Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Rest of the Story

Growing up I used to love listening to Paul Harvey. He would come on the radio several times during the day and give the news and tell a story. But he always told the story in pieces or what he called pages. Usually the story would be about someone or something famous but you never knew that until he reveled it at the end. He might tell the back story that not too many people knew about. A Search for Paul Harvey will result in many amusing broadcasts.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the holiday and Resurrection Sunday and Spring break. Holy week is well remembered around the world and even those who only go to church for Easter and Christmas know how Jesus was put on trial, beaten, crucified and rose from the dead on the third day. Many may even know that He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

But I would like to talk about the “Rest of the Easter Story”

 After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:3 HCSB

So, perhaps I was the only one who did not know this. It’s possible that I alone thought that the resurrection and the accession happened that same day. Until my eyes were opened and I looked into God’s Word I had many misguided and preconceived ideas.  But the truth is that Jesus walked this earth for forty days in a resurrected body – eating and teaching and even preparing meals (Jn 21:4-15). How marvelous that must have been for all of them. To be in the company of the One whom you thought you lost.

Forty Days from resurrection to ascension. Forty days from Passover to Pentecost. Forty days from what seemed an ending to a glorious beginning. Forty days from Peter’s denial to Peter’s Holy Spirit-filled speech and the resulting conversion of 3000 souls!! (see here)

Take away from this whatever you will – there are just so many encouraging things to be learned from this. I see the Love of God and the ability of God to turn anything around.

God can make a way where there seems to be no way –

Trust in Jesus!

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And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.    John 20:30-31 KJV

 

One of Paul Harvey’s best known broadcasts – If I were the Devil – the sound quality is poor but the message is still great – http://nation.foxnews.com/paul-harvey/2012/03/21/1965-if-i-were-devil-warning-nation-paul-harvey

What Now?

All our nerves are on edge. We’re snapping and arguing and just a mess. I try to recall what the Master said last night at supper but the events that followed overshadow the memory. I close my eyes and see only His beaten body hanging on that cross. I remember His lifeless form as we took Him down and carried Him to the tomb. The ladies were all crying even as they prepared Him for burial. I feel like crying and screaming but dare not make a sound. Hiding here, with the home shut tight, for fear that they will come after us now that He is gone. Simon Peter is talking about going fishing but some others are leaving for Emmaus. There’s a sadness that fills the air and sinks deep into out hearts. We aren’t partaking in the Passover – it’s just too difficult to celebrate at such a time as this.

I thought it would be different. Just last week the crowds were cheering for Him as we entered the city. I recognized some of those same people yelling for Him to die at Pilates house. But why? Why did it have to happen like this? Someone said they heard Judas hung himself! He was my friend. Why did he betray Him? Why? Why did they take Him at night? They never do that. So many things just don’t make sense to me. Dear God, help me to understand. Help me to know what to do next.

Removed Memorials* NO JESUS NO PEACE  *

*KNOW JESUS KNOW PEACE *

This Must Be The Lamb…..

 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb     Gen 22:8 KJV

 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood (of the Lamb) on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.      Ex 12 :23 NKJV

And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! John 1:36 KJV

 He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  Acts 8:32 KJV

 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. 1 Peter 1:18 – 20 The Message

 

This must be the Lamb – Jesus was betrayed, humiliated, mocked, beaten brutally, forced to march threw the streets while carrying the very cross they would nail Him to. He suffered the nails and taunts and the separation from those He loved here and from the Father. The crowd was worked up and screaming. The soldiers fierceness was unrestrained. The wind blew hard as the clouds closed in. The sky grew dark as hope was fleeing.

A final word… softly spoken… would let us know…. the fight was won –

IT IS FINISHED.  John 19:30 KJV

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It’s been said that Jesus was beaten so badly that day that He was unrecognizable. That the soldiers hit him so many times and removed sections of His face with  fistful of his beard. The mocking crown He wore poured blood that hid His face. Lastly, with the light of the sun hidden by the ominous clouds being blown around it would have been nearly impossible to see His face regardless of the beatings.

But, if … you close your eyes… and really try…

and think of that day… so long ago… you might be able…

to turn up the lights… wipe away the blood…

 and look into the face of Love!

HE DIED FOR ME AND FOR YOU THAT’S WHAT LOVE CAN DO

Be Blessed this Good Friday and take a moment to be ministered to by these artists – Al and Betty

This Must Be The Lamb – by Michael Card from You Tube

The Via Dolorsa  – by Sandi Patty w/ The Passion from You Tube

Is history repeating?

