Our son shared this song with us yesterday and I wanted to share it with you. The lyrics are done like a life story and it's very casual, but what an impact! Wow! See what you think. Have a FANTASTIC FRIDAY!
"Talking to Jesus" by Elevation Worship
Good morning ladies! Yes, I'm still out here. How are you doing? It's been awhile. After a long time away, this is the first morning that I'm kind of getting back to normal. We arrived back home from Arizona very late Tuesday night. We did the trip in two days. Um, that was crazy! We weren't planning on doing that, but that's just how it worked out because of circumstances (one of which was some snow that we drove into in the Colorado Rockies late the first day). It was a good trip with many bright spots... good meetings and communication with the people and the district leaders there, and let's NOT forget about the amazing weather! I don't think it would ever get old to wake up to sunshine EVERY day!! And WARM! It was lovely! At this point, the church seems to be "on board" with having us come, and the district would be "appointing" us in this situation, which is a bit different than anything we are used to. After considering it, we feel it will be a "replant," as well as an introduction into our denomination. There is a LOT of work to be done there. But, there is so much potential too. The community is a fairly new one, with so much growth going on. So much so, that there is a "lottery system" just to purchase a house. It's a beautiful, clean little city with parks and manmade lakes for fishing, great shopping, and many places to walk on trails. We will wait and see how God leads us. In the meantime, we are back in Minnesota and continuing to do the ministry here. We have committed to the end of June, which will be a year, and they are currently in the process of a pastoral search. We would appreciate your prayers for us, the church here in Minnesota, and the church in Arizona. We know that God has great plans for all of us! Thank you.
Our son shared this song with us yesterday and I wanted to share it with you. The lyrics are done like a life story and it's very casual, but what an impact! Wow! See what you think. Have a FANTASTIC FRIDAY!
"Talking to Jesus" by Elevation Worship
Good morning sweet ladies! Or, is it afternoon where you are? We are behind all of you in Mountain Time. Phoenix Mountain time is different than actual Mountain Time because Arizona doesn't change their clocks for Daylight Savings Time. Now that everyone's confused, haha! So, how are you doing? What's new in your life? We arrived here on Saturday afternoon after traveling for three long days. The first day was rain for the entire day until just short of North Platte, Nebraska where we stopped for the night. The second and third days were beautiful with sun and gorgeous views! I do love this trip! As I've probably said before, words and cameras cannot even begin to describe the beauty that God created in these mountains. And so may different landscapes. It's never boring!
Is your LIGHT shining brightly for Jesus? What a neat illustration today! Have a MARVELOUS MONDAY ladies!
"A Strange Night-Light"
CBN Ministries, Cathy Irvin
Lessons can be learned with just about anything or in everyday life experiences.
The other night, my son was up late and he was looking for our cat, Bella, in the dark. He didn’t want to wake me as the kitchen is next to my bedroom, and I had left the door cracked for my cat to come in since she likes to lie under the desk.
I heard him in the kitchen because I am a light sleeper and as quiet as he was trying to be, I noticed a small light in the kitchen. I don’t have a night-light in there, just a small lamp but this was just a small stream of light.
Seeing that light, I ventured into the kitchen out of curiosity. I saw that he had opened the refrigerator door to peer around the corner to the living room to see if Bella’s shadow was in the window sill. It worked! The tiniest light can brighten up a room.
Are we lights for Jesus for all to see? The curious will wonder why we are different. We should dispel the darkness wherever we go.
Do you remember the story about the ten virgins? They had oil lamps, but some had used up their oil and did not have any. They had failed to keep their lights burning and when they needed it, they were frantically searching for some light. But, it was too late.
Others were wise and kept their lights shining brightly. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light, and He is the light of the world. When we accept Him in our hearts that light also shines in us for others to see.
As His followers, we must continue to read the Bible, fellowship with believers in church to grow and pray for direction, and pray for others to keep our lights shining at all times for the world to see.
If we keep our focus, and our gaze fixed upon the Lord, then others will see us shine and be drawn to the light of God’s love. They are groping in darkness without the knowledge of Jesus and how much He loves them, so we must keep our lamps filled with the oil of the spirit of God.
