Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death: God Comforts

Daily Truth that brings comfort: “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” Psalms 23:4

Sun and Wispy Clouds Over Mountains

This weekend my church family in Indianapolis was plummeted into the valley of the shadow of death.  A few of our families are forced to walk through this valley even deeper due to the loss of loved ones.  Words fail at a time like this.  Yet, God’s Word NEVER fails and brings comfort.

The following are a few of the verses that have brought and continue to bring comfort to me as my family recently traveled through this valley.

I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.Psalms 34:4

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. ” Psalms 34:8

He is their strength in the time of trouble.”  Psalms 37:39

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
 My tears have been my food day and night, Psalms 42:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalms 46:10

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.  From the ends of the earth I call to you.  I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge,a strong tower against the foe.” Psalms 61:1-3

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken”  Psalms 62:1-2

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalms 73:26

I cried out to God with my voice—To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me.” Psalms 77:1

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”  Isaiah 43:1-3

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts Isaiah 55:8-9

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalms 56:8

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes”  Revelation 7:11

Sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  I Thessalonians 4:13-14

I love the last three verses. What comfort they provide!  Each tear we cry God knows about and one day will wipe them all away.  As believers in Christ we have the confidence that we will see those fellow believers who have passed before us again.

Praying God’s comfort for all,

Rebekah

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This Do in Remembrance

Daily Truth:  “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.” I Corinthians 11:24

This do in remembrance of Me.

We had communion in church tonight.  It is always a reflective time for me and yes, it always brings tears to my eyes.  I think even more so since my dad has passed.

You see, the thought that what Christ did for me on the cross overwhelms me.

This do in remembrance of Me.

The thought that He willing gave His body to be broken for me – for MY sin is powerful. (Isaiah 53:5)

This do in remembrance of Me.

The thought of His back being beaten and a crown of thorns placed on His head for MY sins is provoking. (Matthew 27:29)

This do in remembrance of Me.

The thought of His body being nailed to a cross and his side pierced for MY sins is unbelievable.  (John 20:25, John 19:34)

This do in remembrance of Me.

The thought that He rose again the third day and is in Heaven preparing a place for ME, a sinner, is mind boggling. (Matthew 28:6, John 14:2)

This do in remembrance of Me.

The thought that this salvation from MY sin is a free gift from the Savior is humbling. (Romans 5:18)

This do in remembrance of Me.

When I teach my children of God, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When I read my Bible, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When I worship Him in body, soul, and spirit, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When life is overwhelming and I just have to trust on Christ for strength, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When I cry out to God, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When I have to discipline my children, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When I am even doing my daily tasks, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

When I love my husband, I am doing it in remembrance of Him.

This do in remembrance of Me.

I guess it struck a chord with me tonight.  I am to do all for Him to the best of my ability because He gave all for me.

This do in remembrance of Me.

I usually sit between my girls during communion and I have them each tell me when they accepted Christ as their personal Savior.  I want to know that they know that they are on their way to Heaven.  It NEVER gets old hearing them tell me of the day that they became a child of their Heavenly Father.

You see, my husband and children are all that I can take with me to Heaven one day.  Everything else will pass away and be nothing.

This do in remembrance of Me.

Dear ladies, as we go about our daily and sometimes mundane tasks, remember that we are doing it in remembrance of Him.

Until next Monday,

Rebekah

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Father’s Day: Giving Honor to a Great Dad

Daily Truth: “Honor your father…which is the first commandment with promise.”  Ephesians 6:2

 

Honor your father is such a passe’ phrase in this day. How are most father’s portrayed? Well, let me give you an idea…lazy, sitting in front of the TV, remote in one hand,              demanding, self absorbed, and ignorant of all that goes on around them.  Basically, a space filler.

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However, that is far from the description of my father.  My father was a godly man who made it clear what his priorities were: God, family, and work.

Mom was queen in the house and my siblings and we never doubted their love and commitment for each other.

We never saw dad just sit.  He was always on the go, whether it was fixing something in the house or spending time with his family.

We always knew we were loved and that he was proud of us.  He was always there for us, willing to here our concerns, and praying for us.

He was man enough to stand up for his family and humble enough to serve others.  Tears were a sign of strength in our dad.

photo (13)He LOVED his grand kids.  He was always so excited to see them and when we would part he would gather us together and pray for each grandchild by name.

