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.

Christians and Social Media

Has Twitter replaced prayer? Has Facebook replaced intimacy with God? Have cell phones replaced prayer closets?

The attraction of social networking comes from the fact that we all want to feel needed and need to feel wanted. We are comforted when we believe (accurately or not) someone is interested in what we like, where we go and what we do.

We want to “reach out and touch” across the city, state, nation and world. Our sense of worth is enhanced if we have a lot of “friends.” We value the fact that we can express our feelings, fears and victories to people who are significant to us. We hope they read our messages, understand our feelings and respond with sympathy and support.

For the Christian an intimate relationship with God provides all this and more. We can reach out to Him from any place, any time, across any distance. Prayer is that 24-7, no-limit, instantly received Tweet to the best friend we can ever have. We are never in a “no-service” area.

Our spiritual Facebook includes the friend that loves us like a brother and has the love and power to solve our problems. When our need for earthly relationships becomes greater than our need for God we are missing the joy, peace and power that Jesus, our best Friend, died to provide for us.

Repentance and Forgiveness

God offers to both forgive and forget our sins so we may be restored to a right relationship with Him. This offer comes as a free gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it.

Before we can take advantage of this gift we must have an attitude of repentance toward our sins. We play no role in the offer of forgiveness, but we must do our part in the application of it to our individual lives.

We cannot repent of our sins unless we are aware of them. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit creates such an awareness within us and shows us our need of repentance He is not trying to crush us under a load of guilt. He is trying to help us reach a position where we can receive the Father’s forgiveness.

The prodigal son (Luke 15) and the adulterous woman (John 8) were each aware of their sins and thus each received forgiveness through God’s grace. The prodigal’s older brother and the woman’s accusers remained unforgiven until they recognized and repented of their sins.

So when a passage of Scripture or a sermon causes us to feel guilty, we must refuse to be angry and resentful. We must not start the internal rationalizations that blame others for our shortcomings. Instead, we must praise God for his efforts to further sanctify us by allowing us to travel down a hallway called Grace through a door name Repentance into a room labeled Forgiveness.

With gratitude and humility we need to make this journey every day.

God’s Firm Grip

Recently received this from David Martin. He gave me permission to use it.

Well, it finally happened.  Violette, our granddaughter, took her first steps.  They were halting and unsure, but still independent.  She was so proud of her little self.  Even though she has a few dozen independent steps under her diaper, she still needs our assistance almost 100% of the time to get around on her own two feet.

As I was making the umpteenth lap around the house yesterday holding her chubby little hands, I realized that the death-grip she had on my fingers was not at all necessary.  I had a firm grasp on her hands that would not allow her to fall.  But that did not lessen the need she felt to hang on tightly to my forefingers.

All too often that is how I treat God.  I think I must hang on to Him with all my might, grasping his hands as tightly as possible.  My ability to hang on to God with my strength is so insignificant as to be worthless.  It is His grasp on my hands that keeps me from falling.  

Isaiah 41:13  For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;  it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you." 

His children can rest in the fact that it is El Shaddi, God Almighty, who holds our hands to keep us safe and upright.  How thankful I am that I am in His hands.     



Thankful For What?

John 6 tells of a problem facing Jesus and the disciples. More than five thousand people needed to be fed. The only food the disciples could find was fives loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus took that meager lunch and thanked God for it.

But what was there to be thankful for? Five loaves and two fish? To feed five thousand people? The problem was immense and the resources inadequate. Yet He took a few minutes to show appreciation to his Father. He had the attitude of “We don’t have much, but we are truly grateful for what you have provided and we’ll do the best we can with it!”

Then He had the disciples start giving the food to the people. Give them what? Five loaves and two fish divided 5,000 ways? No! They were to share all God had provided. 

God’s power was released by Jesus’ faith. The multitude got a meal and the disciples received a faith lesson. (In fact, that lesson may had been the primary motive for the entire episode.)

His followers could not visualize one small lunch becoming a seafood buffet for the crowd. To them a large problem and small resources equaled unmet needs. But their equation omitted God’s willingness and ability to help those in need. 

