Beatings, Pain, Death… – Why is Today Called “Good” Friday??

jesus-crown-of-thorns-nails

 

GOOD FRIDAY The Crucifixion of Jesus.

My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
 He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.                                                                                                  Isaiah 53:2-5
—————————————————-

Why is today known as “Good” Friday?

Although Jesus died a terrible, excruciating death, on Good Friday, this day is remembered as “Good” because it was through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that ALL PEOPLE, (not some, not just “special” people, not just rich people, not just poor people, not just law-abiding people, etc.), ALL PEOPLE, have the opportunity to restore their relationship with God.

And when the time comes for our earthly lives to be over, we will not simply be reduced to nothing, nor will we be alone.  No, we will live forever with God in heaven.  When God promises He will, wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things will be gone forever. – Revelation 21:4

See my tab, The Cornerstone…,http://wp.me/P5nZpi-bJ, if you’d like to know how you can have a personal relationship with God, the creator of everything.

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Which Way to Turn? Which Way to Turn??? – PROVERBS 3:21-32 [6]

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bear with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2

 

21  My child, DON’T lose sight of common sense (applying experience, knowledge) and                  discernment ( good judgement based on experience and knowledge = wisdom)
Hang on to them,
22    For they will…
        1. Refresh your soul.
            They are like jewels on a necklace.
23    2. They keep you safe on your way,
        3. Your feet will not stumble.
24    4. You can go to bed without fear;
        5. you will lie down and sleep soundly.

25  You DON’T need be afraid of sudden disaster
      or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the
26   1. Lord is your security.
       2. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

27   DON’T withhold good from those who deserve it
       when it’s in your power to help them.

28   If you can help your neighbor now, DON’T say,
       “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

29  DON’T plot harm against your neighbor,
      for those who live nearby trust you.

30  DON’T pick a fight without reason,
      when no one has done you harm.

31  DON’T envy the oppressor (someone who dominates or inflicts stress on someone)
       or copy their ways.
32  Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but
      1. He offers His friendship to the godly.

In the above verses you will see a series of DON’T(s), and the results of heeding those warnings. (See words in bold print for DON’T(s), and underlined numbers for the results).

Remember these principles when faced with making a decision that falls into the “gray” area.  Recalling AND Applying God’s Word will clear the “debris”, and enable you to see the “wise” choice.  (As you may notice, the “wise” choice is in the murky water.  Look closely.   It’s often hard to see until it’s been filtered out with God’s Truth, leaving the “wise” choice clearly visible.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                  glasses1

                                    grayarea                                                              

Now that we know all the positive results that come from following God’s guidance, hopefully the next time we find ourselves at a crossroads, we’ll have a good idea which path to choose.

                                    crossroad                                      be lucky tote good bet idea

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My Life is Sooooo Busy…..

Don’t worry, or be anxious, about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. –  Philippians 4:6

 

Today, I would like to share a poem, written on a beautiful wooden plague, that I bought years ago at a church auction. It sits on the dresser, next to my bed, as a reminder of what happens when I/we try to “do life” on my/our own, apart from God.

Our lives can get so busy, that before we know it, we’re caught up in the rat race.  So much of our day is taken up with “stuff”.  Some necessary, and some, not so much. We forget that God loves us, and has a plan for our day.  He wants to give us a rich and satisfying life –  John 10:10.  rat_race Have you ever felt like you were carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?  Or  wondered if it were possible to lighten the burden you were experiencing?                                                   atlas

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  –  Matthew 11:28-30

I hope this poem is a blessing to you  –  🙂

                                    Slide1

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To Punish, or Not to Punish, That is the Question: – PROVERBS 3:11-12 [4]

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. – Psalm 28:7

 

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when He corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those He loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

Reading about discipline in verses 11 and 12 can make some of us cringe.  cringe That’s because discipline tends to emit a negative vibe, and is often used interchangeably with punishment.  Discipline, however, is quite different from punishment.

Punishment as defined by Merriam-Webster, is to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation. To make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior.

Discipline as defined by Dictionary.com, is training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. An activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.

Discipline’s purpose is to teach and train. And how it’s administered greatly affects the results.

We see in verse 12, the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.  These two words, in bold print, are much different from words like – who he wants to control, wants to show who’s boss, wants to express his anger towards

Discipline, is correction that comes from a position of love, with the purpose of instructing and training.  If, however, correction comes from a negative, angry, or vengeful position, it’s not discipline, it’s punishment.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “isn’t there a place for punishment?”  Of course there is.  It’s necessary for the police to punish people for crimes they commit, and the military to punish people who threaten the safety of its country’s citizens.  But it also might surprise you to know that punishment can be used alongside discipline, and still come from a position of love.

I’ll use an example to illustrate:  A child is playing with his football in the house, and breaks mom’s vase.

