Jesus Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed!

May we stop and reflect on the beauty of the Cross this Easter
week. It is not about what outfit we wear to church…not about bunnies and plastic eggs…it is all about the LOVE OF GOD manifested for all humanity through the finished work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross (1 John 4:9-10). He took the penalty of God’s wrath for the sin I committed and could not help my self to avoid (Isaiah 53:3)…love was shown by God in this radical act of devotion and zealous pursuit (John 3:16)…when Jesus died for you…for me…and all who call upon the mighty and eternal name of the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 3:18). And praise God…the STORY DOES NOT END THERE (1 Corinthians 15:4)!

On the third day, just as the prophesies had predicted…women (Matthew 28:6)…Roman soldiers guarding the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15)…and the disciples of Jesus Christ all gave witness to the fact that an angel of God had rolled away the stone in front of the tomb…and JESUS HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD (Luke 24:1-12)! THANK YOU JESUS!

For all who are contemplated whether or not to buy into this account of Easter, I encourage you to read Luke chapter 22 through Luke chapter 24 within the Holy Bible…and pray for the Lord to reveal Himself…praise God that He is not timid…but WANTS to be found by all humanity…He created us…and loved us…and it is for the JOY of reconciliation that He took my sin and my shame upon Himself…and simply asks me (and all others) to believe…and enjoy ETERNAL RIGHT STANDING BEFORE ALMIGHTY GOD…How beautiful is the message of hope that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

If you would like to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your own life…to cover and forgive each and every screw up you have ever done…and I assure you…He had a lot to cover in my own life…HE IS READY TO THIS VERY MOMENT. You see, the Holy Bible assures us that not ONE of us is worthy of heaven for each of us do, say and think wicked things…it’s just the truth.
And with this truth in mind, God showed is unabashed love for all humanity by coming Himself…WRAPPED IN HUMAN FLESH…as a Babe, called Jesus Christ…and after 33 years of living in the Middle East and performing miracles, raising people from the dead and making known that He was the only way to get to God (because He IS GOD)…He then went to
the cross…the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day…for me…for you…and for each and every soul who comes to realize that WE CANNOT MAKE IT ON OUR OWN…no amount of achievement, botox, social status, Bible memory, good deeds or anything else can get us into heaven…IT IS BY JESUS CHRIST ALONE. It is truly that simple.

And if you want Him to become the Lord and King of your life–just ask Him now. “Dear Jesus, I have screwed up in this life. I cannot make it to heaven on my own. I want to be forgiven of my wrongs and know that You can do this. I believe that You are the Son of God and that You
did raise from the dead on the third day, just as the Bible says. I accept You into my life…not as a figure…but as my one and only God. Thank You for the assurance of my rescue and salvation that I cannot loose…because I did not earn it. In the name of my Lord and God, 
Jesus the Christ, I pray…amen.”

If you prayed that prayer, I encourage you to TELL SOMEONE…for there is much to rejoice over! It is then time to start getting involved with 
other believers in Jesus Christ. Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

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Illustrate Easter Week Through SNACKS with your kids!

Tell the Easter story through SNACKS!

Snack ideas to make Easter week come alive!! I wrote this a few years ago while we were living in the Middle East. Our children were much younger and ways to illustrate the Week of Easter with them was heavily impressed upon my heart. This is what the Lord brought to mind! May it bless you and your family as you too, lead your children through the Passion Week of Jesus Christ.

 

Palm fronds: Sugar cookies cut out like palm fronds and frosted green. Allow children to wave them around as you all shout “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13)

 

Donkey: Marshmallows and pretzels-allow the children to be creative as they master the art of balance as they create a donkey. Remind the children that it was a young colt, a young donkey, that Jesus rode into Jerusalem into Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread to fulfill the prophesy (Zechariah 9:9 & John 12:14-15).

 

Kingly Crown: With pineapple rounds, allow children to stick pretzels into it to form their own crowns. Allow the children to then poke orange, mango, kiwi and other soft fruit chunks onto the pretzel pieces to give it a royal feel. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

 

Communion: Gram crackers (or pita) with juice-allow the children to experience the communion with foods they are familiar with. As they break the grams and pass them around, explain that Jesus described this as His body (Luke 22:19). As each child then receives some juice (grape is best), explain that Jesus described this as His blood (Luke 22:20). These comments are to state that through Jesus Christ alone, we are granted freedom, new life and clean hands in sight of Father God.

