Music Mondays- He Reigns by the Newsboys

My post today I wish to dedicate to those who lost their lives and were injured on Easter Sunday morning in churches in Sri Lanka. They went to church to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus and were innocent victims of evil as they were attacked as they worshiped.

I love a lyric in He Reigns:

“All the powers of darkness can’t drown out a single word with all God’s children singing Glory, Glory, Hallelujah He Reigns”

Christians have been martyred since the beginning of the church. Jesus himself told his followers in John 15:

“Remember what I told you: โ€˜A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”

Jesus was crucified on a cross which was a brutal way to die. He permitted it to happen because of his love for us. He came to proclaim God’s love and forgiveness healing people along the way. He never sought to start a fight, a war, or commit any violence, and yet he was tortured and crucified.

He calls on everyone who seeks to follow him to share and proclaim his love. In the western world it is difficult for us to comprehend what life is like for our brothers and sisters in Jesus in many places in the world. They are hated for simply being Christians and sharing Christ’s love. They are hated to the point of being imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

There is a ministry that you can get a newsletter from called The Voice of the Martyrs. They share information about Christians in danger, so we can pray for them. The website is persecution.com

Our dear brothers and sisters who lost their earthly lives in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday are with Jesus in heaven. They are worshiping Jesus right now.

Nothing can permanently stop the message about Jesus and his love for us because Jesus sits on his throne in heaven. He reigns and one day he will return to earth.

.Thank you for reading, God Bless.

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When We Mess Up, Jesus Restores Us- Peter’s Example

Have you ever felt like a failure? I think anyone who follows Jesus feels that way at times. We are not perfect and will make mistakes, Life can feel like two steps forward and one step back at times. I draw encouragement from reading about others who followed Jesus.

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I love to read about the visits by Jesus after His resurrection because they show us more about His character through how He related with people who knew Him. Peter is a great example of how even though we fail, Jesus will reach out to us and give us another fresh start.

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Peter had a forceful and impulsive personality. He could be brilliant one moment and make a blunder the next. When Jesus told His disciples that He would die and they would fail Him, Peter proclaimed he that even if he died, he would not fail Jesus. Jesus told Peter that Peter would deny Jesus 3 times before Jesus would be crucified. Peter did exactly that. He denied Jesus 3 times. He had lost face with the other disciples in the process because they knew it.

During one of Jesus’ visits, Jesus met the disciples on the seashore. He was cooking some fish for them. He ate breakfast with them and then restored Peter. He asked Peter 3 times in front of the other disciples the same question- “Peter do you love me?” Each of those times Peter answered yes and each of those times Jesus gave Peter a job- “then feed my sheep” meaning take care of the followers of Jesus. Peter the one who messed up big time was restored by Jesus.

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No matter how much we mess up, Jesus will be there to restore us and give us a new start. His mercy and grace are beyond our understanding.When we mess up, we need not try to hide from Jesus, He already knows, loves us, and will restore us.

Thank you for reading, God Bless.

Jesus Appearing to Mary Magdalene Gives Me Hope

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When I think about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, the one that gives me the most hope is when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. That might sound strange coming from a man, but for me it is not a man/woman thing. It is an outcast being honored thing.

The first person to do something is the one we remember. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Most people would be able to say Neil Armstrong. Who was the second? think, scratch our heads- Buzz Aldrin was but his name does not come so readily if at all. Who was the first President of the U.S.? That should be easy- George Washington. Who was the second? Wait not a history buff!!!  answer John Adams.

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I know Paul wrote that Jesus appeared first to Peter, but that is easily explained. In those days only men could testify in court. Sad but true. When we read one of the time Jesus fed thousands it says- The number was about 5,000 men besides women and children. They only counted the men UGH. Furthermore, Paul was focusing on the apostles in 1st Corinthians and concludes with himself.

However, the first PERSON Jesus appeared to was Mary Magdalene. We know Jesus delivered her from seven evil spirits but we don’t really know anything else about her before Jesus came into her life. However, it is safe to conclude that she would have been an outcast of some kind. After Jesus delivered her, she was welcomed into the group even hanging out with Mary the mother of Jesus.

Jesus did NOTHING by ACCIDENT. Every act was intentional on his part. He could have chosen to appear first to anyone he chose, but he chose to appear to Mary Magdalene. This gives me hope because I identify with her more than the apostles. The reason is because my life before Jesus I was an outcast. I was the alcoholic’s son. I was the teen who got into trouble acting out in reaction to an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. I was the cold-hearted salesman in my twenties. When I first started going to church and trying to pray to Jesus, my prayers would start with something like- “Lord I am a jerk”

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Jesus appeared first to his follower who was the lowliest before Jesus and when he said her name after his resurrection, she recognized him. It would like if today he appeared to someone, it would be the person who is an alcoholic, a person who struggles with depression/anxiety, a person who struggles with an eating disorder, a person who- you can fill in the blank. He gave her the job of going to tell the men. There is a message in that. I hope to meet Mary Magdalene in heaven and learn more about her. For now, I just feel blessed and filled with hope that Jesus cares for the lowliest people like me and can turn our lives around.