When I was younger, I wanted to marry someone just like my dad.  You know what?  I did!  My husband portrays all those same characteristics to  my kids as my dad did to me.

This Father’s Day is going to be a very difficult for me.  You see, my dad passed away unexpectedly this past September and this will be my first Father’s Day fatherless.

My husband is in Panama on a mission trip this Father’s Day.  So, my kids are missing their dad as well as their grandfather.

You know, it’s too late for me to tell my dad just how much I loved him or how thankful I am for all that did for our family. I miss his hugs, his advice, and his booming voice saying, “Proud of you kiddo”.  Yet, I can still honor him by my life and by showing honor to my husband.

970561_10151680210983489_1980582183_nI want my kids to know that their dad is king in our house.

I want them to know that he is loved and that they will never doubt our commitment to each other.

I want them to know that his strength is often displayed in his quietness and tears.

I want them to know what his priorities are: God, family, work.

I want them to know that he is proud of them and prays for them daily.

I want them to know that he is man enough to stand up for his family but is humble enough to serve others.

I want my boys to view their dad as their hero and my girls to view their dad as their first love.photo (14)

I want my girls to want to marry someone just like their dad.

I want my kids to get excited to see their dad when he comes home from work.

I want to be second to my husband.

Did dad have his shortcomings? Yes, but those aren’t remembered.

Does my husband have his shortcomings? Yes.  But I made a vow that I would do my best to NEVER be critical of my husband to my kids, family, or friends. I haven’t always succeeded, but I have done and am doing my best to be his greatest cheerleader.

So take the time to teach your kids to honor their father.  It was so important to God, that He made it the first commandment with a promise….”our days may be long upon the earth.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Until Next Monday,

Rebekah

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Liberty and Flag Day, What’s it all About?

Daily Truth:  Jesus said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He sent me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight the blind, To set at liberty to those who are oppressed.”

Luke 4:18

 

United States FlagFlag Day is about celebrating liberty and remembrance.   Liberty is defined as” freedom from control, interference or physical restraint”. Jesus spoke of liberty.  He came to “make you free” (John 8:32).

Flag Day represents a day in which we honor our country by honoring our country’s flag.  The American Flag symbolizes liberty to all.

  • How did Flag Day begin?  The flag of the United States of America was born out of a Revolution in 1977.  It has remained the same except the addition of a star for each state added to the United States.
  • What do the colors and symbols represent? The  50 stars represent the states of the United States.  The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies.  The red is said to represent valor, the white to represent liberty, and the blue to represent justice and loyalty.
  •  Who made the first American flag?  Reportedly, Betsy Ross sewed the first flag by hand in 1776.
  • Why June 14?  That was the day in 1877 the the adoption of the American flag took place by the Second Continental Constitution.   President Woodrow Wilson made a proclamation in 1916 that made June 14 Flag Day.  Flag Day is not a federal or state holiday except in the state of Pennsylvania.
  • What are the American Flag’s rules and regulations?  Visit US History.org for details. 

The Flag Goes By

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
Hats off!
The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by:

Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State;
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;

Days of plenty and years of peace;
March of a strong land’s swift increase;
Equal justice, right and law,
Stately honor and reverend awe;

Sign of a nation, great and strong
To ward her people from foreign wrong;
Pride and glory and honor, – all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

~ Henry Holcomb Bennett

Happy Flag Day to you!

Until the next “Truth” telling moment,

Cathy Jo Johnson

Grow More Than Vegetables This Summer With Your Kids

Daily Truth:  You (God) cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth.  Psalm 104:14  ESV

Grow more than a garden
Grow more than a garden

There is still time to plant and grow a garden before summer arrives.   Bring God’s Word alive for your children by teaching them how to plant, cultivate, and harvest a garden this summer.

Some easy plants to grow from seeds are green beans, pumpkins and zucchini. If you feel uncomfortable growing seeds try a tomato, basil or oregano plant.  Tomato, basil, and oregano plants are great to plant as all three work well in making tomato sauce for an easy spaghetti dinner to be enjoyed later in the summer. Ask your local garden shop for the best way to grow the plants you decide to purchase for your area.

Teaching your child how to tend a garden takes time and patience.  What great character qualities to instill.  Time and patience  are modeled  to your child as you plant, tend and care for the seeds and plants together this summer.