 

Praying in the Garden: Fresh olives (pitted is best)—allow the children to eat fresh olives as you describe what happened on the Mount of Olives. Jesus prayed for the brutal death not to happen, if there was another way for humanity to be pardoned from all the naughty things we have done. There was no other way. So, surrendering His own will to Father God, Jesus stated “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

 

Judas’ Betrayal: Mini M&Ms or sprinkles—explain that Judas Iscariot loved money more than Jesus. He was willing to accept money (30 pieces of silver) to turn Jesus in to the powerful Jewish council, called the Sanhedrin (Zechariah 11:12-13 & Matthew 27:9). To Judas, the thirty pieces of silver sounded so sweet at first, but after watching Jesus arrested and mistreated by the Sanhedrin, he tried to give the money back and said he had betrayed an innocent man (Matthew 27:4-5).

 

The Beatings: Licorice ropes or carrot sticks—allow the children to hit the side of the table as hard as they can with the licorice or carrot. Explain that Jesus was hit with whips, and laughed at by the very ones He had come to rescue. He was on a mission. Nothing, not even the ones He had come to save would stop Him from bringing about a rescue that each human heart desperately needed (Isaiah 53:5 & John 19:1)

 

Crown of thorns: With licorice rope and tooth picks (not to be eaten)—create a crown by securing both ends with a toothpick piece. Then, allow the children to each create their own “crown of thorns”. Point out how pokey it is—and ask them to imagine how much it must have hurt Jesus to have a real crown of thorns on His head (John 19:2).

 

The Cross: Sugar cookie with frosting—although it was a sad, sad day, we thank God for the sweet, sweet gift of Jesus taking the BIG TIME OUT for each and every one of us.  Punishment for our sins was a consequence and punishment too big for any of us–that’s why Jesus did it! Jesus took our place and that is the sweetest gift of all (John 3:16).

 

Lots Cast: Jelly Beans (or blueberries)-allow the children to roll the jelly beans across the floor or table. Teach them that this is what the soldiers did for Jesus’ clothing—just as the prophesy had predicted (Psalm 22:18 & John 19:23-24).

 

Veil is Torn: Sugar candy that peels apart-explain that when Jesus died upon the cross and shouted “It is finished!” (John 19:30), the separation that all of humanity had experienced from God, since the Garden of Eden, was lifted! The veil within the Holy of Holies, the inner most part of the Temple, where only the High Priest could go once a year—had been ripped from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38)! This was highly significant! There was no longer a need to go to the Temple to be declared clean by the High Priest! Now, through Jesus Christ, all of humanity was given direct access to God the Father once more through the atoning work of Jesus Christ’s death (and approaching resurrection!).

 

 

Empty tomb: Use a cookie cutter to take the middle out of marshmallows (or apples). The marshmallow symbolizes the tomb, whereas the portion cut out symbolizes the stone, which was rolled away (Matthew 28:6-7). Read from Matthew 28:5-7. where the angel asks the women, “Why are you looking for the living in a grave yard? Jesus is not here, He is risen, just as He said! 

“5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 (NASB)

 

Jesus’ Ascension: Cotton candy look like clouds and makes this point beautifully! Oh, how sweet it is! Jesus blessed His disciples and encouraged them to tell all people, in every nation, that hope and forgiveness of the naughty things we do, can be grasped by all, through Jesus Christ alone. Then, as He blessed them, Jesus began to rise off of the ground and return to Father God in heaven! His disciples marveled in astonishment as they stared up into the sky—now unable to see Jesus. Then, two angels appear to them and told them to return to Jerusalem and do the things that Jesus told them to do—share the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST with all people—because Jesus has made a way for people of all backgrounds, all languages and all doubts to come to heaven through believing that Jesus Christ is the Risen Son of God (Matthew 28:19-20 & Acts 1:9-14).

