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February 28, 2017
 

Restitution

“Zacchaeus said, ‘Look, Lord… if I have cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount.’” Luke 19:8

I am convinced that one of the most important principles that I picked up on in my early days of learning to walk with Jesus was the principle of restitution. I had repented of the sins that I was conscious of and was resting in the forgiveness that removed the weight of guilt, but there appeared to be something more that I was being called to do. I wrote a letter to my parents asking them to forgive me for the agony I had caused them as a teen. There were other letters and apologies that seemed the right thing to do.

 
Then I was confronted with all that I had stolen during my teen years. “What can I do about that, Lord?” I had moved away from where I grew up so I sent letters and checks to more than cover what I had stolen. I thought I was all done doing that when one day the Lord brought to my attention all the gas I had stolen from a Sears warehouse that had been near my home. Working at a Sears in Medford kind of complicated matters a bit, so I just prayed and asked the Lord how I could make this right.
 
On my next trip down to the Bay Area I called and made an appointment with the manager of the warehouse and brought a check with me that I felt was the right amount. I was somewhat nervous as I could think of many different ways that this scene could play out. I told the manager that as a teen I used to come down on Sunday mornings and steal gas from his trucks and that now I had become a Christian and I wanted to make it right. I asked if he would please accept this check as restitution. His response calmed any fears. “Wow! This is amazing! Just last night in our Bible study we were talking about restitution. Of course I will accept your check.” We talked for a few minutes longer as he wanted to hear how the Lord had prompted me to follow through on this largely ignored practice. I left knowing that I had pleased the Lord and that he had been pleased to prepare the way for me to clear my conscience.

 
I tell this story because I know that some of you bear the weight of unfinished business with someone you have wronged. The Lord has forgiven you, but there seems to be something left for you to do. May I encourage you to write that letter, send that check, make that call, or make the contact that will quiet your conscience. The lightness of heart that follows is worth it.

Pastor Doug Higuera
 
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February 13, 2017
 
Final Destination
 

Vacation. Ahhh, can’t wait to go. Being reunited with my loved ones I haven’t seen for a long time. Much planning to do. Preparation. Packing. What to bring? How much money to take? What book to bring?

As one who has trusted Jesus as my Savior, I like to think of my eternity in Heaven as my final vacation. Am I preparing for it now? I won’t need to pack clothes, money, reading material, or book flights. God has my date, reservation, and all the other details taken care of already. But, there are things I should be doing in preparation for this trip. First of all, I should be getting to know my God as much as I can by reading and studying His Word every day, talking to Him, and fellowshipping with other believers. Why wouldn’t I want as close a relationship with God NOW, before arriving at my final destination where I will be with Him face to face?

Secondly, I need to try to bring as many people along with me as I can! Am I sharing the Good News of Jesus with people so that they will be able to join me? How can I even consider leaving them behind? Is the life I live now one that shows others Who Jesus is through me, so they’ll want to spend eternity with Him, too? I need to be actively recruiting people for the Kingdom NOW!

Are you excited about your eternal vacation? There are two options for your destination. If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, it will be a lovely vacation, filled with joy, freedom, purpose, beauty, and love beyond description; if you haven’t trusted Jesus, it will be a lonely, painful one, separated from God and everyone else.

Matthew 13:42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.

What a stark contract between the above scripture passages! Heaven or Hell? If you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Savior, you can do so today. Not only will you have a better life here and now with Jesus, but eternity…it will be glorious!

What is your eternal vacation destination?

 
 
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January 8, 2017
 

Sweet Relief 

For the last few weeks, I have been enduring some shoulder muscle issues. Because my job requires a lot of typing, my neck and shoulder muscles often take a hit. This current bout has brought some pain to me. Excedrin plus an herbal muscle relaxer have been my friends when the pain gets intense. Once the pain medicine kicks in, there is such a sweet relief as the pain drifts away. My furrowed brow relaxes, my demeanor softens, and I smile more!
 
In this life on earth, we endure pain. Not just the physical kind, but the kind that hurts us emotionally. It can rock us to the core, making us sad, unapproachable, and withdrawn. When a crisis is over, we rejoice in the relief, and once again find the joy in our lives that got buried beneath the pain.
 
For those of us who have received Jesus as Savior, we have the glorious hope of a pain-free eternity with Him. When we walk through Heaven’s door, we will enjoy the sweet release of all the anxiety, fear, pain, confusion, and troubles this earthly life brings. In the meantime, in the here and now as we suffer through pain, be it physical or emotional, we can remember this truth. Jesus WILL bring the sweet relief for all eternity when we enter His presence. This should certainly comfort and encourage us as we plod through this earthly life.
 
Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
 
1 Peter 5:10 – And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
 
Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
 

What glorious hope! May we all try to smile more through our temporary earthly pain, and encourage others of this heavenly promise through Jesus Christ. Relief is coming! If you don’t have this hope, won’t you allow Jesus to be your ultimate Pain Reliever right now?
 
Janet Perkins
Women’s Ministry Team
 
 
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