What about us? Do we find this lesson easy to understand in our minds, but difficult to incorporate into our lifestyle? Do we ignore God’s power when we consider how we can solve our big problems without limited resources?

We read Jesus’ words about moving mountains and we say “I’m going into the earth moving business!” Then we run head-on into problems like stubborn children, monthly bills, a distant spouse or an uncaring boss. And what do we do? We compare the size of the problem with the size of our resources and become discouraged.

God wants to help us every day with every problem. But his power will be limited in our lives if we do not demonstrate faith in his ability and desire to care for us.

My Worship Relationship with Jesus

I worship God on the basis of my relationship with Him. I recognize Him as “high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1) but I also enter into his presence “boldly” (Hebrews 4:16.) Such confident worship is available only to God’s children.

It is only because of my relationship with Him that I am allowed to approach Him at all, except to say “Please forgive me. I am a sinner.” I am his child (Romans 8:16.) This father-son relationship between us gives me access to Him, no matter what my failures or shortcomings might be.

So when I worship Him I recognize that his power, knowledge, majesty and holiness are far beyond my understanding. BUT I also know that his fatherhood provides love, mercy and protection that will never end.

If I knew God only as a stranger I would have to worship Him only in fear and trembling, resembling Isaiah’s “Woe is me” (Isaiah 6:5.) But I know Him as my Father, so my fear and trembling are accompanied with a confident “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15.)

Nothing can change this relationship. It is secure for all eternity.

Miracles or Signs?

During His stay on earth Jesus did many things we call miracles. John, in his account of Jesus’ life here, called them signs. Which term is correct? Both!

To us they seem to be impossible. Our knowledge is so limited we cannot explain or understand them.They remain a source of confusion for those who seek scientific explanations of Jesus’ accomplishments. And they were miraculous.

Jesus intended to ease the pain and suffering of those who were sick, hungry, frightened and demon-possessed. He cared about their conditions and He had a desire to help.

However, each of his actions had a larger, more eternal purpose. They were signs to show his followers, then and now, that He was God incarnate. Only the same God who had created the universe and instituted the laws that govern it could alter those laws whenever He chose. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary and Joseph, was Jehovah. The miracles were signs of that truth.

When we read the gospels if we understand no more than the earthly results of his actions, we miss the message He intends for us. The outward, physical results were temporary. Each of the people He healed eventually died. But the larger ramifications lead us to eternal issues.

If we are not born-again children of God we have a spiritual sickness as real as the physical ailments of those Jesus healed. He offers to heal us of that sin-sickness and welcome us into his family for eternity. And that is the most wonderful miracle of all.


God wants my life to be a miracle that shows his power and love to the world.

FOUR STEPS IN DOING GOD’S WILL

There are four steps that have to be taken before I can carry out God’s will in my life. If I fail in any one of them I am allowing myself to be less and do less than He has planned for me. And it is a sin to be aware of my state of “less than God plans” and continue in it.

These steps are wanting to do His will, understanding His will, having the courage to attempt His will and allowing the Holy Spirit to empower me so that I accomplish His will.

The desire to do His will should begin with gratitude for my salvation and the blessings He has so freely  given since then. It should include a recognition that my greatest happiness is possible only when I am doing exactly what He directs, tempered with the acknowledgment that He disciplines those of his children who are disobedient.

The understanding of his will is rooted in private and corporate study of the Bible, along with time alone with Him, voicing my prayers and listening for His response.

If the desire and understanding are present, then I must have the courage to attempt those specific actions He requires. If I falter at this point, I may have to spend more time in steps one and two so that I have a greater assurance that He will protect me and provide for me. He is the “God of detail” and He will clear a path for me as I attempt to be obedient.

As I continue in my obedience I must remain humble and aware of my limitations. I am not expected to do God’s work alone. He is the mover and shaker of the universe but He empowers me to carry out the specific actions He has for me.

When I incorporate each of these into my daily prayer of “Lord, show me what you want me to do” I will hear Him say “Well done, my child.”