There is something in the countenance of the ones who stay close to Jesus. It comes from the inside to the outside. It comes from our hearts, and His love is reflected in our eyes and in our smiles to a lost and hurting world.
I have a replica lampstand from Jerusalem of the seven candlesticks. It was an important piece in the tabernacle of Moses, and it reminds me to keep my light burning and to pray for those who need to know that Jesus is the Light of the World.
If a matchstick flame can lighten up a room, can you imagine how much our lights can dispel the darkness in the world? I urge you to not let your flame grow dim.
Matthew 15:1-3 (NIV) says,
"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them."
"Make a lamp stand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lamp stand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lamp stand. And on the lamp stand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lamp stand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lamp stand, hammered out of pure gold.
Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lamp stand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." Exodus 25:31-40 (NIV)
Good morning ladies! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. I feel so blessed after our Good Friday and Easter services. God is so good to us and He never fails us. Thank You LORD for going to the cross for us. We were able to celebrate with our kids and grandkids, even if it was for less than 24 hours. I'll take it! So much fun (and a little bit of craziness in this small apartment). They brought Tucker, their 80-lb. English Setter with them too! It was nice for Molly and Tucker to run around free together at the park across the street. They rarely get to do that. We had an Easter egg hunt for our oldest grandson, which he loved, and we also colored eggs with him. He seemed a little unsure about that until he saw us doing it and then he really got into it. We had a nice dinner together, the weather was beautiful, and it was a great visit! How about you? Maybe you'd like to share about your Easter celebration?
Well, this is THE week!! We leave for Arizona on Thursday. We would appreciate your prayers for safety, God's guidance for our future, and a good time connecting with people at the church there. Thank you. It will be a busy week.
Today we have a question to answer. God has given each of us a gift. What is He asking you to do with your gift? Have a MUSICAL MONDAY ladies!
"Melodies from the Heart"
CBN Ministries, Del Bates
A cherished song can be a whisper from the Lord. Have you ever heard a song that brought you back to a certain moment in time? For me, it’s Ave Maria. It was one my mom’s favorites; it will always remind me of her.
One of my fondest memories is when she was in the hospital after she fell and broke her hip. After multiple surgeries, she ended up on a respirator for about a week. She began to regain her consciousness and was moved out of ICU. My brother Tony and I followed her into her new room.
Once her nurses left the room, Tony started to sing Ave Maria to Mom. As his tender, yet powerful voice reached the notes as only he could do, tears trickled down my face as mom acknowledged his presence.
When I went to the bathroom to dry my eyes, I was surprised to see one of the housekeepers standing there. With tears welling up, she mumbled, “Who—who is that singing? His voice, …it’s so beautiful.”
I told her that it was my younger brother Tony. As she continued to wipe her eyes, she said, “God knew that I needed to hear him today. I’m not usually on this floor,” she informed me, “but my supervisor sent me up here to clean this room today.”
You see, Beloved, when we exercise the gifts that God places within us, He touches people we may never know. Tony had no idea that he was ministering to one of the gals in the hospital. He just did what was natural to him.
Sometimes we think we are not qualified to do what God has called us to do. But whether it’s speaking or singing or teaching, or whatever He has called us to do, either to a crowd of thousands or to an audience of one, He just wants us to respond and He will do the rest.
Let us catch a glimpse of this from 1 Samuel. The Lord was calling the young boy Samuel, “Then the Lord called Samuel. And the boy answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening" 1 Samuel 3:10 NIV. But backing up just a few verses, we read that Samuel heard the voice three different times. He thought it was the prophet, Eli who was calling him. When he approached Eli, Eli answered that it was not him, and he told Samuel to go back and lie down.
I love verse eight when Samuel hears the voice the third time and approached Eli; listen to what happens: “A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me’ Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So, Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So, Samuel went and lay down in his place." 1 Samuel 3:8-9 NIV
Is He calling you? Has God given a special gift to you and has He been calling you to use it for His glory?
Just as my brother was gifted with a voice to sing, God has placed a special gift inside of you too. So, as the Lord called Samuel, He calls you. He calls me. The question is, how will we respond to His calling?
