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!

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Do As I Say….

So JESUS said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but GOD knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the Sight of GOD.” – Luke 16:15 NRSV

When we don’t fear GOD, we leave a vacuum to be filled by self and the enemy. Luke 16:19–31 is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man – did you know that the name ‘Lazarus’ literally means ‘GOD helps/has helped’? And that this parable is the only one JESUS told where He named the characters? The parable is a way to compare lifestyles and determine if we are living as the LORD would have us live, and if we are hearing – and spreading – the Gospel. The rich man, being tormented and in agony after his death, begs Father Abraham to send Lazarus back to his family to tell them to repent. This is how Abraham answered:

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” – Luke 16:31 NRSV

I believe that JESUS is speaking of His own approaching death and Resurrection. How many thousands; how many millions of people have done/still do just as the rich man, ignoring JESUS in our everyday lives? Are we more concerned about the feasting and partying and our appearances, than we are about those surrounding us who are struggling and in need? We are our own worst enemies in life. We allow selfishness (GUILTY!) to rule our lives, sowing disharmony, discord, dishonesty, and dissension all around us. We live by he “Do as I say, not as I do” rule. Read Exodus 22, especially verse 25. It’s about selfishness.

“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” – Ephesians 4:26‭-‬27 NRSV

“We can be angry and not sin when we are angry at sin.” – Pastor Mark Hitchcock. Even justified anger can be sin when we use it to attempt to judge others. (Again, GUILTY.)

So [Nehemiah] said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our GOD, to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” – Nehemiah 5:9 NRSV

It can be a hard lesson to realize how much of the world’s ways we have accepted into our lives. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Jones’s” and allowing the desires of our hearts to turn from GOD to the selfishness modeled by so many people who claim the name “Christian” but don’t live it. If they can do/have/say it, it must be okay for me to follow their example, right? No, it’s a recipe for disaster with our LORD. He doesn’t tolerate being second in our lives; He is all or nothing, never-ending, ALL-Powerful, and ALMIGHTY.

On my face before Him, Loved by Him despite my constant fails, I say, so be it in my life, LORD, Your Will be done. Amen.

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach, 1035-1040, German National Museum, Nürnberg. Top panel: Lazarus at the rich man’s door Middle panel: Lazarus’ soul is carried to Paradise by two angels; Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom Bottom panel: Dives’ soul is carried off by two devils to Hell; Dives is tortured in Hades.

Lies, Deceits, Untruths

“Rescue me, O LORD, from liars and from all deceitful people.” – Psalms 120:2 NLT

I’m angry.

Nope. Try again.

I’m ANGRY!!

Better…..

One lie I’ve heard over and over is that we are where we are by our own choices. NO. I did NOT choose for my late husband to spiral into a pain-filled opioid addiction, exacerbated by VA doctors, which led to increasingly irrational, irresponsible, erratic, and dangerous thinking, and ultimately his death. I did NOT choose to lose our business as a result of his illness. I’m angry because he left me here alone, to deal with life on my own. I’m angry because he lied to me when he said he wouldn’t leave me, that we would face the world together. Even 20 years later, the hurt sometimes tries to overwhelm me.

Nope, it’s just not right. How can we pledge “to have and to hold … for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part,” never knowing when sickness will strike? When death will take our partner? We did them all, but death? Death is too final. When we say those vows, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority don’t even register the ‘death’ part. I didn’t, because I knew he wouldn’t leave me alone. He pledged all those things to me, but it wasn’t true. He did leave me. I guess I lied to him, too, because I put my physical safety over him and left him to face his last year on this earth, alone. I’m angry about that, too. I deserted him when he needed me most.

Most of all, I’m angry at the serpent, the belly-dragging, dirt- eating deceitful creature we know as the enemy. The father of lies, the false accuser, adversary…. I won’t even give him the satisfaction of saying his name here. This lowest of the low, this creature introduced lies and deceits, trickery and untruths, ugliness and evil, into our world. He resorts to these tactics to pull us away from GOD. I’m angry at the illnesses, the evil, the creature has introduced into our beautiful world. The Liar has perfected his methods over the millennium to the point where he knows what to do to cause us to doubt GOD; to doubt the TRUTH that JESUS is LORD, and that the HOLY SPIRIT will carry us out the muck of lies, deceitfulness, and untruths…. IF we allow Him to.

