Don’t Get Stuck on Friday

Don’t get stuck on Friday” is a quote I recently read online. I cannot find it again to give proper credit. However, it has remained in my mind.

Imagine yourself in the presence of Jesus over 2000 years ago. You travel with Jesus to Jerusalem. You shout Hosanna with the crowd. You wave palm branches. You celebrate the Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples in the upper room. Jesus asks you to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hopefully, you do not fall asleep. You may stand around the fire with Peter to keep warm. Will you deny knowing Jesus? Will you be in the crowd along the road as Jesus stumbles towards Golgotha? Will He ask you to help Him carry the cross? Will you cover your ears to prevent hearing the hammer pounding the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet?

Matthew 27:45 says, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.During these hours, Jesus hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world. The darkness of the world.

Do you feel like you are currently surrounded by darkness? Maybe you have recently experienced the death of someone close to you. Possibly your future looks dark because everything is your world has been turned upside down and you do not know which way to turn. Lots of darkness, discouragement and disappointment.

Don’t get stuck in the darkness of Friday. Unplug the ears you covered while the nails were being pounded into Jesus’ hands and feet. Hear Him cry, “It is finished.”

Move on to Sunday. Go with the women to the tomb. See the stone rolled away. Enter the empty tomb with Peter and John. Look at the linen burial cloths folded and laid aside. Discover for yourself that Jesus has risen! Discover He is alive! Shout hallelujah!

Hear Jesus speak the words of John 11:25-26 to you personally. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.”

Grasp the truth of Romans 8:11. “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.”

These are the truths in which you can walk. But stop for a minute and look at your present situation again.

If you are mourning the loss of someone, can you find comfort knowing this person is now in the presence of Jesus? Hear Jesus say the words of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are (you) who mourn, for (you) will be comforted.” If the days ahead look dark for you because of uncertainty, be assured that Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Do you remember Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10? “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” During this COVID-19 outbreak, you are participating in Christ’s suffering. But there is life beyond the suffering. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to you. Embrace this power. Celebrate the resurrection power.

When I previously quoted John 11:25-26 declaring Jesus as the resurrection and the life, I omitted a question at the end. Jesus asks, “Do you believe this?”

I ask you this question right now. If you answer yes, then the assurance of eternal life and resurrection power belong to you. If you answer no, let me share a little more with you.

The darkness of Friday you are experiencing is the darkness of sin. Romans 3:23 tells you and me, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This cleansing allows you to move from Friday to Sunday. Then the promise of eternal life is yours.

Open wide your heart to Jesus. Accept Him as your personal savior, and experience I Peter 1:8-9, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Resurrection Sunday is coming. Together, let us shout “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

A Challenge:

With gratitude in your heart, read the various gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Possibly begin with Luke 19:28-24:12. Expect to gain fresh insight.

This year, our Resurrection Sunday celebrations will be a little different. Our hallelujahs will not be confined to the four walls of our churches. Instead, let us shout “Christ is risen” from the doorways of our homes. Declare Jesus’ victory over sin and death to the world around you. Someone who has not previously heard this wonderful story may hear you proclaim “Christ is risen! and want to know more. Share the story of Jesus Christ.

Resurrection Life


We just celebrated Resurrection Sunday a few days ago. I guess I am still standing at the empty tomb. Am I standing at the tomb where Jesus was buried or at the tomb where my old nature was buried? Don’t think for a minute that I am comparing myself to Jesus! However, I think we can make some interesting comparisons.

Let’s begin by remembering four things that happened after Jesus was nailed to the cross.
1) Jesus died on the cross
2) Jesus’ dead body was buried
3) The tomb was empty
4) Jesus’ body was resurrected

Now let’s make four corresponding statements that apply to us as believers who have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior.
1) our human nature died on the cross
2) our human nature was buried
3) our tomb is empty
4) we live a resurrected lifestyle

Galatians 2:20 proclaims, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Notice it says, we were crucified with Christ, not just that Christ was crucified for us. This becomes very personal. I realize that as Jesus hung on the cross, my sinful nature was hanging on the cross with Him. When Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus’ body in the tomb, he also buried my sinful nature. (Matthew 27:57-59) My old nature is just as dead as Jesus was.

However, when the women went to the tomb after the sabbath, the tomb was empty. (Matthew 28:1-7) Not only was Jesus’ dead body missing, but also my dead sinful nature is missing. Mary soon found out that Jesus was resurrected. That means, I am also resurrected with a new nature.

II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!We have more to celebrate than the resurrection of Jesus. We can celebrate the resurrection of the new creation we have become in Christ. Jesus did not stay dead. Neither are we to stay dead in our old sinful nature.

Being alive in Christ creates a whole new lifestyle for us! We are to walk in this freedom. We no longer wear grave cloths. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.Hallelujah! This is worth celebrating!

