“They Came Out of Their Tombs”

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53 After his resurrection, they came out of their tombs, went into the Holy City, and appeared to many people. ​- Matthew 27:53 ISV​ 

Matthew 27:50-53 ISV

After the Lord’s Supper was completed, Jesus and the disciples went to Gethsemane. Jesus took His three closest friends and went a little further into the Garden. Leaving them there, He went a stone’s throw further and began to pray. In our darkest hours, we are sometimes separated from those who love us​, left alone with just us and our Father.  It is then that we can pray effectively and fervently. ​ ​Jesus​ prayed so fervently that He sweat great drops of blood.  Then Judas came with the religious leaders and soldiers.​  ​He came to betray​ Jesus with a kiss. A kiss, not of affection but of deceit and deception.​  What had begun as a farewell celebration for Jesus ended in a long night and day of sorrows for Jesus.   A night and day of being denied by His friends, a night and day of being persecuted and falsely accused, a night and day of being mocked, beaten and spat upon. ​ ​The culmination was His being hanged on a cross until He gave up His spirit. ​ Nothing short of God’s love could cause a person to submit to such indignation and punishment.  ​Especially when that person was innocent of any sin. So, why would He do it?  He did it for you and for me.  We weren’t there physically, but every sin we ever committed or ever will commit was there separating Jesus from His Father for that short space of time. Unthinkable! Unimaginable!  That anyone could love others so​ much that they would agree to suffer a death that was so horrible it defies imagination.  Yet, that is exactly what Jesus did for us.


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Take, Eat, This Is My Body”

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26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, [a]blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”​– Matt 26:26 NKJV


Matt. 26:26-30 NLT

Earlier, that day, Jesus had been anointed with alabaster perfume at the house of Simon, the leper.  He told those that criticized the woman’s act of kindness that she had anointed His body in preparation for burial.  Later, Judas goes to the leading priests and offers to betray Jesus. Then, sometime later, the disciples asked Jesus about the preparation for the Passover meal.  Jesus gave them the instructions and they went into town to prepare the room and the meal.  As evening approached, they were all seated around the meal and Jesus informed them again that He must die.  He also informed them that one of them would betray Him.  Judas rightly assumes that he is the one of whom Jesus speaks.​ Jesus then blesses the bread, explains its significance and gives it to the disciples to eat.   After that, He blesses the wine, explains its significance and gives it to the disciples to drink.  Each time we take Communion, we participate in the Last (or Lord’s) supper with Jesus and His disciples.  We are instructed to continue to do this in remembrance of Him until He returns to take us all home. There we will sit at the banquet table and do this again as we participate in the wedding feast that He has prepared for us. How often should we partake of the Communion?  As often as the Holy Spirit directs each of us to do so.  A good guideline in anything concerning Jesus is that you can never get more than you need and we sure don’t want to have too little of His goodness.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Then You Will Know That ‘I AM’ “

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28 So Jesus told them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, – John 8:28a ISV


John 8:12-30 ISV


The Pharisees and the ruling class were still trying to find a way to be rid of Jesus.  They were always trying to catch Jesus in some error or saying something that they could define as blasphemy.  This would allow them to take Him to the Romans and ask for the death penalty.  As Jesus taught the people,  His words had again infuriated the Jewish leaders with His claim about who He was.  In this passage, He not only tells them who He is, He also prophesies that He will die by being hung on a cross.  He also refers to Himself as “I  AM” in this translation.  The same way God had always referred to Himself in the Old Testament.  God and Jesus both referred to themselves in the present tense, never in the past and never in the future.  We say God was, God is and God will always be. They just say “I AM”.   They live in and refer to life in the present or the “now”.   We should follow their example and live our lives the same way.  As Mother Teresa once said:  “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”   Though Jesus knew that He would die on a cross in a few days, He did not let that deter Him from doing what our Father had sent Him to do.  We should not let regrets from yesterdays or worries and fears about tomorrow deter us from accomplishing God’s purpose and plan for us today.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Oh, Satisfy Us Early With Your Mercy”

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14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! – Psalm 90:14 NKJV