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Thank you for reading. God Bless

Music Mondays- Because He Lives by Vickie Winans

Because He lives
I can face tomorrow

I love these lyrics from Because He Lives. Jesus lives and because he defeated death, we can know he is always with us. Because he lives, we can face tomorrow. We can face the problems of life knowing he is with us.

We can also know that his resurrection can empower us as Romans 8 says:

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”.

God can and will empower us to overcome. He will give us life. For some it can mean healing. For some it can mean his grace is sufficient for us as we press on in the face of difficulties such as chronic illness, depression, anxiety, family problems, past abuse, addiction or any other difficulty.

I have experienced his grace sustaining me as I live with chronic health issues. God has helped me to overcome the effects of growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a mother with mental health issues. God sustains me as I deal with the daily effects of depression due to chronic illness. Because Jesus lives, I can face those things knowing that Jesus is always with me and has all power to help me and in the end of my earthly journey, he has a place waiting for me in heaven.

This week my post will highlight other bloggers who have overcome or are being sustained by God’s grace because Jesus lives.

I love Vickie Winans recording of Because He Lives. I hope it blesses you today as it has me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy Easter- Let’s Celebrate

Happy Easter to all of my followers and readers ๐Ÿ™‚

Easter is my favorite holiday because of why we celebrate Easter. Jesus is alive and seated on his throne in heaven. Because he defeated death for us, we have hope in any situation.

Today is a day to celebrate our Risen Savior. It is a day to remember his victory over death. It is good to celebrate to refocus on Jesus, not on ourselves and our problems. So I would like to share two videos with you in hopes they add to your celebration. ๐Ÿ™‚

My favorite thing on Easter Sunday is worshiping at church. I love songs that celebrate Jesus being risen from the dead. An old classic song about the resurrection of Jesus is by 2nd Chapter of Acts-The Easter Song. I wanted to share that with you.

Ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus, there have been numerous forces that have tried to stop the message about Jesus from going forth. One such force was communism in Eastern Europe. I traveled to Romania seven times and heard their stories of life under communism, so I am well aware of the brutalities committed against Christians under communism.

In 2011 in Budapest Hungary, a former communist country, a church organized an Easter celebration dance in a public square. The first time I watched the video, I thought about how the older people who joined in would remember when they did not have the freedom to do so. I want to share the video with you.

What are your favorite Easter songs? How do you celebrate?

Happy Easter. Jesus is Risen. Thank you for reading. God Bless. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope Even in Death Because of Jesus

It has been 10 years already, but sitting with my father while he died is an experience I will never forget. I had spent most of his last weekend on earth with him. It was the end of a year I will also never forget with experiences such as helping him make peace with God through Jesus, and him asking me to read the bible to him and pray each time I visited.

The morning that he went to his eternal home with Jesus, I woke up early with a song in my spirit-Life Goes On. It is a song about how our lives go on in heaven after we die. Waking up with that song in my spirit, I knew what God was telling me. I had already gotten ready and was driving to his nursing home when they called me to tell me he was unresponsive and to get there soon.

He was an avid rose gardener, so it was fitting that as I read about the resurrection and our promised resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 that he breathed his last breath and died as I read:

“When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”

That passage is in reference to when we die, it is like our bodies that have died are like seeds planted in the ground. The seed then grows to new life. It is an analogy for the resurrection.

I had such peace about the fact that he had gone to heaven to be with Jesus that the afternoon of finalizing details for his funeral was calm. I had so much peace that I taught my class that evening.

Going through that day, evening and the funeral week made a passage from the bible very concrete for me from 1 Thessalonians:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

As I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus tomorrow, I will be thankful that those who have died we will see in heaven and we will know them. Death has been defeated by Jesus.

So yes it has been 10 years, but it has been 10 years since I told my father, “see you again” not goodbye.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Forgive Them???

I have been reflecting on the things Jesus said while he was dying on the cross.

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He showed care and concern for his mother, Mary, by giving her to the care of John his follower. In that culture and time, Mary would have depended on Jesus as her eldest son for her welfare.

In a moment of agony, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”

He told a thief dying in a cross next to him that the thief would be with him in Paradise after the thief professed faith in Jesus.

One of the things Jesus said really grabs me. It shows his heart for all people even the worst of us, even the ones who tortured him, conspired against him, mocked him.

Jesus cried out to God our Father, “Father forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Even while dying an agonizing death on a cross, Jesus interceded for those who harmed him with God our Father.

Let’s let that sink in.

Romans soldiers nailed him to the cross and Jesus’s response was, “Father forgive them.”

People were mocking Jesus while he was dying and his response was, “Father forgive them.”

Religious leaders conspired against Jesus and his response was, “Father forgive them.”