Romans 6:3-11 gives a good summary of how we identify with Christ’s death and resurrection. Read the following excerpts. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, . . . For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Yes, we are dead to the old, but we are alive to the new. Let us focus upon who you are becoming in Christ. We live our resurrected life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:11-13 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

We now have new life because we are new creations in Christ. Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.We are set free from our old nature and selfish lifestyle. Let us remember that when Christ died, we died. Because Christ rose from the dead, we can rise above the dead snful life.

Don’t look back on what you have done. Look ahead to what God has planned for you. Jeremiah 29:11 is always a favorite of mine. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Do not allow Christ’s death to have been vain. Celebrate Christ’s resurrection by honoring Him with the new life you now live. Proclaim with Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ!

*Many of my thoughts in this post were influenced by online comments by Graham Cooke.

 

 

A Golden Gift for Our King

Gold, frankincense and myrrh. These precious prophetic gifts were presented by the Magi to Jesus as a young lad. They were not gifts for Jesus to play with. They were gifts foretelling roles He would fulfill.

Today we give our attention to gold.

The Magi had been following a star for approximately two years trying to find the newborn king of the Jews. Throughout their journey, they carried these costly gifts. Joseph may have later sold the gold to pay for their trip to Egypt.

Gold represented Jesus as king. The gift of gold was symbolic of Jesus’ divinity. He was God in the flesh. Son of God and son of man.

Gold was a valuable commodity. It was a precious metal. Gold represented riches and royalty. However, Jesus’ royalty differed from what people expected.

Let’s see how and when Jesus was considered a king.

Throughout their journey, the Magi were looking for a king. They asked in Matthew 2:2, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” I doubt that they expected to find their king in a little home in Bethlehem. The house certainly was not a royal palace.

This past Sunday we observed Palm Sunday – the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. John 12:12-15 says, “The next day the great crowd that had come to the Feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’ Jesus, found a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’The people referred to Jesus as king. But, did they really understand His kingly role?

Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Their conversation included the following words from John 19:36-37. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ ‘You are a king then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’” Although both Jesus and Herod talked about a king, they had different understandings of the word. Jesus was a messianic king while Herod was referring to a political king.

John 19:2-3 says, “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” Jesus was not crowned with a kingly crown. He was mocked as a king while He walked the road to Golgotha.

Jesus hung on the cross. John 19:19 says, “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.Jesus did not fit the Jews’ ideas of their coming king. They rejected Him.

Fast forward to our present day. We are now waiting for Jesus’ return. Selections from Revelation 19:11-13,16 describe Jesus as our coming king. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, . . . on His head are many diadems; . . . He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” When Jesus comes again, He will be riding a horse, not a donkey. He will be wearing a royal diadem, not a crown of thorns. His robe will declare Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords rather than a hand written note saying King of the Jews.

Let’s see how gold applies to us.

Jesus tells us in Luke 17:20, “The coming of the kingdom of God is within you.” Can we comprehend that God’s kingdom is in us?

In II Timothy 4:8, Paul talks about a crown of righteousness that we will be given. James 1:12 tells of the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. I Peter 5:4 says we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

These are three wonderful crowns awaiting us, but they are not golden crowns placed upon our heads. These are crowns that will not tarnish or perish. They are heavenly rewards that God promises those who are faithful.

What are we to do with our crowns? The elders give us our answer in Revelation 4:10-11, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’Let us express our gratitude to the Lord and worship Him by laying at His feet any honors or possessions we acquire. It is all about Him!

Remember gold, frankincense and myrrh as you celebrate Resurrection Sunday in just a few days.

I conclude with the words of All Hail King Jesus by Jeremy Riddle. Sing with me if you know the melody.

There was a moment when the lights went out
When death had claimed its victory
The King of Love had given up His life
The darkest day in history
There on a cross they made for sinners
For every curse His blood atoned
One final breath and it was finished
But not the end we could have known

For the earth began to shake
And the veil was torn
What sacrifice was made
As the heavens roared

All hail King Jesus
All hail the Lord of Heaven and earth
All hail King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world

There was a moment when the sky lit up
A flash of light breaking through
When all was lost He crossed eternity
The King of life was on the move

For in a dark cold tomb
Where our Lord was laid
One miraculous breath
And we’re forever changed

All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Lord of heaven and earth
All hail, King Jesus
All hail the Savior of the world





Mary – JESUS – Mary

Imagine a group of books being held upright by a bookend at each end.

Now make some changes to this image and create a spiritual picture.

Replace the books with the life of Jesus. (Maybe a collection of 33 books – one for each year of His life.)
Instead of bookends, imagine a woman named Mary at the beginning and another Mary
at the end of Jesus’ life. Two ladies supporting Jesus at His birth and death.

Let’s make some comparisons between the two Marys. I will refer to one as Mary Mom (the mother of Jesus) and the other as Mary Magdalene (a woman uniquely positioned in Jesus’ inner circle of followers).

  • The young Mary, chosen by God to be the mother of His Son, was from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee. (see Luke 1:26)
    Mary, known as Mary Magdalene,
    was from Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of Lake Galilee. (denoted by her name)

  • Mary Mom was a pure virgin whose baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (see Luke 1:31)
    Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene – at one time she was not so pure. (see Luke 8:2)

  • Mary Mom encountered an angel (Gabriel) when told she would bear a son named Jesus. (see Luke 1:30-31)
    Mary Magdalene saw an angel (a young man wearing a white robe) at Jesus’ empty tomb. (see Mark 16:5-8.)