 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana

I believe it’s common knowledge that the Jewish people have faced hatred and persecution throughout history. To this day we still see antisemitic  graffiti defacing synagogues. We just this week saw a shooting at two locations in Kansas that appear to have been motivated by hate for the Jewish people. Bigotry and hatred will always exist, but in 2014 are we ready for this?

Jews emerging from a (Donetsk) synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website, and Ukraine’s Donbass news agency.

You can read the entire article here –

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/17/jews-ordered-to-register-in-east-ukraine/7816951/

 I would ask you to pray for Israel and Jews all over the world.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Ps. 122:6 KJV

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If you need of a refresher course on what the Jewish people have suffered, check out this link to see what Wikipedia has on the subject http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Jews

 

The Basin and The Towel

Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God.

So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself.

Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him. John 13:3-5 HCSB

Let me put this another way in hopes of showing the magnitude of this moment. Upon getting the news that you have been given all authority over everything and with the assurance that you will be going back to that glorious place of power that you came from. You take off your suit jacket and fill up a bucket with water and wash the dirty smelly feet of those who serve under you!

This is an unheard of concept in a “dog-eat-dog” world of business today. People vie for position each day just waiting for a missed step by the competition or an opening to outdo the other guy. Climbing the ladder of success almost implies stepping on the people under you. But Gods’ ways are not our ways (Isa.55:8) and we see each member of the Trinity placing the other above Themselves. Jesus always directed peoples attention from Himself to the Father (John 5:30, Luke 18:19). The Father praised the Son on more than one occasion (Matt 3:17 & 17:5). The Holy Spirits job description includes not speaking of Himself but bringing all things which Jesus said to our remembrance (John 16:13). It is just Gods way to redirect flattery and give praise to another before yourself. John knew this so well that he doesn’t even refer to himself, by name, in the Gospel he wrote.

Paul encourages us to humble ourselves as we care for each other – Bear one anothers’ burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal 6:2-3 NKJV

Lovely Impatient

Finally, when you consider that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples after eating the Last Supper with them, knowing the humiliation and pain that was just outside the door, it amplifies the event. Rather than feeling sorry for Himself or encouraging His disciples to take care of Him because He was about to be beaten, ridiculed, mocked and put to death, Jesus performed the act reserved for the lowliest of servants. Humbling Himself before giving His life for us was an act of love and an example for us all to follow.

This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 

No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 

You are My friends if you do what I command you.

John 15:12-14 HCSB

Blood Moon Rising

Tonight, or early morning tomorrow, depending on where you are on the planet, there will be a lunar eclipse which will produce a “Blood Moon”. While some have used this phenomenon as an occasion for speculation regarding the end of days I am reminded of the Y2K worries that captivated our thoughts not so long ago. The turning of time from 1999 to 2000 was heralded as a cataclysmic moment. It was feared that the computers that we all have become so dependent on would shut down causing business collapse and hysteria. Thankfully these things did not happen. Life went on without a hick up.

Now, with much less fanfare, there are whispers on the news and internet that this Blood Moon is a sign from God signalling the beginning of the end!! Well, like Y2K, time will tell if these fears are founded or not. But the bigger question is – So What? So, if it is the beginning of the end what can we, or more importantly – YOU, do about it?! If we all hold our breath at the same time can we hold back the hand of God? If we stay up tonight fearfully clinging to the people and things we love will God have compassion on us and change His mind? Obviously the answer to these questions is NO! There is nothing that we as mere mortals can do to put off what God has determined to be. That is, if this is the beginning of the end. If it’s not we will wake up tomorrow and face the day ahead just as we did this morning and yesterday and the day before that. This Blood Moon will disappear in our rear view mirror as we forge on ahead unaffected by its passing.

