Holy Week, Friday, Where’s Jesus?

After His arrest Thursday night, Jesus endured 4 trials.  He went before the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, then Pilate who sent him to Herod, the Jewish head of state, then back to Pilate.  The Jews wanted Jesus killed but they did not have the authority to execute Him.  They demanded that Pilate, the Roman authority in Palestine, crucify Him.  Pilate had Jesus flogged and beaten even though Pilate knew Jesus to be innocent.  He had hoped this cruel treatment would pacify the Jews.  However, the crowds pressed him and requested the release of the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus since it was the custom to release one convicted person as a token of goodwill at the Jewish Passover.  The crowds demanded that Jesus be crucified and Pilate agreed to appease the angry and vocal Jewish crowds.   Jesus was then made to carry His own cross to the place of execution, Golgotha.  Along the way Jesus stumbled and Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry the cross.  Jesus was then nailed to a cross and hung to die.  His clothes were stripped from Him and as He hung naked on the cross then soldiers gambled for his clothing underneath the cross.

I can not imagine the pain, anguish, humiliation and shame Jesus endured on my behalf. He took all the sins of the world, yours and mine, upon His pure, sinless and innocent body and the sin took him to a place he had never been before.  The sins He took upon himself, our sins, separated him from God, His holy Father.  He did this so that His sacrifice could atone for our sins.  1 Peter 2:24 explains what Jesus accomplished for you and me.

24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.  (NLT)

I never realized how sweet Jesus’ final words from the cross were until recently.  “‘It is finished.’ With that, he lowered his head and gave up his spirit.”  John 19:30   He declared with His final breath that the work of redemption was complete, and He had accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do. Through His death He took the punishment, death, for the sins of all who would believe for all eternity with His blood.  Having accomplished His work, He gave up His spirit.  His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it up voluntarily at the time of His choosing.  Only God can choose the time of His death.  When we speak of someone dying, we say the person has life take from them.  We don’t get to chose the hour or minute of our last breath, but Jesus chose when and where He was to die for you and me.  I am staggered by His love and sacrifice that He would endure such punishment and isolation from God on my behalf.  As you ponder the cross today, think of all Jesus gave up and all He did on your behalf.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I live redeemed from the penalty of sin, covered by His incredible sacrifice and will be able to stand before God sinless.

Prayer:  Father, the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice and your love in sending Him to die for my sin is incomprehensible.  ‘Your ways and not my ways’ Isaiah reminds us in Isaiah 55:8.  I am so thankful for your plan of redemption and stand humbly before you because of Jesus, my Savior.  Praising you in Jesus name, Amen.              

Linda

Holy Week, Monday-Where’s Jesus?

Bible Commentaries give two specific events that Jesus was involved in on Monday before His crucifixion of what is now known as Holy Week.  Jesus entered the city humbly and triumphantly on Sunday and then cleansed the temple area of money changers and withered a fig tree.  Both actions seem harsh, but they give a picture of the worldly opposition to God’s kingdom.  From both we get a glimpse of divine justice.  You can read the accounts in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.

Jerusalem at Passover was a bustling city with many thousands of pilgrims arriving to make offerings at the temple.  They needed to purchase animals for sacrifice and change money so they could pay the yearly temple tax.  The exchanges were all being conducted in the outer court of the Gentiles.  Here is Matthew’s account from 21:12-14.

12-14 Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer;
You have made it a hangout for thieves.

Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.  (Message)

Jesus was then, is now and will be in eternity the Righteous Judge.  He saw the true motives of the people desiring to make money exorbitantly and uprooted and cast them out literally.  He placed a priority on prayer and worship when coming to God’s house.  He got right to the work of His ministry, healing and allowing access to God for everyone.

20120217_make-my-heart-a-house-of-prayer_banner_img

As we near the cross, take heart from this short snippet in Jesus’ last week. Know that He came to save and set right relationships and motives towards God.  What attitudes do you need adjusted by Jesus today?  Do you attend church to make ‘connections’ with people for business or do you come to pray and reflect on your walk with Jesus?  Looking at the heart is what Jesus did then and does now in our lives through the Holy Spirit.  Let Him cleanse your heart today and put you on the right pathway with right motives.  May our hearts be right with God today as suggested in this quote by Charles Wesley “Make My Heart a House of Prayer”.  

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, God is accessible to me through prayer and I can trust in His righteousness. I can claim the truths of Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thank you Jesus for making yourself accessible through prayer, your unsurpassed peace for my heart, and for your redemptive sacrifice.

Linda

Second Sunday of Lent 2021=Assurances, Hope and Grace Revealed!