 

It is through the powerful act of love demonstrated by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that grants us access to heaven. As Jesus Christ died upon a cross and rose from the dead on the third day, all were granted freedom from the prison of our own selfishness when we believe and trust in Him (Romans 8:28). What a blessing to know that when we say “I am sorry, God.” We are forgiven—because of Jesus taking the BIG TIMEOUT for us. Ask Him into your heart and tell others that you trust in Jesus Christ to be the one and only true leader of your life–and He will do it with faithful love (Romans 10:9-10).

Ascending Love; An Easter Story

As Easter is quickly approaching, we will now step into the shoes of those who witnessed the miraculous events of the Risen Christ. Journey with me as we revisit a blog posted while we were still living in the Middle East–and the Easter story took on a whole new meaning.

As Christian Arabs say in Arabic “Al Meseejh cam! Haqam, cam!” Translated to English: He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Blooming Beauty

“He was right.” Thomas recalled to himself. Still staring up into the sky, with the remaining ten disciples. Thomas continued, “I will forever sing Your praises, Jesus. Thank you.” Jesus of Nazareth had ascended into heaven after conquering death on a cross, just as the prophecies said of the Messiah (Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53:12, Daniel 7:13-14, John 14:1-4, John 16:16, John 16:25-28).

51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:51-52 (NASB)

As the eleven disciples walked on the road back to Jerusalem from Bethany, following the ascension of Jesus into heaven (Luke 24:50), Thomas recalled the Passover within this whirlwind of supernatural events that had been the past three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry. For…

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Easter In Light Of Islam: Combatting the Lie that Jesus Never Died

Over the past nine years, the Lord Jesus has allowed my heart to be stirred and moved for a people group that I previously had known nothing about. Apart from a few news clips here or there in the press, I knew next to nothing about the Arab people as a whole; specifically the Muslim people. As I began to interact with my Muslim friends (while living and traveling extensively in North Africa, the Middle East and America), I began to learn so much about their culture, their faith and their overall beliefs. But what caught me most off guard was the sincere willingness and deep yearning in many to know more about the God of the Injeel (The New Testament of the Bible, in Arabic). 

 

Ladies, may we take every opportunity to prayerfully engage with those of other faiths and other cultures with the good news of Jesus Christ! For there is only ONE NAME by which humanity can be saved; and that name is the risen Son of God, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, Acts 4:12, Acts 10:43, 1 Timothy 2:5-6). Now, allow us to see how the Qur’an can be used to point a seeking Muslim to Jesus Christ.

 

 

Qur’an 3:3-4…God sent the Torah (the Old Testament of the Bible), the Injeel (the New Testament of the Bible) and the Light (Jesus is called the “Light of God” in the Qur’an)…and those who do not believe in them have gone astray.

 

 

Qur’an 10:94 …God told Mohammad, if you are in doubt, speak to the “People of the Book” and this was only the Jews (referenced in the Old Testament of the Bible) and the Christians (referenced in the New Testament of the Bible). Muslims were not called “People of the Book” until Mohammad’s death…when the Qur’an was compiled.

 

 

Since the Qur’an tells Muslims to believe the Bible (the “People of the Book”), it is then implied that they should listen to the law spoken of in the Bible; that was fulfilled through the death, burial and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.

Islam and Christianity both teach that humanity is flawed, but each have very different means to deal with the issue. Islam teaches that by doing enough regulated deeds for Allah; one can attain right standing with Allah; for a short time…before messing up as a human again. Christianity teaches that it is through Jesus Christ alone that we can be saved from the rebellious nature of our hearts and receives right standing before Almighty God (1 John 4:9-10). Christianity unabashedly proclaims that there is nothing that we could do on our own to attain this right standing before God; this is the beauty of Easter!

 

“1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ(by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

 

Islam teaches that Jesus never actually died on the cross. It is taught that Judas Iscariot was transposed onto the cross, to keep a prophet of God, Jesus, from being “shamed”. Thus, Islam teaches that Judas was transposed upon the cross and that Jesus was taken up into heaven to have never seen death. With this logic, how could Jesus save me from death, if He Himself never died? The problem with this logic is it is all based on one verse within the Qur’an (Qur’an 4:157). The reality is, there are actually three references to the death of Jesus within the Qur’an:

 

Qur’an 3:55…Allah told Jesus that He was lifting Him up to Himself (also can mean DEATH in Arabic…the word used is mudawafika” meaning either lifted up or death).