Think about it. Is there something that He is asking you to do? If so, then let us respond today as young Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Good morning sweet ladies! Happy Friday! Thank you for your responses on Wednesday. I'm glad to hear from you. What do you have planned for this weekend? We have a few things going on at our church. Besides working on our Easter outreach bags for our neighbors, we have a "Better Together" meeting on Saturday. This is a meeting of our two congregations, our English one and our Spanish community of believers. We've been blessed with a bilingual couple who have a lot to share with us about merging two congregations together. On Sunday, we will be gathering to put our Easter outreach bags together and going out in groups to distribute them to our church neighbors. It looks like it will be a beautiful day to do this! And in between these fun things, I have a lot to do at home to get ready for our grandson coming on Monday, the kids coming, and our trip out to Arizona. I am actually making a list....not really like me, but it's a MUST this time! Ha! And, of course, I always make time to rest and crochet.
I hope you enjoy this time in worship. Have a FABULOUS FRIDAY!
"King of My Heart" by Kutless
Good morning ladies! Are you out there?! I was having some trouble with my gmail account the past few days and I thought maybe my emails weren't being sent out, but things are now fixed and I can see that the devotions were sent. If a few of you have time, just give me a shout-out!
We're on our second day in a row of steady rain, but, "April showers bring May flowers!" And green grass too. And it makes for one very muddy dog!! Yep, it's that "extra" bath season. Molly is not too fond of it. Just sayin' So, what are you doing today? Along with about a million other things, I thought it would be nice to make some soup for tonight. It's just that kind of day. I'm also thinking about the Easter holiday and planning for all the things coming up.
A little update on our kids. Our oldest son and daughter-in-law and their family accepted a call to ministry in Idaho! Woohoo! They are so excited, and now very busy as they plan to move across the country. All the details need to be finalized still, but we know that God will put everything into place for them. As for us, it looks like we'll be going out to Arizona in April for another visit, and we're looking forward to getting to know the church family out there a little bit better.
I'm so thankful for this explanation on this portion of Scripture today. I've definitely wondered about the meaning of it, even just this morning as I read from the gospels in my own devotional time. It really cleared things up for me. Have a WARM WEDNESDAY ladies!
"Victory at the Cross"
CBN Ministries, Daphne Delay
"But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27 NKJV)
After the miracle of feeding the five thousand, Jesus had been alone praying when His disciples joined Him. Jesus asked, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They answered, "John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God'" (Luke 9:18-20 NKJV).
Jesus knew people would be talking about the miracle. But who did they think performed it? He warned them to tell no one, saying, "There are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God."
The first time I studied this, I thought "What did Jesus mean? His disciples died a long time ago and we are still waiting to see the kingdom of God." But I lacked revelation. I assumed He was speaking of heaven, but in actuality, He was referring to retrieved authority.
In the beginning, when Adam sinned, the authority and dominion God had given man was transferred to Satan. Jesus came to retrieve this authority. The Bible says:
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8 NKJV).
After the miracle of feeding the multitudes, Jesus said, "I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the [retrieved authority] of God." He was speaking of His victory at the cross. It was drawing near.
This is proven in another context of scripture:
"Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:28-31 NKJV).
This passage is often referred to as the Transfiguration. As He prayed and talked with His two visitors, the countenance of Jesus changed this day. But what's more interesting is their use of the words "decease" and "accomplish" in the same sentence. The words "endure" or "suffer" might seem more appropriate, but not the word accomplish, right?
"But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the [retrieved authority] of God." His disciples didn't understand. Then a week later, a couple of cheerleaders from heaven encouraged Jesus of what was about to take place. Moses and Elijah spoke with Him about His coming death, which was about to be ACCOMPLISHED at Jerusalem. Their mission was to encourage our Savior, for He was about to retrieve authority for all humanity for all time! His death on the cross, as hard as it might be in the flesh, was going to be a great victory for God and man.
Hebrew 12:1-2 (NKJV) says, "…for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross]."
