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Monday, September 28, 2009

The LITTLE BEAR


The other night I got a clear view of the Little Bear—the Little Dipper as I used to call it. I remember picking it out as a child, but now I see it only rarely—partly because I live in the rainy northwest, and partly because of light pollution.The Little Bear (Ursa minor) is easy to find, if conditions allow, once you find the North Star (Polaris), because that star is at the tip of the little bear’s tail. Of course, bears do not have tails, which gives us one clue that there is a mix-up in the representation of this constellation.

If we look at the meanings of the ancient names of the Little Bear’s stars—Pherkad and Kochab, which are still in use, and Alcaid, Algedi and Arcas, which are no longer used—we find domestic animals, goats, kids, and calves. We find that they are assembled, and awaiting him who comes. Names with similar meanings are found in the Big Bear (Ursa major).

What the Bears represent is God’s people waiting for Him.Between the two Bears and partially surrounding the Little Bear is Draco, the Dragon. He is always present, isn’t he, to turn God’s people aside, to cause them to fear, or to stir up dissension.

But the Little Bear is held fast to Polaris.This star’s ancient name is Alruccaba, from the root meaning to ride. All through the night, the Little Bear rides around the pole, firmly attached to Alruccaba. God’s people are safely held by the One who is the center, the One who holds all things together by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).
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This devotional was written by
Jane S Poole
Writer of Adam's Astronomy: The Original Zodiac

Monday, September 21, 2009

Are You Climbing Jacob’s Ladder?

Jacob was tired and dirty from his long walk. Sweat was running down his face as he trudged along. All day long he had been running –running away from home. That morning his mother had been crying when he kissed her and said his hurried “Goodbye”. “We’ll send word and let you know when it will be safe for you to come back home.” his father had told him soberly.

Jacob was in trouble. His twin brother Esau was threatening to kill him and you couldn’t blame Esau for being angry. Jacob had tricked Esau out of his blessing and his birthright. Jacob was an operator. Even the meaning of his name “Jacob” meant “Supplanter” or “Trickster”.

Esau had been in line for a great spiritual blessing from God, given first to his grandfather Abraham and then down the line to his father Isaac. Esau, the first born, was next in line to carry on this privilege from God. But Scripture tells us that Esau didn’t value his godly inheritance or God’s special blessing. He thought so little of God’s favor that he sold his portion for a bowl of beans. God saw Esau’s heart and the Bible tells us that God didn’t like what He saw! Even though Esau didn’t consider God’s gifts important, Jacob did! Jacob cared so much about God’s blessing that he was willing to scheme and trick his brother out of it, lying and deceiving as he went. And now Jacob was running away for what he had done.

It was dark when Jacob finally stopped to rest. Scripture tells us that he made his bed on the hard ground and used a stone for his pillow. He lay down there watching the stars twinkling overhead and thinking over the events of the last few days. How he had cheated his own twin brother.and lied to his elderly blind father.All for this special God given blessing! And now he was an outcast from his own family. Was he an outcast from God too? Feeling guilty and confused Jacob drifted off to sleep.

As he dreamed alone in this dark place, suddenly God came to Jacob in a vision of blazing light. A glorious ladder reaching from heaven down to earth appeared at Jacob’s feet. Angels were climbing up and down this marvelous ladder. And God spoke to Jacob, “Jacob, don’t be afraid. I am with you. I will bless you. Your descendants will be mine and through you I will bless all of the nations.” It was all too wonderful for a stunned Jacob to take in.

“God was with me in this place and I didn’t know it,” Jacob exclaimed the next morning. Even though he had made a mess of things in his life,, God had reached down and given him a ladder that was leading right up into heaven. Even though he had stolen the blessing, God was honoring him. Was that because Jacob valued God’s blessing and wanted God in his life?

We believe that Jacob’s ladder is a picture of Jesus our Savior. Like Jacob’s ladder which goes from earth up to heaven, Jesus is the Ladder - theWay –that takes us from earth to heaven. The only Way! Jesus meets us in our dark lonely place and becomes our Way, - our Ladder – If we want Him to, if we don’t sell Him for a bowl of beans. If we climb onto Him, He leads us to eternal life. John 1:51 says “You shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Just as Jacob saw angels climbing up and down his ladder, we read that angels ascend and descend on our Ladder, Jesus, the Son of Man.

We can say with Jacob, “God is with me in this place and I didn’t know it.” God is with each of us in our dark night and in our troubles. And He has set Jesus before each of us and has given us the Ladder to heaven. Even though like Jacob our sin can separate us from loved ones, it can never separate us from God: If we are like Esau and don’t care about God then we will miss out.. But if we are like Jacob and desire God’s will., He will make a Way. His glorious Ladder of salvation will be right at our feet. Jesus is your Ladder and He will take you to heaven if you just get on board. Have you gotten on? Are you climbing Jacob’s Ladder?

