Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Ugly Beautiful Cross 2




The cross of Jesus Christ was ugly splintered wood, spattered with blood, sweat and possibly other body fluids.

Not a pretty sight, but that was not the most horrible part.  Other unseen things happened that affected you and me.

The sins of all mankind were placed on Jesus as he hung on that cross and the sky turned dark with grief causing the most terrible thing to happen!

Because his father God could not stand to look down on this sight of Jesus carrying our guilt and our sin any longer; God turned his back on Jesus!

"Father why have you forsaken me?" cried Jesus.  When his friends and all others ran, Jesus could take that, but not His heavenly father.  That was too much to bear and it broke his heart.

Jesus proclaimed that what He had been sent to do was done.  "It is finished" he cried.  I did it for you (your name here) the thoughts were in his mind and he could see into the future and view all those his sacrifice was for; You and Me!

It was then he died, and the temple curtain that blocked access into the Holy of Holies was torn from the top to the bottom by the finger of God.  Now we can enter boldly into the throne room and cry Abba Father.

That cross reminds me of a horrible death, but I am go glad the story did not end there.

We know that Jesus rose again on the third day, full of life, power, forgiveness and love.

During the next 40 days he proved to his friends and others that He was truly alive.

On the mountain top, He gave instructions and another promise; I will return, but until then I am sending you a Comforter and guide.  The Holy Spirit will abide IN you and be WITH you and never leave you.

Praise God we can celebrate Easter!! - - It is Resurrection Day, a Glad and Glorious Day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Who Is This?



Who Is This?
     Gleaning from Pastor Jerry’s sermon as he read from Matthew 21:1-11 regarding the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.   

 Jerusalem was full of crowds of people because it was the celebration of the Pass Over.

    Jesus instructed his disciples where to find a donkey and her colt, but they said, what shall we say if they ask?  Jesus said, tell them that your Lord has need of them.

Matthew 21:9-11  And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.  

And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?   And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Pastor asked, “Was Jesus a Celebrity?”  When we think of present day celebrities, we think of movie stars, award winners, politicians with much pomp and ceremony.

The first century image of Jesus as a celebrity was of him entering Jerusalem riding a donkey and along side was her colt.  It was customary to honor a celebrity by throwing down clothing and hoping to retrieve it for a souvenir. 

Little children danced and the people shouted as they recognized Jesus for his reputation of being a Prophet and Healer.

Some wondered, was He coming into the city as a King?  Or as a troublemaker, and a blasphemer?   The crowd asked and then came to their own conclusion, this is a prophet.

A crowd can turn quickly from one minute to the next.  Hosanna’s were cried on this day, but soon the multitude would shout crucify Him.  Then after a few more days, they would ask, “What must we do to be saved?”

How do you perceive Jesus?  Who is this person to you?

The common people loved a prophet, but the powerful leaders recognized prophets as troublemakers and they were tough on rebels.  John the Baptist was a prophet and you may remember what King Herod did to him.

Many so called prophets were merely “yes men.”   Modern day prophets often get fired for their speeches and scolding rants.  The average person does not enjoy rebuke and admonishments.  There were so many laws that were difficult to fulfill, and Jesus knew that.

That is why you are here in church today, for you do not need scolding, because you have come to see Jesus for He is here.

Speaking the truth is one thing and “Being the Truth” is another thing.  Jesus is the Truth.

There was a shaking up as Jesus entered Jerusalem, an earth shattering moment.

On the cross a few days later there was an earth quake as God turned his back and the temple veil was rent in two from the top to the bottom, allowing us entrance to God’s presence.  Three days later another earthquake opened the tomb releasing the living Christ Jesus

God has become within reach of us.  May we shout Hosanna Save us NOW. 


Then Pastor asked the congregation to join with him in a shout of “Hosanna.”

Can you join with us and shout today,  Hosanna Jesus is Lord!

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Ugly Flower Arrangement


Not the Original, but something from my yard!
photo by Hazel
 
Some friends are for a long period of time and Sylvia was one of them.  In the 1970s we attended the same church, and often would pray together over problems you couldn’t talk about with just anyone. 
 

Recently I visited her, and after all these years, she asked me if I had been doing any flower arranging lately.  This story from the past is what she was referring to.

 
Early one Sunday morning, Sylvia mentioned that the Florist who usually supplied flowers for in front of the pulpit was not sending flowers today!

 
I suggested that we take a knife from the kitchen and see what we could find in the yard.  Surely there were some flowering bushes we could make an arrangement that would do.

 
Our search did not bring up much, but we managed to find some interesting leaves and the two of us placed our decoration up front in the church.

 
Before long people began to congregate and one of our dear ladies came up to us and make a startling statement; “I don’t know what is wrong with that florist, because that is the Ugliest Floral Arrangement I have ever seen.”

 
Sylvia and I looked at each other and smiled and silently prayed that next week would bring nice flowers again from the florist.

 
In life, we often are not appreciated for efforts that are not as beautiful as a professional would do it.

 
As we look around at various ministries and authors our feeble efforts may at times seem ugly in comparison.

 
I wonder if God does not judge beauty and excellence by a different yard stick than what we often use.

 
To God, our ugly just might be lovely in His eyes.

