Christmas Fruit

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Christmas is a time of giving gifts, and we are talking about presence as opposed to presents. Fruit baskets are a wonderful gift anytime, for hostesses, bosses or neighbors. I can remember giving them out and receiving them, and it is a cute idea to include the fruit of the Spirit verses. We made magnets one year, great reminder for the fridge.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22, 23

I always teach this in threes, love, joy and peace. No law against them. First, you have to have love, not just human love, God’s love. Fruit is what we are to bear as believers and how we know each other, knowing His love for you brings about joy and peace. They go together, and His love produces joy and peace, and they are precious gifts to receive.

The first three fruits will cause you to have patience, kindness and goodness, even though Jesus said no one was good but God, we will give thanks for His goodness and it will show through. It will grow our patience in the seed of grace, and water our kindness year round and not just at Christmas.

Finally, there are faithfulness, gentleness and self control. As we experience His love, joy and peace, the other fruits operate in the spiritual so we can be faithful in our walk with God, and gentle. Gentleness is something I see far too little of these days and self control. Believe me, it starts with love and ends in self control.

People who have have little or no self control, do not operate in the fruits of the Spirit or not as much as they should be, it would be beneficial to yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him develop this gifts. They are very much needed around the holidays as we face cooking, cleaning, visitors and yes, annoying family members.

I declared Christmas a season of rest once, and I’m sure there were some who though it was crazy, but I have to be in His presence and rest everyday. This year is no different and I pray as well it is a season of healing as well, He has done a work in me, and I will no exhaust myself for things that are not going to last. The memories are valuable and time with friends and family, but don’t forget the fruit, the baskets and the real Christmas fruit, the fruit of the Spirit.

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Christmas Angels

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If you’ve ever read my blog or looked at my Pinterest boards, you know love angels. Pictures, stories, writing about them. I love the chubby cheeked cherubs and winged wonders, the commanding and protective ones, the choirs and ministers that are flame of fire, and that we can entertain them unaware. I love the fact that Jesus, Himself, often appeared as the angel of the Lord before He was born in Bethlehem and angels announced that peace was on earth.

This Christmas I feel that there are flood of angels stirring in the presence of the Holy Spirit’s realm in which they travel. They are there to protect believers from dangers and bring His Word to light in the hearts of those who will hear.

I believe that they are ready to gather a harvest of souls. When? I could not say, would not even attempt to, but His return is ever closer, and just maybe Christmas angels are ready o herald that to us as well.

For now, let’s see how angels are part of the Christmas story, just as they are a part of our stories.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1 26-38

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:8-14

Angels moved in and out of Jesus’ life, they kept Him safe from Herod, and probably helped find Him when he was lost and at the temple teaching sages. And they ministered to Him after being tempted and no doubt, in the Garden of Gethsemane. And He has given us angels who listen to and obey His commands concerning our lives. I believe in angels. No, they are not just cute little figurines but powerful servants of our Lord. Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Light

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As we approach Hanukkah and Christmas, which coincide this year, I wanted to include some verse about the light of the world, Himself, Jesus. While He was here, He was , and still is, the Spirit, the light. And He wants us to be.

Jesus did a lot of ministering and never missed an opportunity. Knowing the miracle of the oil not running out and the celebration of Hanukkah to commemorate the Maccabees and their revolt, be boldly proclaimed Himself the light, Others may not have understood be we do as believers living in the Spirit. So here are some light verses to study this season.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

” Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” Luke 11:34-36

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid Himself from them. John 12:36

…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

While there are many other, and prophetic verses and warnings in Isaiah, we see Jesus at the beginning and know He will be there at the end surrounded by glory. While many thought John the Baptist was bringing light, he was only preparing the way for the true light. And it is the disciple, John, who records it so eloquently.

He was crucified on a hill and refers to light on a hill also. It does tie in with Hanukkah and what He wants us to be, reflecting Him. I pray the true Christmas light visits and rest upon us this year.

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The Bread Of Christmas

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Even as I write this post ahead of time baking is on my mind. I make muffins sometimes. And while I may not see some relatives, I had the idea to send them a box with some of my favorite muffin mixes, a can of Pam baking spray, perhaps a tin or oven mitt. That’s a nice gift when you can’t be there, a great hostess gift, if you are attending a party. Who couldn’t use an oven mitt? Or a muffin?

While Jesus is the light of the world, John 8:12. He is also the bread of life, John 6:48. The very bread of heaven. And who could not use some bread as a believer? Temptations come with food and often when we are hungry in the natural sense, but also spiritually.

Remember Jesus being tempted, and asked to turn stones into bread, Luke 4:3? Well, when we are tempted we can turn to our bread. So this year, as we celebrate with all the trimmings, we never want to forget part of the holiday, and accept the bread that Jesus gives us.

Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Matthew 7:9

Jesus knows all about bread, multiplying and giving. He does give us the best as we believe an walk in His light, and we will see that in both life and spiritually

His bread is pure, with no leaven, or false doctrine, no deceit or temptation. While we will have trials and tests, we can pass them with His help, for He knows us better than we know ourselves, and desires us to have a basket of bread that is multiplied and overflowing. All as we come into obedience to Christ.

Your basket and your kneading bowl will be blessed. Deuteronomy 28:5

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The Christmas Cross

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If you are expecting a sweet Christmas story, this is probably not what you’re expecting. I have been studying about rejection a lot lately, and I realize what the cross symbolizes in His sacrifice, the terror and suffering to save us, and the words from Isaiah 53, that He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Even the prophet wrote of His rejection.

So, there is rejection attached to the cross. He was rejected by the religious and the unbelieving, and some stopped following Him when He taught Communion. We all may face a fair amount from the world, family or even fellow believers, but if we are truly following Him, He never rejects us. And I am truly grateful for that.

We have had sin and shame rejected through Him, the past is gone and the new is here. It was nailed to the cross with Him, along with every sickness and disease, mental problem or anything we could face, if we believe. He died to give us life, was punished for our peace. He breathed His last, so that one day He could breathe His Spirit on us. And He breathe life back to me as last Christmas I was in the hospital in an life an death situation.

I grew up hearing that we are to take up our cross and follow Him, but that was a command for the disciples, many of them were crucified, we are crucified with Him as we believe, we are more the adopted sons and daughters, not slaves to a God who instills fear in us but choosing Him because He chose us, and filled us with love, He loved us first.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 1:9

I know that I am a disciple of His as I am taught of the Spirit, but His law is love and gospel, peace. You don’t have love without discipline or discipline without love, He corrects in love. And you don’t have peace without, either or by opening daily His gift of peace, John 14:27. So, on my birthday, I want to put down my cross, my Christmas cross, one that I was never meant to carry because He did and even He stumbled under its oppression, proving His humanity and still He was the beloved Son of God. Isaiah also says that the government would be upon His shoulders, whoever is in charge, He is more so. 

The weight of the cross will crush you, it should sin and all He bore. But what about believers? I was thinking about all the cross songs, and yes, I have been clinging to the cross, but it is time to exchange it for a crown. He does give crowns before heaven. What about the gift of peace? He wore a crown of thorns for our peace, shouldn’t we have on a crown of peace? What about being a crown of beauty in His hand? Being a crown to a husband? What about loving kindness? He crowns us with so much.

Heaven will see crowns awarded, but there is no shortage for believers even now, as they lay aside that weight, the burden set upon them, and pursue His peace. Yes, we are burdened to pray, but His way is easy and light.

For my birthday, I would like nothing better than to lay down that cross and lean into everlasting arms of love. I wonder if we have been been carrying one to prove something to ourselves? Or that if we put it down, He can toss it away? A heavy, bloodied, broken shard of wood that has beset us with pain? Having carried it once and for all who believe? I pray so. I wrote this before I was in the hospital last year. I have put had to put mine down,

It is time to put away all the rejection and shame attached to it and welcome His Christmas presence, sweetness, Himself, died on that cross, at Passover and yet, it is a Christmas cross, that crushes the enemy, not the believer. A sweet Christmas story, after all.

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His Christmas Presence

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We have already talked about peace being a fruit of the Spirit, but His peace from John 14:27 is amazing and a gift. It is the same peace and joy that the Spirit gives us, but in a way so much more than we often receive.

Years ago, I used to visit the Christian bookstores on the weekends and around the holidays there would be certain gifts that would catch my eye. Though I was after cards, videos and stickers and even children’s books, I would see the T shirt or mug, in the days before online shopping. But I recall one year, these little boxes and they were wrapped and empty, but for a heart or something, like a box of love, a smiley face, a box of joy, etc.

I thought it would be a nice idea this year, to give a box with His peace in it, the verse written out, John 14:27. For all you crafters, it is an easy way to brighten someone’s day. Make them up in advance, for any occasion. Hospital and nursing home patients would love a box, ( I would have when I was there, no visitors for the Covid outbreak. ) for Valentine’s you could add a kiss. But His presence is the focus of His peace.

Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that He will keep us in perfect peace if our minds are stayed on Him. That means fixed and focused, the Holy Spirit wants to be our constant companion, can we really even comprehend that much peace or being loved so much? 

Most people know a little about God, the Father, some relate Him to an ogre out to get them, or project their earthly father onto Him, even f you had a good one, God is better. While He can pour out His wrath as in the Old Testament, He remains faithful and forgiving always wanting to restore and redeem and He did that with sending Jesus, that was the supreme act of love, sending His own beloved Son.

