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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

I hope you were able to celebrate the true meaning of Easter today. We love the Easter bunny (especially the chocolate kind), egg hunts, jelly beans, family dinners and baskets filled with goodies…but Easter isn’t really about those things.

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Pastor Don McGarvey, Troy Mills Christian Church

Easter is about our risen Savior Jesus Christ who was crucified, buried, and raised to new life. My husband preached a great sermon this morning (yes – I’m biased) on the Odds of Easter.

He related the story of Dylan McWilliams who, in three separate incidents in three separate years, survived a rattlesnake bite, a bear attack and a shark attack. Some math geek somewhere figured the odds of all three incidents happening to one man is 893.35 quadrillion to one. In case you don’t know, a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeroes….it looks like 1,000,000,000,000,000.

By comparison, The odds of being struck by lightning is 1 in 5,000; the odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the U.S. is estimated at 1 in 37,500; attacked by a shark, 1 in 11.5 million and attacked by a bear, 1 in 2.1 million. Some say Dylan was a very unlucky guy. If I believed in luck (I don’t), I’d say Dylan was a very LUCKY guy.  He told a British reporter that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But compare Dylan’s adventure to the odds of Easter. The Old Testament is full of prophecies concerning Jesus…his crucifixion (Isaiah 53:6, 10), his scourging (Isaiah 50:6), the piercing of his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16); the piercing of his side (Zechariah 12:10), the disfigurement of his appearance (Isaiah 52:14); that none of his bones were broken (Exodus 12:46), his burial place (Isaiah 53:9) and his resurrection (Psalm 30:3). The odds that all eight of these prophecies would be fulfilled by one man in the course of three days are 1 in 10 to the 17th power…100,000,000,000,000,000. Unlucky? No – supernatural.

There are 48 prophecies concerning Jesus’ life in the Old Testament – and the odds of all 48 prophecies being fulfilled by one man, Jesus, are 1 in 10 to the 157th power. Too many zeroes for me to type out. A 1 followed by 157 zeroes!

e52ac01a-3514-4f75-b4b6-e5aca107a96bJesus, Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, betrayed by his Judas, unjustly tried in a bogus court, scourged and crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb, but raised to life on Easter Sunday morning. He wasn’t a good man. He was God in flesh, sent to take our sins upon himself so that we would not have to bear them. It wasn’t luck or lack of luck. It was love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

 

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The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter can be spent in a frenzy of activity, scrambling to buy jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, baking hams and pies, scrubbing bathrooms, and laying perfect dinner tables.

Or maybe this day was spent in reflection, contemplating the hours the disciples mourned their rabbi, their Messiah, hiding in fear for their lives after watching an innocent Jesus crucified by the Roman soldiers.

Holy Saturday. Black Saturday. Joyous Saturday. The day of despair, hopeless, fearful, wondering “now what?” It is easy for us to skip over the importance of this day. We know the story. We know what’s ahead. Sunday’s coming. Easter will bring new life, our resurrected Savior.

But the disciples didn’t know. They heard what Jesus told of this time but how do you really prepare yourself for this day? Do you hope? Do you hide? Do you leave? Do you stay?

Did they trust? Did they believe the One who poured Himself out, teaching, praying, healing?

Maybe your life is currently sitting on a Black Saturday. Your dream seems dead. You’re fearful, hopeless, despairing. You grieve and hide, questioning “now what?”

Do you trust? Do you believe the One who poured Himself out for you? Stand firm and know – Your Easter is on the horizon.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”

‭‭John‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl sitting in my grandpa’s white pick up truck, listening to Lou Boudreau call the games on WGN radio, or watching the games with my dad every Sunday afternoon on WTVO. My dad took me to my first game at Wrigley Field when I was about 12 and I was hooked. Though I followed the Cubs through some of the worst baseball seasons ever, I never wavered. The Cubs were, and are, my team.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was in 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series. I loved watching the huge parade that wove through the city after the series win, where literally millions of people cheered for the new champs. They climbed lampposts, hung from balconies, stood for hours, as the team was driven in open air buses down Lake Shore Drive. It was a glorious sight as fans, old and new, cheered their team.

A short few years later and people are writing them off. The team has had a rocky start to the 2019 season, and people are jumping off the bandwagon right and left. “What have you done for me lately?”

Do you know something similar happened to Jesus? One Sunday crowds of people stripped trees bare of palm branches so they could wave them as Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, riding on the back of a donkey. They shouted and cheered: “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The palm branches were a symbol of victory and joy. During the time of Jesus, the palms were waved as the people cheered in celebration when an important person like a king rode through the streets.

But just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and led out to a hill called Calvary to be crucified. The cheers He heard on Sunday turned to jeers on Friday. No longer shouting “Hosanna,” the people were now screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The people were offered the choice of whether to free a murderer named Barabbas or to free Jesus. They chose to set Barabbas free and crucify Jesus. His once-faithful followers had now forsaken Him.

We have that same choice everyday. We can choose to follow Jesus and make Him our King and Lord or we can turn away from Him like the people who denied Him or shouted “Crucify Him!”

