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Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

Good Friday and Easter Sunday deservedly receive a lot of attention. They are the pivotal events in not only Christianity, but also in History. On Good Friday we remember His sacrificial death for us. On Easter Sunday we remember how He defeated death for us through His resurrection. But what about the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? The day when Jesus’ body laid in the tomb. His followers were in despair. They had lost hope. They thought it was all over and done with and their beloved leader was gone forever.

I have been to the funerals of loved ones and friends. Looking into a casket is perhaps the most solemn experience we face in this life. That and watching a loved one die. I was with my father when he died. He died while I was reading from the bible to him. When my father died, I did not despair. That was because over a year before he died, I was with him while he made peace with God by trusting in Jesus. I had so much peace about where my father went to that I taught my class that evening, but I had the benefit of knowing the rest of the story which is that Jesus conquered death through His resurrection.

There are other moments in life that might we feel all hope is lost. We look at our life obstacles and wonder if there is anyway that we can find that job, get out of debt, experience our loved ones finally getting their life turned around, recover from an illness or any other of life’s seemingly unending problems. We at times are like the followers of Jesus on that Saturday between the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is as if we are on the outside of the tomb lost in despair.

I often wonder how His followers felt that Saturday. What it must have been like for those who washed His body and prepared His body for burial. They had forgotten about how Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead only days before Jesus entered Jerusalem. They had forgotten how Jesus had told them that He would die and that He would be raised from dead. They had lost hope. We do the same thing. We lose hope even though we have the rest of the story. We know that Jesus defeated death. His resurrection proves that He has power even over our worst enemy. When we face life’s difficulties, it is too easy for us to lose hope and not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

On this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, I would like to encourage you to think about your problems and then remember that He has all power. His resurrection is the proof that we too will one day enjoy the benefits of heaven, and also that He does have all power. He is more than able to help us to overcome our difficulties.

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One of the mysteries in the bible for me is what happened when Jesus came to visit His mother Mary. She is not listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being present during his visits after His resurrection. Surely He must have appeared to Mary His mother. She was there when He was crucified. She was there when He was buried. She had been with Him throughout His life as we see various times after His birth that she was with Him such as at the wedding in Cana. I wonder what happened when He came to her.

Think about her life for a moment. She was a young virgin when an angel appeared to her and said, “Hail Highly Favored One…..” and told her she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of the world. She said yes to God’s plan. She gave birth to Him in a stable of animals and then had to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. She raised Him and cared for Him like no one else ever will. She saw His miracles and was even there for His first public miracle of turning water into wine. In fact she kind of instigated it. Then she is there during His passion and watches Him die on the cross before her eyes. She helped to prepare His body for burial. So why is there no mention of Mary the mother of Jesus during His visits after the resurrection.

While I would not make a claim to know for sure or teach this as a doctrine, it is my thought that Jesus’ first visit with His mother Mary was so highly personal and emotional for Mary that the Holy Spirit did not have it recorded. I have often heard it expressed that God is a gentleman meaning He is polite and considerate. While God does record the failings of Peter and the other disciples, there are certain things left unwritten such as the exact nature of Mary Magdaline’s life before Jesus healed her of demon possession. I believe that the moment Jesus first came to see His mother after His resurrection was so personal and emotional for her and out of respect for that moment it was kept private.

Let’s imagine how she must have felt though. She knew better than anyone why He had come into the world. She knew it from the start when the angel Gabriel told her. She saw Him die on the cross and heard Him give her care over to John. She saw Him buried and then she sees Him after His resurrection. She must have been so full of joy that she could not contain her emotions. Tears of joy that must have flowed from her eyes. Surely she embraced Him with a wonderful motherly hug and didn’t want to let go.

There is something in the bible that convinces me that Jesus must have visited Mary after His resurrection. Mary was with the disciples in the upper room when the promise of the Father came upon them. When the Holy Spirit was sent to those who were waiting, Mary was there with them.  In the bible she may fade from the scene as the focus of the story shifts to what the apostles did as they started the church, but she was there when the Holy Spirit came signaling that she still has a role. She is one person I look forward to meeting one day when Jesus calls me home. I would love to hear the story from her 🙂

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Jesus had a conversation with a woman who was as far from a relationship with God as one can get. She had been married several times and was living with a man without being married at the time Jesus talked with her. It is interesting that Jesus even talked with her because she was a woman who lived a sinful life. She was a perfect example of why Jesus came. He came for all of us who are apart from God. As they talked she asked Jesus a religious question. She asked where people should worship. Jesus replied not with where but with how. He told her that “God is spirit and those who worship must worship Him in spirit and truth”.

There are many places in the bible where it says that God does not want our sacrifices but wants us to show mercy. In the times before Jesus came and in the time He was here, the Jewish religion had a sacrificial system of worship. The problem was that their hearts were not in the right place. They were performing outward actions of religious ritual, but their hearts were not right with God and others. One passage in the bible catches my eye. It says that pure religion is to help the widows and the orphans.

