1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

MARK - Remember Me

Setting: A garden.

Speaker: A disciple.

Time: About two thousand years ago…

"He is risen.

He is risen indeed."

Today I sit in astonishment at the entrance to an empty tomb. I've been here for a couple of hours, ever since Mary came rushing into the room where we were hiding. She had the most preposterous story! Jesus' body was gone – vanished! These were the very words she shouted – at least after she was able to catch her breath…

Peter and John ran to the tomb. They didn’t come back.

So, I decided to check things out for myself. Hey, they don't call me "Doubting Thomas" for nothing, you know!

She was right – Jesus' body isn’t here. I’m puzzled…confused…scared.

It was just the other day that we were celebrating the Passover meal with Him. We met in quite a large room – it was already set up!

Jesus was rather quiet. And He said some disturbing things.

He said one of us would betray Him.

Yes, it's true – Judas did sell him out. But, we all betrayed Him in our own way. We all ran when He needed us the most. And when He was crucified, I was hiding.

Like the coward that I am.

But, the strangest thing of all that He said was this (Today’s "Bible Pick 'Ems"):

"As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it into pieces and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take it, for this is my body.' And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, 'This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.'" (Mark 14:22-24)

I've been puzzling over these words ever since.

And now I'm sitting here trying to figure the whole thing out –

Eight days later…

OK, I thought I was confused before – now I really am! Now all my friends claim they have seen Jesus alive, and in the flesh.

I told them, "I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side."

They were terribly frustrated with me – accused me of having no faith. They're probably right. But, I want to have faith – I want to believe. It just all seems so impossible.

So now we're gathered together again. They're excited. I’m forlorn. Oh, would that it was true!! Dare I even hope???

"Peace be with you."

I look up. Is it Him??? It's HIM!!!

I'm suddenly overcome with fear and awe and joy – all at the same time. I fall to my face on the ground.

Then He turns to me.

"Thomas, put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!"

And I do.

"My Lord and my God!" I exclaim.

Today is Easter Sunday, dear friends. It is a day of joyous celebration. Today our precious Jesus rose from the dead. Having completed His purpose on this earth, having sacrificed His life for us, having borne all the sins of the world on His bloodied shoulders – He now rose in triumph from the grave!!

He defeated sin – He defeated death. He defeated our enemy.


"Do this in remembrance of Me."

Oh Lord, we will remember You today – and we will remember You every day.

We will never forget You, or what You did for us.

For You remember us…

"See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16)

"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand."
(John 10:28-29)

(Celebrating Easter Sunday with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Super Sunday. Also, please feel free to visit my other blog during the week, Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

EPHESIANS - I Love A Parade

I was so excited.

I had stayed up all night, camped out on the street, and it was just moments before the beginning of…

The Tournament of Roses Parade!

This is a beautiful parade that happens every year on January 1st. And it's quite a spectacle to watch on TV. But, let me tell you, being there in person is another thing entirely!

It's hard to explain the excitement of the people, the sounds and smells, the beauty of the floats with their myriad rainbows of colorful seeds and flowers. I stayed out with a group from church just once in college. But I'm so glad that I did. It was memorable…

I was reminded of that beautiful morning because today is Palm Sunday. The day of Jesus' triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.

Picture yourself theresurrounded by people from all walks of life. It was the beginning of Holy Week, and the roads into Jerusalem were thronging with pilgrims. Can you hear the many voices of the crowd – murmuring or laughing, talking excitedly among themselves? Are you jostled along with the animals, stopping here and there for a bite to eat? Can you see and smell the surrounding countryside?

Can you imagine the anticipation in the crowd when they heard that Jesus – whom many believed was the long-awaited Messiah, the Promised One who would deliver their nationwas arriving in the Holy City?

"Where is He?"

"He’s just up ahead."

"Is He coming this way?"


People scrambled for position (just like we did on that parade route) – trying to get the best vantage point to see – to see HIM!

He enters on a donkey – and people push and shove to throw their cloaks on the road ahead of Him. Palm branches are waved and strewn about in honor of the approaching King. Jesus was the center of the procession, and the people all around Him were shouting:

"Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!
Praise God in highest heaven!"

It's one thing to read about it in the Bible – being there in person must have been another thing entirely!

And then – less than one week later – Jesus was hanging on a criminal’s cross.

Anticipation – then incredible, dashing hopelessness…

The anguished cry echoed in every heart – WHY?

Today's "Bible Pick ‘Ems" sheds light – because it tells us what the Light of the World did on that day:

"You lived in this world without God, and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall that separated us…Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross…Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us." (Ephesians 2:12-14, 16, 18)

The Prince of Peace arrived that day – not the conquering king, but the Suffering Servant.

The One who brought hope to all the peoples of the earth.

The One who still does…

"Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,
Yet he is humble, riding on a donkey…
His realm will stretch from sea to sea and…to the ends of the earth."
(Zechariah 9:9-10)

Bless the One who comes in the name of the LORD!!

(Please join me at Spiritual Sundays with Charlotte and Ginger - and Super Sunday with Peggy. Also, please feel free to visit me during the week on my other blog, Sharon Sharing God!)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1 THESSALONIANS - A Tribute to You

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Great lyrics – great truth.

