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Give me just 40 more days, please.

April 25th, 2011 by stephanie

Alot of us these days have a tendency to forget that the story of Jesus didn’t end on Resurrection Sunday. As a matter of fact, Acts 1:3 tells us that our Lord was on this earth another 40 days before finally heading off to Heaven for good.

Acts 1:3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 

Sunday alone He appeared to quite a few.  Mary Magdalene at the tomb early that morning. And the women as they went on their way. According to 1 Corinthians 15:5  He seems to have managed to squeeze Peter in some time that morning as well.

… and that he appeared to Peter (Cephas), and then to the Twelve. 

Most of us can recall that during that same day He suddenly appeared to and starting walking with the 2 men on the road to Emmaus. Then, that evening, He appeared to the disciples (Judas was now dead) who were hiding out in the upper room.images

Eight days later, He appeared to them again in the same place. Then, they all headed to Galilee. Where they saw Him a few more times. Lots of folks had a chance to see him:

 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  1 Cor. 15:6-7

When I see churches with Jesus still on the cross, it saddens me. The story certainly did not end there. He had a great 40 days of popping in and out, eating bread and fish, teaching and just enjoying those He loved.  I think that’s the part of Easter I sometimes like to remember most.

Just my thoughts, yours?


Holy Week: Resurrection Day!

April 24th, 2011 by stephanie

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed.

Such is the call and response that is very familiar to those in the church world. One person will say, “He is Risen,” to which the other will reply, “He is Risen Indeed.” Many of you will enjoy this exchange today in celebration of what happened over 2,000 years ago.

It was the 3rd day. If you’re counting in Jewish time.

Day 1: Friday. (Thursday sundown to Friday sundown.)

Day 2: Saturday. (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.)

Day 3: Sunday. (Saturday sundown to Sunday sundown.)

And it went a bit like this…

Matt. 28:1-9

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

“Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

He is Risen-indeed.

Happy Easter, my friend.


Holy Week: Saturday

April 23rd, 2011 by stephanie

Stone. Cold. Tomb. That’s where Christ was on this day. And it was deathly silent.

Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. No work would be done on this day. It was a sacred time set apart for contemplation and complete rest for God’s chosen people. That is why there was such a  rush to have Jesus prepared for burial and placed in the tomb by sunset Friday night (when the Sabbath officially would begin).

Luke 23:54-56 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Meanwhile, back at the the roman palace, the Jewish leaders, who should have been resting and worshiping at home, were anything but quiet…

Matt. 27:62-66 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

and then…

Matt. 28:11-15 “Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.”

They knew Jesus had powers. They were terrified He would rise. How interesting that they thought a stone could keep Him, the Creator of the Universe, in a grave.

Not a sound was heard from the tomb. But Sunday was coming…


Good Friday! How do you celebrate it?

April 22nd, 2011 by stephanie

Holy Week: Good Friday
I started a new tradition a few years ago. And I’ve been looking forward to it all week. My first plan of action for today was to head out, with the Judge in tow of course, and make the trek to Panera Bread. They have the BEST Hot Cross Buns and they will only have them through Easter Sunday. So, off I went! To not only keep my Good Friday tradition, but to enjoy a yummy treat.
Sure, I make it sound like Good Friday is all about the food, but you and I both know the cross on those holiday buns is simply to remind us of what happened on this day more than 2,000 years ago.

Basically, in the middle of the night, (Thursday night) Roman soldiers accosted Jesus. They arrested him then drug him to a trumped up, illegal trial by the Jewish leadership that was held in the wee hours of the morning. After that, He was brutally beaten. Passed between Herod and Pilate, he was finally handed over for the most brutal torture – crucifixion. Where he was hung between two thieves. (By the way, did you catch that? They crucified thieves! Today, pedophiles and murderers enjoy prisons. But I digress…)

Jesus was put on the cross close to 9:00 am in the morning and hung there most of the day. At noon, the sky grew dark, and there was an earthquake. Close to 3:00 pm, He gave up His spirit and died. One of my favorite parts, that you don’t hear much about, is that graves opened when that happened and the bodies (not spirits mind you. See: Soma-Gk.) of the saints came out and visited loved ones. If you don’t believe me check this out.

Matt. 27:52-53 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

That is just too cool! It was a very full and powerful day. Don’t let it go by without taking a moment to pause and revisit this amazing event.

I know we are all busy, but when you have a second, read the story. Matthew chapter 27 today.

In Remembrance of Him.

