Closed Doors

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders,
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
John 20:19

We celebrated the resurrection of Jesus a little over a week ago. Does that affect what you are doing or how you are feeling today? Let’s see what the disciples did after Jesus’ resurrection. Then, let’s find a promise for ourselves. What Jesus did for the disciples, He will do for us.

According to the gospel of John, the disciples hid behind closed doors after Jesus’ resurrection. They were afraid. Can’t say I blame them. However, this was not what Jesus intended them to do. So, Jesus walked through the closed door and extended peace. A peace that would help them overcome fear.

Have you allowed fear to close doors in your life? Jesus is willing and waiting to walk through your barricades. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

Has God put something upon your heart that He wants you to do? But, you are afraid. God will help you break down your barrier according to Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him (Jesus) who gives me strength.”

Maybe you are afraid you will make a wrong decision. Remember the Lord’s words of assurance in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” The Lord will walk into your life and help unlock your fears.

I guess the disciples did not learn their lesson the first time because Jesus found them behind closed doors a second time. A week later, or seven verses later, they are still hiding behind locked doors. In John 20:26, we discover that Peter is with them while previously he had not been present. This visit may have been primarily for Peter’s benefit. However, Jesus extends the same blessing – peace. The disciples evidently did not remember the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Locked doors still felt safer to them than the threats of the Jewish leaders.

Jesus walked through locked doors to speak with Peter and the other disciples. Today, He is able to enter through our closed doors.

Our granddaughter shared the following testimony with me. She was invited to attend a national scholastic leadership conference for college athletes. However, as she weighed her options, she decided it was best not to miss classes. She turned down the offer. A few days later, a staff member of the athletic department met with her explaining the significance of her attending this conference. She thought she had shut the door but the Lord walked through her closed door to keep the option open. She attended the conference.

Yes, all of us will be tempted to close doors because of fear. But, remember that Jesus can walk through the doors He does not want us to shut.

We just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection on Easter. Now this same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to us. Does His resurrection make a difference in your life today? Paul says in Philippians 3:10 NLT, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” We will not be able to know this amazing power, if we fearfully hide behind closed doors.

I challenge you to envision Jesus walking through your closed doors and extending peace to you. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus is risen and He still walks through closed doors!

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

 

 

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The Bleeding Rose

While on vacation, we left our car in a protected parking lot when we flew to our next destination. Upon our return, I climbed into the car and found a red rose wrapped in cellophane on the seat. I held it while we drove. The outside temperature was below 20 degrees. When we entered our motel, I cuddled my rose between a couple of pillows to protect it from the cold.

Once in our room, I placed the rose beside me as I sat on the bed. I saw more than a red rose. Symbolically, I saw the Rose of Christ. The red floral blossom gently spread it petals in a circle. Beautiful red petals. But wait – the pool of petals looked like a puddle of spilled-out blood. Red petals of a flower – red blood spilled from my Savior’s wounds. His blood always speaks of life – eternal life, not death.

I also looked at the green stem and leaves. They, too, symbolized life. Green is a color of life. Were there thorns on the stem? No, they had been cut off so not to stick me. However, the thorns on Jesus’ crown cut into His head. Those thorns painfully pierced the head of my Savior.

I checked to see if my rose needed water. No, the floral stem had been placed in a little vial of water. However, that was not the case for Jesus. While on the cross, He was thirsty. He was not given a drink of water. He was only given a sponge soaked in sour vinegar.

The following morning, I took the rose in the car with us. It rested on my lap as we traveled down the highway. Jesus walked the road to Golgotha. His wounded head was never held in the lap of a loved one. I took my rose into the restaurant with me when we stopped for lunch. The waitress commented on my flower. I wondered if I carried Jesus with me in such a way that others saw His presence in me.

Our next destination was a B&B where we stayed for several days. Since there was a bouquet of fresh flowers in our room, I nestled my rose among the various blossoms. It added beauty to the bouquet. Jesus mingled with men and women when He lived on the earth. He imparted love into their lives.  He added beauty.

After a couple of days, I noticed that my rose had begun to droop its head. I guess it was telling me that its life was being extinguished. As Jesus died upon the cross, He bowed His head and cried, “It is finished!” I saw one or two dark red petals on the table beside the vase of flowers. Was I simply seeing floral petals or were they symbols of the tears shed by Jesus as death approached? I sensed that I was observing tears of liquid love, tears of blood – drops of blood rather than just dried floral petals.

My blooming rose died. The bleeding Rose of Christ died and rose again. Hallelujah!

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.)

The Resurrected King

resurrectionSince we just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection this past Sunday, it is not surprising that I am still singing the Elevation Worship lyrics of the current Christian song Resurrecting The specific phrase that I am pondering declares, “The resurrected king is resurrecting me.” Please join me in pondering this phrase and searching the scriptures for a more complete comprehension.

The rresurrected King…”

He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Luke 24:6-7

You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
Acts 3:15

Resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasis that is a compound word composed of ana meaning again and histemi meaning to stand. Jesus was standing – He was not on the cross – He was not in the grave. Jesus was resurrected on the third day. He was brought back to life.

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father
Revelation 1:5-6

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
Revelation 19:16

Resurrected King” is an appropriate description of Jesus! He is King over all kings, and we are to be part of His kingdom. In the final book of the Bible, He is declared King of kings and Lord of lords.

“… is resurrecting me”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again.”
John 3:3

To intimately know Jesus, the Resurrected King, we must be born again. Being born again is a form of resurrection for us because this means that our spirit is born again, brought back to life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17

The new life we are given in Christ is a resurrected life. To be resurrected is to be used again, but in a new way.

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.
Philippians 3:10-11

To fully comprehend the necessary power for Jesus to resurrect us, we may have to share in some form of suffering. It is often through suffering that we come to more intimately know Christ.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

Jesus died on the cross before being resurrected. We are each required to take up our cross which means for us to die to our selfish ways before resurrection life is possible for us.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

The renewing of our minds is part of the resurrection life the Resurrected King is offering to us. We have a new mind. We have the mind of Christ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Because of the resurrection power of Christ that now lives in us, we can fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.”

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Although I have only quoted two verses from Romans 6, the first 11 verses of this chapter proclaims the resurrection life that our Resurrected King is offering to us. When we confess our sins of selfishness, anger, pride etc., we die to them and then we are resurrected to selflessness, love, humility etc. We can now live the resurrection life that Jesus is offering to us.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead
the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Hebrews 13:20-21

I cannot think of a better verse to fulfill this complete phrase from the song Resurrecting! Just a few days ago we proclaimed, “He is risen!” and “He is risen indeed!” Now I am also praising the Lord and saying, “He is resurrecting me!” and “He is resurrecting me indeed!” My Reader, are you ready to make these proclamations?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

PS: I am also including the Elevation Worship lyrics of Resurrection as there is a wonderful message in the complete song.

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
[x3]

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

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
gold apple new

Jesus Cares about YOU!

jesus-cares-1

My Bible is open to John 11 and I read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I usually jump to the exciting part about new life for Lazarus in this account and just skim over the first part of the story. Today I read it a little differently. I see the experiences of Mary and Martha as encouragement for anyone who is waiting for “something” to happen. My Reader, are you aching for a special friend or family member to have a personal encounter with Jesus? Are you praying for someone to be physically, emotionally or spiritually healed? Study the words of John 11 with me.

Verse 1: Now a man named Lazarus was sick… he was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Lazarus was the individual who was sick. He had two sisters who loved him and wanted to see him healed. Can you name a person you care about who is like a Lazarus?

Verse 3: So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Mary and Martha knew Jesus well and were confident He could heal their brother. They contacted Jesus. This is what we do when we pray for another person.

Verse 4: When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
Jesus heard Mary and Martha’s request but He planned to do more for Lazarus than put a band-aid upon his illness. We have the confidence that Jesus will hear our prayers of intercession but we must remember that He may have bigger plans for how He will work in a specific situation than what we may perceive. It might take more time.

Verse 5-6: Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick he stayed where he was two more days.”
One would think that Jesus would want to return to be with His friends when tragedy struck . But that is not what Jesus did! Scripture says that Jesus stayed away because He loved them. Just because Jesus may not answer our prayers as we want when we want, it does not mean that He does not love us. It may even be because of His love that He waits.

Verses 14-15: So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.
Things had gone from bad to worse for this family of Bethany! Jesus knew what was happening and even said He was glad He was not there. That doesn’t sound very loving to us from the natural perspective. However, Jesus sees into the supernatural realm. Now Jesus is ready to go back to His friends. He did not forget them and He does not forget us even when it seems to us as if He is not going to intervene.

Verses 20, 28-29: When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home….After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.
When Jesus returned to Bethany, He connected with Mary and Martha before He went to the grave of Lazarus. Before acting on behalf of Lazarus, Jesus had compassion on Mary and Martha and met them in their time of sorrow. We can be assured that He will comfort us while we are waiting for “sleeping” family and friends to return to Him. We are a priority to Jesus. I like John’s choice of words in verse 28 saying, “The Teacher is here.” The Holy Spirit lives inside us teaching us about who Jesus is. Just like Martha’s faith being broadened with understanding in verses 21-27, so can we grow in our faith. The Lord sees all situations as opportunities for us to gain a deeper understanding of who He is.

Verse 34: Where have you laid him (Lazarus)?” he (Jesus) asked.
With Mary and Martha at His side, Jesus now turned His attention to Lazarus. He wanted to know where Lazarus was. Where have we left the family and friends for whom we are praying? Have we left them alone feeling that they are dead and hopeless or have we left them at the feet of Jesus?

Verse 35: Jesus wept.
Jesus could have wept because of the sorrow of Mary and Martha. He also weeps with us in our pain. Jesus could have wept because of the death of Lazarus. He mourns with us when we mourn the loss of someone special. Jesus could have wept because of the lack of faith and understanding of those around Him. He cries within His heart as He sees how little faith we have compared to what is available to us.

Verse 39: “Take away the stone,” he (Jesus) said.
This was the beginning of the miracle Jesus was about to perform.
Is there a stone blocking Jesus’ entry into our hearts that is preventing Him from working in our lives?  If so, He wants it removed.

Verses 41-42:
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Jesus
sets the example for us to begin our prayers with thanksgiving. Jesus was confident His Heavenly Father heard Him. We, too, can have the assurance that He hears and answers our prayers.

Verses 43-44: Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”…. “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Not only did Lazarus receive life back into his body but he also was freed from bondage exemplified by the grave cloths that were taken off. Are there bonds
that can be broken in our lives that will allow us to live a freer better life? We have this promise for eternity but we also have the promise for today if we are willing to come out of our old dead ways of thinking and acting.

In conclusion, I believe Mary and Martha were glad Jesus waited two days. Their prayers were answered in an exceedingly, abundantly way far beyond what they had asked! I think what happened in the lives of Mary and Martha was just as important as the gift of resurrected life Lazarus received. The Lord works within our lives while working in the lives of those we bring to Him in prayer. My Reader, take heart; you may be in a holding pattern waiting for the fulfillment of your fervent prayers, but Jesus cares about YOU!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

From the Manger to the Tomb

resurrection pd

nativity set LINK pd

I have now packed away our Christmas decorations for another season. However, one thing caught my attention in a special way as I was putting away our nativity scene.  At Christmas I read about Mary wrapping Jesus as a baby in swaddling cloths and lying him in a manger.  (see Luke 2:7 NKJV) The next time I read of Jesus being wrapped up is when Joseph of Arimathea wrapped his body in linen grave cloths and laid it in a tomb.  (see Luke 23:53)  Big changes took place in the life of Jesus between the time when Luke records the Christmas story and the Easter story:  a baby to a man – swaddling cloths to grave cloths – a manger to a tomb!  I ask myself, does my understanding of Jesus allow him to grow up? Do I look beyond the manger to the cross and even beyond the cross?

Jesus did not stay a tiny baby.  He was soon kicking off his swaddling blankets and crawling around the feet of Mary and Joseph rather than just being held in their arms.  The only thing scripture that really tells me about Jesus growing up is Luke 2:52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  The next thing I read about Jesus is his baptism and ministry when he is 30 years old.  Three years later Jesus is again wrapped up, but this time it is after he has died on the cross. Jesus kicked off these grave cloths three days later at his resurrection.  Jesus grew up during those 33 years.  He could not have died as my savior as a baby; He had to grow up.

Now I have to ask myself another question.  Am I too wrapped up in my daily life to take time to grow in my relationship with Jesus?  Do I keep Him wrapped up in swaddling cloths as a baby?  If I desire to grow in my relationship with Jesus, how do I do it?  It is interesting to note the difference in the way I am able to grow spiritually and how I grow physically.  When a baby grows physically, he or she grows bigger and becomes more independent.  In order to grow spiritually, one grows smaller and becomes more dependent.  John the Baptist says in John 3:30 NKJV, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.”  If I am to grow up spiritually I must become smaller in how I perceive myself.  I must think less about what I can achieve and more about how I can glorify God.  This is the only possible way for Jesus to grow in me.

My Reader, I ask you, at what age does Jesus live in your heart?  It is fun to celebrate Christmas, and indeed we should celebrate the birth of Jesus.   However, do not let Jesus stay a baby.  Allow Him to grow up by growing in your faith.  A baby must be fed to grow, so must you feed on His Word in order to grow in your knowledge of Him.  God’s Word can be both milk for spiritual infants and meat for men, so feed on the Word.  (see Hebrews 5:12-14)  As you allow your understanding of Jesus to grow from his being an infant to being a man, you too will grow spiritually. Then He will be able to live more powerfully in you.  In fact, the resurrection power that allowed Jesus to throw off His burial cloths will be available to you.  (see Philippians 3:10)

Joyfully,
Cheryl