Some people know Jesus, some know about Him, some only think they do but what an amazing sacrifice of love to give His life taking that wrath for us. He was intent on leaving so that He could send the Spirit. And sadly, as I read in an earlier post from a fellow blogger, that many do not know the Spirit or possibly even believe in Him.

You have to sow to reap and you have to cultivate that relationship with the Spirit in order to hear His voice and know it, to rightly divide from all the noise and chaos around you.

Peacemakers who sow in peace will raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18

And two of my favorites are, He will be our peace. Micah 5:5 and He, Himself, is our peace. Ephesians 2:14.

May we both give and receive His peace this year, and treasure that give forever. No one knows what is in our alabaster box that we pour out to Him. And there are many gift we can give that special to God, and will be to others.

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As White As Snow

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It doesn’t snow a lot here in the south. So when it does, people tend to panic and make milk runs. I suppose that might be a reason that I can tend to forget about this prophetic verse from Isaiah. It really does have to do with Christmas.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. ” Isaiah 1:18

The contrast of our ornament colors illustrate that very well. While Isaiah is speaking of the Passover sacrifice and how the cord that was red turned white on the door of the temple when it had died, he was also referencing the coming of the Lord Jesus and how He would be the once and for all who would believe sacrifice.

When we are born again our crimson sins are then pure white, like the lamb’s wool, because of the Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6. Though that sacrifice was a ritual every year and actually many types of sacrifices were made on a daily basis. Jesus was all of them, and that covenant that God cut into His very flesh is ongoing.

I tell people to keep a repentant heart. While we still may sin we are quick to repent and not keep living a sinful life or letting it control us. Jesus blood was so much greater and His love covers a multitude of sins. It is not to be abused or a license to sin, in any way, just because we are no under His grace and not the law of Moses.

I have seen people attempt to escape their past or their problems, some things just won’t wash off. It takes the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of all sin and it have been applied to our hearts as believers and is present to bring us to conviction and repentance, all our lives.

This doesn’t mean that you get saved over and over. Once is enough, if you have truly believed. I have a problem with the repeat after me prayers, I’m not saying that they don’t work, but my concern is how much understanding do people have? It doesn’t mean you are saved and can go on doing as you please. It doesn’t work that way. I realize that many experiences are different and people are at all stage of growing in grace, and developing their faith.

To know that Jesus came to die, and knew it! And in such a horrible manner, how can people not believe that love. And all you have to do is pray, and His love and forgiveness will make you white as snow. Is it snowing where you are?

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Christmas Delivery

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I was born in December, so was my mother. But the most special delivery was the birth of Jesus. Though He was not actually born in December, but rather conceived around that time.

There appears to be some conflict about the year as well, though it could have been from 6 to 4 B.C. as we know it. Scholars agree on the death of Herod, who ordered babies killed, there is also the magi and when there lives are recorded, and the appearance of the star over Bethlehem, all these contribute to the time frame but there is probably no way to know exactly. It is fine that we remember Him on December 25th, as we should everyday.

One of the best clues is Zechariah and Elizabeth, and the birth of John the Baptist. As the cousin of Jesus, he would minister and call sinners to repentance and pass the torch, to Jesus, as it were. And he proclaimed Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and says he says he us unworthy to lace His sandals. John was believed to be a kind of Elijah, but he was a man.

Jesus was all man and yet all God, conceived by a virgin, and the Spirit placed Him into the womb. Now, John might have been born in what is our June, there are records of how temple duties were kept, and a possible time frame as to when Zechariah served. So, as we know Elizabeth was already six months along when Mary visited, and was there when he was born, it is safe to say that Jesus would have come along, most likely in Tishrei, or September. What if it were the Day of Atonement?

We also know that He was thirty when He began to minister and did so for three years, was crucified at Passover, which could be our March or April, also putting His birthday, somewhere in the fall. I did research this a little but I am not good at math, and though I have studied a lot of ancient history, I am no expert.

I do know that there were only 360 days on the Jewish calendar, and we are on the Gregorian one now, with 365. Christmas or the birth of Christ was being celebrated by the church during the winter solstice, the Yule log and other pagan traditions were turned into more traditional celebrations by believers and the church.

It was a well known time of darkness, much of the world was asleep, just like hibernation. It is no less the same today in many ways. And we definitely need to awaken to His birth, death, sacrifice and light of His love.

Mary delivered her precious child in Bethlehem. It was crowded because of the people there to pay taxes, why there was no room in the inn. It was a special delivery and a Christmas delivery none the less, the Prince was Peace, Isaiah prophesied in 9:6, was the peace on earth.

The date was set in the year 350 A.D. by Pope Julius I, but the historian Josephus mentions the birth as do others and theories abound, including that the star was fiction. John also accounts that the temple is in the 46th year of construction, 2:20, and Jesus said it would be destroyed, it was in 70 A.D.

Whatever the actual date, we will know one day in heaven, the most important take away from the story was that God loved us enough to His send His one and only Son and offer Him for us to be saved, what a special delivery and He delivers us. Merry Christmas!

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Why It Doesn’t Have To Be A Blue Christmas

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I know the holidays are tough for some people, I know someone who had a loss n December, she would drift into that memory and sadness even as my birthday approached. I told her I understood. It is often hard for people to be joyful when there is so much pain and grief attached to a certain day or season.

The enemy is well aware of that, trying to copy God, working in cycles and seasons and yes, even threes. And he is not above troubling your heart as the holidays approach. I have prayed for a lot of people, a couple who lost a loved  one on Valentine’s Day. Now, how do they feel about a romantic dinner? They still think about him obviously. I get these twinges of remembering certain days more than others.

I had to get rid of a spirit of grief, I never knew I had. I was prayed for, laid hands on, and yes, the gift of tongues. Later on, I had a dream from God showing my mother taking a baby from a woman in a shroud. I am her only child and the woman was grief, a tormenting spirit. I even recognized my mother’s shirt. It was black and white, with a  rose, making it plain that it was God showing me, and I felt relief, and I never allow myself to go back to grievous thinking. Though the temptation and accuser will arise at times. I pray for you to be delivered as well if you are grieving any loss.

I have seen it literally destroy people, I do not want that to happen to you, it should not be happening to believers. They should not be suicidal or depressed or oppressed, especially at Christmas. It is not God’s will or best for them, and yet, it happens. And it happens more when you isolate yourself or make the hurt a continual topic of conversation, I am not telling you to forget a loved one, you do not have to make the them the center of your celebration, either, that can be grievous. Sure, hang an ornament, enjoy your old photos, sing a favorite song, ask the Lord to wish them a Merry Christmas for you, but do not grieve. The Holy Spirit does not want you to continue to grieve. It grieves Him!

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 New Living

I know I could tell you that I know what you’re going through and I can empathize, but I am not you and you are not me. But we as supposed be to one with the Lord, and He understands, He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, Isaiah 53.

As many have had to leave home and family, there are those in service, mothers had had to leave children in institutions, rehab and prison, and fathers grieve too. I knew of a woman who died at precisely, 12:25, on 12:25, one granddaughter was old enough to understand, but would she have wanted her family to miss out on the joy of the Savior? Her Christmas must have been something in heaven.

If you are in any situation like this and need professional help, please get it. And if you want the Lord to take away the blue Christmas, just give those hurts and wounds to Him. Look how deep His were. It is not wrong to have joy after sorrow, it can turn into torment if left unchecked.

I may be celebrating with fewer people and not as much gift giving but I am in His presence and there is fullness of joy. And I am thankful not to be in the hospital this Christmas, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life with a nurse a few minutes, that was the extent of it. But I found joy in it and seeing videos of lights on a woman’s phone as she checked my picc line.

Last year, could have been blue, truthfully, it was to an extent. It was a matter of life and death, I was making decisions I never thought I could or would have to. I was alone in the hospital, ICU and quarantine. Yet, I was never alone. I was in Christ’s Intensive Care. He will always save us from ourselves, and our pain if we will let Him. It doesn’t have to be a blue Christmas.

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Unless A Grain

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 “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “

John 12:23 -26

This is our last post of the month and while we have studied giving thanks and harvest, lots of topics, it is imperative to remember the Lord’s sacrifice in coming to earth to begin with. Here is another link, I would appreciate you reading the whole passage but I will give you some great verses. https://biblehub.com/nlt/1_corinthians/15.htm

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

Is that great. The whole idea of a grain of wheat being planted is for it to grow, but it dies there, is no longer a seed but brings man rows and stalks to be harvested. Now, people in Jesus day, and even now, can’t comprehend parables. They don’t always understand the Bible. They see and hear but don’t get it.

Why? Because you have to be a believer, born again and the Spirit will teach you. They did not all receive the Spirit or salvation, not then nor now, the world doesn’t get it, But we do, Jesus compares Himself and His sacrifice to this grain, when He died and His soul and body was resurrected and we believed, it was harvest of souls.

He compare His body to the temple being torn down. They didn’t get that. Nor the ide of the body and blood. Jesus was talking about spiritual principles, and how they apply to us, not only in spirit, but soul, which is mind, will and emotions, and even bodies. Having come too close to death on a few occasions, it is good news to me, that we can be alive and remining in His love when He comes.

People of that day, were disputing the idea or resurrection, not only of those who had passed but even Christ, Himself. The whole chapter deals with the subject. It is strange what people can or will believe. We don’t become angels, we are still ourselves, though I do understand that it is a cute idea to think that. We are not reincarnated, and that is just not the end of it, life is all all there is to it. It does not work that way.

I pray we can appreciate the metaphors Jesus used in the parables, the analogies and comparisons. And I am glad He could come at any moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and that love will be forever.

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