  • Mary Mom was fearful but was told not to be afraid. She was perplexed by Gabriel’s visitation and message. However, he told her not to be afraid because she had favor with God. (see Luke 1:26-38 esp. v30)
    Mary Magdalene was fearful but was told not to be afraid. When she saw the empty tomb, she was bewildered. Then the angel told her not to be alarmed because Jesus had risen. (see Mark 16:5-8 esp. v8)

  • Mary Mom would have been the first person to hold Jesus as a human baby. (Isn’t this the privilege of a mother?)
    Mary Magdalene had intended to be the last person to hold Jesus’ human body. (Had she fulfilled her plan of preparing His body for burial at the tomb, this would have been her privilege.)

  • Mary Mom anointed Jesus for life. I think Mary Mom may have anointed Jesus (with baby oil?) before she wrapped Him in warm blankets. (an assumption by author)
    Mary Magdalene desired to anoint Jesus after His death. Because she had spices with her, I believe Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. (see Mark 16:1)

  • Mary Mom wrapped baby Jesus in swaddling cloths before she laid Him in a manger. (see Luke 2:7)
    Although Joseph of Arimathea had already wrapped Jesus’ body in a linen cloth, I believe Mary Magdalene had intended to provide a proper burial for the crucified Christ by wrapping His body in a linen shroud. (see Mark 16:46; John 19:25)

  • Both Mary Mom and Mary Magdalene were near the cross when Jesus was crucified.  (see John 19:25)

Looking closely at the spiritual image, I see one Mary holding baby Jesus at the beginning of His life and another Mary with the intent of holding His body at the end of His life. Jesus was surrounded and held by Mary Mom and Mary Magdalene. The words of Jesus in Revelation 1:17-18 seem an accurate description of Jesus’ life,Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am the Living One;  I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever!

This Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Living One. We no longer hold Jesus as a baby in our arms (as Mary Mom) and there is no need to hold His body in the grave (as Mary Magdalene).

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

Liquid Love

liquid-loveI recently awoke in the night repeatedly hearing the phrase Liquid Love in my mind. With the observance of Good Friday taking place in a couple of days, it seems appropriate for me to share thoughts with you about our Lord’s Liquid Love. I have chosen to elaborate upon this phrase by using various alliterations for love. I pray these thoughts will allow you to linger in our Lord’s presence. May you feel His Liquid Love being poured out for you and upon you.

Lavishing Love

According to I John 4:8 God is love. Consequently, He reveals Himself to us through His love. In I John 3:1, we are told that the Lord lavishes His love upon us. When He lavishes His love on us, He imparts His nature to us. The Lord is lavishing His love upon us because He sees us as ravishing in beauty according to His words as the Lover of the Beloved in Song of Solomon 6:10. The Lord has lavished His love upon us by shedding His blood for us. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Lamb of Love

In John 1:20, Jesus is described as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Lamb of Love. He is known as a lamb because He was the final sacrificial lamb offered for the forgiveness of sin. Many lambs were constantly being offered as sacrifices in the Old Testament, but Jesus came as the Lamb of God who died once and for all for all our sins. He is the sacrificial Lamb of Love.

Liquid Love

Liquid Love is love colored red. Liquid Love is the blood of Jesus. He shed His blood because of His love for us. Our Lord’s love was manifested as liquid love as He poured out His blood for us. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.:  I John 1:7 says that Jesus’ blood cleanses us of all unrighteousness, all sins, assuring us of everlasting life. We have everlasting life because of the Lord’s everlasting love. In Jeremiah 31:3 we are assured that we are loved with our Lord’s everlasting love.

Laver of Love

Within the tabernacle, the laver was the basin where the priests cleansed themselves before they offered sacrifices. Sacrificing animals was part of their function, their labor. The labor of the priests began at the laver. Connecting the Old and New Testaments, we read in Ephesians 5:26 that we are washed in the water of the Word. The Word informs us of how Jesus was the Lamb of God who poured out His life, His love, His blood for us. It was definitely a labor of love for Jesus to die upon the cross for us.

No Lack in Love

Love is lovely! In Hosea 4:6, the Lord says that His people can be destroyed from lack of knowledge, but there is no lack in the Lord’s love for us. According to I Corinthians 13, love is kind and according to Romans 2:4, the Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance. Repentance leads us the cross where Jesus shed His blood. The Lord has poured out and continues to pour out His blood as Liquid Love. There is no lack in what He offers us today!

Liquid Love Lives

According to Leviticus 17:11, there is life is the blood. There is life in Jesus’ Liquid Love. On Sunday we will celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead. Our Lord lives! Our Lord loves! Because Jesus is alive, we too can live. Romans 8:37-39 says, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All of this is possible because of the Lord’s Liquid Love !

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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