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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A Doxology for Easter

praying-hands-3

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
Aas we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]

Matthew 6:9-13

lent Sunday we will celebrate Easter which is the climax of the Lenten season. This is also the conclusion of our expedition into the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. As I have reminded us several times over the last six weeks, the Lord’s Prayer is really the template Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him how to pray – not simply a prayer to be prayed from memory. As we have explored these scriptural words together, I hope you have deepened your understanding of the words spoken by Jesus and gained insight into the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. I pray our expedition has taken you closer to Jesus as we walk with Him through His arrest, crucifixion and death this week. We have one final phrase to explore together which is very appropriate with our anticipation of celebrating His resurrection on Sunday.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Matthew 6:13b

Not all translations of the Bible include this part of Matthew 6:13. It is found in the Old and New King James Versions and the New American Standard Bible but not in the New International Version. Neither is it part of the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Luke 11. Some scholars have thought this phrase was added later because it is not found in the manuscripts of the two earliest Greek witnesses. However, this is probably false because it is found in the third earliest Greek witness and the majority of all further manuscripts.

This phrase is known as the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. A doxology is defined as a liturgical formula of praise to God. On the final week of our exploration of prayer, let us unpack the meaning of the words of this doxology.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
When we see the word “for,” we need to see what it is there for. I believe these words are included because our Heavenly Father is worthy of this praise when we consider the guidelines Jesus has given us for how we are to pray in the previous verses.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The kingdom belongs to God because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:10 declaring that God’s kingdom is in heaven and we can ask for His kingdom to come on earth. His name is El Elyon, “The Most High.” This name denotes He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. (see post for 2/17)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The power belongs to and comes from God because He is El Shaddai, “The All-sufficient One”. (see post for 2/17) This gives us the authority to ask for daily bread, forgiveness, and guidance and deliverance as requested in Matthew 6:11-13a. (see posts for 3/2, 3/9 & 3/16)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Glory comes from the Greek word “doxa.” In the New Testament it refers to the splendor, radiance and majesty of which God is worthy. Since we have come to know God more intimately through our study of the Lord’s Prayer, it is proper that we extend our praise to Him. It is appropriate for us to refer to this concluding phrase as a doxology because we are giving doxa or glory to our Heavenly Father.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, “forever” denotes an indefinitely long period with emphasis on the characteristics of the period rather than on it duration. I like this concept when referring to the kingdom and power and glory of God now and throughout all eternity.

As a conclusion to our in-depth search of this doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, I am reminded of the Doxology hymn sung in many mainline denominational churches. The lyrics are the last verse of the hymn Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun by Thomas Ken. Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:13b, we can sing the words of Thomas Ken. Finally, my heart is filled with the words of the traditional Resurrection Sunday greeting we will be proclaiming Sunday. Through the words of these doxologies, let us give God the glory, or doxa, of which He is worthy!

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(words of Jesus)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(words by Thomas Ken)
He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
(our words)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Ins and Outs

Although we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past Sunday, today I want to revisit the tomb where Jesus’ followers expected to find His body.

stone-at-tombAnd they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:2-3

While visualizing this scene in my mind, I focus my attention upon the open entrance to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Not only was the stone rolled away from the opening, but the body of Jesus was no longer inside the tomb. The power of God would not have been hindered from raising Jesus back to life by a stone. However, a sealed tomb could have been a stumbling block for His followers and me.

I have always been intrigued by the statement that the stone was rolled away to let others in rather than to let Jesus out. Without visual proof, I would have been blinded from seeing that the tomb was no longer occupied by the body of Jesus. The rolled away stone was proof to Jesus’ followers and to me that He had risen from the grave. Jesus did not need an open door to get out but His followers needed to enter through this open door to experience the empty grave. Not only did the disciples discover that Jesus’ body was no longer there, but they also saw His grave cloths folded and left in the tomb.

stoney-heartI will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

My imaginary journey now takes me from the entrance of the tomb to the entrance of my heart. Just as the tomb was the enclosure for Jesus’ body, my heart is the enclosure of my life. Physically, my heart pumps blood throughout my body so that I can live. Spiritually, my heart is the center of my being where my spirit dwells and where Jesus lives.

