Tomorrow is Easter. Its a special day in the heart of every believer. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the hope of every man.
On the first Easter, when Jesus appeared in the room with His disciples, His first words to them were, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). A week later, the disciples were again meeting together, and Jesus once again appeared in the room. Again, the first words out of His mouth were, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:26). This set the pattern for how early Christians greeted each other when they met: “Peace be with you!”. The Hebrew word Jesus used for peace was the word ‘Shalom’. Often Christians greet one another with the simple term, “Shalom”.
Peace is perhaps the most difficult attitude to maintain. Everybody looks for it, but few find it. One of the benefits of the resurrected Christ is He provides peace when the world cannot. Peace is a result of the Holy Spirit, and we can pass it on. When you greet someone today, pass it on. Say, “Peace to you.” Its the Christian thing to do.
Tags: Easter, peace
Today is Good Friday. The only good about it is what Jesus did on the cross.
After Jesus was condemned to die by the official authorities, he was led out of town, carrying His cross. Because He had been physically weakened by the beating and the emotional distress, “As they led Him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26). It was always the responsibility of the condemned to carry his own cross to a crucifixion, but Jesus was just taking too long and holding up the procession. There were two other condemned men also in this parade carrying their crosses down those narrow streets. What a hopelessness must have hovered over the scene.
But this was Friday and the Jewish sabbath began at 6:00PM. They had to be finished with this execution by then. So they hurried the affair along by drafting an innocent bystander, Simon, to carry Jesus’ cross behind Him.
Simon was coming into town from the country for the Passover when he was recruited to this grisly task. He didn’t deserve this assignment. He came to town to offer his lamb as a sacrifice in the Temple, not get all bloody and sweaty carrying another man’s load. This just wasn’t fair.
But soon they arrived at Mount Calvary, the crucifixion site, and Simon’s task was accomplished. He could now go on about his own way. But it was Jesus, who had no sin, that carried Simon’s burden of sin on that cross. Jesus didn’t deserve this assignment. Jesus had just come in from the country for the Passover to offer His lamb as a sacrifice. This just wasn’t fair.
But Simon represents each of us. We must come behind Jesus and help carry His cross. Earlier, Jesus had said, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 15:27). Consider this blog to be your invitation to join in the procession. Jesus carried your load…
Tags: cross, Good Friday, Simon of Cyrene
When Anita and I eat out at a nice restaurant, sometimes I order a small sirloin steak. They always ask me how I want it cooked, to which I always reply, “Well done”. If I’m going to eat beef, I don’t want any pink in it. I don’t want it tough as my work boot, either. There are a couple of restaurants that cook it nice and tender and its still well done.
Well done means its thoroughly cooked without any pink in the center…brown all the way through. And it can even be black on the outside and I’m good with it. I’m not interested in the ‘appearance’ of well done, I want it cooked brown all the way. The difference is in the flavor. And if its done well, I don’t even add any meat sauce. Well done is good enough for me.
In Matthew 25:21 Jesus was telling a parable to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven is like. To a faithful servant the master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” ‘Well done’, then, is a phrase that not only describes how I like steak, but also how the Lord feels about a servant who has been faithful to get the job thoroughly done. Appearance on the outside doesn’t matter, but the faithful servant does it all the way through to the end. And the only way to get well done is to put it through the fire.
And in our parable, the servant was only faithful in a few things. And he was rewarded with greater opportunities. And the Master’s joy became his, as well. God will cheer you up.
How’s your service for the Master coming? What will He say to you on Judgment Day? I hope He’ll say, ‘Well done’.
This is Spring Break week at DeKalb Schools, so we have cancelled all events tonight (Wednesday) at church. This gives all our workers a break, as well.
I know that during Spring Break each year many go south or to warmer climates for the week. But, our family never has. Anita often planned special events for our kids when they were home from school, but I can’t recall ever having taken more than day trips.
A break from the routine is healthy. In Mark 6:31 is recorded, “Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest‘”. So they took a cruise to an isolated place to refresh themselves. In America, we’re too much like workaholics. God set the pattern for us when He worked hard to create the world, and then rested on the seventh day. Here’s the pattern: Six days of hard work = one day of total rest. And the purpose of rest is to rebuild for the task at hand.
Jesus was not running from His responsibilities. He was renewing His strength so He could work more effectively. The very next thing that happened was a crowd pursued Him and He miraculously fed the 5,000 (Mark 6:33-44). The purpose of breaks is to renew our strength, not collapse from weariness. We rest to prepare for work, not to recover from it. Rest should look forward to our work, not the other way around.
What does this story tell you about your work stresses?
Tags: rest, stress, work
“When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1).
Has word gotten out yet about your relationship with the lord? Be sure, that when it does people and things will come to test your faith. The higher up the social ladder you are, by the way, the harder the tests get. The Queen of Sheba was famous also. She influenced a large number of people. So, she took it upon herself to test King Solomon with her caliber of questions.
When I first committed my life to Christ, I lost a lot of friends. My drinking pals didn’t want to hang out with me anymore, and I didn’t want to hang out with them. I found a whole new social network that supported my new found faith. I needed a support network during those first turbulent years of my faith. Satan did not want to let go of me and tested me at every level. But I had already tasted the things of the world and compared them to the things of God. There was (is) no turning back.
The longer I serve God the more intense the trials are. But I hope I have proven faithful to God through it all. There is new life on the horizon, to boot.
Verse 13 concludes,”King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty“. Let’s try hard not to let others take from us, but be generous givers of what God has entrusted to us. That’s what it means to have a relationship with the Lord. What does this scripture say to you?
Tags: Sheba, Solomon
Last night at ‘Messy Church’ we discussed the “Divorce Culture” and its impact on our church. Results observed were lack of commitment by people, distrust of authority, no follow through, running away from responsibility, a confusion as to “family”, with a lack of sense of belonging, and a lack of real love. Divorce was once a taboo topic in the church, but there was open discussion at each table last night about it. It was agreed that these dysfunctional attitudes have permeated our church.
What can be done about what has become a cultural norm in our world and church? One observation is that we New Hopians must be more assertive in welcoming and treating new comers as “family”, since that term has become distorted by people’s broken families and lives.
What do you think are some solutions to our ‘Divorce Culture’ environment?
Back in the 1970s I was youth director at our church and Anita and I hosted a Halloween party at our old farmhouse. Our youth group partnered with the youth group from Calvary Chapel of Butler and we had about 30 teens plus adult workers. We had a huge bonfire and hayride on a hay wagon provided by Cliff Lockwood.
The house we lived in was over 150 years old at the time, and was heated by an old gravity-fed wood and coal furnace. Although it had been remodeled with a small modern bathroom, the old Franklin outhouse still stood in place. I remember once one of the adult workers, Jake Walters, asked if we had a bathroom. I saw my opportunity and said, “Sure”, and pointed to the old outhouse. He hung his head and began his journey to the old two-holer. My humor only lasted a few seconds, because I had to tell him the truth.
God has a sense of humor, although sometimes we’re so serious about Him that we don’t see it. I can imagine Jesus laughing at His disciples as they got surprised looks on their faces. What’s the last harmless prank you played on someone?