Psalm 90:14-17 NKJV


God has an abundant supply of Love and Mercy.  As we arise each morning and acknowledge Him as our Savior and Lord, His Spirit renews us and prepares us for the battles of the day.  Immediately, satan attacks our minds, filling them with fearful thoughts of what the day will bring, reminding us of all the things we have failed to accomplish in the past. The devil, the father of lies, begins to tell us that we will not be able to make it through the day without some sort of catastrophe. The Holy Spirit speaks peace, love, and joy, telling us to lean on Jesus and He will fight our battles for us. We must learn which voice to listen to and heed.  Jesus said that His sheep know His voice, they follow Him and He gives them eternal life so that they will never perish.  If we listen to His voice, we will learn to live in peace.  He will restore all the things that satan has taken away from us and replace evil with good.  Let us learn to listen and live the abundant life that Jesus died to give us.  Let us spend less time each day focused on the lies of the evil one and more time on the goodness of God. Those around us will see that and get a glimpse of the glory of God.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“But He Passed Right Through the Crowd”

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28 When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. 29 Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, 30 but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.  — Luke 4:28-30 NLT

After His temptation in the wilderness and at the Temple in Jerusalem,  Jesus went to the region of Galilee.  He had taught in their synagogues and ministered to people in that area and was praised by the people.  When He came to His boyhood home of Nazareth, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath where He read from the scroll.  As He began to teach, He explained that what He had read was being fulfilled before their eyes that very day.  (Luke 4:14-27)  He went on to explain to them that He could not do the miracles here that He did in Capernaum because no prophet was accepted in his hometown.  In other words, it is hard to witness to those who really know us because “familiarity breeds contempt”.   Those that know us best sometimes have less respect for us because they feel that we are trying to be more holy than they are.  To them, Jesus was just a carpenter’s son, but to the rest of the world, He was the Son of God.  Their contempt for Him caused them to become angry at His words.  So, they mobbed Him and took Him to the top of the cliff intending to push Him off the cliff and murder Him.  However, it was not His time to die nor was He to die in this manner.  In an amazing miracle, Jesus simply walked through the crowd and went on His way.  God protected Him in some fashion, we aren’t told how.  The takeaway from this story is that as long as we are obedient to God, He will protect us from all danger.  If we speak the words He wants us to speak, we will not die before our time or in any manner that was not planned beforehand. We should never be afraid to speak the words that are given to us by the Holy Spirit.

10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  ​— Isaiah 41:10 NLT​

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

 

“Every Word of Every Command”

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34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction.35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them. — Joshua 8:34-35 NLT

After God had given Jericho and Ai into Joshua’s hands, Joshua built an altar of uncut stones on Mount Ebal.   There, they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar just as Moses had commanded them to do.  Then Joshua read every word of every command that Moses had ever given to them.  This was done in the presence of the entire assembly of Israel including all of the foreigners.  Moses had written five books that contained approximately 124,910 words (depending on the version you use).  At an average of 200 words per minute, this was almost an eleven hour reading.  The building of the altar, the offering of the sacrifices and the reading of the scrolls was quite a lengthy service.  This kind of devotion to God is what prepared the people for the southern military campaign.  Perhaps, it is time for our country to take a break and worship God in this manner. To be successful in the battles of this world, both natural and spiritual, we need the strength that only comes from the Lord.  If each of us committed to spending a day in prayer, worship and thanking God for our country, then perhaps God would take those sparks and start a wildfire of praise that would envelop the whole country.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. ​ — James 5:16 NIV

 “The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“I Will Never Again Remember Their Sins “

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12 For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds,​ and I will never again remember their sins.”​ – Hebrews 8:12​

