The Disciples’ Easter Weekend

JESUS DIED TODAY  (Friday)
          Nailed to a cross, held up in the air
          So his enemies could see Him there.
          Beaten and tortured, bleeding and bare
          Jesus died today.

          He did not cry out, did not complain.
          Like a lamb at the altar He was slain,
          So my sins with me would not remain.
          Jesus died today.

          He chose to die...the time and the place.
          He did it for the human race,
          the example of God's loving grace.
          Jesus died today.

JESUS IS BURIED TODAY  (Saturday)
          His place is a tomb, cold and alone,
          A borrowed grave instead of a throne
          To pay for sins like my very own.
          Jesus is buried today.

          There is no marker, no special way
          To see where Jesus lays today
          Because He said "Father, I obey."
          Jesus is buried today.

          Draped with cloth from his head to his feet
          The great sacrifice is now complete.
          Proudly all his enemies repeat
          Jesus is buried today.

JESUS ROSE TODAY  (Sunday)
          Women were first to see it was true.
          They went to the tomb while day was new.
          They told others. Soon everyone knew
          Jesus rose today.

          He left the tomb so cold and so bare.
          No need to look, Jesus is not there.
          The news is joy to men everywhere.
          Jesus rose today.

          Death is defeated. Jesus has won.
          This is the proof that He is God's son.
          He's the Messiah, the Promised One.
          Jesus rose today.

Teaching On The Way to Emmaus

     The episode on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-36) is beautiful to me because it is so instructive.
     Just a week before, these two men believed they had found in Jesus the answer to all their political and spiritual questions. But their hopes that He would "redeem Israel" had been dashed. They were confused and disappointed followers of Jesus. (Don't know about you, but I've been there and done that.)
     But Jesus specifically and intentionally went to them in their struggle. (And He finds me in mine.)
     After walking with them for awhile He started to leave them with only a partial understanding. They asked for more teaching and He obliged. (He gives me more when I ask.)
     In verse 27 Jesus used the scriptures to teach about himself. What Scriptures? The Old Testament, because that is all they had.
     I would love to have been there and heard Jesus tell about himself and his relationship to those Old Testament writers. He could have said "I know exactly what Isaiah and David meant because I was right there with them when they wrote those words." That is really teaching with authority..." (Mark 1:22)
     And then they went and told others.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 17

To fully benefit from having God as my Father, I must admit that I need him as provider, protector, counselor, guide, comforter and savior. I must admit "I can't," acknowledge "He can," and believe "He will." Only then can I know the full value of having been adopted into his family and having the privilege of calling him "Abba Daddy."

John 5:1-18 tells the story of a crippled man. When Jesus asked him "Do you want to get well" he replied that he had no one to help him get into the healing pool. He knew of only one way to get healed. Sometimes I limit God the same way. I say "Lord, I can't be happy unless ____." Then I get discouraged and disgruntled if my specific request is not granted. I need to be willing to say "Lord, do whatever you think is best in my life and I'll be happy no matter what you provide."

Should I view Jehovah as a god of joy (and praise him) or a god of responsibility (and serve him?) Of course the answer is "both," since worship is defined as "recognizing and properly responding to God." Service is part of that proper response. Too much emphasis on the joy part can cause a turn inward, always looking for the next bit of spiritual excitement. Too much emphasis on the responsibility portion can result in guilt and lifeless attempts to minister. Our challenge is to find and retain the joy that comes from fulfilling responsibilities.

Bit & Pieces, Odds & Ends…15

It is the king's right to command and the servant's duty to obey.

Why was Jesus born a king? Because His father owned the kingdom.

Obedience must be attitude as well as actions.

I must be as willing to serve God as I am to worship Him.

Partial obedience to God is disobedience to God.

If I become more like God I will behave more like Jesus.

I am not a great servant of God, but I am the servant of a great God.

Obedience to God, without a close relationship to God, produces Pharisees.

God's future blessings to me depend largely on how much I have shared His past blessings.

It is more important that we talk to God than about God.

The Outward Joy of Worship

My relationship with Jesus gives me daily strength that may or may not be accompanied by a feeling of euphoria. My relationship with Jesus gives me joy and peace that may or may not be accompanied by the need to sing and shout. My relationship with Jesus gives me confidence and a sense of security that may or may not be accompanied by a mountain-top sense of revival and rapture.

Corporate worship should lead me to new heights of spiritual excitement, but it should also reinforce my existing levels of spiritual belief. It is not a wasted worship experience that says “You are on the right track. You are headed in the right direction. Keep fighting the fight. Stay on course.”

Should I ever become satisfied with the level of my devotion to Jesus? Of course not! But is it wrong for me to be pleased that I am growing in Him? I don’t thing so.

I don’t feel a time of corporate worship must be deemed a failure if I am not transported to the throne of God and emotionally thrilled by the activities that transpire there. If I approach Him in my own quiet way, if I take joy in my time with my brothers and sisters, if the Holy Spirit reinforces my devotion and submission to Him I will feel my time has been well-spent.

There are times of corporate high, holy excitement. The valleys are endurable only because of the mountain tops. But it may be unrealistic to think that every Christian can attain a mountaintop every Sunday morning. And undue efforts to attain such worship levels may prevent other desirable worship experiences.

WHO AM I?

As a born again, covered-by-the-blood Christian, just exactly who am I?