I want to be faithful to Jesus. As much as I cheer for my team, I want to be even more faithful to my Savior Jesus, who willingly went to the cross to save me from the penalty of my sin. This decision is so much more important than a game.

Jesus – today we choose to make you King and Lord of our lives. Help us to be strong and to follow you when all others forsake you. We shout “Hosanna! You are our King!”

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Cross_Passion_Week

Jesus

Betrayed ruthlessly

Arrested unjustly

Abandoned callously

Tried illegally

Beaten brutally

Crucified unfairly

Buried anonymously

Arose victoriously

Jesus

Son of God

Light of the world

Lord of Lords

King of Kings

Messiah

Savior

Redeemer

Lover of my Soul

Jesus

Compassion continual

Truth unerring

Humility personified

Grace without limit

Mercy repeatedly

Power eminent

Peace unending

Joy overflowing

Love unconditional

Christ himself was like God in everything.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man
and became like a servant.
And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
So God raised him to the highest place.
God made his name greater than every other name
so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
 everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11 (NCV)

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My heart is hurting today. So many friends are experiencing devastating events in their lives. Last year two of my closest friends battled through cancer diagnoses, clinging to God’s promises of healing and coming through victorious. Yet they continue to deal with the aftermath of that long year.

My dear high school classmate is facing another long road in her latest health challenge. And challenge is such a feeble word for what she is going through. She shared just a few of the trials she’s facing – extreme headaches, 4 hour MRIs, insurance company issues, doctors’ appointments in far off places, the uncertainty of medications…and I’m confident that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Yesterday I received news of another friend who revealed her leukemia diagnosis. Just two years ago her son died of an aneurysm…gone in an instance. Now this. Such heartbreaking news as she continues to work through her grief. But she is a faith-filled prayer powerhouse, trusting in the promises of God.

 

This morning I saw another friend post about an upcoming divorce and then another about a road side bomb in Afghanistan killing three Marines…when will it stop? What can I do? Where do I turn?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about Psalm 121 – God is my Helper, my Guardian. But Lord, there is so much sadness, so much disease, so much heartbreak in this world. Sometimes it seems so overwhelming…and these things aren’t even happening to me!

Even so…

Let me share part of a Instagram post my friend wrote two days ago…”God has been so very faithful – in every single way – and I love Him more than I ever have before. He has never left me, never betrayed me, abandoned me. What would I have done if it wasn’t for Jesus?”

Again – I’m reminded – Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Jesus died because of that great love. He endured the ultimate betrayal and abandonment. He was sinless, yet took on my sin. He sacrificed everything for me. He will never leave me. He will never forsake me. He is my Healer, my Strength, my Rock, my Provider. He is where I go when I have no one to turn to. He walks with me in every storm. He goes before me into every battle. He listens to me cry out in despair, and comforts me in my sorrow. He rejoices with me in victories and dances over me with joy. He has written my name on the palms of His hands.

The bad news will never stop. Our fallen world will always encounter disease and tragedy. But I do not have to succumb to grief and sorrow and hopelessness.

I have hope. My friends have hope. His name is Jesus.

His Name is Jesus 30 x 22 LG

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I have the privilege of conducting the kids’ sermon each Sunday at our church. We have some amazing kids who seem to enjoy coming up front for “their” time. Since I try to keep the message about 5 to 8 minutes long, it’s important for it to be simple, easy to understand and applicable to the kids’ lives. And the first Sunday of each month, I have the kids (and adults) memorize a Bible verse.

Today we memorized Philippians 4:4…”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Rejoice scripture

Short and simple, right? The verse itself is short, but the message is deep. The writer of the book of Philippians was the Apostle Paul, and he was composing this letter to the church in Philippi while sitting in prison. He had been unjustly imprisoned, accused by his enemies, and falsely charged. But even so, he was telling other believers to “Rejoice!”

I told the kids the definition of “rejoice” is to feel or show great joy or delight. How could Paul rejoice while sitting in prison, with good reason to feel despondent? Because Paul knew he wasn’t rejoicing in his outward circumstances, he was rejoicing…finding great joy and delight…in God. He knew that no matter what happened to him physically, Jesus was always with him.

My study Bible note on this verse says “It’s easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously.” But we need to remember where to place our hope and trust…in the God who will never leave you or forsake you, who is your rock and refuge, a very present help in times of trouble. Rejoice in that!

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img_2306Had a whole blog written about staycations. Got about three paragraphs in and realized it was so mundane and boring, that I wouldn’t even read it. Deleted the whole thing.

Instead, just a quick reminder:

Be kind.

Today Don and I spent a lot of time with sales clerks, waitresses and cashiers, fellow drivers on the interstate and hospital workers. Now that I’m home, quietly snuggled up on my couch, I’ve been thinking about those small connections and praying I reflected Christ in a way that brings Him glory.

Did I show appreciation for the service I was given? Did I tip generously? Did I smile and make eye contact with those I was speaking with? Did I listen well and respond appropriately? Did I show respect and compassion, even if given less than stellar service? Was I honest in all my dealings?

It doesn’t take much extra effort…and kindness speaks so well to people everywhere. The apostle Paul says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  (Philippians 2:3)

What a great way to give testimony of Jesus to the world around us.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

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