Whether growing a vegetable or flower garden there are ways to involve even  young children.  For the young child begin with larger seeds as sunflowers, pumpkins, or squash seeds.  These seeds will be easier for a child’s fine motor skills.  Tools that are a children size such as a shovel and wheelbarrow make gardening more fun. The child can model their parent using the same grown up tools. After planting, watering is best with a sprinkling can or a nozzle attached to the hose so the seeds and plants do not get washed away. God’s sunshine and rain (or your child’s watering) will in time grow your plants to maturity. I know that you will all enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Some wonderful children’s books about gardening and growing plants include:  “Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots” by Sharon Lovejoy,  “Planting a Rainbow ” by Lois Ehlert,  “Gardening with Kids” by Catherine Woram and  Martyn Cox, and “Jack’s Garden” by Henry Cole.

There are many references to plants and growing in the Bible. A good word study may include looking up the verses of the Bible that contain the word “grow”.  Make this summer one of growth for your  family both physically and spiritually.

When teaching the Bible verse Psalm 104:14 to your child make sure that they understand each word.  The word “livestock” means horses, cattle, sheep or any other useful animals kept on a farm or ranch. The word “cultivate” means to improve or promote the growth of a plant by attention and care.

By having a better understanding of the words and concepts in the Bible your child will understand God better.  With practical application of God’s Word, as actually growing and cultivating a plant, children are able to learn about God and the world He created.    A child also learns how amazing it is to watch a plant grow and eventually provide food just as Psalm 104:14 states.

“The wonderful thing about garden-based learning is that it’s a hands-on, minds-on experience where my students and I learn together.” Kids and Classroom

Gardening is a “growing experience” in that both child and adult learn from watching and participating in life together.

Check out Truths for Tots on Pinterest or Facebook.

Until the next “Truth” telling moment,

Cathy Jo Johnson

 

 

 

 

Why, When and Where to Pray: The Bible Tells Us and Jesus Shows Us

Daily Truth: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed  into a solitary place, and there He prayed.    Mark 1:35

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Early in the morning is sometimes the only time when all is quiet and time to pray is uninterrupted.  In order to have the time and energy to get up early takes planning the night before.  With little ones it is more difficult to plan as their needs sometimes dictate the schedule.  Spending time with God is the most important thing you will do and once the day begins it is very difficult to stop, pause and reflect once in motion. Planning with flexibility is what a mom is about right?  So plan carefully with time for prayer as a priority.

The verb “pray” is found 146 times in the Bible.  We are taught how to pray in Matthew 6:13-19 when Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray by teaching them the Lord’s Prayer.

The following is a list of times, places, and reasons to pray from the Bible.

1.   Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  Think about all the  questions you answer or how many times you are giving directions to your children throughout the day.  That is how much time we are to communicate with God.  Prayer is talking to God.  God wants a relationship with us. He speaks through His Word the Bible and communicates through prayer.  How easy is that?  No iPhone, Droid, Bluetooth, etc. required!

2.   In Mark 1:35 we are told that Jesus prayed in the morning before all the activities of he day.  Jesus is our example in all things.  Planning in the evening to go to bed at a specific time will help establish a regular wake up time.

3.  In Matthew 6:6 we are shown to pray in solitude.  And yes that can mean behind a bathroom door but better elsewhere.  By having a specific time and place each day your prayer time will be more meaningful and special.  When you are a mother of little ones or a mother of a child with special needs, early morning is the only time that you can call your own.  God wants to spend time with just you.  We need the time with God.

4.   Matthew 5:44 we are to pray for our enemies. When we focus on the needs of others rather than ourselves it places us in a place of humbleness.  God is ultimately in control.  By praying for our enemies we take ourselves out and let God work.  It keeps our focus in line with Christ.  Jesus Christ came so we might have life, and what an abundant life we have!

5. Sometimes we are overcome with such grief that we cannot think of any words to articulate.  That is when Romans 8:26 gives us hope.  The Holy Spirit will help us in our weaknesses when we do not know what to pray.

6.  In Ephesians 6:13-18 we are told to put on the full armor of God and to cover it in prayer. Learn about the armor of God, place it on yourself and dress your children in it as well.  Then as written in Ephesians 6:18 cover it all in prayer.