 

Qur’an 4:157…Though they killed Jesus, the Son of Mary, but it was not true

 

Qur’an 19:33…Jesus said bless the day I was born, the day I died and the day I was raised alive.

 

A few days ago in our home, the Lord gave me the awesome opportunity to share the truth of what Jesus Christ said about Himself within the Bible over tea. And in that time, the Holy Spirit revealed to this young woman the beautifully victorious implications of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus on the third day in the tomb.

 

And as we spoke, my Muslim friend shared that she had read some parts of the Bible in Arabic before, but that she had lots of questions. We had an Arabic version of the Holy Bible on our bookshelf, and as we spoke, the Lord laid it upon my heart to place it into her hands. As I did, the young woman’s eyes grew wide and she gently stroked the front cover. She opened the covered and asked what year this was published. She sat silently for a moment before looking up with extreme urgency in her voice. “I have to read this.” She looked back down at the Arabic script upon the pages of this version of the Bible within her mother tongue and flipped through the pages in excited silence. My friend then spoke again, “May I borrow this?! I have to read this.” The Lord prompted my heart to give her the Arabic Bible and she was overwhelmed. At first she said that she could not accept it, but then reaffirmed the fact that she had to read the Injeel (The New Testament of the Bible, in Arabic).

 

My friend shared that she was not a “bad Muslim”, but still did not adhere to all that Islam taught (e.g. covering her hair, praying five times a day in the direction of Mecca, etc.). But, I shared that the Injeel (The New Testament of the Bible in Arabic) teaches us that we all are bad and have made God sad (Romans 3:23). The expectation from God is that we are mathaalee (perfect, in Arabic). And since we are not, and cannot be perfect, this is the beauty of Easter!!!

 

I told her with a smile Allah m’hubber (God is love, in Arabic) and that God proved His love for each and every person by sending Jesus to die upon the cross for the bad and shameful things that we each have done. My friend listened intently and took in each word that was spoken.

 

I then shared f’kot wahed Allah, welakin theretha fee wahed. (There is only one God, but there is three in one). God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I then shared that Jesus (Eesah, in Arabic) – Eesah hoowa Allah –Jesus is God. My friend listened as she strained forward while sipping on sugary tea with fresh mint. Her face had such a genuine yearning to know more. My heart was praising Jesus for this opportunity to speak of my risen Savior to a Muslim friend who wanted to learn more about Him!

 

Ladies, the point of this post is this, PREACH THE WORD of Jesus Christ, both in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-2). There is so much at stake. There are so many who are desperate to learn more of Jesus Christ and what the BIBLE has to say about Him. May we take a stand of truth and love for Jesus Christ—for the world needs to hear of the God who redeemed all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Happy Easter…HE IS RISEN…HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

 

The 3:16 Challenge

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)

 

What do all these people have in common: An AIDS orphan in Ndola, Zambia, a prostitute between clients in the Soy Cowboy district of Bangkok, Thailand, an abaya wearing divorcee raising a child by herself, a quiet art student in Chung Ching, China and a high schooler from Tampa, Florida?

 

Any guesses?

 

What about these people: A homosexual woman raising a child with her lesbian lover, a man who is the quarterback on his college football team, an illegal immigrant in hiding, a convicted murderer of a school shooting and a regular church attender?

 

Answer: Each and every person listed above needs to hear about the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ.

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

 

And until these people hear of Jesus Christ, how will they be able to accept Him – if they do not know Him?

 

“11 Now the Scripture says, everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! 16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” Romans 10:11-17 (NASB)

 

We may look back at these lists and think, “Well, I can see how that person would be loved by God, but that one…that one doesn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness! It just wouldn’t be right!” If we find ourselves struggling to come to grips with the reality that all people are invited to come seek forgiveness through the completed work of Jesus Christ, it’s time to have a serious soul check before God Almighty.