©Jane Furnish, 9/2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Open My Eyes Lord, I Want to See Jesus
The Road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-33


Three days had passed since their leader was crucified and Jesus’ shocked followers had run away in terror. How could this awful thing have happened? For three years now they had been with Him and they had watched Him heal the blind and raise the dead. They had seen His power and had believed that He was their Messiah. And now He was dead. And with Him, all of their hopes and dreams had died too. Traumatized and dejected they hid out, not knowing what to do next.

Scripture tells us that during this upsetting time, two of Jesus’ followers were traveling together on the dusty road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It was a seven mile walk to Emmaus and the two unhappy men were discussing the events of the last three days as they plodded along. “We had hoped that Jesus was the One who would redeem Israel,” they grumbled.

As they walked along pouring out their disappointments to one another a Traveler caught up with them. He walks along with them listening as they despair. Luke 24:16 tells us that as they walked together the two men were “kept from recognizing” this Person walking with them.

“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” the Traveler chided these two. “Didn’t you know that the Christ has to suffer first and then enter glory?” Then the Traveler began to explain to these amazed men what the Scriptures said concerning Himself. The men’s’ hearts were strangely warmed as they walked and listened.

By the time the three of them reached the village of Emmaus Jesus acted as if He was going on further. “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over,” the two urged. Jesus accepts their invitation and they all sit together for the evening meal. And then in the breaking of the bread their eyes were opened and they recognized their risen Jesus!

We too receive Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Can it be that we too could be chided by Jesus, like these two were because we haven’t studied God’s Word enough to keep our faith shinning brightly in times of trouble?

Do you suppose that Jesus comes along side of us when we are talking together about Him? Does He walk along with us like He did with them when we are troubled and confused? Does the Lord encourage us and enlighten us with His Word like He enlightened those two? Indeed John 16:13 tells us that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.

Notice that these two men only recognized Jesus after they had offered Him hospitality. Their eyes were opened when they invited Him in .If these Emmaus travelers had let Him walk on by their eyes would have never been opened to their risen Savior! While walking with Him on the road to Emmaus – they had remained blind to the Light of the world. They only had a casual – intellectual – relationship with Him – and that wasn’t enough for them to see the Truth. But they passed the test when they offered Him something of themselves! And it was only then that He revealed Himself to them.

And isn’t it the same with us? John 1:12 says, “But to as many as receive Him, to them He gives the power to become the children of God, even to those who believe on His Name.” . Scripture says that our eyes are opened to Him and we become the children of God when we receive Him. What does this receiving mean? It sounds like just saying the right words won’t do. An intellectual belief won’t pass. The miracle of salvation happens when you give yourself to Him.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are You Afraid To Die?



On the 4th of July we were on our way to Santa Barbara to ride bikes on the beach, have dinner, and watch the fireworks. During the drive I had a lot of time to think. I began to think of how my husband, Joe, is not afraid to die. How his only fear of death is leaving us behind. When he told me this I was awed by his faith. He knows he is going to heaven.

I know we can be assured of our salvation and I know for sure, -- but did I really know? Did I really believe? I had doubts. I had fear. I had always been afraid of death, since for me it was the big unknown – and something I didn’t like to think about.

But we shouldn’t live in fear. Fear is a lie, --the opposite of what God tells us.
God tells us to have hope, not fear. Hope lasts forever: - hope, faith and love. God tells us not to worry about anything! So while remembering to give my worries to God, I prayed silently in the car on the way to Santa Barbara. I asked God to take away my fear of death. And while I was still praying I saw a vision of Jesus bent down over my dead body. His hand was reaching out to me and He was saying, “Take my hand, I paid your price.”.

Wow, what comfort!! There was no fear in that vision, but extreme comfort!!. And at that moment I realized that when I die I will see a familiar face, - that of Jesus! I realized that death doesn’t have to be the big unknown. The more we spend time with Jesus now, the more we will get to know Him and develop a relationship with Him, and the more familiar and comforting the thought of dying will be. Jesus is here for us now and He will be there for us at the moment of our death as well. What do we have to be afraid of knowing that Jesus went ahead of us and has prepared our way?

To back up this incredible experience, I went to my regular church service one Sunday in August and the message was titled, --“Five Minutes After You Die”. The pastor spoke about how the apostle John had a vision of heaven and how Jesus was reaching down to John’s body. The most important thing about John’s vision, the pastor said, was that Jesus was there. The message was so familiar and so similar to my vision. God has answered my prayer! I am no longer afraid to die because I know that Jesus is there --- waiting for me!

This testimony is written by Nydia Furnish Mendez, who lives in Camarillo, California with her husband Joe and their three children, Camisha, Devon, and Kaily.