You know, God is doing an amazing work out in Blog Land. He is using the tool of blogging to connect His Body with each other – across time, across the miles – sometimes across the ocean – all around the world.

It is a tremendous support network.

I know – because all of you have been wonderful.

Supportive, encouraging, inspiring. I don’t know what I'd do without you!

Today's "Bible Pick ‘Ems" reminded me of how grateful I am for fellow believers who stand alongside me, who fight with me, and who uphold me:

"We sent [Timothy] to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that you are destined for such trouble…That is why…I sent Timothy to find out if your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you…" (1 Thessalonians 3:2-5)

First-century Christians came face to face with persecution. Whether in the hands of zealous Jews, angry Greeks, or ruthless Roman authorities, they faced stonings, beatings, crucifixions, torture, and death.

To be a follower of Christ meant to give up everything…

The church at Thessalonica was very young – it had been established only two or three years before Paul wrote this letter to them. They were being persecuted – and Paul, like theirspiritual father in the faith, was concerned about them.

Paul was unable to return to Thessalonica. So he sent Timothy to encourage them – to exhort them to be strong in their faith.

And Timothy came home with a wonderful message:

"But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love…So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord."
(1 Thessalonians 3:6-8)

This is how I feel about all of you.

I am greatly encouraged by your love. I am emboldened by your truthful witness. I amupheld by your words and prayers.

Your strong faith strengthens mine!

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

God using each of us to help each other. The Body working together to accomplish God’s purposes.

Helping our fellow warriors to stand firm, to hold on tightly to our swords, and to fight against the tempter – boldly, firmly, and with resolute determination.

So, thank you – for all you've done to help me on my journey. For laughing with me, and crying with me – for standing alongside me through the ups and downs.

To paraphrase 1 Thessalonians 3:9 –

"How I thank God for you! Because of you I have great joy as I enter God’s presence."

(Linked today with Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Super Sunday. Also, please feel free to visit my other blog during the week, Sharon Sharing God)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2 CHRONICLES - Against the Crowd

Sometime in the future?

Judge: "Does the jury have a verdict?"

Jury Foreman: "Yes, your honor."

Judge: "Proceed."

Jury Foreman: "We, the jury, in the aforementioned case, do find the defendant guilty of being a Christian. We further find him/her guilty of three counts of illegal possession of a Bible, unlawful assembly with other Christians, and the forbidden proclamation of their message in public. For the high crime of treason, in this case the willful expression of allegiance to a higher authority than the government, we do hereby pronounce the death penalty."

In many areas of the world, being a Christian puts your life at risk.

It hasn’t happened in this country…yet.

But there is a much subtler persecution going on.

It’s very apparent that our country is being flooded with anti-Christian messages. Especially in the media. It is no longer "politically correct" to be a believer. We are considered"exclusive" and "hateful" and "narrow-minded." Those are some of the kinder names.

Have you faced this persecution?

Sometimes I find myself a bit isolated from it. Not intentionally, I am mostly surrounded by other believers. At church, in my Bible Study, in my small group. The Body of Christ is alive and well even in Blog Land.

All of my close friends are Christians.

But my sons, in their 20’s, experience a different world. Many of their friends are not. And they often find themselves on the "other" side of the fence when it comes to entertainment, and money, and socializing, and values.

It’s been this way for a while –

Even when my kids were in elementary school, we had to change Easter Break to Spring Break, and the Christmas Program magically morphed into the Holiday Program. My nephew, who’s in high school, only said the Pledge of Allegiance on Mondays last year – the rest of the week they read a "patriotic" piece.

It’s the whole mention of GOD that is so offensive these days.

Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" reminded me of this sinful shift that is occurring in America – this move away from its Biblical beginnings, and its Christian values.

It takes place right before the fall of Jerusalem, during the reign of King Zedekiah. Zedekiah was a hard and stubborn man. He was one of the kings who "did evil in the sight of the Lord."

And disaster was looming on the horizon…

"The LORD, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people…But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the LORD’S anger could no longer be restrained…" (2 Chronicles 36:15-16)

The next verse is the frightening conclusion to this willful turning away from God.

"So the LORD brought the king of Babylon against them."

Friends, I never want to be a purveyor of doom and gloom. It’s not my style. But when I read these verses, I took them as a good "wake-up call."

Persecution is real. We will be mocked, and our words will be despised. People will scoff at us...

It’s what happens when you stand up for the Lord.

And things may get worse. I pray not – I pray for a revival in this country. A changing in the hearts of its people. I pray for God to move mightily.

But in the meantime, we're going to suffer – for our message, for our values, for our Lord.

It’s OK – He has a great promise for us.

"God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven." (Matthew 5:11)

Are you feeling any persecution in your life? Are you willing to stand against it?

For me to live is Christ…

(Join me at Spiritual Sundays with Charlotte and Ginger, and Super Sunday with Peggy. And please feel free to visit my other blog, Sharon Sharing God!)

"When in doubt, search God out!"