In other words, He looked ahead at the victory that would be accomplished. He wasn't focused on the cross itself, or the pain of the moment. Instead, His focus was on the resurrection!
This passage says He "endured the cross" which is absolutely true. But Moses and Elijah came to remind Him of His purpose—He was about to accomplish the greatest victory that has ever been or ever will be! The cross wasn't going to be easy, and God didn't want His Son to lose heart, so He sent these messengers to remind Him His coming decease would be a great victory.
No wonder His countenance changed! "As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening." Our countenance changes too when our focus and meditation is on the right thing (our victory in Christ).
So be encouraged today! God has rallied all of heaven behind you and I that we might run with endurance the race that is set before us. Remember, we are of those who have not tasted death, yet have seen the retrieved authority of God—for JESUS HAS RISEN!
Good morning ladies. How are you all on this Monday morning? Did you have a fun weekend? We had a fairly easy-going one, well, I did anyway. I found out last Wednesday that I was able to register for the Covid vaccine and there was an opening the very next day so we took it. I've done well with it so far, other than yesterday, when I had a little bit of a headache and soreness. I am happy to be finally getting this done. My husband has been quite busy lately, with a lot going on at church. Of course, we have Good Friday and Easter services coming up, as well as our Easter outreach, but we also have several get-togethers planned as we get closer to calling the next pastor. On top of that, we just found out that our kids will be coming out to celebrate Easter with us, just a few days early. Yay! So, plenty going on! How about you? What's new in your life? I would love to hear all about it!
A great reminder today that we not only share in the death of Christ, but also in the Resurrection! Have a MAGNIFICENT MONDAY ladies!
"Jesus Died Once for All!"
CBN Ministries, Missey Butler
Christ’s resurrection is also our resurrection. Christ’s death on the cross was also our death on the cross. Surprisingly, many people have never associated themselves quite that personally with the Easter story. But really, that is what we all must do in order to “experientially” know the reality of the resurrection life.
We have all been united with Him in both death and life! (Romans 6:5-7). It's interesting to understand that the true meaning of the Lenten Season is that “Death was defeated” and “Life was awarded” to all who believe.
Believe what? Believe that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, and that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:6-8). That’s what the whole process of reconciliation is all about.
The word “reconciliation” means to make an adjustment. It is the process of bringing together two things that differ from each other so they can now agree and be as one. Atonement carries much the same meaning.
My mother was an excellent bookkeeper. The Hardware store where she worked for so many years was blessed to have her! Through her, I learned a lot about the “Bookkeeping World.” I learned the importance of how the ledger must always agree with the total income being equal to the sum of the profit and the total expenses for the year. And if, by chance, the two figures do not agree then reconciliation must be made, by adding a figure from one side of the ledger to the other to bring about a balance.
In like manner, God had to “balance the books” (so to speak) on our account because we had put ourselves into debt to him by our sin.
This Holy week symbolizes the glorious and beautiful way of atonement, and the high price that had to be paid in order for us to be made “alive to Christ.” But there is also a daily reckoning that has to be made. An entering into our ledger of faith, the agreement that Christ has “once for all” paid the price, and that our name can be forever written into the Lamb’s Book of Life!
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:9-11, NIV).
Hallelujah! The debt had been paid — once for all!
Good morning ladies! Happy St. Patrick's Day! I think we all like to think we're "a wee bit Irish" on this day! How are things going in your world? Are you managing through these days as we let go of Winter and welcome in the Spring season? Ha! We were having what I thought was Spring until this past Sunday. It snowed (heavily) and we were blessed with about 6-8 inches, after which it started to melt a little and then yesterday, it started to snow again and we woke up to what looks like another 4 inches today. Pretty, heavy, wet snow. More than likely, it will all melt quickly since we'll be in the 50's the rest of this week.
So lately, we've been on that "rollercoaster" of life again. Weeee!! So many things, but I'll try to catch you up on a few. I don't think I've given you an update lately on our ministry plans. As you might know, our time here in Blue Earth is coming to an end in about three months. It's been a great interim ministry for us and we've been so blessed by this church family! We've seen so much growth and passion to be a "light" in the community. They are on a great path going forward and have just started the committee to call their next pastor. As for us, God has really shown us our gifting and passion for this type of ministry, one that helps churches to get a new start. With that said, we've been waiting on Him, in His perfect timing, to guide us to our next place. We've been out to Arizona, which you might remember, and that process is still "in the works." It hasn't been a "usual" process, to say the least! We feel that the church is in need of the Fresh Start ministry and we are scheduled to go out for another visit in April to sit down and get more acquainted with the families there.
I love this devotion today! The history of St. Patrick. What a legacy he left with his love and compassion for the very people who kidnapped him and took him from his home country. Have a WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY ladies!
"The Legacy of St. Patrick
CBN Ministries, Cathy Irvin
If you read the story of St. Patrick, you will find that at age 16 he was kidnapped and taken to a land he did not know - Ireland. Now he could have been angry, despondent and eventually given in to defeat; but Patrick did not do this. He became an overcomer as he persevered in his trials and tribulations.
He was taken and told to tend the sheep. It was there that he prayed, grew in his faith, and walked in love. What do we do when we find ourselves in captivity? We can stay in it or choose the latter.
The history of St. Patrick goes on to tell us that he did get away on a ship to return once again to his homeland, but he was different then. He had found Christ in Ireland through his prayers. Later, he heard the voice of God to return to the very place of evil where he was held captive. Patrick went on to become a Bishop. While he was living in Ireland he taught about the Trinity by using the three-leaf clover.
There is a lost and dying world wherever we are planted. Do we hear the call of their captivity? Can we enter that place of darkness from which we too were once enslaved? Can we hear the lost crying out for help?
We are not all called to be in the five-fold ministry or to be a missionary to a foreign land, but we are all called to be witnesses and to evangelize. The Lord puts people in our paths every day if we are looking, or we can pray and ask Him to place someone in our sphere of influence.
I may like to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, but more than that I want to know the history of why we celebrate this holiday. This man was a hero; he changed a nation. He lived out his faith. He had a message; and like Patrick, maybe we can tell his testimony to our family and friends and spark a new meaning in that holiday for them.
If we think about it, most of us would either be angry or depressed if we found ourselves having been kidnapped and never knowing if we would see our loved ones again. Patrick, even though he was a teenager when he was captured, had allowed Christ to change his heart so completely, that he felt compassion for the people who made him a slave. Once he had gotten away from them, he could have stayed away, but God had a different plan for him.
Obedience is better than sacrifice, the Bible says in 1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT):
"But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.'"
Patrick heard the call and he knew these people were without hope. Freedom in Christ means we find our place of ministry and pass on the good news to someone whether young or old.
St. Patrick ministered in Ireland for 29 years, baptized over 100,000 people and built 300 churches. If we can get it in our minds that we can be world-changers too, by ministering to others, either bringing them to the Lord or helping others grow in their faith, then we will also have a legacy to pass on.
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Good morning ladies. Happy Friday! How are you doing? Any plans for the weekend? Not too much for us, but that's okay; it's been a busy week. A few things are starting to open up again here in Minnesota, but not at full capacity yet. My husband and I ate at a sit down restaurant when we were in Rochester, and that was the first time in months. It was nice! Perhaps we'll do something fun this weekend like that. How about you? Has your state/city rolled back any of your restrictions yet? Of course, we haven't gotten the vaccine yet. I think we'll be in the last group to do so. According to what we heard from the President last night though, we should be able to by the first of May (if I heard him right). Looking forward to that! (I mean, who says that??!! LOL
LOVE this worship!!! Have a FANTASTIC FRIDAY ladies!
"God, You're So Good" by Passion Worship
Good morning ladies! We are finally back from all the events of the weekend, followed by my two-day class at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Our grandson's dedication was wonderful and he pretty much slept through both services. Not that he will remember them anyway, haha! The service was also a beautiful remembrance of their late pastor, as it was the one-year anniversary of his passing. A lot of emotions all around. We were also able to meet and talk with their new pastor, and it was great to have a little more time with both of our grandsons!!