Verses for Today:
Matt 27:1-61
Mark 15:1-47
Luke 22: 66- 23:55
John 18:28-42

Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

April 21st, 2011 by stephanie

It’s an odd title isn’t it? But believe it or not, there really is something called Maundy Thursday and people used to go to religious services on this day. Many still do.

Most people don’t realize that the Last Supper (yes the famous one that comes to mind) was actually the Passover Seder that Jesus celebrated with His disciples. And they celebrated on Thursday. Unknown Remember: they were Jewish. Raised Jewish. And this was Passover week (Lk. 22:1 and Exodus 12.). The Seder dinner would land on Thursday night. They were not going to miss this special holiday feast with their Master. Jesus even mentioned it while predicting his crucifixion. 
Matt. 26:2 You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.

If you didn’t notice before, there is even a passage in Scripture that shows Jesus preparing for the meal:
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?’ And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘”The Teacher says, My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples'”. The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. Matt. 26:16-19

And most of you well know the story from there. The breaking of the bread. The taking of the cup. And then, the planned betrayal by one of his own: Judas.

Interestingly, this Thursday of Holy Week in time became known as Maundy Thursday, or, Holy Thursday. It is the day before crucifixion. Basically: on this day Jesus had his last supper, his last meal, with his disciples.

The book of Matthew states:
“…Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying,” Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matt. 26:30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

May you end this day In Remembrance of Him.

Mark 14:12-72
Luke 22:7-65
John 13:1-30

Holy Week: Weird Wednesday.

April 20th, 2011 by stephanie

Some say it was Tuesday, others say Wednesday. Some call it Dark Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday. Some scholars argue that this was the day Judas Iscariot, (the disciple who betrayed Jesus) agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture The Christ. No one is really sure. One thing we do know, Wednesday is a bit of a mystery.

We do know that the Jewish leaders were pretty upset with Jesus and were busy plotting His death. Here’s a bit of how that looked:
Matthew 26:3-5 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him.

So where was Jesus when all of this was taking place? Well, He was heading back towards Bethany each evening. And at the home of Simon the Leper during dinner, His feet were anointed with an expensive ointment by a woman.

But during the day, we find this was his schedule:Luke 21:37-38 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Tomorrow, we look at what they call Maundy Thursday in Holy Week. Watch those church signs as you travel around. You’ll see services are being held tomorrow at some of the more formal, or what we call “high” churches. Maybe you can catch one!


Verses for Today:
Mark 14:1-10

Holy Week: Terrible Tuesday.

April 19th, 2011 by stephanie

The Tuesday before Christ was crucified was a rather full day for Jesus. Knowing it is His final week on this earth as a human, it seems we watch as He works to get in every little last bit of business that He can before His departure.

Holy Week Tuesday is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and the Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This is where they really tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or rather, anti-god remark. (Mark 11:27-33). Also, on this day Jesus taught some amazing parables. (Matthew 21:28-23:36).

Another thing that is interesting, though Jesus was taking on the Jewish leaders, some Greeks who were intrigued came and asked to see Jesus and speak with Him as well. (John 12:20-26). If that wasn’t enough for one day, He then delivered what is known as the famous Olivet Discourse. Sound familiar? This was the message he gave on the Mount of Olives where he talked about the coming destruction of Jerusalem along with signs of the last days. (Matt 24)

Lots of ancient prophecy was fulfilled on this day too. One of the prophecies said that Jesus would be rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:1,3.
In my opinion, that’s what made Tuesday really lousy. Supposedly on this day Judas, one of the 12 Disciples, agreed to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16). Someone from His own personal, inner circle. What time of day, we’re not sure, but most agree, it was on Tuesday. So very heartbreaking, and sad.

As you can see, however, it was a very busy day for our Lord and one that was quite full of meaning.

Verses for Today:
Matt. 22:15-46
Mark 11:20-33
Luke 21:1-38

Holy Week: Busy Monday.

April 18th, 2011 by stephanie

So, if you read yesterday’s blog you know what Jesus did on Palm Sunday. Basically, Jesus blows into town, blows up, then…blows out. Many of us forget what transpired after He got down off of the donkey. No warm and fuzzy Jesus here.  
 Matt 21:12-17 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

He left the city of Jerusalem Sunday evening and went back to the village of Bethany, where he had been staying since Friday night. It was the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  It appears that was where he stayed most of the week leading up to his tragic death.  Spending  it with the people that comforted Him the most.

Monday, however, was back to business as usual. Jesus got up and headed back into the city. On the way in, however, He did something you and I might find a bit odd. He cursed the fig tree. Check it out…
Matt 21:18-19 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

After that little episode, he cleansed the Temple…again! Then, he headed back to Bethany for some rest.

See you tomorrow!

Palm Sunday: Quite a Triumph.

April 16th, 2011 by stephanie

Day 1: Sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.
Palm Sunday

In case you didn’t know, Palm Sunday begins what is known to the Christian church as Holy Week. The week before Easter. And it starts officially on this day. For those of you that have been following along since Friday – welcome back!

Believe it or not, many churches will go through the day without even mentioning the significance of Palm Sunday or the events leading up to Christ’s death. It seems to be a Day or a Tradition that has gotten a bit lost in recent years.

If you attend a church or have been in a Palm Sunday service where they wave palm branches you have experienced the pageantry and anticipation that the day can bring. Perhaps you’re not fully aware of the significance of this tradition or where the symbolism actually came from. So here’s a bit of scoop.

On the Sunday before Christ’s crucifixion, Jesus walked the 2 miles in from Bethany and rode a donkey over a palm-branch pathway into Jerusalem. This was but one of many coming fulfillments of prophecy. This one was spoken by the prophet Zechariah.
(which was written hundreds of years before this event) FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.

Here’s the significance of that move: In biblical times, (especially in this era of Roman rule) kings and nobles would parade in a procession, riding on the back of a donkey. The donkey was a symbol of peace; and riding it was a symbolic gesture that proclaimed peaceful intentions. When a king or dignitary was arriving in victory or triumph, people would lay palm branches in his path to signify the victory of the king.
Here is how it played out for Jesus:
John 12:12-15
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it.

The people of that day lived in a period where there legally was no king but Caesar. So, here they were, in a packed city preparing for the Passover, touting a new king. One they believed was their long awaited Messiah. Not Caesar. You gotta know, this didn’t go over very well with the dignitaries.

After that Triumphal Entry, as we call it, Jesus went into the Temple, threw over the money changers tables, freed the sacrificial doves and healed the blind and the lame. And that was just on Sunday!

Having had a very full day, Jesus returned Sunday evening to the place that brought him comfort: the home of his friends Mary, Martha & Lazarus, in Bethany.

See you for Monday’s rundown…

verses for today:
Matt. 21: 1-17
Mark 11:1-11
Luke 19:28-46
John 12:12, 13

Holy Week. Ever heard of it?

April 15th, 2011 by stephanie

If Holy Week’s a bit new to you, not to worry. Believe it or not, there was actually a time when pretty much everyone in Western Civilization knew what it was, and in some way, shape or form, found themselves a part of, or affected by, it.

Holy Week follows the last 7 days that Jesus walked on the earth. Where He went. What He did. You get the idea. We’ll follow that very week. Each day. Right here.
DAY 1 FRIDAY: For Jesus and His disciples it was time to make the trek toward Jerusalem to celebrate Passover Feast week. Remember: Jesus was Jewish. And, on this particular night (Fri.), he would celebrate one last Sabbath (sundown Friday through sunset Saturday for the Jews).

Trivia: Jewish law only allows folks to do a few things on the Sabbath. One of the rules is how far a person can walk! According to the Mitzvah, you can’t walk a straight line more than .598 miles (3161.74 ft.) in any direction outside your city limits. Even today, Orthodox Jews don’t drive on Sabbath. They walk to service!

At this point, Jesus had been spending His time about 20 miles outside Jerusalem (in Ephraim) and was now working His way toward Jericho (15 miles out). He needed to get to where He was going by sunset–before Sabbath began. His destination for this night? Bethany.
With the average adult walking pace at about 3-4 mph, that day’s journey from Jericho to Bethany (about 12 miles) would realistically take about 5-6 hours. So basically, Jesus spent most of Friday likely traveling not only to be with friends but to keep his appointment with destiny.

Bethany was only about 2 miles outside of Jerusalem and was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Yes, the very Lazarus He had just raised from the Dead earlier that same week (see John 11). Talk about a foreshadowing! The town was also dangerously close to Jerusalem and those that wanted him dead. But Jesus knew what he was doing.

Martha had a big dinner in His honor that Sabbath. Mary interrupted the evening, broke a bottle of precious ointment, showered Jesus with tears of affection and anointed His feet with her hair. This act, too, foreshadowed his coming burial. Back then you only anointed the feet of a corpse! You anointed the head of a live person. Pretty amazing stuff.

There’s lots more to come. C U tomorrow.


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