I find the strength to forgive Ron through the work of the LORD in my life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Sometimes, like today, as I reflect on my life, I remember the anger and sorrow and the feeling of being deserted, even before he died, because of the illness and addiction. I miss him and the things we shared; the laughter and the adventurous spirit, the incredible talents he had. I miss his willingness (and patience!) to work with me, to answer my questions, and teach me. I miss his strength, and I miss his presence. I don’t miss the frustrations of his illness and addictions.

Jesus said, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me….” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

Thank You, JESUS, for putting the deceiver behind me! Listen to “Point to You by” sung by We Are Messengers at https://g.co/kgs/eJqUCB

Living In The Past

Guilty.

(E/A, I hope you are reading this!)

“Jesus did not promise to change the circumstances around us. He promised great peace and pure joy to those who would learn to believe that God actually controls all things.” – Corrie Ten Boom

This is an immensely powerful statement, coming from a woman whose entire family died in a Nazi concentration camp, and who almost died there herself. Could I find the Joy she speaks of if I were put in her circumstance? Could you? We can’t achieve either true Peace or Joy on our own, without JESUS – Giver of the Peace that passes understanding….

“Then you will experience God’s Peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His Peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 NLT

When we spend our time looking back, holding on to the sorrows of our past, we can’t obtain the Joy or Peace Jesus is offering us, because our eyes are clouded over by the regrets. There is a time to mourn for what was and what could have been. People are gone in the space of a heartbeat, and whether they are an unborn baby or the most elderly person, or anyone in between, it hurts when they are gone. I find that many of us romanticize the loss. With babies, it’s especially hard, I think, because of the lost potential, and the lost love. Now, with tbe LORD at my side, I can finally rejoice over the losses of babies in my family and my friends, along with the countless billions who have been murdered through violence, abortion, and disease. How, you ask? Two reasons:

1. Those babies don’t have to grow up in the flawed, sinful world (HALLELUJAH!), and

2. I will see them and hold them in heaven – we get to spend eternity with them! How cool is that?

All of the regrets and what ifs and could haves and should haves will never change the past. It is past, over with, passed through, gone. DONE. Remembering can be good when done in a positive manner. When we lose a spouse or other loved one as an adult, it’s easy to only remember the good, even though we know the flaws. There is absolutely nothing wrong with remembering. The “wrong,” if you will, is in dwelling in the past and wallowing in self pity for all that was lost. I can play “coulda shoulda” with the best, but to what end? Satan loves it when we start the game! Next to suicide, that wallowing is most damaging to our families and our friends. It’s SELFISH to the extreme, shutting everyone out and dragging them down at the same time. I have done it myself, and I have experienced it in people I care about.

God doesn’t want us mired in the gunk of the past. God LOVES us! He wants to give us JOY, and He wants us to have PEACE. He is the Rock we can cling to when the storms of life threaten to sweep us up and drown us. His Arms are the ones that hold us when we hurt, and He is the One Who carries us when we can’t go on. It isn’t easy to let go of the past; the shoulda coulda’s. With prayer – i.e. just TALK to God – and immersion in His Word, with counseling by a pastor or other Christian professional, and a doctor to help us with medicines if needed, we can emerge from the muck and gunk Satan has buried us in. All you need to do is lean into the LORD. Talk to Him first, before spewing your guts to someone (again, I’m guilty of all this, too!) If you don’t know what prayer, just say JESUS. Cry out to Him. He knows.

Listen to “Live Like You’re Loved” by Hawk Nelson, and read “Finding Joy in the Heartache” devotion by K-Love radio Pastor David (10 March 2018.)

Broken People, Broken Prayers

“For we are GOD’s Masterpiece. He has Created us anew in CHRIST JESUS, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 NLT

We are so unworthy of GOD’s Love! As we come into Spring, reminders of our GOD are popping up all over the place. Green shoots pushing up through the debris of Winter, bird songs filling the air and the skies full of geese and other migrating birds – my first daffodil of the year just opened. How can anyone not believe in a greater Being than us, especially when surrounded by the new life coming through what appeared to be all dead? Our LORD personifies the renewing of life. From the moment He stepped down from His Throne in heaven to come down to our human level and be born to live as a man, to the end of His life and ministry, Jesus was like a beautiful plant.

“Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” – Luke 2:52 NLT

To everyone alive at that time, as they saw JESUS die a human death on the cross and buried as a man in a tomb, it was the end of Him. Like the flowers and grasses that die and are swept away in the winter, our LORD, Jesus Christ, was resurrected from from death. He blossomed as He spoke to His followers and to the crowds that surrounded Him. Nature shows us the Resurrection story every Spring with trees and grasses, and babies of every kind being born. It is a wonderful time of new life. We are broken people. We have hardened our hearts to the point that even when we want to open them, all we can do is offer up broken prayers. I know how difficult it can be to open up that hard kernal we call a heart; to let the nourishing Light and Love of our JESUS in to cover us and allow us to grow.

It is through JESUS that we are healed. It is through His Mercy and Grace that we are forgiven. Never assume that being a “good” person will do any good when we all stand at the Great White Throne on Judgement Day! Read Revelations of John 20:11-15. Let the Light of Jesus, and His cleansing Blood, wash over your hurting heart and broken prayers today.

Listen to Broken Prayers by Riley Clemmons. (Here’s an excerpt)

You want my tears, every messy word
Every scar and every fear
You want all I have
With no holding back
When I’m hurt, at my worst
You meet me there
‘Cause you see the beauty
In my broken prayers
In my broken prayers

Life Is Messy

“No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave.” – Psalms 89:48 NLT

We all sometimes wish we could live forever, but really? Not me. As messy and chaotic as my life as been, it could end tomorrow and I wouldn’t be upset; although I do love my friends and family and my animals. I’m pretty sure they would miss me ….. and that makes death a messy situation. Of course, I am very sure of what happens next, and I look forward to absolute JOY of being with my Jesus and with everyone who has gone on to heaven before me. Our bodies and our brains have expiration dates. In fact, all of creation has an expiration date. Just take a look around you. Does anything last forever? We all know that death is inevitable for all living creatures. From the time of Adam and Eve, that bite of the fruit forbidden to them, mankind and nature have been in a messy downward spiral. The earth is in constant upheaval, and even the stars in space are deteriorating and dying. No amount of research, not cryogenics or robotic bodies, will do more that prolong the inevitable. We can stabilize and preserve, and we can build ….. and it will all come to an end.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything GOD made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His Eternal Power and Divine Nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing GOD.” – Romans 1:20 NLT

I don’t understand how ANYONE can state categorically that there is no GOD; no Creator. Creation v. Evolution – but that’s another blog! For the moment, let’s focus on life and death, and what happens next. I love this first-hand account by the physician Luke, where Jesus tells us what will happen after we die, if we will just ask Him.

“One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear GOD even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” ” – Luke 23:39‭-‬43 NLT

Do you know what will happen to you; where your soul will go, when you die?

Blessed Assurance, JESUS is mine! (Written by Fanny Crosby)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Dead…. Only NOT Dead

Have you ever wondered what we will look like when we meet again in heaven? I subscribe to the belief that we will look like ourselves, only perfected by Christ’s Love. There won’t be any twisted bodies or missing parts or damaged brains. There won’t be any ugliness or sorrow, either. So, the next question is “Will we have wings, and will we all be blue-eyed and pale-skinned?” Absolutely not! God created us in our of our splendor, just as He created animals in theirs. Heaven will be a colorful and cheerful place. After all, God created color! I can’t speak for you, but I look forward to waking up in heaven and seeing Jesus in all His splendid Glory. My Daddy and my Grandma, our lost babies, and my fur babies will be waiting, vigorous and healthy and happy. All the Christ-followers that I have known, plus millions I didn’t know on earth, in all of their colors and ethnicities, will be there, too. I know that I will know them, however God sees fit to resurrect them in paradise. Sidenote: remember all of the people who have searched for the fabled Fountain of Youth and the City of Gold? They all looked in the wrong place, and WE get to spend eternity …. i.e. for-EVER ….. with both, because heaven contains them.

“But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting.

Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” ( 1 Corinthians 15:35‭-‬44‭, ‬55 NLT)

Are you confident of gaining your new body, or are you still running scared from the sting of death and the enemy? It is your choice, and yours alone, whether you will have a magnificent new body in heaven with Jesus, or a tormented and deformed body in everlasting hell with the enemy.

“Thank God for His Gift too Wonderful for words!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)