What does God want from us? He wants our hearts to be right with Him and our relationships to be right with others. He does not want empty ritual. He wants is to give Him our hearts and our love. He wants us to show love to others.

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Life can be confusing at times and different voices express all sorts of ideas. It can be confusing to try to understand who God is and what does He want for us. I find comfort in what is recorded in the Bible. It gives me peace in the midst of a world that sometimes seems crazy. The bible records some encouraging words spoken by Jesus.

When he taught his followers about prayer and fasting He told them to not do so for recognition from others. He taught them to begin prayer with “Father” when He gave them an example of prayer that began with “Our Father”. He also said something significant when He said, “your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask”. God knows what is going on in our lives. He knows before we do what we will need.

God does not want us to live in fear. The bible says that He has not given a spirit of fear but a spirit of adoption so that we can be called children of God. It also says that when we receive the Spirit of adoption we cry out Abba Father.

What does God want for us? He wants to be our Father in relationship with us, not to abuse us, but rather to lavish upon us His love. He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for……, plans to prosper you… to give you a future and a hope. That is why He sent Jesus, so that through Him we could be restored to relationship with God as our Father.

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When someone important enters a room, there is usually some of sort of recognition. When the President of the U.S. enters a room the song Hail to the Chief is played and those who are present stand out of respect if not for the person than at least for the office. When politicians visit a place, they usually arrange for some sort of press coverage to ensure it gets some sort of media attention. It seems to be human nature to want to call attention to things we do or events we will go to.

In contrast Jesus invited people to come to Him. He said, “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest….. for I am gentle and humble of heart” God spoke to the great prophet Elijah in a still small voice. When God calls us, He does so in gentleness. He speaks to us in a still small voice even though He has all power.

I have had some recent conversations with people who have just begun their relationships with God. It was interesting for me to hear their life stories. I could easily see that God had been working in their lives to lead them to the point where they were. God led them gently to Himself. God is always wooing people to Himself. He calls us in gentleness. He places people in our lives to get our attention. I like the saying that a coincidence is when God does something but stays anonymous. Listen to His gentle call because it is calling you to the one who loves you so much that He died for you. Jesus loves you more than you can possibly understand. He has all power, but He works gently to woo us to Hismelf.

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As we travel on our journey in this life we will at times come to dark times of loneliness, despair, failure, and times when we fall into sin. Those times have been called dark nights of the soul by some people who have gone on to be considered great people of faith in the history of the church.

It reminds me of how we feel when we walk down a dark street or drive through a dark area. We can feel fearful or doubtful. It also calls to mind the times when it seems like it will be gray and cloudy forever and our mood is affected. When we walk down a dark street or drive through a dark area and finally come to an area that is well lit we feel relieved. When it has been gray and cloudy for several days and we finally have a sunny day our mood brightens.

So it is on our journey in this life. We at times feel as if we are walking in the dark or feel we are under a cloudy time. Jesus said of Himself, ” I am the light of the world”. The bible says of Jesus that He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Imagine walking down that dark path and a friend joins you who has a huge light that illuminates the whole area or a friend who on a cloudy day takes you to the sunlight. Jesus is such a friend. He shows up but not with a light because He IS the light. We only need to trust in Him and ask Him to forgive and come into our lives to invite Him to share our journey.

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Yesterday I wrote about the saying a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and how the journey is eternal life and relationship with God and how Jesus is our guide on the journey. The bible talks about how we are like aliens in this life. We belong to heaven when we believe in Jesus, so our lives here are as strangers since we belong to heaven. When we believe in Jesus we belong in heaven and to God, but we are still here for now and in this life we will still have problems.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have many troubles, but cheer up I have overcome the world:. While we are in this life, we will face the same struggles anyone faces. The difference is that our guide Jesus is with us and He has overcome all. When I was sick and it looked like I would die, it was a low time in my life. At times I was alone in my struggle to survive because friends had forsaken me. He guided me to a new church, but I could not make it every week and did not know many people there. I thought I was there to pray for them on my way to dying. There were times in prayer that His presence filled my room and it felt like I was in His presence for hours when it was actually only minutes. The night I thought I was going to die I prayed. My prayer went like this, “Dear Jesus if tonight you want to take me home that is okay, but more people need to hear about you and more people need help”. When I finished praying, I felt His hand touch my shoulder and was filled with peace. The next day the doctor figured out what was wrong, gave me a prescription, and the result was that I survived.

Jesus has been with me in every difficult time. All of the low places in life, all of dark times, all of the seemingly hopeless times, He has been with me. He has been with me in all of the good times as well and there have been many of those. he has raised me up to a place in life that I do not deserve.

If you are having a rough time in your journey, look to Jesus. He wants to help and be with you. He proved that when He died for us on the cross and defeated death through His resurrection. If He loved us so much He would die for us, He loves us so much to be with us and help us in our rough times.

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