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It's Friday the 13th; will you venture outside today? Statisticians estimate 10 percent of the American public fears the number 13, an ailment called triskaidekaphobia when it reaches an unhealthy level. Fearing Friday the 13th has its own name: paraskevidekatriaphobia.
The origin of this malady is the Last Supper, says Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, author of a book on the unlucky figure. That's because 12 disciples + Jesus = 13. No. 13 was the infamous Judas, his name memorialized as the term for a turncoat.
in John 13 (there it is again), Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray me. ... It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” The scene continues, "Having dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, 'What you do, do quickly.'”
If looking for a good omen today, the four numerals in "2019" add to 12, which in the Bible symbolizes godly power, authority, and foundations. There are 12 tribes of Israel, and the 144,000 servants of God in the Tribulation is 12 x 12,000 (the number from each tribe). Jesus was 12 years old when he questioned scholars in the temple, and the tree of life in the New Jerusalem produces 12 types of fruit. Speaking of that heavenly city, its wall has 12 foundations and the names of the 12 apostles. The city measures 12,000 furlongs and the wall is 144 cubits, (12 x 12).
Need a break from all the numbers? Take five.
Life changed forever in the United States 18 years ago today with the 9/11 attacks as Muslim terrorism emerged on our national radar as never before. The 3,000 murders of innocent Americans and resulting mayhem led to changes in how we board airplanes, travel abroad and consider our personal and collective security.
America has relaxed greatly from its anxiety over the attacks over the last few years, but Islamic violence and hate continues globally and locally, with hundreds of deaths in the USA even after 9/11. ISIS and other terror groups have tried to cross our border with Mexico, taking advantage of the recent, unfortunate abuse of asylum protections.
We must always be vigilant to take necessary precautions to guard against such threats to internal safety as well as fight for freedom from terrorism both at home and abroad. God warns us to be "wise as serpents and gentle as doves" in Matthew 10:16, and we would do well to heed his words.
“God speaks with man; yet he still lives,” Deuteronomy 5:24 wonders. One of the greatest glories of Christianity is we believers can talk with the Lord at any time due to the blood of Jesus.
Other religions' deities are often unknowable and may act on a whim. Allah could be murderous and in any case does not assure salvation. Hindus have 33 million gods, but not one can tell them how to escape samsara, or the cycle of reincarnation. The Bahai say all prophets, whatever their faith, are progressive relevations of God. However, they cannot account for the contradictions in teachings among them.
Jehovah desires true relationship with us and governs the universe by principles clearly set out in his Word. That the Lord regards and loves us so is wonderful testimony to the fact he alone is God.
You can't do it like God can. “Vengeance is mine, and recompense. … Their calamity is at hand,” the Lord says in Proverbs 32:35.
This verse is quoted by Paul in the New Testament's Romans 12 as well. Those who wrong God's people often seem to escape unharmed for a while. We the harmed may stew, try to exact a price from the offenders or choose to go on our way.
While the Lord occasionally may want us to go after the evildoers and seek justice, far more often, he takes care of it if we give place to wrath. We get satisfaction from taking action, but God's method usually is far more efficient, powerful, and for us, beneficial.
Don't move too quickly when hurt – let the Lord be your guide and defense.
The Almighty is our sun and shield, our exceeding great reward. “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; he shall preserve your soul,” sings Psalm 121:7.
God knows what time it is. He's never early but also never late. Jehovah can be trusted to come through in the clutch.
If we remain humble and assured he has our best interests and timetable at heart, then he will make sure we have what we need when we need it.
The joy of Jesus helps keep us going. “You, Lord, have made me glad through your work,” says Psalm 92:4.
God's labor blesses believers. He desires us to come into line with him and see that his ways are right and perfect.
In a world calling evil good and good evil, it's easy to fall into continual negativity. However, the Almighty is still on the throne and the universe hangs together in his hands. He will rectify all wrongs in his time; our job is to trust him for this and rest and abide in him in the meantime.
Let's be real here. Who are you ... truly? In which areas of life are you close to God? Far from him? "If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged," 1 Corinthians 11:31 says.
Until we take stock of ourselves, we run from day to day with no true spiritual plan. We pray, fast, testify and do all manner of godly business without actual leadership from the Lord. How can we grow that way?
Many of us have a long weekend due to Labor Day. Let's take some time that extra day off to reassess, realign and regroup. Time is winding up, no hour to be running down. Finish the race with grace!
Did Paul have a death wish? “I am exceedingly joyful in all our difficulty,” the apostle says in 2 Corinthians 7:4.
No, he doesn't. Paul confronted an extraordinary number of difficult circumstances in his ministry: blindness, false accusations, arrests, murderous plots, shipwrecks, stonings ... the list goes on and on. Yet he said he had joy always. How?
The feeling Paul had wasn't a passing fancy but the miraculous, deep joy of Jesus, that every trial would be resolved to God's glory and the apostle's good. His name was in the Lamb's Book of Life and wouldn't be blotted out.
As the world moves swiftly toward its end, it's time for us to detach from it and fix our gaze on things above. The globe's sorrows will be gone one day, but the rapturous love of the Lord never departs.
Ever have the sense you were just part of an otherworldly encounter? "Some have unwittingly entertained angels," says Hebrews 13:2. Always be kind to strangers, for you might just have a heavenly being on your hands.
I remember I was going into a closed office building to do some cleanup work some years ago when a man came out of a window toward me. He said he slept there overnight since he'd nowhere else to go, and hoped I didn't mind. I asked him if he needed some food, and he told me he did. I went inside for just a few seconds to get some candy bars I knew were there. While grabbing them, this verse came to mind.
When I came out, there was no sign of my visitor, though I could see close to a mile in each direction. I believe he was a ministering spirit and his visit was a test to see what I would do: refuse him or help.
“God’s way is perfect, the Word of the Lord proven,” affirms Psalm 18:30.
One of the most liberating moments in the Christian life is when we no longer prefer our plan to the Almighty's. We truly trust him and know he'll do what's best for us as well as everyone else.
This comes after we understand God's character and power and experience them in relationship with him. We realize Scripture is inspired to the uttermost, revealing the essence of our Lord and life in him.
However, once we are committed to following him without reservation, we will have that intimacy with him for which we have longed. Seek him today with your whole heart, for you will surely find him, and you will have eternity now.