Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection Sunday

He Is Risen!


Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! 
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia! 
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! 
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia! 

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia! 
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! 
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia! 
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
 Text by Charles Wesley


The Resurrection

Mark 16:1-7

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.
 
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

Easter: A Love Story (God's Valentine)
Narrated by Anne Graham Lotz


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Why is it called Good Friday? Jesus was betrayed by someone he loved, beaten, and then hung to die... it doesn't sound so good. Jesus came to this earth on a special mission, sent by God. What was that mission? To take the sin of the world (that's you and me) through death, burial, and finally resurrection. As followers of Jesus, we know the story doesn't end on the cross and that's what makes it good. The wrath of God was satisfied on the cross and we can now live at peace with God if we believe in Him. 

That's an over-simplified version of the story. I encourage you to read it for yourself. I've included some scripture below and links to the Biblegateway.com website so you may study further. The passage from Isaiah gives the Old Testament Prophecy about Jesus and the selection following that tells of John's account of Jesus' death.  

Isaiah 53

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.




So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.

28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.) 36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordy Wednesday




The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble. 
Those who know your name trust in you, 
 for you, O Lord, do not abandon
those who search for you. 
 Sing praises to the Lord who reigns
in Jerusalem. Tell the world about
his unforgettable deeds. Psalm 9:9-11





Sunday, March 24, 2013

Remember the Awful and the Awesome


"Remember the awful and the awesome.
They both produce awe!" ~ Beth Moore

I heard Beth Moore say this and it really impacted me. I quickly found a piece of paper because I had to write it down. Beth was teaching on the topic of "Don't forget to remember." She reminded me that it's important for us to remember how God has worked in our lives--in the good and the bad. I never thought of how closely related these two words are: Awful and Awesome. Hmmmm.

Several months ago I wrote a post about remembering titled looking back but moving forward. My point was that we should not get stuck in the past, but to look back carefully in order to learn from it. However, it's important that we continue to move forward. Learning from our past, whether mistakes or joys, helps us in the future. And who would know better than Moses and the Israelites.

The Israelites experienced awful times and awesome times. Both produced awe in how God provided for them. Before they moved into the Promised Land, Moses instructed the people very carefully about remembering. Deuteronomy chapter 4 is filled with warnings for the Israelites such as:
  • Listen carefully
  • Just obey the commands of the Lord
  • Don't forget what you have seen
  • Pass these memories on to your children
  • Remember that the Lord rescued you
  • Be careful not to break the covenant the Lord has made with you
  • Do not make idols
  • Remember and keep it firmly in your mind

Imagine if they had not recorded these events for us to read today. It's so easy for us to read these stories and file it away in our memories like it's just another great plot line to a novel or movie. This was real!!! The awful and the awesome really happened and God wanted it recorded so that future generations would know what He had done for His people.

Likewise, it's important for us to look back at the awful and the awesome so we can remember and share how God intervened on our behalf, how He provided, how He kept His promises, and so on. On a personal note, I know first-hand how easy it is to forget both the awful and the awesome. During the past few years I've experienced both and as time wears on, the memory fades. Until something triggers a memory, I've found that I have almost forgotten how God worked out circumstances in my life. After I started this blog I found that it helps me to go back and reread some of these posts which help me remember. I also started journaling more of these awful and awesome moments. I find that when I am feeling overwhelemed or disappointed, going back to read these things I have recorded helps renew my faith. It truly does produce Awe!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordy Wednesday

You make known to me the path of life; 
you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. 
~ Psalm16:11



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ask. Seek. Knock.

About a week ago, the path that the Lord has had me on for the past year took a left turn. For several weeks I sensed a change coming down the road. I didn't know when it would happen or what would happen when I got to that inevitable fork in the road.

Now that I'm at that fork in the road, I've been asking the Lord to show me which path to take next. The gate's been closed on the path I was on. So now I find myself slowly shuffling down this new path. Frankly, this path looks about the same so far, but I know there will be new sights along the way.