When difficulties occur in my life, I can allow my heart to become hardened to things of the Spirit. Consequently, I like the promise of scripture that God will remove my heart of stone so that His Spirit can live within me. Does the stoniness of my heart need to be removed to let me out or to let Jesus in? I am concerned if I look upon this stone removal as only an opportunity for me to be let out, I will become self-centered. I prefer that the hardness of my heart be removed to allow Jesus to live within me. I want out so Jesus can come in! We learn from Paul in Ephesians 3:17 thatChrist may dwell in your hearts through faith.” We often hear the phrase “I asked Jesus into my heart” articulated to describe what happens at the time of salvation. With this in mind, we can be assured of what scripture says in Colossians 1:27, “Christ lives in you.” It is not about me, it is about the Lord!

arrow-and-heart

I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me.”
Galatians 2:20

As I near the end of my imaginary journey, I want to reiterate the comparisons I have made.

Last week we observed and celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, in a sense, I have shared how a person is crucified with Christ whenever one chooses to put to death the desires of the flesh.

Last Sunday at church we most likely heard the scriptural account about the stone rolled away from the enclosure where Jesus body had been buried. Today, I have pointed out that a stone may need to be rolled away from the enclosure of a human heart, the center of life.

Jesus arose from the grave and through scripture we have been allowed to hear first hand accounts of those who entered the empty tomb. Today, we have the option of having our lives emptied of ourselves so Jesus can come into our hearts. Jesus is able to reside in our hearts because He is no longer in the tomb. Because we believe in the resurrected Christ and the empty tomb, Jesus lives in us. The rolled away stone made it possible for anyone on the outside to go into the empty tomb. Today, the removal of the hardened stoniness of our hearts allows Jesus to come into our empty lives.

In the burial garden, it was Jesus out and us in! Today in our hearts, it is us out and Jesus in!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Song for the Week: My Reader, would you like to join me in singing the chorus of the hymn He Lives, I Serve a Risen Savior, by Alfred Ackley today? I find myself singing this song today and it seems appropriate for the message of this blog.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Tablecloths and Grave Cloths

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were
running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb
first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there
but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived
and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as
  well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The
cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally
the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went
inside. He saw and believed.
John 20:3-8

 white flower for cloths 3 mfWe celebrated Easter last Sunday at church and at home. For our Easter dinner with the family, I even got out the good tablecloth and cloth napkins. While folding the clean linens before putting them away, I thought about Jesus and His grave cloths. Although His body had been wrapped in burial cloths and a napkin placed around His head, when Jesus rose from the dead He no longer needed them. He left these items in the empty tomb. Now I wonder, is there any similarity between my tablecloth and Jesus’ strips of linen? How about my napkins and the cloth that had been around the head of Jesus? I pondered upon these ideas while I finished the laundry and then decided to search the Internet. Surprise! I am not the only one to think about the grave cloths of Jesus. I have read numerous articles and now I want to transform my thoughts into words.

 white flower for cloths 3 mfWhile online, I had a lesson regarding the Greek language. The Greek word for the burial cloth wrapped around Jesus’ head is “saudarion” and means a towel or a cloth. It is not a napkin as I think of it today. The other interesting Greek word is “entulisso” meaning to twist or entwine. This word is translated in the NIV Bible as “folded up.” Other translations use such words as wrapped up or folded together or simply lying apart from the other wrappings. So much for the similarities between my folding napkins and what Jesus did with the burial cloth for His head! Some of the words may be the same but there are definitely different definitions.

white flower for cloths 3 mfI read about a legend regarding the meaning of folded and unfolded napkins for the Hebrew people. It said that an unfolded napkin left at the table meant that the person was finished and would not be returning to the table. However, a folded napkin meant the person would return to the table at a later time. The analogy was made saying that Jesus was relaying the message that He would return to earth when He left “the folded napkin” of the burial cloth for His head. This could relate to John 14:2-3 where Jesus tells His disciples, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” However, as I read other reviews regarding this concept, I discovered that no Bible commentators give any credence to these concepts. In fact, the people during this time period used a hand washing ceremony rather than table napkins. Although there is no validity to this story, I like the thought of it. It even goes along with my original idea of comparing my table linens to Jesus’ burial linens. (Thinking back to the appearance of our table at the conclusion of our dinner on Sunday, I am quite sure no one is coming back because all I found were crumpled napkins.)