What a powerful week we’ve had this first full week of Lent. Here are the truths uncovered in the first Chapter 1 of Colossians in verses 5-14. What an abundance of assurances in hope, love, joy, grace, wisdom and care from our loving heavenly Father through the work of the Son. Meditate again on these nuggets of truth from God’s Word and treat them as true treasures that will embolden and strengthen you in Christ so you can walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,

I have faith and love that gives me hope that is stored up in heaven for eternity. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.”

I have a living and vibrant grace-filled faith to share with the world. Colossians 1:6b “Indeed, just as in the whole world the gospel is constantly bearing fruit and spreading [by God’s power], just as it has been doing among you ever since the day you first heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth [becoming thoroughly and deeply acquainted with it].”

I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others. Colossians 1:7-8 “just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

I can know and understand the things of God with spiritual wisdom which helps me to walk daily in a way that pleases Him. Colossians 1:9-10 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

I can receive benefits of faith that lead to greater knowledge of Him, strength, endurance, patience and joy! Colossians 1:11-12 “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you  to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” 

I am saved out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ fully redeemed and forgiven! Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

This Second Sunday of Lent, Let us Praise Him with Psalm 150.

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Linda

Wow! God did all this for me! Thank you.

Paul succinctly sums up what God did for us when He sent Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead. Colossians 1:13-14. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” God gave us a way to escape the darkness of sin and move into His kingdom of light. The light of Jesus is a light that overcomes, redeems and forgives. Praise God for His great mercy and love!

Here are some verses to add depth of understanding to Paul’s words to the Colossians- the light. John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” His light brings life not death and darkness. John 12:36 “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Saved out of darkness into His kingdom of lightJohn 3:17, 19, 21 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” 19 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

RedemptionRomans 3:23-24 describes this perfectly “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, I also love Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”

Forgiveness of Sins– these powerful words are remembered during communion as Jesus spoke in Matthew 26:28 “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Acts 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed  from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

May these words and phrases sink into your heart and soul today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am saved out of darkness and brought into the light of Christ fully redeemed and forgiven! Praise God!

Linda

Be Thankful Someone Shared the Good News with You! Praise God!

How would you describe your church leaders, your pastors or priests? In Colossians 1:7-8 Paul described who was doing what in the Colossian church. “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.” Paul praised Epaphras for his faithful delivery of the gospel message and how he communicated their love for each other to him. From his prison cell, Paul was able to understand the work the Holy Spirit was doing among them through Epaphras’ genuine and faith-filled words.

What a wonderful example of God’s work among believers. Epaphras was a converted pagan who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted others to share in this love, forgiveness and salvation. He was serving in the cause of Christ as he told others of Jesus and showed them God’s love. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work there in Colossae. What about you and where you worship and serve? Is your service done there out of habit or are you serving so you can show Jesus to others? Is your service faithfully done or is it haphazardly executed as time allows? What should be our motivation for serving and telling others about Jesus? Several things come to my mind: so others can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus, so others will have eternal life in heaven, so the quality of their life here on earth will be abundant and filled with hope and love that only God can give, so that others will come to know God in a greater way, so that others will glorify God in their faith and life. The good news of Christ is indeed good news and transforms the life of each one who embraces and believes. Shouldn’t we want to share this wonderful transforming news with others? Epaphras, Paul, James, Titus, Peter…. and the person who told you about Jesus all shared their love of Jesus. Each one of us comes to faith through the telling of Jesus’ story somehow. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

As you meditate today on this passage, give praise and thanks for the ones who led you to faith, in my case it was a Sunday School teacher. Give praise and thanks for those who faithfully give out the Word of God each week at your church. By doing so they are helping you to grow and mature in your Christian faith. Epaphras did both of these for the church he planted in Colossae and Paul was eternally grateful for his work in the name of Jesus. Let us give thanks today for those who brought us to faith and those who endeavor to show us areas where we can grow more and more like Jesus as we seek to know Christ and walk with Him daily.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others.

Linda

Advent Shows God’s Great Mercy towards us!

Zechariah ends his Song in Luke 1:76-79. Here he tells about his newly born son and the privileged place God he holds in God’s plan of redemption for all mankind. Let the beauty of his words minister to you today.

“And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Zechariah refers to John as the prophet of the Most High and Jesus will be called the Son of the Most High. This name was revealed to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:32 “He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” John had a specific job to do as he was to tell the people how to find forgiveness for their sins in this coming Messiah. He was to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for Jesus and His message of salvation. They were about to experience a time of great light from God and needed to be ready. Jesus would bring light into the darkness of the world. “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 He also gives the reason for the arrival of Jesus, because of God’s tender mercy. God showed compassion, mercy and great love towards us in sending Jesus to redeem and restore us to relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” and John 3:16 ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Praise God for His mercy, love and compassion towards us in sending Jesus.