The Bible tells us how, when, where, and why to pray.  When we pray we are giving God glory, confessing our sins, showing our thankfulness, and making requests.  It is a privilege that we are able to talk to God at any time and any place.

There are many books and devotionals that teach us about prayer.  Please check out my Pinterest board on “Prayer” at Truths for Tots.

“Bow, stubborn knees!” William Shakespeare

“Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.” Billy Graham

“The prayer offered to God in the morning during your quiet time is the key that unlocks the door of the day.  Any athlete knows that it is the start that ensures a good finish.” Adrian Rogers

 When and where do you pray?

Until the next “Truth” telling moment,

Cathy Jo Johnson

The Work of His Hand: We Are Just the Pottery

Daily Truth:  But now, O LORD, you are the Father; we are the clay, and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

9757937What an incredible picture! God is our Creator and the potter. We are his vessels or pottery.  He shaped and molded us.

When a child understands the way in which pottery is made there is a better understanding about the verses in the Bible which use the words clay and potter. The clay begins as just a lump of matter (which is made up of elements known as silicates along with water, oxygen, and trace minerals) on the potter’s wheel. The clay is carefully molded by the potter’s hands into a masterpiece.

I find it interesting that water must be added to the clay to aid in the transformation. Without water we are unable to live. Water is cleansing too. In John 4:10 Jesus is the living water. In John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Just as clay needs water to be molded we too need “living water” to be cleansed and transformed.

A valuable experience that would lead to a clearer understanding of the clay and potter relationship is to have your child make their own piece of pottery or to plan a visit in which he or she can watch pottery being made. The  following video shows how a potter makes pottery. (click here to watch video)

It is interesting in the video when the potter blows into the vessel.  The breath from the potter gives shape and form to the clay.  It reminds me of the verse in Genesis 2:7 “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and then the man became a living creature.”

Job 33:6 “Truly I am as your spokesman before God; I also have been formed out of clay.”

God’s Word is truly amazing.  God gives us word pictures to aid in our understanding of His Word.

Until the next “Truth” sharing moment,

Cathy Jo Johnson

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How Strong Are You? (Part II)

Daily Truth: “The Lord is the strength of my life.” Psalm 27:1

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I knew it would happen!!! Not two hours after I posted the last blog, one of my cherubs showed me just how much more training we have to go.

I was checking out at a register when Sam pipes up to the cashier, “Lady, what is wrong with your face?”  The cashier and I looked at each other in bewilderment. The her face visibly went from, “How can I help you?” to “How quickly can I get you out of here!”  I bent down in front of Sam and the following conversation occurred.

Me:  “Sam, were you being kind?”
Sam: “No.”
Me:  “What did you say that was unkind?”
Sam: “I asked the lady what was wrong with her face.”
Me:  “What do you need to do now?”
Sam: “Ask her to forgive me for saying ‘what is wrong with your face’.”

With head hung low, Sam walked around the corner and said to the cashier, “I’m sorry for saying ‘what’s wrong with your face’.  Will you forgive me?”

That sweet cashier got on her knees, held Sam’s hands, and said, “Oh, honey there is nothing to forgive.”  Believe me, her demeanor changed dramatically and believe me Sam still faced punishment at home.

I have been asked what parenting books I read.  I do read parenting books but I have found that the best lessons one can learn are by watching and asking other parents what they do in their parenting.  So, that is exactly what I did. I asked a number of my friends their best advice for parenting.  Their children range from a 3 year old to a junior in high school.  I feel like I have been immersed in a week of Parenting 101.  My heart has been blessed, challenged, and is now overflowing with information and the desire to be all that I can be for my children.

Parenting Advice Number 1:  Make sure your heart is align with God’s heart. 

“What?!?!  I thought this was on raising my kids not on me?!?!”  True, but if I am not a grace-filled mom how can I demonstrate the love of God and his grace to my children.   My friend wrote it so eloquently that I am just going to let her speak.

I want… I MUST be a grace-filled Mom. I – and ABSOLUTELY their Dad – am their earliest representation of God that they will know. What will they learn?!?!?!? Am I one who demonstrates anger or frustrations easily? Do I forgive quickly? Am I excited to read God’s word? Do I make much of Jesus? Do they see me sorry for MY sins and shortcomings? How do they hear ME talk or respond to unplanned problems? Am I tender to the leading of the Spirit for others that are hurting or ‘different’ or ‘unlovely’?