white flower for cloths 3 mfThe most valuable insight I learned from my Internet searching relates to the importance of Jesus leaving behind the grave cloths. When Peter and John found the grave cloths in the empty tomb, it proved that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead and His body had not been stolen. Empty burial cloths without a body was resurrection proof. It did not matter whether the cloths were napkins or towels or whether they were folded or twisted. The fact was that the tomb was empty even though Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried the body. (John 19:38-42) After Peter and John left the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene lingered outside the tomb weeping because she thought Jesus’ body had been taken away. She then not only saw two angels seated where Jesus’ body had been laid, but she personally encountered the risen Lord Himself. Jesus met Mary at the tomb but He was not dead in the tomb. (John 20:10-18)

white flower for cloths 3 mf My tablecloth and napkins are now placed in the linen closet until the next time we have special company. However, the importance of Jesus’ resurrection has not been put out of my mind. Even though there are no legitimate similarities between my table linens and the empty grave cloths of Jesus, I do not think my time of contemplating comparisons has been wasted. Anything that reminds me of the death and resurrection of Jesus has value. Paul says in Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Like Paul, I want to continue to grow in my knowledge of Christ and His power. Being aware of signs and symbols that remind me of Jesus helps me to attain this goal. I never want to distort what the scriptures say, but I also want to be open to resurrection reminders within my natural surroundings.

Joyfully,
 Cheryl
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PEACE that does not CEASE

Even though I have read a specific scripture many times, I can always discover something new about a passage! Since we just celebrated Easter less than two weeks ago, I have still been reading about the events during this period of sacred history. Today the verse that stands out for me is John 20:19.   These are the first words Jesus speaks to his disciples after his resurrection: “Peace be with you!”  He didn’t say, “Hi!” or “Glad to see you!”  This must have been a pressing message that Jesus wanted to share with these men.  I can identify with this sense of urgency.  If I want to share something exciting with my daughter, I will call her and probably the first thing I will say is, “Guess what!” and then go on to share whatever is on my mind.  At a time like this, I most likely forget the phone etiquette of asking how she is or what she is doing before sharing my news with her.  Now back to Jesus, he simply said, “Peace be with you!”  The setting for this statement is in a locked room where the disciples were hiding from the Jews.   I think about how reassuring these words must have been to these eleven men. The end of verse 20 records that the disciples were overjoyed with this message.

FREEDOVE31

  What is this peace that Jesus is so excited about sharing with his disciples?  According to the definition in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, peace comes from the Greek word “eirene” and is defined as being a state of rest, quietness, and calmness; an absence of strife; tranquility.  It can refer to a harmonious relationship between God and men or among people.  When Jesus spoke these words, the disciples needed peace in both of these respects. They needed peace with God because they did not understand everything that had happened over the last few days and their minds were in turmoil.  They needed peace regarding their relationships with other people because their fear of the Jews resulted in their hiding in a locked room.  However, this is not the first time Jesus shared with his disciples about their need for peace.  in John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

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Is Jesus still speaking these words of peace to me today?   Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  If these words of Jesus have been preserved in scripture for me, then Jesus must have known there would be times when I would feel afraid. He is still offering me His peace for these times!  (An interesting study to do by oneself would be to look up scriptural references of  God telling various people not to be afraid.)

FREEDOVE31I have been reading Steve Fry’s book, I AM.  Steve points out that peace is the only fruit of the Spirit that cannot be cultivated by choice. (p. 185)  I cannot choose to simply be peaceful, but peace is a byproduct of other choices.  Peace is not just a feeling that is the opposite of being anxious.  Peace permeates me when I am in the presence of the Prince of Peace. Psalm 29:11 says, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”  Then Paul tells me in Colossians 3:15 to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.  The Lord chooses to bless me with peace, but I must choose to let this peace be in my heart through multiple choices I make regarding how I live my life. 

FREEDOVE#2 In Isaiah 26:3, the prophet says that God will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in God.  So, my Reader, may you and I keep our minds upon the Prince of Peace and trust Him as much as possible.  The result will be our receiving the same peace into our lives that Jesus offered to the disciples the first time he saw them after his resurrection.  Remember, today Jesus still says, “Peace be with you!”

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 Thought for the week:  You will not know peace by only giving God a piece of your life.
Challenge for the week:  Extend the peace of God to someone else this week by sharing this blog with them.

Ponder the Power

freeressurection Last Sunday we celebrated Easter, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Along with many other Christians, I proclaimed, “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  But do I, or you my Reader, fully comprehend the strength of the power that was exhibited by God the Father to bring His Son, Jesus, back to life after he had died on the cross?  From the human perspective, dead is dead, no life exists, and a finality occurs.  If I swat a fly, it is dead and it does not come back to life.  However, on the third day after Jesus was placed in the tomb, he was no longer in the tomb and he was alive again.

frrlightbulb What I am thinking about, and what I want you, my Reader, to think about, is that this power of God is available for us today.  Many years ago I read an article that described resurrection power as being “the electrifying power that raised Jesus from the dead.”  This brings to my mind the image of an electric light bulb.  If a lamp with a light bulb is plugged into an electrical outlet, all I need to do is turn on the switch and light appears.  However, if there is no connection to the source of the power, there will be no light.  The author of this article I read, (I’m sorry, but I do not have any record of who is the author) said that when we speak the Word of God into our lives or over a particular situation we are releasing the same power into our lives that raised Jesus from the grave.  So, my speaking aloud scripture releases God’s power into my life just as turning on the switch  gives power to light the bulb in the lamp .  If I want the power of God in my life, I must stay connected to God and His Word.  I must believe the scriptures I read to be true, speak aloud God’s Word and expect God to do what He says.  I must not waver in my faith if I expect to see manifestations of resurrection power.

 defibulatorAnother image that comes to my mind is the type of treatment used for some heart attack victims known as defibrillation.  This treatment sends a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the damaged heart with the intent of reestablishing a normal rhythm.  I need the electrifying power of God released into my life in order for me to be functioning in alignment with God’s will.  I can only be anointed with the Lord’s power when I am doing the Lord’s will.

freelightningcracks Okay, so this power is available to me.  How do I receive this power?  What do the scriptures say that will be helpful? The first scripture that comes to mind is Philippians 3:10&11. In the NIV Paul states,I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  Does this mean that Paul is setting an example through his life that I can follow in order to know this same power in my life?  I think it does! The Amplified Bible says “to know Christ” is “to progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.”  For me to know Christ is not a one time experience, it is an ongoing revelation throughout my life! The Amplified Bible expands the meaning of “power” to be “the power outflowing from His resurrection.”  I like this concept, but do I really want to embrace what Paul says in verse 11 about my sharing in the sufferings of Christ?  Ouch!  I don’t like the thought of suffering!  However, I must admit, there are times I feel pain even though not to the extent that Paul or Christ suffered. Although my discomfort may be minimal, I realize that when I am afflicted I become aware of how helpless I truly am.  So, suffering can cause me to be more dependent upon the Lord. This is turn gives me the chance to experience more of Christ’s power in my life.

 I now come upon another scripture that is helpful to me.  Romans 8:2&11 says, “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  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 through his Spirit, who lives in you.” I again turn to the Amplified Bible and like verse 11, “And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you.”  Here is what I am looking for!  It is the work of the Holy Spirit in me who has the energizing power to restore my life to do what God desires. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a recipient of this resurrection power! 

 My Reader, I hope you have followed my ponderings down the pathway to power today.   I pray you will be challenged to take the celebration of Easter and resurrection power to a deeper, more personal level throughout the coming days and weeks.  This electrifying power is not something just to be celebrated because of its manifestation in the life of Jesus, but it is something available to us through the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.  I encourage you to daily proclaim, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

 Joyfully,
Cheryl     

Challenge for the week:  Resurrection power can be manifested in various ways.  According to John 8:12, Jesus is the Light of the World.  So, stay connected to the Source in order to be able to fulfill the command given in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”