 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (HCSB)

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NASB)

 

Ladies, let’s get honest here—the grace and eternal favor of God cannot be earned, manipulated, stolen, accumulated or statistically generated. It is not a matter of how “good” we may look to others or how detestable someone else’s life may look compared to our own; it all comes down to the rebellious nature of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

 

“Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed.” 1 Samuel 2:3 (NASB)

  

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

 

 

When modern day slavery is at an all time high, when suicide rates of young ones has become a global epidemic, when the lost, broken and hurting feel that there is no way out of their lives of pain—MAY WE BE CROSS-EYED—and turn them to the cross of Jesus Christ. May we share with unabashed joy the hope, healing and new life offered to all who truly come and fall at the feet of Jesus Christ; who died upon a cross for all so that we may eternally live through accepting Him as the Lord of our lives (Acts 16:31)! 

 

I challenge each and everyone reading this article today, to take the 3:16 Challenge. What is it? You may be asking. Whenever the clock says 3:16, morning or evening, pray for the lost and hurting to come to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. And not just pray for them, but ask God for the opportunities to reach these lost people. Because, ladies, it doesn’t matter how “good” life on earth may look for a given person, if they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, hell and eternal punishment for the rebellion of each soul awaits (John 3:18). And you know what? God loves each one of us enough to offer freedom out of this place of eternal separation from God—through personal acceptance of the love and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ for our own lives (1 John 4:9-10).

 

You see, when Jesus Christ died upon the cross of Calvary between two criminals, He cried out, “Father, please forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). And when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as He said He would (John 10:18) on the third day from being in the tomb (Matthew 28:6), the punishment for all rebellion of humanity against a righteous and holy God was satisfied (Isaiah 53:5). Therefore, we now know the name by which we can be saved from hell—Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God (Acts 4:12).

 

Check the time…is it 3:16? Let us pray with passion to the God who passionately loves all people from all backgrounds, all nations, all cultures and all twisted living. We do not earn the love of God–it is freely offered to all–now may we freely love those enough around us to share of God’s glorious plan of redemption, hope and healing for each complex situation and failed attempt at life….Jesus Christ proved that each and every heart was eternally valuable to Him through His death for our failings while He Himself was innocent of all sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). And now, it is our responsibility as the Church of Jesus Christ to pick up His passion for those He came to save–ALL (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

 

Dear Lord Jesus, please ignite Your Church to boldly proclaim Your name and Your message of hope, restoration and ultimate healing through You! May hearts be stirred, feet be moved and mouths be opened to share of this glorious news that You loved Your own creation so much that You gave Your own live to ransom us from the grip of condemnation and redeemed us to enjoy peace, purpose and eternal life with You! Give us Your eyes for those around our world and our cities who are in such desperate need of Your gospel of unconditional love for all people—for we all so desperately need Your forgiveness. Thank You for offering it so freely, without finding fault, for all who call upon Your name. You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords! We lift up Your name high, Jesus, and ask for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!

He Did It For Me: An Easter Reflection

“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:17-18 (HCSB)

 

For all the times that we look at our lives and think, “I have really screwed up this time…” Think of the cross of Jesus Christ and remind yourself “He did it for me.”

 

For all the times we wish we could take back a photo, text stream or online post that has brought us shame, guilt and embarrassment…Think of the cross of Jesus Christ and remind yourself “He did it for me.”

 

For all the hatred, gossip, slander and jealously that boils silently within our hearts…that makes us keenly aware that we are not as “good” as we are supposed to be…Think of the cross of Jesus Christ and remind yourself “He did it for me”.

 

For the sexually immoral, the gender confused, the numb and the suicidal…know that God’s love and forgiveness is for you too! Think of the cross of Jesus Christ and remind yourself “He did it for me”.

 

When the lies of the devil are screaming in our ears “You won’t walk away from this one…you have really done it this time…you might as well just go all the way now…who would possibly love and care for you now?!” Think of the cross of Jesus Christ and remind yourself “He did it for me”.

 

Ladies, as Easter is quickly approaching, may we stop and give pause to the events that took place to benefit us – right where we find ourselves this very day – from the one and only lover of our souls.

 

You see, Jesus was very clear that the devil has come to kill, steal and destroy, but in vast contrast, Jesus Christ came to give us life and life to the fullest (John 10:10). Amen! The Son of God—Jesus Christ—came to earth to live a perfect life free from all guilt, free from all shame and free from all screw ups in order to then take the punishment for each one of us—who are covered in guilt, shame and regrets.

6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person–though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.” Romans 5:6-11 (HCSB)

 

How beautiful are these promises of God to all who decide to put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ! Our guilt is paid for in full (Psalm 32:5). Our shame is wiped away completely (Isaiah 43:25). Our regrets are remembered no more (Psalm 103:12). Hallelujah for a God of redemption who loved each of us enough to pay the penalty of our massive offenses against the one and only righteous and holy God, by footing the bill Himself (1 John 4:9-10). Ladies, this is epic…if we are just willing to actually pause and soak in the healing truth of God’s goodness.

33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

39One of the criminals who were hanging there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to Him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:33-43 (NASB)

In this time leading up to Easter, may we see plainly and with grateful hearts that Jesus Christ died and rose again to life on the third day because of His great love for us all (Matthew 12:40, Matthew 16:21, Matthew 28:5-10, Acts 2:24, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). With a deep sigh and a sincere heart of gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ, may we remind ourselves this Easter season, “He Did It For Me”.

 

 

Advent (4 of 4): Celebrating Jesus the Christ

Alright Ladies, we are entering our fourth part of this series on Advent. Today’s narrative will be based on Matthew 2:13-19. I encourage you to grab a Bible and follow along with the actual text as we try to see this unfolding scene through the eyes of those present.

 

After the magi and their caravans had left your dwelling in Bethlehem, you and Joseph spoke about the incredible visitors and their testimonies of the unique star. How extraordinary to think that these prestigious men had followed that same star for all those months—in hopes of meeting the newborn King of the Jews—Jesus the Christ. After dinner, two-year-old Jesus was put to bed and evening chores were attended to. All seemed wonderfully tranquil. All appeared perfectly calm. As you closed your eyes and thanked the Lord for the wonderful day, you snuggled your Son a little closer as you drifted off.

 

“Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13 (NASB)

 

Suddenly, in the dark of night, Joseph awakens you. Although you cannot see him well in your dark dwelling, his voice reveals eminent danger. “Mary. You must get up quickly. You must stay quiet and keep Jesus quiet. An angel has appeared to me and said that we are to leave for Egypt at once. The angel also said that we are to remain in Egypt until we receive further instruction. King Herod is trying to kill Jesus.”

 

At hearing this, Mary gasps and places her hand on sleeping Jesus. With a deep breath and a silent prayer for God’s help, Mary quickly prepares for the journey. They had to move fast. The very life of her Son, Jesus was hanging in the balance! It was time to leave the land of Judea and enter the land of Egypt.

 

Joseph continued, “We must remain quiet. Hurry; there is not a moment to waste. We must leave now.” (Reference Matthew 2:14) You wrap sleeping Jesus with a few extra blankets and carry Him out of the house to where Joseph has already prepared transport. And as the city of Bethlehem slept, by the light of the moon, Joseph and Mary began the quest to save Jesus’ life from a murderous king. By escaping to a foreign land that had murdered countless Jewish people in generations past, God would keep His own Son, Jesus safe from an eminent genocide.

 

Moses had been used by God to deliver the Israelite people from Pharaoh, the wicked ruler of Egypt, in generations past (Exodus 3:4-8). And now, God was directing them into that very land for safety from King Herod who ruled over Judea in Israel. The very place where the  Jewish people had suffered anguish, wrath and death at the hands of foreign oppressors, was now being used by God as a safe house for His very Son. This was a test of Joseph’s faith in following the Lord’s leading. He was found faithful to obey the angel’s message from the Lord and fled with Mary and her Son to Egypt. They would remain their until the angel would appear to them to announce the Lord calling them out of Egypt, to fulfill the words of the prophet Hosea (Hosea 11:1).

 

“He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.” Matthew 2:15 (NASB)

 

King Herod had grown impatient with the return of the magi. After inquiries had confirmed that they were not in route back to Jerusalem to report to him of the Christ child’s whereabouts, he was livid! His rage would be felt through an entire generation of his own people. With anger spewing from his royal mouth, King Herod ordered the massacre of all young boys, two-years and under, who lived in Bethlehem and its vicinity—given the timeline of the first appearance of the star from the magi’s account (Matthew 2:16). Screams, shouts and the sound of horror arose from Bethlehem of Judea and its vicinity at the order of King Herod. This fulfilled the words of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:15).