In yesterday’s passage, we read about erecting landmarks and altars to remind us of the goodness of God.  We were reminded of how He provides for us and watches over us so that we might proceed safely on our journey.  He has established a new covenant with us beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Instead of an earthly high priest, Jesus is our high Priest.  He has made each of us members of the royal priesthood.  We can now speak directly to God Himself.  He is the complete, final sacrifice so that it is no longer necessary for us to carry out the rituals required in the Old Testament.  Along with that new covenant, He has written His laws in our hearts and in our minds.  He has chosen to forget our sins against Him  The Holy Spirit testifies that this is true.  ( Hebrews 10:14-18).  Just as God forgives and forgets our sins, we are to forgive others. To do that, we are going to have to go back through the memories of our lives and tear down some mental landmarks.  All those memories that bring back the times we have felt or actually been mistreated are going to have to be dealt with and released into God’s captivity.  As humans, we may not be able to forget entirely, but if we follow the instructions given us in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ, then we will find that it is completely possible to make those bad times in our lives insignificant.  If not insignificant, then, at least, no longer worthy of mentioning.  Otherwise, they become the roots that produce fruits of bitterness.  Give those thoughts to God and allow Him to tear down the landmarks before they become strongholds that keep our relationship with God from growing into maturity.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“And Constructed the Memorial There”

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8 So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. — Joshua 4:8 NLT

Often when a major event had occurred in the lives of the children of Israel, God would instruct them to set up stones or build an altar.  These stones or altars were built or erected as a token of remembrance for God’s help in bringing them safely this far. It was also a reminder to tell future generations about the goodness and the mercies of God. They were unique in that they were always built with natural, uncut stones.  Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land for the first time was a once-in-a-lifetime major event. The Israelis put twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan to mark the spot of the crossing and carried twelve stones to Gilgal and erected them there to mark the spot of their first encampment in their new homeland.  We need to be aware of the major events in our lives and construct mental and/or physical landmarks as a way to remember these events.  We need to point out these times to our future generations as a remembrance of what God has done for us.  When Samuel erected the stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah (1 Samuel 7:12) to mark the spot where God had defeated the Philistines for the Israelis, he named it “Ebenezer” which means a stone of help.  It is by the help of God that we have come this far safely.  Let us stop, set up an Ebenezer, pray, worship and celebrate God’s goodness and mercies in our lives.

“ComeThou Fount”

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“What Will This Child Turn Out to Be?”

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65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way. — Luke 1:65-66 NLT

These are the words Luke wrote to describe the reactions of the people on hearing about the birth of John the Baptist.  It was a miraculous event that Elizabeth should give birth at such a late age in life.  They were also in wonder that Zechariah would allow his son to be named John since no one in the family had ever been named that.  In those days, the carrying on of traditional family names was extremely important.  Because of these two things, they knew that God was involved in a special way and that John must have a special purpose to fulfill.   Once Zechariah was able to speak again, he prophesied about what that purpose is (vv 67-79).

In its own way, every birth is a miracle and every child has a special purpose in life.  God has a plan for every life and every one has been given a particular gift to accomplish that purpose.  Not all of us will be involved in what we call “full-time” ministries, but all of us are involved in full time witnessing for the Lord.  Every word and every action reflects positively or negatively on the Kingdom of God.  What is our lifestyle today telling people about Jesus and His Kingdom?  If someone observed us for a month, what do you think they would say about what we think is important?  Does our attitude and our demeanor tell others that we live in fear or that we have faith in a God who can and does do the impossible?  

10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Indeed, He Loves His People”

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2  “The Lord came from Mount Sinai and dawned upon us from Mount Seir;  he shone forth from Mount Paran and came from Meribah-kadesh with flaming fire at his right hand. 3  Indeed, he loves his people; all his holy ones are in his hands. They follow in his steps and accept his teaching.. — Deut. 33:2-3 NLT

This is the beginning of the last blessing that Moses gave to the children of Israel.  It was a reminder to the people of how God had chosen them and brought them through the desert to the Promised Land.  Because of His great love for the people, God remained faithful to His promise even though the people were often disobedient and ungrateful. It was also an admonition to continue to follow in the steps of their God and accept His teachings.  Moses blesses the tribes of Israel, then leaves them.  As God instructed, Moses climbs Mount Nebo up to Pisgah Peak where God allows him to view all of the Promised Land.  There, at 120 years of age, Moses passed away.  God came to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai, a mountain that was covered with smoke and fire, touching the mount brought death.

God comes to us from Mount Zion, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”. (Hebrews 12:18-24)  Touching Mount Zion brings life and joy to those who love the Lord, to those who accept His teachings and follow in the steps of Jesus.  Today, spend some time in the presence of Jesus, just loving Him and marinating in His love.  If you do, you will touch Mount Zion and receive true life and an abundance of joy.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous