Okay?

“Maybe it’s okay if I’m not okay….”

‘We Are Messengers’ sing this fantastic song, and it is so relevant! How can we know how good we have it, if we haven’t had it bad? If I haven’t hurt, what do I have to compare to?

Do you remember the story of Lazarus? Beloved friend of Jesus, brother to Mary and Martha, they lived in Bethany, about 2 miles from Jerusalem. I imagine Jesus stopped at their house whenever He was near. We (hopefully) all have a friend like that, a person who is family – even better than blood family. (Mary is the woman who annointed Jesus with a costly perfume while He was at their table, when Judas complained at the waste of such an expensive item.* – JOHN 12:3) She, her sister Martha, and her brother Lazarus made Jesus welcome. It happened that Lazarus became seriously ill, “So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” – JOHN 11:3‭, ‬5‭-‬6 NASB

What?

He hears that His beloved friend is sick, maybe dying, and He hangs out for two days before He goes to see him? Who does that? I’m sure that Mary and Martha were not okay during this time! Torn up knowing that their brother is dying – who in fact dies after the message is sent – and wondering why their best friend delays coming. Not until the fourth day after Lazarus’ death does Jesus show up. The body is in the grave, beginning to deteriorate and decompose, and the mourning is at it’s peak. Martha met Jesus on the road, and said this:

“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” – JOHN 11:22 NASB

She knows that Jesus could have prevented his death, and she believes – she knows – that He can bring her brother back! What faith!

“Jesus said to her, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” – JOHN 11:25‭-‬27 NASB

Martha wasn’t “okay” with her brother’s physical death, but she was confident in her Lord’s ability to take care of the situation. How many of us can confidently believe as Martha did? She had no doubt that Jesus would receive whatever He asked of God His Father. Do I believe that Jesus is taking care of my situation? I’m not okay with my financial situation. Frankly, it stinks. (That’s my opinion.) But I know that it’s okay if I’m not okay, because I know that my life – such as it is – is in my GOD’s control, not mine. I have hurt and been hurt; I have reached out and been reached out to in good and in bad. Whatever comes, LORD, may I learn to be content. Amen.

[*This perfume is estimated to be worth 11 months wages. According to CNBC.com, the median U.S, household wage for 11 months would be over $40,000.]

No Ordinary Man

The chief priests and Pharisees were so frightened of Jesus and His testimony, they went to Pilate to complain about Him and His followers. Keep in mind that at this point they know that Jesus is dead and in the grave, yet they are so afraid of this dead man that they want His grave sealed and a guard set on it!

“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.” – MATTHEW 27:64‭-‬66 NASB

They knew this was no ordinary man they were dealing with.

Over the centuries, there have been many imposters. If you Google “men who claim to be Jesus,” a long list of names comes up. Then there are the many who claim that Jesus was ‘just’ a prophet like Moses or Muhammad or Buddha. Who, in all of these men have died and been resurrected in three days, besides Jesus? The list of imposters is hundreds of names long, and the names of men from that list who died and rose from the dead is zero. Not one. They are, or were, all ordinary men. Not so, Jesus.

Luke, a physician, wrote factually about Jesus. He researched what he wrote and reported first-hand accounts.

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” – LUKE 1:1‭-‬4 NASB

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the Holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” – LUKE 1:31‭-‬35 NASB

This Holy Child, this Jesus, is no ordinary man. He is 100% man, and 100% God.

How bereft His followers must have felt this morning, following His unimaginable, incredible death on the cross! This is the first day they have been without Him, without His physical presence, in three years. At this point, they don’t know what to think; they are overcome with the grief of His death. Gather together with them today. Meditate on what it felt like for them. We have the advantage, because we know that He conquers death and will rise up on the third day!

He is no ordinary man. He is worthy of our love, our worship, our devotion!

Plainly Said

“When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the son of man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God .” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.” ” – LUKE 22:66‭-‬71 NASB

Plainly said.

He doesn’t hesitate to say the words that condemn Him to the most gruesome death imaginable. Would you be so bold?

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” – MATTHEW 27:27‭-‬35‭, ‬37 NASB

After a night of being beaten and mocked, Jesus is brought in front of the authorities. I can only imagine the dignity with which He must have carried Himself as He was brought into the chamber. He knew what would happen to Him, yet He refused to cower or deny the Truth.

I would be that honest and forthright in my bearing and my witness: plainly spoken.

Leading to the Cross

On the Tuesday before Easter Sunday, “Good” Friday looms and our focus is on the suffering of Jesus and the Cross. He has just entered into Jerusalem in triumph; the people welcoming Him with jubilation and celebration, thinking that He is going to take over the government of Judea and become their new king on earth. Such excitement runs among them! What thoughts must have been running through Jesus’ mind? I hope He was able to soak up the adoration and love, in preparation of the ordeal He knew He was facing. He knew His central purpose was to die as the sacrifice for our sins. He didn’t deserve to die – unlike the rest of humankind, Jesus never once in His life on earth committed any sin. Never once; not one. His death on the cross is, without doubt, the worst injustice ever done or to be done in all of earth’s history. This passage describes Jesus’ life beautifully.

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of GOD, for it is written, “vengeance is mine , I will repay,” says the LORD.” – ROMANS 12:17‭-‬19 NASB

Jesus could have easily retaliated against the soldiers who beat and mocked Him, and He could have punished the Jewish leaders for their unjust treatment of Him. Legions of angels – His Angel Army – were just waiting on a single word from Him to swoop in and rescue Him! Jesus knows His Father, and He trusted in GOD for ultimate justice and revenge. Peter reminds us of our calling as followers of Christ Jesus in this passage he wrote to followers living a far distance from Rome as they were being mocked and harassed for their faith (much as we are today).

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth ; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 PETER 2:21‭-‬25 NASB

By His woundsall of His suffering was inflicted on the Son of GOD, endured by the only perfect, sinless man for the sin and the sickness of our souls. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of GOD in Him.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21 NASB Jesus is our Guardian, our Overseer; He is watching over us constantly from heaven, and He left us with His Holy Spirit so that we are never alone.

Do I resemble Christ when I am mistreated? Have you accepted what Jesus did for you – and me – on the cross?

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20‭ NASB

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I’m standing in Your Love!” Thank you, Bethel Music, for this fabulous song, and K-LOVE Radio for playing it!!

Of Money, Swords, and Stuff

Jesus spoke to His disciples as they celebrated the Passover meal together, instructing them and serving them,

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘and He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” “

Later, as He and the disciples were in the Garden, praying, a crowd of people came out to find Him and arrest Him. This is a perfect example of submission to authority. Even though His disciples were armed, the LORD told them to stand down, because He knew this was part of GOD the FATHER’s plan for Him. Verse 53 is telling:

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” – LUKE 22:35‭-‬37‭, ‬52‭-‬53 NASB

You have probably figured out from past posts, especially if you follow me on FaceBook or Twitter, that I am a stanch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, whether they be swords or the lastest innovation in firearms. I don’t believe that the LORD intended us to be at the mercy of the evil and the depraved in the world (i.e. the Enemy, Satan). We are, however, subject to the authority of our government …… however wrong we believe it to be.

We – I – am blessed to live in a Republic, where every individual is bestowed with certain rights. We have the right to freely speak out against what we perceive to be bad judgement calls by the authorities with the 1st Amendment. The right to bear arms against a tyrannical government is the 2nd Amendment – which also protects our 1st Amendment rights. I’m not a militant, but I may be considered a radical conservative. In our quest to follow Christ, isn’t it also our duty to protect the innocent and the downtrodden? Not to rebel against our elected leaders (no matter how wrong we believe them to be), and not to bring war and violence onto those who disagree with us, but to aid and protect those who aren’t capable of helping themselves.

Our church is currently studying I Peter 2 and what the reality of Christ-patterned submission looks like today. Oh ugh, there, that dreaded word, maybe the most disliked word in the English language!! Submission. It becomes vital for us claimimg kinship with Jesus to understand when to use the sword and when to stop. Why? Because the Enemy is waiting to use our actions against us whenever we refuse to submit. When we submit to the authority of our elected officials, even when they are wrong, the cause of our LORD is strengthened.

“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” ” – LUKE 22:49‭-‬51 NASB

It can very difficult to determine when to fight and when to submit. All I can tell you is to follow the example of our Lord and spend time in earnest prayer. Follow the leading of GOD. He’s never wrong. (And His Angel Army is armed! Amen!!)

I Was Blind

We are often like Mary, not able to see what is right in front of our faces. Essentially blind. She looked right at Jesus and didn’t recognize her Lord, the One whose company she had spent months in. How often we are like that! We claim to know the Lord, and yet we fail to recognize Him in our lives.

“But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” ” – JOHN 20:11‭-‬15 NASB

I am sorry to say that I am probably more like Thomas. Show me. I need to see to believe.

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” …… “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” ” – JOHN 20:24‭-‬25‭, ‬29 NASB

Open your eyes! Jesus walks with us, and He talks with us; He is present. He is our present, and who doesn’t like presents? Here is the hymn “In The Garden” – written in 1913 by C. Austin Miles – beautiful rendition based on John 20:14.

I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain: And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Tho’ the night around me be falling;
But He bids me go; thro’ the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.

Got to go back….

I skipped church for years. Growing up, I went religiously (pun intended) every Sunday, both morning and evening, every Wednesday night, and for meetings and groups and special events. I was there a lot. Left home for college, and I let life – i.e. the Enemy, Satan – sidetrack me. That became my new normal, and it lasted for years. I knew church / GOD was there, and I did go occasionally (mostly only when I visited my parents, which was not often. Guilt, you know), but Sundays were for sleeping in and recovering from the weekend of partying. It’s a great lifestyle if you are running from the Truth. Just for the record, please let me give you this real Truth, which is not the world’s truth: when you take God’s hand, His gift of salvation, He will never let go of you. Doesn’t matter how hard or how far you run, or into what darkness you descend, He is always – always – right there with you.

It can be pretty embarrassing if you think about what you have thought or seen or done in secret…. because when you remember that the LORD GOD, the CREATOR, is Omniscient and Omnipresent, you also remember there are no secrets. On top of that knowledge is this:

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth ; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 PETER 2:21‭-‬25 NASB

He – JESUS, Son of the Living All-Powerful GOD of the Universe – bore our sins …… for we [are] continually straying like sheep ……

I am humbled by this knowledge. I would like to say that I haven’t sinned since I returned to the LORD, but that would just be heaping insult onto Him. I sin every day. That He Loves me enough to forgive me each and every time, and He Loved me so much He died for me ….. oh. I encourage you to seek Him. If, at some time past you accepted His salvation gift, to find Him you only need to raise your eyes. He’s right there. For anyone who is seeking Him, I would say the same thing. Look up. Take your eyes off of the sin and lift your eyes to see Him, standing with you, hands outstretched so all you need to do is take them.

Find the song by Cochren & Co., “Church (Take Me Back)”. Play it. Listen to the words. Then do what it says. You will be amazed and surprised, maybe, but oh, so rewarded.

There was a time that I swore I would never go back
I was blind to the truth, didn’t know what I had
I was running, I was searching
But every place I turned for healing
Left me more broken than the last

https://awesomechristianmusic.com/cochren–co/church