets in the Bible, including Ezekiel, often said words like, “repent” and “Turn! Turn away from your evil ways.”

Here is one selection from bible study tools.com. It also mentions forgiveness which is incredibly important. We forgive others and God forgives us. Luke 17:3 “So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.”

Matthew 4:17 “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”

Luke 24: 46-48. Christ’s words after his resurrection: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached to all nations.”

Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Here is another one, this time from dailyverses.net where the word turn is used. 2Chronicles 7:14 “If my people…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.”

2Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise…he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

2Chronicles 30:9 “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

It is very important to know that no matter how many times you “turn away” from God, he is ready to take you back. You need to repent and pray.

Prayer – Practice praying with repentance in mind. Pray for people who have differences to learn how better to get along.

How to Be Saved by God

What must we do to be saved by God? We need to pray to God and ask for salvation. We must repent. We must confess our sins and ask for God’s help as we forgive all peoples who have sinned against us. We must have faith that God is able to grant salvation. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that Jesus told some disciples to use. Pray with this prayer or something similar:

“Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom. and the power, and the glory forever. Amen”

I found out that in gotquestions.org, “What Was the Old Testament Way of Salvation”, that faith was the way that people found salvation. This way of finding salvation occurred long before the laws in the Bible were written. We now know that belief in God and good works lead to salvation.

I am going to put quotations down here about salvation. Many will be about Jesus. However, God never intended for Jesus to be the only way to salvation. Jesus is the way to salvation for Christians who believe in Jesus as a savior.

dailyverses.net “85 Bible Verses About Salvation

Psalms 62:1. “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”

Acts 16:31. “They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’”

Titus 2: 11-12 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers us salvation to all people. It teaches us to say no to ugliness and worldly passion as and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Psalm 62:7 “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”

Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he is able to intercede for them.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Psalm 80:17 “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

Prayer: Your prayer that covers all parts of The Lord’s Prayer, or pray The Lord’s Prayer. Start confessing and repenting (includes intention of not committing those sins again). Ask for forgiveness and forgive people who have sinned against you. God helps us forgive other people. He helps carry that load.

Empathy

When someone shares a problem it can be difficult to know what to say. Often a person wants someone to be empathetic and they get someone who is sympathetic.

I found an article that shows the difference between the two. It is on medium.com and the article is: “Want to be More Empathetic? Avoid These 7 Responses”. The author starts out with basic definitions:

“Empathy = feeling WITH someone. The actual definition says, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

“Sympathy = feeling sorry FOR someone. The definition says, ‘Feelings of pity and sorry for someone’s misfortune.”

Sharing the feelings of someone is rather daunting. The following by the same author says that we are “trying to understand”. No one can truly understand how one feels. In fact, “I understand” is not an empathetic response. There is a difference as you can see between showing empathy and showing sympathy. “…offering sympathy is easier. It’s easy to pity someone else’s struggles. Being empathetic is trying to understand someone else’s pain.”

It is not being a “Positive Picker Upper” – one of the 7 response types. “They want you to look at the bright side.” Most of us can relate to someone being like this. One example is someone saying something positive about your cancer diagnosis: “Well, at least it’s easily treatable”. There might be a time for saying something like that, but not when the person is looking for empathy.

Here are some ideas from the same article:

  1. “Listen. When someone opens up to you and shares what is going on in her life, the absolute best thing you can do is listen.”
  2. “Connect with their feelings.”
  3. “Acknowledge their pain.” The author suggested thinking about how you might feel under those or similar circumstances.
  4. “Show them love.” A few suggestions were to sit with them, do something with them, do something to help them out.

I hope that gave you some insight into what empathy is. Refer to that article for more of the types of responses one shouldn’t give.

Prayer – Pray for someone you know. Pray for guidance in showing empathy.

The Bible and Good Works

I came across a site on teachingtheword.com, “What are good works in the eyes of God”. “The author wrote the following: The Biblical definition of ‘good works’ is not merely, ‘good deeds’. Biblical ‘good works’ encompass every aspect of our thinking and conduct before God.”

I read somewhere that there are different definitions of what God constitutes good works. God likes the definition above. The article states that talking to others about God is considered good works. These are important times. We do need to get the word out about the importance of worshipping God.

“…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10 We are to do good deeds and increase our knowledge of God.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. We are not to brag, but act appropriately, so others can see and also so we please God.

“In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works.” Titus 2:7 . “In all things” is not an easy task. God sets high expectations. He wants us to do our best.

Some people have been told that you get to Heaven mainly be doing good works. But, read this Bible verse that I found at topverses.com: James 2:18. “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deed, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

Hebrews 10:24. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

From topverse.com, the following two:

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Acts 9:36 “In Joppa there was a disciple name Tabitha; she was always doing good and helping the poor.”

And from churchofjesuschrist.org the next one:

Ecclesiastes 12:14. “God shall bring every work into judgment.”

From the kingjamesbible.com site:

Hebrews 13-16. “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Prayer ideas: pray to God about guidance about doing good works; and or pray for people you see in your town doing good works.

Continue to pray for people to stop judging each other. This is a big message that needs to go out to individuals, small groups, and large groups.

Famous Bible Quotes

Sometimes inspiration is found among famous quotes. I will write down some famous Bible quotes. From praywithme.com:

Proverbs 18:10. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

1Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Psalms 118:24. “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalms 23:4. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peach whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Luke 1:38. “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”

Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Ephesians 4:32. “…and be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.’”

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Prayer: Pray that those afflicted with the virus stay or become hopeful. These group prayers are powerful. Pray that you find hope.

Prayer: Pray for a world where people do not judge each other. “Judge not lest thee be judged.”