Friday, March 25, 2016

No Greater Love...

Good Friday – I’ve often wondered why it is called “Good Friday”—if this is the day Christ was crucified… then why is it good?  Just think about that day… the day Christ gave up His life… does it bring mixed feelings?  On one side, no one would have a chance of eternal life in Heaven without this Great Sacrifice. So it is good for the sake of our salvation, but so sad that it was my sins and your sins that sent Him to that death on the cross.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Focus on that verse for a moment… it is a mind blowing verse for me… would I be willing to lay my life down for a friend?  As I was thinking on that God showed me He was not asking me to just physically lay down my life for my friends, but to spiritually and emotionally lay it all down for Him!  Really think about that… if someone put a gun to your head and said “deny Christ or die” would you have the strength to die for Him?  I would hope I would. On the other hand, everyday we are asked to “die to self”… but how easy is that to do?

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

If you are at all like me, most every day I know I am a total failure at that… since I am not even close to perfect, but God can see if I have a desire and a willing heart to lay it all done for Him. And because of His unconditional, unfailing love, He gives us an “A” for accepted and not an “F” for failure… He made each one of us… He knows we are all works in progress… we are blessed, priceless children of our Heavenly Father! I am so thankful that He loved us so much to give us a second chance at life by giving up His Son to save all those who believe and receive Him.

Take a look at the story of Mary of Bethany pouring out the precious ointment on Jesus, just days before His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 

Mark 14:3-9 says:

Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had suffered from a skin disease. While Jesus was sitting there, a woman went to him. She had a bottle of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. She opened the bottle and poured the perfume on his head.
Some who were there were irritated and said to one another, “Why was the perfume wasted like this? This perfume could have been sold for a high price, and the money could have been given to the poor.” So they said some very unkind things to her.
Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. You will always have the poor with you and can help them whenever you want. But you will not always have me with you. She did what she could. She came to pour perfume on my body before it is placed in a tomb. I can guarantee this truth: Wherever the Good News is spoken in the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Mary didn’t do what she did for the memorial to her… she loved Jesus so much & with the mindset that His death was for certain & very soon, she gave it all up for Him. She showed her love like no one else did at that meal. This ointment was worth a lot of money, but that didn’t matter to her… she didn’t care what people thought of her “waste” of this ointment. Mary humbled herself in worship at the feet of Jesus. Are we pouring out our worship on Him just days before Good Friday & Easter? What do you have that is priceless possession? Your heart? Yourself?

If Christ just died for us then the story would be over, but He died because of our sin and He rose from the dead to break the bonds of death (sin) and the grave!  Remember… it is only because of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and RESURRECTION that each one of us can have eternal life through Him.  Good Friday in itself is not good, but when we look at the whole picture… the whole story, the Greatest Love Story ever told… now that is good!

All of the time Christ spent here on earth needs to be remembered… needs to be shared… it is the Good News. Even remembering the sadness of “Good Friday” so that we can have hearts of thanksgiving to sing the praises of the risen Lord on Easter morning!

Rejoicing in Truth!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Time In Between...

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Peter was asked to step out of the boat and walk on water. Read it in Matthew 14:22-33. I can remember as a kid in Sunday school hearing this story... in fact I can almost hear Mrs. Bauer, the beginners’ class teacher, telling that story. She was such a sweet, loving lady and I am sure she had great impact on many lives, including mine. Anyway, back to the story... as a kid it seemed so "mystical" to me (although I am sure as a kid I didn't know that was the word for it!).

I can remember being down at our local beach and thinking if I put my eyes on Jesus I should be able to walk on water... I was taught that Jesus was in my heart, so I fixed my eyes on my chest (because that was where my heart is... and Jesus lives there... are you still with me?) and stepping out very carefully to try and walk on water... why didn't it work for me... what did I do wrong????? Oh, the mind of a child... wish I could be that naive now.

Do you ever feel like the in between time is the hardest time? For instance, what do you think was going through Peter's mind the time between when he asked Jesus to bid him come and walk on the water and when he actually got out of the boat??? Do you think he was thinking, "Do I, don't I, do I, don't I?" Did he have anxiety? I find for myself the in between time is probably the hardest time... the thinking about it... wondering what will happen... should I, shouldn't I?... is this really what I should be doing?... how long do I have to wait?... what am I to learn in this time?

I guess that is the question... what am I to learn in the time in between? This time can be the hardest but it can also be the most rewarding. During these times we can be drawn closer to God... our eyes can be taken off ourselves and our problems... we can reach out to help someone else... we can completely surrender our ways to God's ways.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." ~Isaiah 40:31

Here are the lyrics to a song I really love called "Time In Between" by Francesca Battistelli
You were there when Your Father said, "Let there be the light"
You obeyed when He whispered, "Son, You have to leave tonight"
To spend nine months in a mother's womb, three days in a borrowed tomb
It's the time in between that brings me to my knees
Knowing You came for me
And all that I can be I'm amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between
Don't take much for this crazy world to rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my soul says You're holding out on me
So I stand here lifting empty hands for You to fill me up again
But it's the time in between that I fall down to my knees waiting on what You'll bring
And the things that I can see I know that my songs incomplete
Still I sing in the time in between
So many ways Your love has saved the day
And I'm grateful for them all.
But it's the time in between the middle of two things that says everything
It's the reason I believe, I'm amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between.
Lord, I thank You for the time in between.
Just know that in the time in between you are not alone… you are not the only one!  Hold tight to ALL that you know to be truth… God’s Living Truth inside you.  In the silence… in the stillness you can rest in His loving arms and His faithfulness.  Be amazed… be thankful… praise Him!  He will get you through!  He will complete the work He has begun in you!

I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6 

Rejoicing in Truth!