On Monday, as I mentioned, I arrived at the Mayo Clinic for a class to learn more about Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was the only student that showed up so I had the instructors/nurses to myself! I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned and all the information I took in. OVERLOAD!! Everyone was so nice and accommodating, and I left with renewed vision and encouragement for the future. The days ahead will be a challenge as to how I will implement everything into my daily life, but I'm confident that it will be worth it. Thank you for your prayers!
We have been having the MOST BEAUTIFUL WEATHER here! Yesterday was close to 70 degrees....in March! Today is still mild, but with rain and a possible thunderstorm later this afternoon. I hope you're doing well and enjoying this new month.
An awesome description of the true meaning of Easter! Have a WINNING WEDNESDAY ladies!
"The Real Meaning of Easter"
CBN Ministries, Beth Patch, Senior Producer
Jesus had come into town for the Passover celebration and was nearing the time when he would be betrayed by one of his disciples, publicly humiliated and mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and hung on a cross to die. It was the night before his suffering when he made his special request for his followers to remember that He gave his body for them and poured out his blood as a sacrifice for them.
The best way to understand the real meaning of Easter would be from Jesus, in His three words ... the new covenant.
The New Covenant
In Luke 22 we get a picture of the night before his death:
When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, "I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won't eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God." Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, "Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come." He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me." After supper he took another cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you." Luke 22:14-20
The heart of Easter lies in his words, "the new covenant between God and his people."
Passover and the New Covenant
To put this new covenant in context we must look at history. Long before Jesus was born, God made other covenants with His people (the Israelites) - some to multiply them, some to bless them, and some to give them land. All along the way, God required believers to recognize their sinful nature, confess their sins, ask for forgiveness for their sins, and offer specific animals to the priests as sacrifices for their sins. Their religious observance of Passover included sacrificing unblemished lambs, just as the Israelites had done when they painted their doorposts with the lambs' blood the actual night of Passover - when Moses led God's people out of Egypt (see Exodus 12:11-13).
The sacrificial lamb was a significant part of sparing the lives of the Israelites on Passover as well as in future remembrances of the event. God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to honor God with annual Passover celebrations. Lamb was the pinnacle of the Passover meal (and still is). The lambs were to be without blemish and even lived with the families for several days before they were sacrificed, adding to the understanding that the ultimate sacrifice was close to the hearts of those whose sins were atoned for.
Easter and Passover have a special relationship for many reasons. Jesus became the "lamb without blemish" as he sacrificed his life for the sins of all who believe in him - to bring them into right relationship with the Father. Just as the Israelites celebrate freedom from their slavery to the Egyptians as they celebrate Passover, Christians celebrate the victory over sin and death signified in Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus said the new covenant between God and his people was "an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you." It was no coincidence that Jesus gave up his life for all at the time of Passover. It was the appointed time, chosen by the Father.
What is the real meaning of Easter? In John 1:29, as he sees Jesus approaching, John the Baptist announces to the crowd around him, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
He knew that Jesus was the son of God, the long awaited Messiah, the one whom God's prophets had promised to save mankind from their sins and to give them a deep heartfelt relationship with God the Father. The new covenant would be an everlasting covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Jeremiah 32:39-42, Isaiah 55:3) Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, our Savior, our God, our Redeemer - he laid down his life as our sacrificial lamb to pay for our sins. When he rose from the dead three days later, he gave victory over eternal separation from God (death) to all who put their faith and trust in him. That is the new covenant - everlasting life spent with God through faith in all that Jesus Christ has done and continues to do.
All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don't believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don't believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God's Son does not have life. (1 John 5:10-12, NLT)
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4, KJV)
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NLT)
Father God, there is sometimes controversy about how, when, and what to call the remembrance of the greatest day in history - the day Jesus Christ, your beloved son, rose from the dead and brought the gift of your forgiveness and eternal life to all who would like to receive it - the new covenant. Please pour out your Holy Spirit on all who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and put us on our knees before you with thankful hearts for your great love for us. You, oh God, have given us victory over sin and death, and the promise of never leaving us or forsaking us for eternity. Help us to be the body of Christ, the church, united in awe of how you saved our unworthy souls ... your body and your blood as a sacrifice for us. Help us to bring this message to all who will listen. Help us to love like you love. Thank you forever! Amen.