Am I a child of the King, a prince of kingdom? Am I a servant of the most high? Could I perhaps be a soldier in God’s army or maybe an ambassador to foreign kingdoms?

YES! YES! YES! YES! I am all of those, but it is easier to announce that answer than to fully understand and explain it.

My position in God’s kingdom is that of a son, a privileged prince who can claim all the blessings and perks available to one of such high status. Yet I am His servant, standing ready to eagerly fulfill His every wish. As a fully-armed soldier in His army I am ready to do battle, clothed in the armor He has provided for me. And my position as an ambassador sends me into the streets and alleys inviting the needy of this world to his banquet.

It seems impossible to successfully fill any one of these roles, let alone all four at the same time. And it is impossible – totally and completely impossible – if I try it within my own power and wisdom. Only the Holy Spirit, working through me can successfully perform this balancing act.

A Visit To The Grand Canyon

When we visit the Grand Canyon we approach it with some degree of reverence and look cautiously into it’s depths. We are impressed with the beauty, majesty, size and age.  We realize we are engaging only a small part of the canyon with only a small part of ourselves. After a short visit we walk away, get in our car and move on.

But that is not experiencing the Grand Canyon. We don’t go to the bottom and allow ourselves to be surrounded by it.  We don’t permit all our senses to become attuned to its sounds, colors, scent and sights. We don’t explore the side canyons and hidden pockets of splendor. We don’t sit still in the deepest recesses and view the animals and wild flowers. We don’t return throughout the year to view the seasonal changes.

If we really wanted to know the Canyon intimately we would read books about it and hire a guide for each visit. We would physically discipline ourselves to become strong enough to hike from one end to the other. We would stay there for days at a time.

But we don’t. And as a result of our look-over-the-edge-and-move-on visits we know it about like we know God.

We hurry into and out of God’s presence, perhaps impressed with a limited sense of his wisdom, majesty, beauty, size and power. We commit a small part of ourselves to peer cautiously into his Word, all the time knowing there is more. We stop short of a full sensory encounter then walk away content or even feel a little proud of our efforts.

We do not take the time and make the effort to experience God. We do not immerse ourselves and surround ourselves with Him. We refuse to explore the lesser-known facets of his personality.  We do not develop the stamina and self-discipline necessary to know his heart. Expecting immediate answers and solutions, we visit Him and then move on before some of his most beautiful, valuable truths can be received. We do not allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide. We may feel his presence for a few minutes but we don’t become intimate with him.  We approach God with a tourist mentality.

How can we correct this? We must make forming an intimate relationship with him the number-one priority of our lives. This will require a commitment of our time. Such relationships can not be rushed. We must establish regular times of prayer and Bible study, disciplining ourselves to concentrate of spiritual matters. The joys of experiencing God are available only to those who long for more than a quick, easy, occasional visit.

Hypocrite?

I am a hypocrite if I say I believe Luke 12:29-31, but still worry about my economic future.

I am a hypocrite if my relationship to God does not cause me to be more generous and caring than my non-Christian friends who are “good” people.

I am a hypocrite if my relationship to God does not cause me to give sacrificially to my church.

I am a hypocrite if the only time I say “God is good” is when I am with other Christians.

I am a hypocrite if my relationship to God isn’t causing a consistently increasing harvest of the “fruit” of the Spirit in my Monday-Saturday life.

I am a hypocrite if I could stop going to church and not miss anything except the social contacts.

I am a hypocrite if I say I love God but do not spend time with Him just enjoying HIs company.

I am a hypocrite if my play list does not include songs that draw me to Jesus.

I am a hypocrite if my wish for arrested criminals is more for punishment than rehabilitation.

I am a hypocrite if my “love” for people does not include service to other people.

I am a hypocrite if my prayer “Teach me Lord” does not include “Now.”

I am a hypocrite if my love for God does not include my obedience to God.

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends – 9

The Holy Spirit will work to cause Biblical information to become spiritual illumination that will lead to personal transformation, if I let Him.

*****

As a Christian I take great comfort in the fact that God always keeps His word. Can others take such comfort knowing that I, as a child of God, will always keep mine?

*****

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if after my death my family had “He loved God by loving others” engraved on my headstone?

*****

When I was growing up my mother told me “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if Jesus was with you.” Now, as an adult, I need to add “Don’t express any opinion you wouldn’t express if Jesus was with you.”

*****

I did not do anything to achieve my salvation, but I must do everything in my power to clearly express it every day.

*****

John and Andrew asked Jesus “Where do you live?” Jesus answered “Come and see.” (John 1:38) The invitation was to come closer, spend time together, become friends. And that invitation is still open to you and me.

Valued by God

To me the term “…poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3) means total humility, admitting that on my own I can do nothing (John 15:5.) God loves me regardless of my lack of talent, beauty, skills or possessions. In God’s system I have great value. I am a child in his family adopted through the death of Jesus on the cross.

In the world’s system a thing like this is unheard of. We are taught that we must do something or be something or have something before we are granted the status of “valuable or important.” But God says “You are valuable to me exactly as you are right now.”

Should we ever wonder how valuable we are to Him all we need do is look to the cross. Jesus died there to buy my eternal freedom from the consequences of my sins.  God’s grace means love without accomplishment. It seems to be a crazy system, but it is the way God does things and I sure am glad.