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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

July 19, 2015

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?" Matthew 18:21

This is the kind of offense like the in the sense that somebody has done you wrong. It won’t take you long for one of those things to pop into your mind. There it is. What was it about the dirty deed that really hurt you? Betrayal of trust? Lied about you? Bullied you? Cruelly joked about you to others? Misused authority over you? Led you astray? Seduced you and left you cold-heartedly?

Everyone has a broken…  ( Click for more )

Ever notice the directions on products? Some of them are quite humorous, such as “do not operate this hair dryer when sleeping.” Really? Visions of women lying in bed with their blow dryer grasped in a white-knuckled grip trip through my mind. Another favorite is the peanut package on airplanes which says, “Open packet. Eat nuts.” I guess that is for those who would rather slip the packet into their purse and smuggle it off the plane. Found on a Korean kitchen knife, “Keep out of children;” on a batman costume, “This cape does not…  ( Click for more )

At the transfiguration of Jesus, three disciples observed the difference between heavenly glory and earthly bleakness. Jesus had spoken to all the disciples of what was about to happen at the Passover. They probably thought that the kingdom of God would suddenly transform into this great earthly kingdom as soon as Jesus rose from the dead. There was no other way except supernaturally that this kingdom could happen because Jesus had gathered no army, no cache of weapons of war, or horses with which to conquer the Romans. The must have reasoned that God would take over, and…  ( Click for more )

This was Moses’ first time to set feet upon the Promised Land. What an amazing thing to see in that isolated spot on the mountain: Victory and glory suddenly appear before their eyes. Peter, James, and John were the only three disciples that had this experience. What reason could God have had to show them this?

Jesus had just told Peter, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter had refuted Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to be the sacrifice for the world. It was probably because of this, and because these three men would write letters, which God has preserved…  ( Click for more )

June 14, 2015

The Pharisees were never satisfied. They wanted to trick Jesus, and to do that they asked for a sign from Heaven. Healing the sick, making the blind see (what no one had ever done before), making the lame walk and become productive to society, raising the dead were not good enough miracles for them. As always, Jesus knew their hearts, and replied to them in kind. “You can look at the sky and tell what the weather will be like for that day, but you can’t read the signs of the times?”

How foolish He made them look. Jesus pointed to Jonah. This would be…  ( Click for more )

When surgeons wash their hands before surgery, they wash with scrub brushes all the way up to their elbows. They scrub under fingernails. They rinse thoroughly. Then they put on sterile gloves. I’d say that is about as clean as you can get without soaking in alcohol or peroxide.

When the Jews washed their hands before they ate, they would take a showy, silver bowl, set it on the table, hold their hands over the bowl palms down, have water poured over their hands, then pat their hands dry with a towel. Not exactly a cleansing kind of hand washing.

What really…  ( Click for more )

Matthew indulges in a flashback in his story about Jesus. First we hear Herod talking about Jesus being the resurrected John the Baptist, then Matthew backtracks for a minute to explain how that could be. Matthew understood that

1. Herod was not of the Sadducee sect because he did believe in resurrection and the Sadduccees did not (Acts 23:8).

2. Herod, even though an atheist, let his fear override his opinion as he declared John the Baptist in his risen state to be able to do mighty works showing forth in him meaning John the Baptist. Remember that John did no signs…  ( Click for more )

This is one of my favorite chapters. Jesus explains why He teaches the people in parables. God enlightened the Twelve to understand the mysteries of the kingdom to come, but the scribes and Pharisees refused to believe so understanding did not come to them. They were made blind and deaf by their unbelief. John quotes Jesus:

If I have told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? John 3:12

Jesus spoke in parables because those were real-life examples, and the spiritual truths were made simple and understandable…  ( Click for more )

Hungry! Waking up in the early morning, worshiping with Jesus with no time to eat breakfast the disciples were hungry. On the way to the synagogue, they walked through a field ripe for harvest. The most natural thing in the world to do is pluck some grain, rub the husks off, and satisfy that rumbling, empty belly. (Matthew 12:1)

The Pharisees did not object to the disciples taking food from the farmer’s field, but objected to the disciples “reaping” on the Sabbath.

“Didn’t you ever read the story of David and his hungry men? They took…  ( Click for more )

May 10, 2015

In prison, it is easy to get discouraged, and easy to allow depressing thoughts of failure to creep and settle in the brain. Christ spoke honorably of John after John's disciples were gone from the gathering described in Matthew 11. He didn’t want to flatter John. That wasn’t what John needed at the time. He was in prison, and God knew that John needed the reassurance that Jesus was exactly who He said He was. That reassurance was more comforting than any praise. It meant that God’s words spoken through him were really God’s words of truth. It meant…  ( Click for more )

Jesus sends out the disciples to spread the Gospel. That must have been both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

I remember the first time I walked to school by myself. I was in the first grade. We lived about a half mile away, so Mom walked the distance with me several times, drove over the path several times, so that I’d know how to get there. When she asked me what streets to take, I told her the regular path she had engrained in my brain. Then I said, “But if I want to, I can go down this street and turn at that street to get there. Or I can go down this…  ( Click for more )

April 26, 2015

How marvelous God is to give us just what we need when we need it for encouragement and strength and a hearty boost when we feel our lowest.Then sometimes we look around and wonder, "Where is God? Why isn't He answering my prayers?"

Is it so bad to want to see results of prayer?

We just cannot know or understand God's ways. We ask, and we receive. Then we ask, and then we receive. It seems to be a results motivated prayer life.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Why…  ( Click for more )

The Torah was so steeped in sacredness that the elders of Israel put a hedge of protection around it so that no man could misunderstand and break the Law. Then the next generation put a hedge around that hedge, and again another hedge around that hedge on down through the centuries until Tradition out weighed the Torah by 18 volumes of tiny type to one small volume held in one hand.

Deuteronomy 10:16 And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and you shall not harden your neck any more.

Always the outward symbol of the covenant with God was circumcision.…  ( Click for more )

April 12, 2015

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Matthew 9:11

The Pharisees asked the Disciples, not Jesus … Why?

But Jesus heard the question and replied "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

The puffed up Pharisees may have thought that they were righteous and had no need for repentance. Jesus'…  ( Click for more )

A leper comes up to Jesus and says: Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.

Not “heal me” or “make me well.” We learn a lot from that Greek word used here. If we look closely at how it is used in a moral sense, we can get an excellent understanding what Jesus’ blood does for believers. The Greek word is katharizō. It means:

1) to make clean, cleanse

1a) from physical stains and dirt

1a1) utensils, food

1a2) a leper, to cleanse by curing

1a3) to remove by cleansing

1b) in a moral sense

1b1) to free from…  ( Click for more )

March 29, 2015

Centuries before Jesus was led to Golgotha, God provided a picture of that event, a promise to His chosen people in the form of the Passover. He said it was to be an ordinance forever. Even today, Jews have Passover Sedar and speak the Hagadah. All Christians should understand how completely Jesus fulfills the Passover. We remember Him when we take communion, but we need to understand that Jesus was promised for millenea before He was cut off, and that everything prophesied was fulfilled in Him.

The lighting…

The lighting of the candles... Only the woman of the…  ( Click for more )

Someone once pointed out to me that the notion of forgiving yourself was not a Biblical principle. I hunted and searched for hours trying to find something in the Bible about forgiving oneself. The closest I came was David’s Psalm 51 when he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within him. When you compare his Psalm 32 in verse 3 When I kept silence, then my bones became old, through my howling all day. We see the consequences of unconfessed sin. But that is different from forgiving one’s self for past transgressions which we have confessed…  ( Click for more )

March 8, 2015

I love spinach. Yes, I truly do. Well, the more accurate truth is that I like spinach very much. I don’t actually love spinach.

Adages saturate our lives: “You can’t help whom you love,” and “Love blossoms in strange places.”

But I rarely hear the truth about love. Satan has built a huge cult about infatuation and lust calling it true love. Things like “You don’t have a choice about whom you love,” and “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” One word describes those lies. Poppycock! …  ( Click for more )

Jesus uses the word mercy with the intent of compassion, kindness, or good will towards those who are miserable and afflicted. The Greek word is éleos. According to Vine’s it is the outward manifestation of pity and assumes the need of the one who receives it.

So when Jesus says, “The merciful will receive mercy,” that assumes the need of the one giving the mercy as well as the one the merciful bestows mercy upon. How fascinating! Oh, not that God receives mercy. No, God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), so what He pours out of the windows…  ( Click for more )

February 15, 2015

They that mourn are happy. What a conundrum. I was wondering how mourning and happiness being in the same person at the same time. I thought of all the weeping passages (well probably not all of them). There are so many different things that people in the Bible mourned over. Abraham mourned and wept when Sarah died. Joseph wept when his brothers came to him in Egypt. Jephthah made a foolish vow to God to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his door if He would vanquish his enemies for him. The first thing out the door was his beautiful daughter. It became a custom…  ( Click for more )

February 1, 2015

In my Thursday morning Bible study, we’re walking through Matthew. We’ve made it to Chapter 5. One of my ladies said she just zipped through the chapter, and another one said she found tons about it on the Internet. I was struck by the familiarity I have with the Beatitudes as well. It is so tempting to rely upon one’s existing knowledge when teaching something familiar. I am so glad that I dug deep, because I learned so much. I realized after three pages of notes that we would not make it through the whole chapter in one sitting. There is just too much…  ( Click for more )

Prejudice vilifying prejudice is the same as the pot calling the kettle black.

A man, former fire chief of Atlanta Kelvin Cochran, was fired from his job. He's black. He's a Christian. He wrote a book. Which one of those things do you think prompted the mayor to fire him?

Here in Mississippi a person can be fired for absolutely no reason at all. I know because I experienced that. Only God knows what the real reason was. I think it was because I was perceived as a threat to the passage of the sale of alcohol within the city limits (our county is a dry county). I stood…  ( Click for more )

January 18, 2015

One of the things that sets humans apart from the baser animal kingdom is self-control, deductive reasoning, and planning. To be promiscuous as well as indiscriminate, a person is living a risk-filled lifestyle with probability of STDs and pregnancy. Birth control merely opens the door wider for health risks, rather than preventive medicine. The only 100% effective birth control is abstinence which I taught both my daughters.

I'm talking about how society has cheapened the value of life.

The Institute of Medicine reports that free birth control such as pills, IUDs,…  ( Click for more )

January 11, 2015

Several years ago I wrote several stories , one for each part of the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The story on goodness gave me pause. The idea of goodness is not foreign, but to define it was difficult for me. I’m talking about the biblical definition. If you recall, Jesus said, “There is only One good.” (Luke 18:19) What did He mean by that?

There are two Greek words for good. Agathos (ag-ath-os’), a primary word meaning intrinsic benefit or well; kalos (kal-os'),…  ( Click for more )

January 4, 2015

Several years ago I wrote several stories , one for each part of the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The story on goodness gave me pause. The idea of goodness is not foreign, but to define it was difficult for me. I’m talking about the biblical definition. If you recall, Jesus said, “There is only One good.” (Luke 18:19) What did He mean by that?

There are two Greek words for good. Agathos (ag-ath-os’), a primary word meaning intrinsic benefit or well; kalos (kal-os'),…  ( Click for more )

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