Good morning ladies! How are you on this beautiful new day? I'm sitting quietly for awhile this morning, recovering from a day at yet another doctor's appointment. I met with a sleep doctor to see if I can improve my sleep pattern and because I had "abnormal" activity on an overnight oximetry test (a test that monitors oxygen saturation). I will now need to do the overnight test for sleep apnea but I can do it at home, so I will be doing that tonight. The doctor was really great, just like all the doctors that I've met through Mayo Clinic. This is just another step towards better health. Tonight we have our Book Club, which is always a good time. How about you ladies? How will you be spending this nice day?
Today's devotion gives us an important lesson that it's not enough just to serve and do good deeds. We must also give the message of hope through our words to people who need to hear it. Have a WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY ladies.
"Hiding Behind Ladles"
CBN Ministries, Mike Wolff
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:36 (ESV)
I stood behind one more servers' table, peering into the eyes of a woman I'd never met. But I knew our experience would forever change my effectiveness in ministry. It's not a proud moment when you discover, after many years of Christian service, you really weren't serving in the name of Jesus.
Up until a few days before that fateful night, I thought I was ministering the Gospel by merely serving people's physical needs. Then God began asking me if I was just hiding behind the soup ladle, or was I truly giving those I served the full measure of what I had been given?
For six years prior to that I ran a ministry "serving" retired folks in a mobile home community. We did hundreds of jobs, provided food and transportation, and had many opportunities to form relationships. From all outward appearances, I was the definition of a man all about Christian service. But now God was leading me to examine just how many I shared something important and eternal with.
Helping people with physical needs has always come naturally to me, but seeing to the far more important needs of their souls? Watching this woman approach that night, I came to the unsettling conclusion that as much as I wanted to think I was doing God's work, by attending only to those needs I was comfortable with, I was not. I was hiding behind the ladle, and cowering behind the paint brush. I had been giving people what their flesh required, but in fear I had been neglecting what their souls required. "What does it profit a man…?" I could have given them not only my service, but my wallet and indeed "the whole world", and I would not have been offering what they truly needed.
So there I stood, wondering if I would hide behind my former idea of Christian service or step out of my comfort zone. The question was redundant, for I knew the choice was already made. Before this woman could make her selection of cookies, I asked her if I could pray for her. Though we had never met, she held out her hands to me and the flood gates opened. She told me a story like the ones you too often hear on the streets, and I prayed. Then she led me across the parking lot to pray for her husband as well. As my fears passed that night I got to share, really share, what truly mattered with several people.
By its very definition, faith means moving into the discomfort of the unknown. Can we imagine being one of the disciples following Jesus as He moved from prostitutes to the demon possessed? Would we want to be seen with this man who alienated those we had grown up believing were our shepherds? Would "comfortable" describe life with Jesus?
Following requires faith. Faith means putting a comfortable present in the recycle bin to make space to download an uncomfortable future. Following Jesus we suffer the heartbreak of ministering to those who will disappoint us, the mocking of those who oppose us, and the relentless attacks of the one who wants to untrack us. It's all part of a pruning process that leads us to bear fruit in the kingdom of heaven on earth. If Christian ministry is comfortable, as so many try to keep it today — as I used to try to keep it — then it's not the kind of ministry we read about anywhere in the Bible.
Many people who profess no belief at all do good deeds for the needy. That's not hard. What sets us apart, and what is uncomfortable, is including the message that compels us to service. Words without deeds fail, as do deeds without a message. As Swanson and Rusaw say in The Externally Focused Church, "Good deeds pave the road over which good news travels."
Jesus came to us in word and deed. That's how He showed us the fullness of God's love and justified his claim of being our Good Shepherd. In the end, He will likewise judge us according to both our words and our deeds.
From now on, I go all in or I stay home. No more hiding behind ladles thinking I am ministering when I am withholding what truly "profits a man". We need to both speak and be His good soldiers if we want to truly benefit those He grants us. Together, our service and our message provide that which the world simply cannot offer.