I'm shuffling along this way--not skipping, not running, not even walking at a normal pace--simply because I'm carefully watching to see if God has another course correction ahead. Also, if you think about it, skipping is rather carefree, running sometimes connotes urgency or fear, and a steady walk implies a confidence that one knows where they're headed. None of those really fit me right now. So I shuffle along slowly because I'm looking up at the One who will show me the way and I don't want to trip.

I'm looking up because I've been praying for the Lord to show me what's next. So what's the answer I've been getting all week?


“Keep on asking, and you will receive
what you ask for. Keep on seeking, 
and you will find. Keep on knocking,  
and the door will be opened to you.  
For everyone who asks, receives. 
Everyone who seeks, finds. 
And to everyone who knocks, 
the door will be opened. 
- Matthew 7:7-8

Huh? Interesting answer. This verse came to my attention several times this week from different sources. Scripture answers are always good, but sometimes they leave me with more questions than when I started. Questions like...

Do I keep asking for what I was asking for before? Do I ask for something new? I am supposed to start seeking on my own or wait? I don't see any doors to knock on here on this path, Lord. {sigh}

Well, I didn't let that discourage me too much. I just decided to do some research and listened to a couple of my favorite Bible teachers online. Kay Arthur has been teaching from the Holy Land about the Life of Christ leading up to Easter. I chose one of her programs and it happened to be about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Since she was teaching about prayer it fit right into what I was hoping to learn. The lessons I learned is that we are to keep watching and keep praying until we have the victory. We are to keep watching and keep praying until we can actually say, Not my will, but thine be done--and mean it. The flesh will be weak and we'll want to give up, even if the spirit is willing to keep going.

From Charles Stanley I learned that asking God may sometimes mean we'll sit back and watch him work, but seeking may mean God wants us involved in the process of the prayer to be answered. It really depends on what God is telling us to do. But, what we definitely should do is persevere in prayer. Persevere means to continue firmly and don't give up!  We are to keep asking until we have an answer. When God tells us to ask, seek, and knock, that means the answer is coming. So often we want to quit after a few weeks of persistent prayer when it appears nothing is happening or it's not happening on our schedule.

Yes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Just like those disciples waiting on Jesus in Gethsemane, we're supposed to keep watch but we fall asleep or get bored. I like an example Charles Stanley uses of a farmer who plants seeds in the ground and after two weeks he doesn't see anything sprouting yet. The farmer gives up and digs up all the seeds. If you know anything about gardening, you know that seeds take time--longer than two weeks!

Finally, we know that God loves us if we are His children and wants to give us an answer. Stanley says that sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is wait. Sometimes the answer is, "I have something better in mind for you." God's silence means that He is working out all the details for His plan.

The rest of this passage on effective prayer taught by Jesus goes on to say...

“You parents—if your children ask for 
a loaf of bread, do you give them
a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish,
do you give them a snake? Of course not!  
So if you sinful people know how to give
good gifts to your children, how much 
more will your heavenly Father give 
good gifts to those who ask him. 
- Matthew 7:9-11

So, I could start running or jogging down this new path and easily be distracted by the first shiny thing I see.

Or, I could keep shuffling along and wait on God for the best while I...
     Keep on Asking,
          Keep on Seeking, and
               Keep on Knocking.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordy Wednesday





I've been set free. "Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father...Thy compassions they fail not." (from the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness)


Those who plant in tears
    will harvest with shouts of joy. 

~ Psalm 126:5


Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. 
~ Psalm 30:5b


A time for everything...
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance. 

~ Ecclesiastes 3:4


I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:


The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly
    for salvation from the Lord.
...For no one is abandoned
    by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
    because of the greatness of his unfailing love. 
~ Lamentations 3:20-26, 31-32

 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Proofing

I was reading an advertisement that came to my email this week. As I was scanning this ad from a very professional business, I noticed a typographical error. (It's sort of a hazard when one works in publishing to notice other people's typos. My own typos are harder to see.) I was thinking to myself, Uh oh, somebody didn't proof it before putting it out there.

Then I had a DUH!! moment. It's one of those moments when a light bulb goes off in the brain.

Proofing is a form of testing. The purpose for proofing is to make sure everything is in good order before it's put out there--it's been reviewed and found to be ready.

The actual defintion is...
Proofing [proof-ing]  verb; to test; examine for flaws, 
errors, etc.; check against a standard or standards. 

Consequently, when I'm going through a time of testing, God is putting me through a proofing process. He wants to make certain that I can hold up to His standards (the Bible). God wants to check me flaws and errors (wrong thinking and/or sin). And after all is said and done, I am His representative here on earth. Thankfully, it doesn't mean I have to be perfect by the world's standards, but I should consider the fact when I interact with others.

If you have ever proofed a document, you know you cannot quickly read through it and assume it's correct. The mind has a way of reading into--anticipating--what words should be there that may be missing. To properly proof a document means each word must be examined for spelling, puncutation, and proper usage. It takes time to do it right.

God's proofing process takes time. He wants to get it just right because He knows what I'm being prepared for and why. God also loves me enough that He won't take a quick look and say, Well she's good enough as is, then send me on my way.

It's similar to a new mother taking her baby to see the professional photographer for the first time. She meticulously chooses just the right outfit, combs the baby's hair, smooths the clothes, and coaxes the best smile from the child.

While I don't particularly enjoy the proofing process and all the time it takes, this analogy does help me put things into a different perspective. Usually when I rush is when I hit "send" before I mean to or overlook those glaring errors that might have been uncovered if I'd taken my time. Perhaps this analogy will help me have a little more patience during these proofing/testing times.

Finally, let's hear what the Word says about it...

"Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience."  James 1:2-3 Amplified Bible (AMP)

"They were for the testing and proving of Israel to know whether Israel would listen and obey the commandments of the Lord, which He commanded their fathers by Moses."  Judges 3:4 (NASB)


Proving means essentially the same thing as proofing. It's a testing process. Interesting...

Thanks for listening.

(A special thanks to Grammarly on Facebook for the images.)


Monday, March 4, 2013

Nuggets of Wisdom: Hope

I started reading a new book this week. I've barely started it--only 16% of the way through it--and I've already uncovered some incredible nuggets of wisdom.
Perhaps these little nuggets mean a lot to me now because of the stage of life I'm in. I wanted to share just a few of these little jewels with you. I've pulled these quotes from a book called Hope Being Gone: Trusting God in the Tough Times by Cherie Hill.

  • When life is going according to our plan, seldom do we ask God about His.
  • When there are no signs of victory and your faith is failing, its your shouts of praise through the pain that will bring Light to your darkness. It's by faith that we have hope... and hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).
  • Faith is more than just belieivng in God. It's about trusting Him, even when there is no evidence you should.
I'll leave you with some encouraging scripture from 2 Chronicles 20:15-17. It's the account of Jehoshaphat facing war with his enemies. He prayed and cried out to God for help. The Lord encouraged His people with the following words:

He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

The story doesn't end there. Jehoshaphat bowed before the Lord and instead of sending out his strongest warriors for battle, he sent the singers. Yes. You heard me right. He sent the singers out ahead of the army to begin praising and thanking God. The Lord gave His people victory over their enemies.

I don't know about you, but praise and thanksgiving is not the first thing that comes to mind when I'm faced with trying circumstances. Yet, over and over the Word tells us that we should be praising and thanking God--even for the difficult times. And as a singer, I don't particularly want to be on the front lines of battle with the rest of the army behind me. Once again I am reminded that praise and thanksgiving is essential. If anyone is looking for me, I'll be out front trying to be brave enough to eek out some praise songs.