 

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Near The Cross



 
 
As Easter approaches, we are thinking of the Cross and how Jesus died for our sins.    This song keeps running through my head and although it is an old hymn – it is ever new!!

 

Near the Cross by Frances Crosby - - public domain

1.     Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain—
Free to all, a healing stream—
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
       

        Refrain:
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
       

2.     Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and Mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.


3. Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

 

4. Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Surprised By Life


 

Pastor Jerry shared a personal story before he read from Ezekiel 37: 1-14

He admitted that he enjoyed Mystery stories, both books and TV series.  He likes the surprise ending that will amaze the reader or viewer.

Thousands of years ago there was a mystery that Ezekiel viewed in a vision.  He was shown a valley of dry bones and God asked him, “Can these bones live?”  Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God You know.”

Ezekiel 37:4-6  Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”

There are times we may feel dry, parched, beaten and our world has turned upside down, but God is there to revive, refresh and bring back life to our flesh.  All hope is gone but God says to prophesy to bring life where there is only dry bones.

Pastor shared how several years ago, he and his wife Dixie were moving to Chico, and on the way she suffered a stroke and died a few days later.  His then known world was turned upside down and he was at a loss.

Ginger and her husband were traveling to Oregon to a conference for their denomination, when suddenly her husband dropped dead of a heart attack, and her world was turned upside down.

A few years later as Life is full of surprises - -Pastor Jerry met Ginger, and the two became friends; soon after, they were married.

The children of Israel were warned to serve God and Him only but they were rebellious and made graven images and served heathen gods.  The wrath of God was apparent and the Babylon army carried them away captive.  Oh how depressed they were.

From one blip to another life can be turned upside down.

Who would have thought that Oregon would suffer such a devastating mud slide, or that an airplane could disappear with many passengers on board?

If we are not careful we can slide into a deluge of lost hope.

We look around our world and view the homeless and realize we have a lot to be thankful for.

In our city we have active places of Hope for those in need, both religious groups and government assistance.

We can be surprised by life.

Solomon’s great temple was destroyed and hope was lost as the children of Israel were taken to Babylon were beaten down.  They had rejected God’s covenant and fell back into idolatry.

Can these bones live again?  There is power in God’s words, both spoken and read. 

Have you been surprised by life?  Begin to prophesy over your circumstances, and speak life by commanding those dry bones to live again. 

You can speak to a flat tire, but action is required and energy must be expanded.  There is energy in God’s Word.

In 1985 Terry Anderson was a hostage in Lebanon, housed in underground cells and treated inhumanely.  While in the prison he had a Bible with him that he read at least 52 times.  Today he is free, as life with its surprises brought him release.

God gives blessings that often we do not deserve, but he is full of mercy and surprises.

There are many hopeless situations, and only God can bring back life to dead conditions.

What God did for Ezekiel he can and will bring blessings to those who serve Him. 

That we might be surprised by life.

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Computer Surgery Failed and Patient Died

 
 
What a Mess !!
 
 
 
The past 4 or 5 days we have been stressed as we both
(Robert and I) tried to fix my computer.
 
 
The bottom line is I lost all my e-mail addresses and old messages and my word documents, plus stored pictures etc.
 
 
Although I wasn't reduced to tears, I was not happy.
 
 
So here I am trying to make the best of a new situation - a blank screen and hopefully some work around fixes.
 
Robert gave me a different computer and I am having to learn how the programs work with what I want to do. 
 
Anyway, I am thankful that I am back on line and God is good.
 
 
I hope to have my "Tell Me a Story" up and running by 5:00 PM on Monday.
 
 
"Here is my Rant about Windows 8."
 
After a virus attacked my computer and Robert gave me a different computer to use - - then I had more trouble as I discovered the different computer had Windows 8 installed.  Although I could write and do some things with the program (eight) it refused to allow me to move around in my necessary programs to do my blog posting.  It also would not allow me to send messages within my programs.  Other things were being blocked without help to fix. 
 
So Robert again came to the rescue.  He took my old computer and saved what he could and then wiped it clean and reinstalled Windows 7 for me.  Now Windows 7 is working fine so I am  regrouping and trying to get things back to normal. 
 
 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Seventy times Seven

Jesus Forgives You
On a certain Sunday I visited the Assisted Living home where a friend was residing.
Each time I visited, the owner of the home would stop me, and ask if I have been to church.  Then I would proceed to tell him what the Pastor had preached on this day. 
I told him that the title for today's sermon was 70 times 7. 
Jesus gave this response to Peter’s question, “Should I forgive my brother seven times? Jesus said, NO not 7 but we are to forgive 70 times 7 or in other words continually.  
I elaborated that it was not simply to forgive 7 times and stop on number 8, but to forgive as we expect God to forgive us, with unlimited measure. 
I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer that makes this very statement in Matthew 6:12  “And forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.”
The man to whom I spoke, remarked, Oh I need this so much.  I then told him, that it is good not to get into situations where we need to repent and require forgiveness. 
However the Pastor ended his sermon by reminding us that if we have received Jesus as our savior, then we have the assurance that the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin.
Isn’t it wonderful that we can actually walk in God’s forgiveness? 

It certainly brings peace instead of condemnation.