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He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed.

March 31st, 2013 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.
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: Stone Cold Saturday

March 30th, 2013 by stephanie

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

It was Saturday. The Jewish Sabbath. So no work would be done from sunset the night before until sunset this night. That is why there was such a rush to have Jesus prepared for burial and placed into the tomb by sunset Friday night (when the Sabbath officially would begin).
It was a sacred time set apart for contemplation and complete rest for God’s chosen people.
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.
Ironically, on this day of rest, the Jewish leaders, who should have been at home resting, were anything but quiet. They were strategizing…

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.

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…


Holy Week: Good Friday

March 29th, 2013 by stephanie

If you have seen the amazing movie by Mel Gibson The Passion of the Christ, you know that calling the day Jesus was crucified “good” seems a bit strange. But the fact is, if you know the story, it does have a happy ending.

Basically, in the middle of the night, (Thursday night) Roman soldiers captured Jesus. They arrested him then drug him to an illegal trial that the Jewish leadership set up in the wee hours of the morning.

After that, He was brutally beaten. Passed between Herod and Pilate, and was finally handed over for a terrible torture – crucifixion. Where he was hung between two thieves.
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 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.
It was a very full and powerful day.

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

In Remembrance of Him.

PS: I am going to get my Hot Cross Buns today. You?
Verses for Today:
Matt 27:1-61
Mark 15:1-47
Luke 22: 66- 23:55

Holy Week: Day 7 – Maundy Thursday

March 28th, 2013 by stephanie

Growing up, I thought people were saying, “Monday Thursday,” and it always confused me a bit. But it’s actually Maundy Thursday and you will see church signs today announcing services this evening that bear this name.

Most people don’t realize that the “Last Supper” was actually a Passover Seder Dinner that Jesus celebrated with His disciples. Remember: they were Jewish. Raised Jewish. And this was Passover week for them. (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 that 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

Most of you know the story from there. The breaking of the bread. The taking of the cup. Washing the disciples feet. And then, the planned betrayal by one of his own: Judas. Basically, on this day Jesus had his last supper, his last Passover celebration, with his disciples and He was trying to show them the symbolism in this ancient ritual was all predicting and pointing to Him. They didn’t get it.

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.”

After dinner, they headed off to the Mt. of Olives…where He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Matt. 26:30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

May you go through this day In Remembrance of Him.

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

Holy Week: Day 6 – Weird Wednesday

March 27th, 2013 by stephanie

Spy Wednesday. Dark Wednesday. Throughout church history, this day in Holy Week has earned a few interesting names. Some scholars argue that this was the day Judas Iscariot made plans with the chief priests. (For 30 pieces of silver he agreed to show them where they could easily capture Christ.) No one is really sure what happened on this day. One thing we do know, Wednesday is a bit of a mystery.

Scriptures show that the Jewish leaders were insanely angry with Jesus and were busy planning His demise. 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, apparently, at the home of Simon the Leper during dinner on this night, 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 drive around town this week. You’ll see services are being held tomorrow at some of the more formal, or what we call “high” churches. Maybe you can slip in and catch one! If so, let me know what you think about it.

Thot for today:
When you know someone is plotting or planning your demise, who do you turn to? If you find yourself in this situation, turn it over to Jesus…He knows exactly how you feel.


Verses for Today:
Mark 14:1-10

Holy Week: Day 5-Traitor Tuesday

March 26th, 2013 by stephanie

Knowing it is His final week on this earth as a human, Jesus seems to be trying to get in every little last bit of business that He can before His departure.

Holy Week Tuesday.
1. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or rather, anti-god remark. (Which would be very illegal!.) (Mark 11:27-33).
2. He was teaching right up to the last minute. On this day He had some amazing parables. (Matthew 21:28-23:36).
3. Interestingly, Jesus had been focusing on confronting the Jewish leaders, but some secular Greeks (the intellectual/philosophical types) were very intrigued and tried to set up a meeting with Jesus as well. (John 12:20-26).
4. He also delivered what is known as the famous Olivet Discourse. On the Mt. of Olives, he talked about the coming destruction of Jerusalem along with signs of the last days. (Matt 24)
5. 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, Tuesday was pretty 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.

Thot for today:
Have you ever been, or felt betrayed by someone who is “closest” to you? It’s a very painful experience. Jesus understands.
It happened to Him too.

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

Holy Week: Day 4 – Mean Monday

March 25th, 2013 by stephanie

Many of you by now know that yesterday was what is known as Palm Sunday.
Jesus blows into town, blows up, then…blows out.
Many of us forget what went down after He got up and off of that donkey. No warm and fuzzy Jesus here. We get to see what you might call His “mean” side. We read:
Matt 21:12-17 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.”

Monday, however, was back to business as usual. Jesus had spend the night in Bethany, then headed back into the city in the morning. On the way in, He did something you and I might find a bit strange. He cursed the fig tree.

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

He had been staying in Bethany since Friday evening. It was the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and appears that was where he stayed most of the week leading up to his tragic death. As we can see, He was spending His final days with the people that comforted and blessed Him the most.

Thot for today:
Jesus didn’t like “religion”. One of the final things he did that final week was to let religious folks know He wasn’t fond of their ritualistic and corrupt ways. He had some new ideas about God for them. And He was getting ready to really rock their world in the next few days by proving His point–in a very unique way.

If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog, do so today, and join us back here tomorrow as we journey together through Holy Week!

Holy Week: Day 3 – Palm Sunday

March 24th, 2013 by stephanie

On the Sunday before Christ’s crucifixion, Jesus walked the 2 miles from Bethany where He was staying, into the city of Jerusalem. When He arrived, He rode in on a donkey. People were running out in front of Him throwing palm branches on the ground creating a pathway and waving them and singing. (That’s the “Hosanna” thing you’ve always heard about!) This was actually a fulfillment of ancient prophecy from an ancient prophetZechariah.
(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 deal:
In biblical times, (especially during the rule of the Roman Empire) 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.

In those days, legally, there was no king but Caesar. On this special sunday, people were packed into Jerusalem preparing for the annual Jewish Passover celebration. That’s not a problem. What was a problem was that they were praising a new king! One they believed was their long awaited Messiah and savior. Not Caesar. You gotta know, this didn’t go over very well with the Roman authorities in town.

And that is how Palm Sunday got the name Triumphal Entry.
Jesus then walked 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.
Read about it here! John 12:12-15

See you tomorrow!

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

Holy Week: Day 2-The Sabbath

March 23rd, 2013 by stephanie

If you are just joining us today, don’t miss yesterday’s post. For the rest of you, welcome back!
DAY 2: Saturday
Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? If so, there’s a scene in there that shows the families rushing home to prepare for Sabbath. That’s pretty much what Jesus did on Friday. He hurried to get to Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And He needed to get there by sunset!

Today of Holy Week would have been the full Sabbath day for Jesus. It had started sundown Friday evening and would go through sundown Saturday for the Jews.

The Sabbath would be spent completely resting. And so, we don’t find much in the Scriptures that tell us about what He did that day.

With that, it’s interesting to note, this was the last day Jesus would have to really, really rest. But something tells me He spent the entire day teaching…and probably eating. 🙂

Thot for today:
Jesus rested on the Sabbath…do you?

Join us tomorrow, as we follow in His steps…

Holy Week: What is it, exactly?

March 22nd, 2013 by stephanie

Holy Week:
It may be a bit new to you, but it’s actually a very old tradition.
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.

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 to sunset Saturday if you’re Jewish).

The Sabbath has “rules.” 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.

At this point, Jesus needed to get to where He was going by sunset (before Sabbath began). With the average adult walking pace at about 3-4 mph, a day’s journey (about 12 miles) would realistically take about 5-6 hours.

Jesus was heading to Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Yes, the very Lazarus He had just raised from the dead earlier that same week. Talk about a foreshadowing! (Jesus would raise Himself a few days from now!) Bethany was dangerously close to Jerusalem (about 2 miles outside) and to those that wanted Jesus dead. But Jesus knew what he was doing.

Martha had a big dinner planned, but 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 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.

More here. Enjoy!

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