Punishment =  Mom yells at the child, and sends her to her room without dinner (making child suffer for their disobedience behavior).  Observe the child’s posture in each of these pictures.                                                                                                                                                                                                             6-kid-in-trouble-not-listening            girl getting yelled at          arthur

Discipline =  Mom reiterates, to the child, the fact that playing in the house with a football can cause damage, and is evidenced by the broken vase (teaching).  Observe the child’s posture in this picture.                  kid vase mom

Discipline & Punishment =  Mom reiterates, to the child, the fact that playing in the house with a football can cause damage, and is evidenced by the broken vase (teaching), therefore, the child is responsible to replace the vase (imposed penalty).

                                  kid vase mom                 holding money

It is not unusual that we get upset when reprimanded. It’s a natural reaction. If it weren’t, Solomon would have had no need to mention it. Yet he said in verse 11, don’t be upset when correctedThe key to being open to correction is whether or not the one disciplining you is purposed to teach you, help and guide you, or is purposed to control, dominate, and “make you pay”. There is a big difference between these two approaches, and how the recipient will receive and respond.

No one likes being called on the carpet.  But when discipline comes from a position of love, even if it irks you initially, accept and appreciate that someone cares about you, wants to keep you safe, and “on track”.  So comply, humble yourself, and repentant (change direction) and recognize they have our best interest in mind.

I’ve mentioned in the above example, the response of the one being disciplined.  However, put yourself in the position of the one disciplining/punishing.  What is your goal?  To control by force and feel “big and strong”, or to have the recipient learn from the experience, and next time make the “wise choice” ?                                                                                                                                                                                     wisechoice                clipart-two-thumbs-up-happy-smiley-emoticon-256x256-eec6

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Take a Step, Make a Choice, THEN… – PROVERBS 3:7-10 [3]

The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth earth-picture-clipart-image  in order to strengthen those whose hearts   Red heart in woman and man hands, on green background   are fully committed to him. – 2 Chronicles 16:9

 

7   DON’T be impressed with your own wisdom.
     Instead, (IF you) fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8   (THEN) you will gain renewed health and vitality.
9   (IF you) Honor the Lord with your wealth
     and with the best part of everything you produce.
10  THEN He will fill your barns with grain,
       and your vats will overflow with good wine.

 

Solomon continues IF/THEN comparisons in verses 7-10.

Solomon begins verse 7 with a warning. Don’t be impressed with our own wisdom.  I like how the New International Version (NIV) puts it – Don’t be wise in your own eyes.  Or the New Living Translation (NLT) – Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.                                3 wise monkeys3

Instead, as we read on in verse 7, we’re encouraged to take an action step and make a choice to turn away from evil.

The result of making a conscious decision to follow God’s ways, (THEN) verse 8, is renewal.  Renewal is defined as replacing or repairing something that is worn-out, run-down, or broken. The principle is that when we choose to turn away from evil, our lives will be renewed.  Our health and vitality (energy) are restored and replenished – we get a new lease on life.                                                                          Congestive-heart-failure-patient-gets-new-lease-on-life

God has not left us alone to navigate life.  God, in His grace, has made available wise counselors, friends, internet, churches, etc. to us.  He’s also made available to us an instruction manual, a “treasure” map  –  the Bible.

God loves people so much, not only did He give his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16, but through His daily provisions, which often go unnoticed or taken for granted. He wants to remove the guess-work and the groping around in the dark from our daily living and interactions.  Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!  –  Mark 4:9  (We hear with our ears, but there is a deeper kind of listening with the mind and heart that is necessary in order to gain spiritual understanding.  –  Life Application Bible)                                                                           heartheadphones

Verses 9 and 10 give us a way to take action and honor God.  It is our way of saying thanks, and acknowledging that all we have has been given to us from God.  Our finances, our talents, our intelligence, everything that makes us who we are. What’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions?  So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith.  Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is not faith at all — it is dead and useless.  –  James 2:14,17

When we share with others, when we offer a kind/comforting word, when we hear of a need and meet it, etc., all these actions honor God.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.  –  Matthew 25:35-36
And then, it is as though God says “thank you” right back to us for honoring Him.           THEN He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.  –  v.10

Thanksgiving and blessings, thanksgiving and blessings, on and on, and on.
thanksleadstogiving

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.   –   2 Corinthians 9:6-8

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Outward Show or From the Heart?? – ZEPHANIAH – 3i [17 OUT OF 17]

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. – 2 Timothy 4:7                               running through tape

 

Then God, through the prophet Zephaniah, ends the Book of Zephaniah with strength and authority —

20))  On that day I will gather you together
    and bring you home again.
I will give you a good name, a name of distinction,
    among all the nations of the earth,
as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

This short, three chapter, Book of Zephaniah started out as a message of terror in chapter 1, but concludes in chapter 3 with a message of hope.