 

17Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 18“A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.” Matthew 2:17-18 (NASB)

 

Yet, Joseph, Mary and Jesus were already well on their way to Egypt. The hands of mortal man could not thwart God’s plan of salvation. Jesus would one day give up His perfect life as a ransom for mankind, but it was not to be taken (Isaiah 6:7, Isaiah 53:4-12, Romans 4:25, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24). Divine rescue for each soul, within each generation across the globe, would be grasped through the absolute power; authority and embodiment of the living God encapsulated within this Child, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6, Romans 5:8 & Romans 5:18).

 

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB)

 

 

After the death of King Herod, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, announcing King Herod’s death and stating that it was time to return to Israel; now. At these words, Joseph put his hand on Mary’s shoulder as she slept. “Mary. Mary. It is time to return to Israel. We must leave now. The angel said that King Herod is dead. It is time to go home.”

 

20“Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.” Matthew 2:20-21 (NASB)

 

Just as before, under the darkness of night, Joseph led Child Jesus and Mary back to their homeland of Nazareth (Luke 1:26). With all preparations made in a very short time, they set off to return to Israel. The Lord’s hand of protection was on Jesus. It would be through the acknowledgement and acceptance of Jesus’s perfect life, death and resurrection from the grave that all, within each generation around the globe, would receive the Lord’s protection from eternal suffering and death.

 

9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 (NASB)

 

After learning that Herod’s son, Archelaus, was reigning in Jerusalem, Joseph grew terrified of a second attempt at Jesus’ life. In a dream, Joseph was warned not to go there. Joseph then settled with his wife Mary and her child in Nazareth of Galilee, his hometown (Luke 2:4). It would be here, within Nazareth in Galilee of Judea, that Joseph and Mary would raise Jesus. Nazareth was not highly esteemed among cities (John 1:46), but through this act of faithfulness to the Lord’s leading, the words of the prophet were fulfilled.

 

Just as Mary and Joseph were willing to be obedient to the call of God for their lives, may we too, be found faithful to follow the Lord’s leading each day. Jesus Christ has the power to transform any twisted situation, shattered life or absent purpose. When Jesus Christ declared His public ministry at the age of thirty, the next three years, would be filled with astounding miracles (e.g. bringing many back from the dead (Luke 7:7-10, John 11:38-44), casting out demons (Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew 9:23-26, Matthew 9:32-33, Mark 1:21-34, Mark 7:29-30 & Luke 11:14), battling injustice of the downtrodden (Matthew 8:2-3, Matthew 9:2, Matthew 9:21-22, Matthew 9:28-29, Matthew 12:13, Mark 10:51-52, John 4:14) and ultimately reigning victorious over death and eternal suffering (1 Corinthians 15:4)).

 

8He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. 9And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:8-9 (NASB)

 

Ladies, I encourage each one reading, if you have not yet met this Jesus, the Son of the Living God—personally—I encourage you to do so at this time. In complete sincerity, it does not matter how much you may have “screwed up” or how much unforgiveness you may hold for another. Bring your heart and life before the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer this very moment. Invite Him into the hard places—the memories that are difficult to speak of—the ones you wish will never become a post on any social media platform. There is forgiveness of all shortcomings, failures and screw-ups. There is hope for each day through His divine leading. There is purpose for your life. Come clean before the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to be the ruler—the ultimate input that matters—in your life. Why? Because you are worth it.

 

  “6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-11 (NASB)

 

There truly is much to rejoice over during the Christmas season! As you recount the story of Jesus’ birth, recall also His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15) and His divine determination to obey Father God’s direction to bring healing to a broken world through His own death on the Cross of Calvary (Luke 22:42) and resurrection from the grave on the third day (Acts 10:40). Ladies, there is hope, a fresh start, clear direction and eternal security through Jesus Christ. May you meet the One, called Christ, whom we celebrate this season.

Jesus Christ is the answer. And for this truth, it is a Merry Christmas indeed!