The inner circle of disciples, Peter, James & John, were invited to join Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. But they fell asleep during the main feature: the appearance of Moses and Elijah discussing the Lord’s death with Him. They awoke to see the two Old Testament prophets and Jesus, who was glowing. Peter spoke up about building three shrines for them.
At these words a voice spoke from the cloud and said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5). Wow! From God almighty such simple words. But only one command: “Listen to Him!”
Many better Bibles have the words of Jesus printed in red. Some have read the red print only, since they are the words of Jesus, skipping the supporting scriptures. When Mother Mary saw the wedding master at Cana was out of wine, she told the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it“.
Let’s be careful to read the red with special attention. These are the words of God’s Son, in Whom He is well-pleased.
After watching the rise of the threatening Assyrian Empire and the painful decline of Israel, Isaiah proclaims comfort for God’s people. Here’s how it will be introduced:
“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it,’ for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5). These words were quoted again in the New Testament as an introduction to John the Baptist, who was introducing Jesus Christ.
As Anita and I drove south for our vacation to Florida, we passed through the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. In so many places along the Interstate route we could observe places where hills and mountains had been cleared away and filled in valleys with the debris, so our ride up and down over those mountains became rather smooth.
That’s exactly what Jesus does in our lives. He is constantly eroding away at what doesn’t belong and developing in us what is godly. He never ceases. But, He needs our participation in this leveling of our rocky lives. We live in a desert place. Let’s find comfort right here.
“If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth! For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife” (Proverbs 30: 32-33).
There are some things in our lives that are not bad luck at all. They are things that we have produced by our own attitudes and selfish behavior. The Proverb writer uses two analogies: churning butter produces butter, and twisting the nose produces blood. These results will always come about because they’ve been produced. If you don’t want butter, stop churning. If you don’t want blood, stop twisting. In modern terms, stop agitating other people and situations. Be a peace maker and help others find peace in their own life.
Its like overeating produces obesity, or texting while driving produces accidents. Stop doing things the world’s way, God is saying here. He has a better way. And it always works in the long run. I choose to produce life. How about you?
On Good Friday (probably actually Thursday) Jesus was crucified, died, and sealed in a guarded tomb. Early Sunday morning the tomb was open and His body was gone. No one could provide an explanation. How did the stone get moved if it was guarded by soldiers? Did an angel move it; did Jesus move it? No one knows. But it was moved.
What did Jesus do those three days in the grave? Did He have a nice nap? One of the things He did was descend into the depths of hell to retrieve the keys of death and hell from Satan. Then He ascended into heaven where He, as the High Priest, presented the blood sacrifice required to pay the price for sin. Only then could He come back and raise from the dead. He was busy those three days. Busy setting you and I up for deliverance by redeeming us from the curse of sin. He went from one end of creation to the other, just because He loves us.
This was no sunny Easter Egg hunt, this was warfare. Now that it is finished, we have an opportunity to walk in that deliverance. Make every step you make count.
Our church will partner with four other Waterloo churches (United Methodist, Agape Assembly, Freewill Baptist, and New Life Lutheran) for a Good Friday Community service from 7-8 PM tonight. It will be held at New Hope. Although each of these other pastors comes from a different background that has different distinctives, I love working with these guys. We all understand that we must focus on what we have in common and not on our differences. And we all have a firm conviction that Jesus is the Son of God, died on the cross to pay for our sins, three days later rose from the dead, and is soon coming again. And we believe in working together to get the word out.
I hope that you’ll take time out of your busy Easter weekend schedule to attend this Good Friday event with brothers and sisters from area churches. We will all set aside our worship style preferences to focus on unity. This night we will be one church.
And remember, before Jesus could come out of the tomb, He had been to placed into it first.
When Anita and I went to Florida for our vacation, we chose to drive instead of fly. That’s a lot of time on the road. We left when it was still dark and pulled into the motel at dusk. Two days sitting in the car each way. And dealing with crazy Spring Break drivers was a nightmare.
To keep our sanity, we borrowed an audio book from the Library entitled ‘The Help’. We’d seen the movie, but we wanted the extras a book includes. And we thoroughly enjoyed the story line and creativity of the author. ‘The Help’ is set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Its about the friction between black house maids and their uppity white socialite employers prior to Civil Rights. And it weaves enough of the Civil Rights leading characters into the story that we wondered if this was a true story (which it wasn’t).
As a student of Sociology, I could see a whole lot of life lessons in the book that relate to everyday life in the 2010s in our own world. Have you ever felt inferior to others? Have you ever looked down on others? These are mind games the devil tries to throw up in our face. The truth is not one of us is any better than anyone else…or less. We’ve all been created by God in His image. The Fall has distorted God’s image in us, however. That’s why Jesus came into this world, so that God’s glory could be restored in us.
Last week Anita and I were vacationing on Sanibel Island, Florida. The first day we arrived it was 85° and sunny. Sanibel is known for its shells and, this being our first time there, we were fascinated by the variety of sea shells. The next day a storm came through and it rained all day. The next morning the sun was back out and we walked back to the beach. What a surprise to find the entire beach cluttered with a 6′-8′ band of huge oyster shells that had washed up on the beach, along with a bunch of other unidentifiable marine life, tin cans, and seaweed.
Storms dredge up stuff that has settled on the bottom. And its like that in life, as well. When a storm comes through our lives, it dredges up the things we thought were buried: old feelings, past offenses, and emotional scars all begin to get churned up and rise to mess up the nice clean life we thought we had. Jesus Christ did not come to cover up our sins, but to remove them. He came so we could live a real life and learn to trust in Him, not ourselves.
So, the next time hurts dredge up the old stuff in your life, take it to Jesus and let Him remake you. You have been created to put on the New Man, not mask the Old.