This section of scripture ends with how John grew up. 80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Since Zechariah and Elizabeth were old when John was born, perhaps they died before his ministry began as he had moved to the Judean desert and was living there instead of being in the hill country of Nazareth where he was born. This verse confirms the prophesy about John and his way of life and mission given in Luke 1:15-16 “for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.

I think one of the things I like most about Zechariah’s Song is the pure joy and hope that he gives all of us through the coming of Jesus. We can have light. We can experience redemption. We can see God’s hand move in our midst through the power of Jesus. Praise God for His coming!

Linda

Advent begins with Love

The story of the coming Messiah, who was to save his people, began in Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as God had forbidden. They were deceived by the serpent, Satan, and then cast out of the garden lest they eat of the tree of life and suffer in their sins for eternity. God cursed the serpent and proclaimed there would be enmity between the offspring of Satan and hers. Her child would crush Satan’s head and Satan would bruise his heel. This is the first prophecy of a coming redeemer who would defeat Satan. The Amplified translation gives us some good insights into who is who and what will be accomplished. “And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”

Why start Advent here? There needed to be a compelling reason for God to send His Son to earth to live among mortals and died. John 3:16 gives us God’s motivation for this sacrificially act. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The Christmas story is all about God’s great love for us. His great desire is to restore the relationship He had with mankind before sin entered the world. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we are filled with a sinful nature and prone to wander, God loves us and desires to restore man unto himself. Christ came to accomplish this. He was the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

So as we begin our journey through Advent, we need to remember it is because God loved us and desired a relationship with us that He sent Jesus. What a loving God to fix our problem of sin through His own sacrifice.

Linda

Love, Hope and a Redemptive Plan = Jesus our Savior!

I love the message of truth given in Ephesians 1:4-10.  I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Here it is in the Message translation for ease in understanding,

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving ephesians 1 7by the hand of his beloved Son.   7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

God had a long range plan to redeem us.  It was not a spur of the moment decision.   In Genesis 1:26, God decided to create man,  a thinking living being in His image, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,”    After giving Adam and Eve the directive to not eat of the tree of good and evil, Eve bowed to temptation from Satan and ate giving some to Adam too.  God had anticipated this as He created man with free will and planned for a way to restore men and women into relation ship with Him.  Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophecy of Jesus coming to counter Satan’s dominion over the desires of man. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hersHe’ll wound your head,  you’ll wound his heel.”   Jesus would be born into this world and give hope to mankind through His sacrifice.  

John 3 17Why would God do this?  His motivation was and is  LOVE.  He loves His creation and desires to have a relationship with us.  John 3:16-18 says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”     

Does this give you HOPE?    Hebrews 3:6 speaks of this hope we now have in Christ. “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”   I also love Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

romans 5 2The Word is filled with references to God’s plan of redemption and the restoration of His relationship with mankind from Genesis to Revelation.  The story of God’s love for us, His desire to bring us back to Him is why Jesus came.   All these things give me Hope and I pray  they do the same for you as you meditate on Jesus, God’s love and His desire to be in relationship with you.

Linda

Lenten Sunday #1

As you reflect today and prepare for another week, here are some truths we’ve uncovered so far in Ephesians.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:

I can be His saint and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace. Ephesians 1:1-2

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

I can be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope I now have in Him.  Ephesians 1:4-6, 7-10

I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.   Ephesians 1:13-14

Praise God for His grace and goodness today knowing you are loved and that God Almighty has a plan for you that is perfected in Christ and guaranteed by His Holy Spirit.

Psalm 103 1 5 BlessTheLordLet Psalm 103:1-5 be on your lips today!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Linda

Beloved,adopted and free in Christ!

Do you think God’s plan for redemption was sudden or made up on the spur of the moment when Adam sinned?   God in his omnipotent wisdom knew we were frail creatures and when we sinned there needed to be a plan to bring us back into communion with Him.  Ephesians  1:4-6, from the Message translation makes this passage easy to understand, “Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Can you imagine that God had us in mind, wanted us to be in His family and to show His love to us even before He created the universe?  I love that Paul says, God took pleasure in planning this.  How much He loves us!  Paul continues in verses 7-10 to explain God’s wonderful plan to redeem us and make us free.  Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely Ephesians-1-7_webfree, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

These verses are so encouraging.  God loves us past, present and future.  God wants us to be free and His plan is fulfilled for us in Christ.  Faith in Jesus is the key.

May you be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope you now have in Him.   Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have all of this through faith in Him.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda