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Not so fast…

April 16th, 2017 by stephanie

Sometimes in life, things happen that look permanent. You can’t imagine anything good coming from the situation. No hope at all. But then, something amazing happens.What do I mean by that?

I was sitting in a most lovely Tenebrae service this past Friday at my church. It was the usual profound story, but then, a poignant moment struck me.

Imagine a very wealthy, powerful man in your community who has spent time and money commissioning his family gravesite out of a stone area. The skilled craftsmen have been cutting, chiseling, smoothing, all by hand. It’s a luxury most of us will never have. We will, most of us, most likely be placed in a box that goes into the ground.

Then, picture this man, approaching the authorities in a most clandestine fashion, asking for the body of the most notorious criminal, recently executed with government authority, and placing that dead body into this new, private tomb.

That’s what Joseph of Arimathea did. With the help of Nicodemus. They were devastated. The person who they had recently come to believe could change the world they were living in, make it better—the one who had “answers” …was suddenly and violently taken from them.

Fear. Anxiety. Feeling lost. Forlorn. Plan A was gone. But what would Plan “B”…be?

Thankfully, they didn’t have to worry for too long, and they didn’t have to come up with one.

That Sunday morning, Jesus made surprise visits to those near and dear to him. Friends, family and disciples alike were able to see Him in person. Alive and very well.

Something wonderful had happened. The impossible. A miracle. And the world has never been the same.

If you are facing something that appears unfixable…if you are scrambling for answers or a plan…I invite you to place your thoughts, prayers and hope in the one who conquered death. It’s a very simple, yet complex belief. But just like for Joseph and Nicodemus, you too will come to see, there is a Sunday. And it will be very, very good.

Happy Easter friends.

He is risen…

—S.

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The Tomb

April 4th, 2015 by stephanie

Saturday: The Tomb

That’s where Christ was on this day.

Saturday. In the grave.

Saturday. In the grave.

Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. 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 began).

Sabbath was a sacred time set apart for contemplation and complete rest for God’s chosen people. (Luke 23:54-56)

Moment to Catch

Ironically, on this day of rest, the Jewish leaders, who should have been at home resting, were anything but quiet. They held a secret meeting and 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.

Thot for today:

The men who schemed to kill Jesus knew He 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. Is there an immovable situation or object in your life that you feel hopeless about? If you can work to find the understanding and belief in that same power Christ held that blew that stone off the next morning.

But back to Stone-Cold Saturday…

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

S.

Holy Week: Day 8

April 3rd, 2015 by stephanie

It’s Good Friday!

Good Friday.

Good Friday.

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.

Moment to Catch

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.

Thot for Today

Sometimes things that happen to us in life can, at the time seem anything but good. It’s only when we come out on the other side, that we can see the “good” that came of the situation.

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

In Remembrance of Him.

S.
Verses for Today:
Matt 27:1-61
Mark 15:1-47
Luke 22: 66- 23:55

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Holy Week: Day 7

April 2nd, 2015 by stephanie

Maundy Thursday 

the-last-supper_I4C0669-1800

Jesus and the Disciples. His last Passover (The Last Supper)

Growing up, I thought people were saying, “Monday Thursday,” and it always confused me a bit. But it’s actually “Maundy Thursday”.

You’ll see church signs today (and probably have over the last week) announcing services for 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. (see 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.

Moment to Catch
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.

Thot for today

Have you ever had to say good-bye to someone you love? It’s not easy. Or, perhaps, you have had to prepare for a dreaded day, and no one around you seemed to understand. Either way, just hear this, Jesus knows what that feels like.

May you go through this day “In Remembrance of Him”.

S.
Matt:26:17-75
Mark 14:12-72
Luke 22:7-65
John 13:1-30

Holy Week: Day 6

April 1st, 2015 by stephanie

Judas' Betrayal

Judas’ Betrayal

Dark Wednesday, Spy Wednesday…I just call it Weird Wednesday.

Throughout church history, this day in Holy Week has earned a few interesting names.

Some scholars argue that today 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 very 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.

Moment to Catch:

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…I think He has an idea of He exactly how that feels.

S.

Verses for Today:
Matt:26:1-13
Mark 14:1-10

Holy Week: Day 5

March 31st, 2015 by stephanie

Holy Week – Tuesday.

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

Knowing it’s 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.

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).

Moment to Catch:

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.

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

Holy Week: Day 4

March 30th, 2015 by stephanie

Cleansing the Temple

Cleansing the Temple

Monday of  Holy Week was a busy day for Jesus.
Basically, He blew into town, blew up, then…blew out.

Many of us forget what all went down the day after He got off that donkey on Palm Sunday. 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.”search

Jesus had spent Sunday 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.

Moment to Catch:
After that little episode, he cleansed the Temple…again! Then, in the evening, He headed back to Bethany for some rest. The home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

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.

What are your thoughts on present day “faith” and what all comes with it? I’d love to hear.
– Stephanie

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Then, join us back here tomorrow as we journey together through Holy Week!

Holy Week: Day 3

March 29th, 2015 by stephanie

images

Jesus enters Jerusalem

Happy Palm Sunday!

On the Sunday before Christ died, he 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 and waving them and singing. (That’s the “Hosanna” thing you’ve always heard about!)

This was actually a fulfillment of ancient prophecy. You’ll find it from 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 deal with the donkey:
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!

Moment to Catch:

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 that here! John 12:12-15

Thot for Today:

Where is your place of comfort. Where do you go during tough times?

Hope you’re enjoying this journey.

Come back tomorrow!
S.

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

Holy Week: Day 2

March 28th, 2015 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 – The Sabbath

Sabbath

Sabbath

Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? If so, there’s a scene in there that shows the families of the town rushing home to prepare for Sabbath meal. That’s pretty much what Jesus did on Friday. He hurried to get to Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in time for dinner. And He needed to get there by sunset!

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

Moment to Catch

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…

– Stephanie

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Holy Week Is Here!

March 27th, 2015 by stephanie

A few years back I began a Holy Week tradition that seems to have caught on a bit. Each year, I now post my blogs, or daily devos if you will, that allow you to walk with and follow Jesus during his final days on planet earth. I hope you’ll share these with a friend, and make them part of a conversation or two as we journey our way to Resurrection Day. If anything, use them as your morning devotional perhaps. Enjoy! 

The beginning of the end.

The beginning of the end.

Holy Week:
It may be somewhat new to you,

but celebrating Holy Week is 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 his steps every day for the next week. So come back each morning, or evening if you like, and join us 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. (which was from sundown Friday to sunset Saturday—if you’re Jewish).

TRIVIA:
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.

On this Friday before Good Friday, Jesus was heading to Bethany. He 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.

Bethany was home to 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.

Moment to Catch
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.

– Stephanie

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