Red Sun 3

Unless, of course, we use this natural cosmic event as a reminder of our helplessness to defend ourselves from things so massively bigger then us. We could also use this event as a cause for reflection and soul searching. What if the end were coming? Are we ready? Are you ready? Am I ready? There are more prophecies concerning the end of days ahead than the birth of Christ (which all were fulfilled to the T). Christ told us Himself that a day is coming when the world as we know it will be changed. So, if the evening news dedicates a 90 second spot to the Red Moon tonight, listen and ask yourself – “What if?” or “Am I ready?” I hope and pray that we all are ready when that day comes no matter when that should be. Be Blessed – Al

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Ps. 19:1 NIV

Love them like Jesus

One of the things that I never understood, even before coming to Christ, is the way some “Christians” behave. I heard someone say that their Mother wouldn’t speak to a certain relative “because Mom is a good Christian lady and they are not”. But if Jesus is our example of what a Christian should be (and He is), then we have to look at how He handled sinners. We see Jesus being criticized by the religious people of His day – “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors* and sinners?” (Luke 5:30 NIV). Again, we see a Pharisee who is hosting dinner with Jesus in his house when a woman enters and washes Jesus’s feet with tears and dries them with her hair – “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner**” (Luke 7:39 NIV). We also see our Lord eating with lepers who were unclean and therefor not to be approached or touched.

    Finally, we see a woman who sinned, brought before Jesus to be condemned. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?”(John 8:4-5 HCSB) Jesus knew perfectly well what the Law of Moses said about such things and He knew that it said “Both” people involved were to be stoned to death for this sin (see Lev 20:10). The Lords answer to this test is commonly known today – He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7 KJV).  Knowing all this, my question is – When did Jesus change? When did it become acceptable for those of us who call Jesus Lord to look down our noses at the very people Jesus showed such love and compassion to?

Whiter than snow

The answer to that question is – Never! It is not acceptable neither do we see Jesus exemplifying such behavior. True, He took issue with those who thought themselves to be religious, pious and pure but even those He spoke with openly and often. But to sinners He was a compassionate friend ever ready to heal their hurts with the Fathers forgiveness and love. Shouldn’t we be ready to do the same? So, whether it’s a homeless person or a drug addict on the street. Or a successful businessman ruthlessly making his way up the corporate ladder. Or, the lady next door who sips her wine at play-dates with other Moms. And especially those whom may have been churchgoers but have fallen away from fellowship. They all have one thing in common – they need Jesus! If Jesus doesn’t condemn sinners then who are we to do so?

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” John 3:17 KJV

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13;35 KJV

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 KJV

 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, Heb 10:24 HCSB

*Tax Collectors were grouped together with sinners because they often demanded more money than needed from the public.

** The woman with the box of perfume is speculated to have been a prostitute which would explain the indignation of the “righteous” host.

This a test.This is only a test…….

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Pr. 3:5-6 KJV

Trust in The Lord. Such easy advise to dispense. Yet, we all face a time in our lives when we must walk this talk. It could come when a Doctor gives us a bad report. That time could come when our company downsizes and lets us go. Perhaps that time might be when we are faced with a difficult decision or when we are at a cross road in our lives. No matter what kind of test we face, be assured it is only a test. The question is can we stand the test?

The Word of God tells us that God knows our frame (Ps 103:14). That is He knows what we can bear. The Word also tells us that God will provide a way to escape each test. Far more encouraging is the fact that Jesus was tried and tempted in all ways and passed!(Heb 4:15) Even so, Jesus did ask if, when He returns, will He find faith on the Earth (Luke 18:8). What a question for Him to ask. Why would He ask such a question anyway? Was He wondering if we were just going to fall away from believing? Just stop having Faith? Or, is it that He knew ahead of time what we will be facing?
Tests come in various sizes and types. Some are simple temptations to give in to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh or the boastful pride of life. Others are much bigger than that. Testing our very belief that God will provide, heal, save or forgive.

Care for you

Care for you

As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to speak of Faith and trust and yet another thing to walk it out. But, it is the walking that we grow from faith to faith. If we can believe God for the little things we can trust Him for the bigger things later. In the Old Testament God revealed Himself to the children of Israel at specific times. He showed Himself to be Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my Banner (Ex 17:15);  Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will Provide (Gen 22:14); Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24); Jehovah Raah – The Lord is my Shepherd (Ps 23:1) and many others.Likewise, Jesus has many names  – Wonderful, Counselor, Price of Peace and Savoir to list a few. Jesus told us that He does and says only what He sees the Father do and so He is the personification of Almighty God. So, if we have doubt in our hearts as to whether or not God cares for us we need only remind ourselves of just Who He Is and who we are to Him.

Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,….”I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NKJV

 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;  never will I forsake you” Heb. 13:5 NIV

 

But what if it were an easy thing to do?

But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?