If Jesus could ask the Father to forgive the soldiers who nailed him to the cross, what could we possibly do that would cause Jesus to not want to ask the Father to forgive us? Think of your worst sin, failure, mistake. whatever and compare it to nailing Jesus to the cross.

The love of Jesus for us is so deep and so strong that no matter what we have done or will do, we can never be separated from his love. That is what we remember today as we remember Jesus dying for us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Who or What Put Jesus on the Cross?

A question I like to ask when I teach about Jesus is, who or what put Jesus on the cross?

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The Thursday before Jesus was crucified sheds some light on the answer. Before Jesus was put though a rigged trial as part of the conspiracy of the religious leaders, soldiers came to arrest him.Jesus knew what was going to happen, but he went out to the soldiers anyway and asked who they were looking for. We can see the drama unfold in John 18.

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, โ€œWho is it you want?โ€

โ€œJesus of Nazareth,โ€ they replied.

โ€œI am he,โ€ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, โ€œI am he,โ€ they drew back and fell to the ground.”

When Jesus told them he was the one they were looking for, he manifested his power by knocking them to the ground. He then permitted them to arrest him.

So the conspiracy of the religious leaders did not put Jesus on the cross nor did Pilate and the Roman soldiers. Jesus has all power. He could have stopped the whole thing with a few words just as he did when he calmed a storm by simply saying, “Peace be still.”

Jesus died for our sins but he had no obligation to do so. God has no obligation to do anything for us. The fallen angels rebelled against God too and there is no provision for them to be forgiven.

So who or what put Jesus on the cross?

Jesus gave the answer before it all happened. In John 15 Jesus was talking with his followers and told them they were his friends. He said:

” Greater love has no one than this: to lay down oneโ€™s life for oneโ€™s friends”.

It was Jesus’s love for us that put him on the cross. It was his love for us that caused him to endure the torture before he was nailed to the cross. It was his love for us that caused him to let the Roman soldiers nail him to the cross. It was his love for us that kept him on the cross to the point of dying for us. It was also his love for us that motivated him to take on death and defeat it for us.

So as we go through this Good Friday and Easter weekend, let’s remember that it was the love Jesus has for us that made and let it all happen. He loves us that much. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Revelation Song Featuring Kari Jobe and Singers from 10 Languages

I read a post by a blogger I follow about how blessed she felt to listen to someone sing a worship song in Spanish. Dawn’s blog is drawingclosertochrist.com and her post was God’s Love Speaks Through Every Language.

Her post got me to thinking about the various languages I have had the privilege of worshiping with starting in Romania in both Romanian and Turkish, in France in French, in Mexico in Spanish, in Brazil in Portuguese, and in my home city in Arabic, Karen, Spanish, Ukranian, Zomi, Korean, Chinese, Nuer, and Vietnamese.These experiences have broadened my understanding of how God’s love and kingdom spans across all cultures.

It also causes me to reflect on what Hebrews 12 says about Jesus:

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”

This Easter week, I am reflecting on the meaning of that passage. Jesus scorned the shame of the cross but he endured it because of the joy set before him. Yes, that includes being at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, but he came from there.

The other part of that joy was having his most cherished creation, US, being able to be with him in heaven because of his death on the cross and his resurrection. The joy he would experience from having people from all cultures expressing their love for him.

I wanted to share this video of Kari Jobe’s Revelation song with you. She does not enter it until the end. I hope you watch it as singers from multiple languages sing praises to Jesus expressing their love. It is a glimpse of the worship we can experience in heaven one day as people from every language stand before Jesus on his throne. I hope this video blesses you as much as it blessed me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

Palms Sunday- Jesus Rode in Knowing All That Would Happen

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Riding in on a white colt, Jesus heard the shouts and praises of “Hosanna to the Son of David” as people were excitedly welcoming Jesus by throwing palm leaves and even their cloaks on the road before Jesus. And why not? News had spread of his miracles especially his recent one of bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The people had been waiting for their Messiah, promised one, for a long time.

But Jesus knew what was about to happen in a few short days. He knew that the crowds would turn against him and cry out give us Barabas and of Jesus, crucify him. Jesus knew what was in their hearts, what is in our hearts, but he rode in to what he knew lay ahead- His Suffering for us. He knew he would be arrested, be put through a rigged trial, be beaten and tortured, and be crucified.

Jesus comes to us throughout our lives. He stands at the door and knocks and anyone who opens the door, he will enter. He comes to us knowing what is in our hearts. Knowing we will fail him, stumble along, sin, mess up, but he comes to us anyway. Why? Why did Jesus ride into Jerusalem knowing they would crucify him in a few shorts days? Why does he come to me each day and say,”It is a new day” and why does he come to all of us?

Jesus gave the answer days before his crucifixion when he taught his disciples in John 15, ‘greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.’ Jesus rode in knowing all that would happen, he comes to us in our lives knowing our weakness, because- HE LOVES US.

The question is will we receive him and his love for us?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.