My encouragement would be to focus on knowing and loving God and then knowing and loving your child. That doesn’t mean don’t expect obedience or don’t expect good behavior…just don’t make THAT your goal. To me, that change of focus was HUGE in how I approached my parenting…

Convicting, huh?  This is just a taste of the type of encouragement I have been receiving from these dear friends. You know, the thing that we all agreed on was that we all fail, and many times.  Often many times within a 24 hour period! Yet, it is in our weakness that God becomes our strength.

So ladies, how strong are you spiritually?  Is God the focus of your life and is that completely evident to your children?  You can have children that do and say all the right things but if your heart isn’t in tune with God how can you expect their hearts to be in tune with God? Is God your portion and your strength?  When you feel you can’t go on another step or you have dealt with this same issue again and again what is your response?

Until next Monday,

Rebekah

Next Monday:  Parenting Advice Number 2:  Dress Rehearse

(image courtesy of Graur Inout/ freedigitalphotos,net)

What’s Your Plumb Line?

Daily Truth: “I will make justice a measuring line and righteousness a plumb line.”
Isaiah 28:17
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What is a plumb line? I first found out when hanging wall paper  many years ago.
A friend was helping me hang wallpaper. She took off her wedding ring and tied  a string to the ring to make a plumb line. She said that it would help us to hang the the wallpaper straight as our vision and the walls could deceive  us.A plumb line is a simple yet valuable tool to determine whether something is vertically straight. From the Latin word “plumbum”, meaning “lead”, a plumb line is a line with a weight attached to the bottom of the line. The force of gravity causes the the string to trace a straight, vertical line. Plumbers, masons, carpenters, surveyors, and landscapers all use this tool.This simple tool has been used in construction since ancient times. Jesus probably used a plumb line as a carpenter tool. References in the Bible are usually that of the Lord’s plumb line. This is in reference to how righteously people stand, or how upright their stand of God.Many of the prophets in the Old Testament warned the people about their crooked ways. Amos writes his conversation with the Lord about the people living
their own ways and not in the ways of the Lord in Amos 7:7-8.
“This is what the he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb,
with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”
By helping children understand the word plumb line they will better understand what God’s criterion is for righteousness.
Activity to help with understanding plumb line:
Attach a paper to an easel or chalkboard. Have the child make lines from
top to bottom on a piece of paper. Then make a simple plumb line tool.
Demonstrate with the plumb line how the lines drawn by the child appeared to be
straight yet when compared to the plumb line they were crooked.Our thoughts of righteousness differ from those of God’s thoughts on righteousness.

The word “righteousness” occurs 277 times in the ESV.  This word would be a good word study as an extension of the previous object lesson of the word plumb line.

If the verses mentioned earlier seem too overwhelming to incorporate in a study I  suggest the following verses:

1 Samuel 26:23 “The LORD rewards every man according to his righteousness and his
faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out
my hand against the LORD’s anointed.”

2 Titus 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, or reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

Until the next truth sharing moment,

Cathy Jo Johnson

 

Yeshua says………..

Yeshua took bread and blessed it.  He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take this, and eat it.  This is my body.”  Then he took a cup and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving.  He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood, the blood of the promise.  It is poured out for many people so that sins are forgiven.  Matthew 26:26b -28 from  Names of God Bible
We think today about Jesus serving the last supper to the disciples.  The disciples go  into the city and talk to a “certain man” that Jesus asked them to tell, “My time is near” and that they would celebrate Passover at this man’s house.  The disciples do as the Lord had directed and prepared for the Passover. 

A Passover Seder is a service held at  home  as part of the Passover celebration.  It is a remembrance of that first Passover which was the liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt.

During the last Passover that Jesus celebrated with his disciples he instituted     communion or the Lord’s Supper.  We are to do this in remembrance of the Lord Jesus and his sacrifice for our sins. 

Jesus was the perfect lamb that was slain on our behalf.  He never did anything wrong.  He was the only one that could bear and pay for all the sins of the world.  He was and is our Good Shepherd.   He died so we might live. 

As we reflect on this Thursday of Passion Week may we be thoughtful of the great love,  compassion, and the keeping of a promise that God showed us at the Last Supper.

Cathy Jo Johnson