2 Kings 5:13 HCSB

Oh, sorry, I almost skipped ahead to the end of the story. Let me go back to the beginning and please, read along if you like (2Kings 5:1-14). Naaman, a commander of the Syrian army was a leaper. As a result of his many raids into Israel, he had a maid servant for his wife. This girl, who was taken from her home against her will, to be a salve in this mans home, took pity on him and suggested that he travel to see the prophet Elisha. (talk about love your enemies! but that was the point of last post not this one).

So, Naaman went to his King and told him what the servant girl said. The King told Naaman to go and even wrote a letter to the King of Israel for Naaman to take on the trip along with a great deal of Silver and Gold and other gifts. When Naaman arrived at the home of the Prophet Elisha he was met by Elisha messenger who told him – “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.”

Well! How dare he!?!? Naaman was angry and insulted. He expected the Prophet to come out and perform some intense prayer or sacrifice or something. Additionally, the Prophet didn’t even come out to greet Naaman – he sent a messenger! Finally, Naaman believed that there were several “better” rivers in Damascus compared to the Jordan. Rejected, Naaman was determined to ignore the Prophets instructions and go home. His servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great (difficult) thing, would you not have done it? Reluctantly Naaman yields and dips seven times in the Jordan River. When he finishes his skin looks fresh as a new born baby.

The moral of the story is this – Naaman went to the Prophet with an expectation of what would happen and how he would be healed. He was prepared to pay a large sum of money and do whatever was asked of him (assuming it was logical to him to do it). When faced with the humiliation of having an errand boy address him and instruct him to do such a seemingly simple task Naaman balked. In the end what was expected of Naaman wasn’t difficult to do – only humbling.

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Isn’t that just like so many people? We expect to have to pay our way. Some recite endless strings of prayers or abstain from certain foods at special times. Some believe that they must punish themselves physically so as to be purged of sins or deprive themselves of companionship to get closer to God. There’s a need inside us to feel that we “earned” what we have. Unfortunately, or fortunately, God’s ways are not our ways.

In the book of Acts chapter 16 we see Paul and Silas in jail and singing songs of praise. When a great earthquake shook their doors open and their shackles free. The jailer thinking that Paul and Silas had escaped was going to fall on his sword but they stopped him. The jailer asked them – Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved

It really is that easy. No Penance, No flogging. No Fasting. No Pilgrimages. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero!

Have Faith in God. Trust in the Lord. Call out to Jesus.

Counting the Cost – Part 2 of the Hard Words Hard Work Series

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you

Matthew 5:44 KJV

Really? How? Why? The answer to these questions can be found in the next verse recorded during our Lords’ address which came to be called – The Beatitudes.

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (vs 45-48)

This is also where we find the famous “turn the other cheek” quote as well as “go the extra mile” and, as we see from the verse shown above, if you do these things we will be perfect! Ok, so maybe this doesn’t answer the question of How? and Why? But it does put to rest any doubt that this is a commend from God. Jesus said it and He meant it. Elsewhere our Lord tells us that if someone steal our coat we should find him and give him our shirt also. Yes. Really. Just such an example is illustrated in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel in which an ex con (Valjean) is taken in by a benevolent Bishop (Myriel) and returns the hospitality by stealing the silver that night.   When the police capture Valjean, Myriel pretends that he has given the silverware to Valjean and presses him to take two silver candlesticks as well, as if he had forgotten to take them. This act of Christian kindness is the catalyst for Valjean to change his life and live for God. This is a fictitious example of what our Lord admonished us to do but an example nonetheless.

So, How do we do such a thing? Well, the answer may be found in the acceptance of the truth that we are incapable of doing such things. Yup, that’s what I said. Hard as it is for us to hear, we are limited in our ability to do anything that the Lord has asked us to do – BUT that’s because we try to do it in our own strength.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Without Me (Jesus) you can do nothing. Nothing. Hard to hear that isn’t it? So how have we done whatever it is we have accomplished so far? Well, perhaps, with the help of God you have done things you thought you couldn’t do even if you didn’t ask for his help. But to answer angry with love, to give to someone who stole from you and to love those who hate you takes help. Help that is available 24/7 and is only a breath away.

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But what about the question – Why? That’s an easy one – because He said so. But if it helps, try to remember that we battle not against flesh and blood. Meaning, our fight is not with the people we see. It is a spiritual fight against the invisible forces behind them. Spirits of fear, addiction, anger, poverty, perversion and such can influence and control people to do things that can hurt us. Jesus knew this and encourages us to love because Love will conquer all.

If we can love them we will be the children of your Father which is in heaven

How wonderful is that???