We read in this book that one man, King Josiah, attempted to reform the people of Judah/Jerusalem encouraging them, more like ordering them, to follow God.  Although the people appeared to follow God, this was just facade (a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation), because in their hearts they were far from God.

Hopefully reading Zephaniah has got you thinking about your own relationship with God.  Is your relationship just an outward show?  Do you go to church on Sunday, and don’t think about God again until the next Sunday?  Or, when you leave church you get road rage when cars seemingly take forever to get out of the church’s parking lot?  road-rage                                                     Or do you praise God in church,   singing_in_church     but with that same voice use God’s name in vain, or speak negatively about another?  Talking-Behind

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. – James 3:9

Because we are fallen people, everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard – Romans 3:23, we all need reminders, found in the Bible, of how to live life God’s Way.  It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s expectations of us.  Have this kind of house, this kind of job, send your kids to this kind of school, and on and on and on.  But what God tells us is that what we need most is a Savior (Jesus). One who can free us from the bondage of our sins – anger, envy, greed, etc.

If you are currently living your life apart from God, or appearing outwardly to be a God-follower, but your heart is far from Him, honoring God with your lips, but your heart is far from Him – Matthew 15:8 you can choose today, right now, to exercise your free will and begin to experience restoration and healing in your life.

The message is close at hand, And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  – Romans 10:8-13

 

Can I Find Hope, Healing, Restoration??? – ZEPHANIAH – 3h – [16]

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction and confusion, out of the muddy clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure. – Psalm 40:2

           psalms40_2               feet_on_rock_thumb

 

As we begin to wrap up the Book of Zephaniah, let’s look at a common pattern seen throughout the Bible, as well as, our own lives.

  • People follow their own way, believing they are able to navigate life on their own, without God, His principles and guidance.
  • Life becomes messy.  In relationships, at work, at school, in finances, families, morals and values are compromised, addictive behaviors surface, and destruction/unhealthy choices dominate.  We’re LOST!!  We’re not sure where to turn, or even what we’re hoping to find.  All we know for sure is that something is missing from our lives. But WHAT is it?
  • People hear about God.  In the Bible it was through prophets, and through miracles. In present day, people hear about God through preachers on the radio or TV, through various churches offering an array of worship experiences from quite/reflective to foot stomping/interactive, and everything in between.  Miracles may sadly go unnoticed. Thought of as “coincidence”, rather than “providence”.
  • People choose to make a change in their lives.  To repent, acknowledging that the path they have been on is not leading them where they hoped to go. Instead of continuing on their current path, they choose to do a 180 and follow God’s way.                                                                                        my way gods way
  • People experience restoration and healing. – It is like the restoration of this painting –   paintingrestoration                                                                                          The beauty we see in the restoration (right side of the image) was not added or changed, but was cleaned up (refreshed and restored) after years of neglect, sin (an analogy), hurt and pain experienced (an analogy) – (image on the left side).

NOTE:  Complete restoration and healing doesn’t often happen in an instant, a week, a month or even a year.  But, by making a choice today to say, YES, I want restoration and healing in my life, in my relationships, at my job, with my classmates, teachers, etc. the process can begin.  And you will be able to see God’s image restored everyday, while the distorted, marred image that was once so painful to look upon, begins to disappear.

 

 

God Pulls Us Close :) – ZEPHANIAH – 3g – [15]

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is  –  Ephesians 3:17

 

With all the love God is showering over His people, verses 15-17 ,http://wp.me/p5nZpi-4G, you might think that God has forgotten all those that have caused you pain, rejected you, hated you, etc. You might think that God is going to let them off the hook.  Let by gones be by gones.  Not so!!!  Remember, although God is a god of mercy, He is also a god of justice.  And those that have chosen to reject God, have chosen to go their own way, and have caused hurt, God promises in verse 19 that He

 19))  WILL DEAL SEVERELY WITH ALL WHO HAVE OPPRESSED YOUI will save the weak and helpless ones;  I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed.

20)) On that day I will gather you together
    and bring you home again.
I will give you a good name, a name of distinction,
    among all the nations of the earth,
as I (will) restore your fortunes before their very eyes.

These verses, and many others found in the Bible, are there to be an encouragement and reminder of God’s immense love for His followers. That He is giving each one a GREAT BIG BEAR HUG, image

pulling us close to Him, protecting and comforting us, and NO ONE can snatch (us) away – John 10:28

The Day of Hope WILL Come!!!!! – ZEPHANIAH – 3f – [14]

Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign LORD rescues us from death. – Psalm 68:20

What will it be like when the “day of hope” comes?

Verse 15 tells us that the Lord will remove his hand of judgment
    and will disperse the armies of your enemy.
And the Lord himself, the King of Israel,
    will live among you!
At last your troubles will be over,
    and you will never again fear disaster.

It is interesting to note that on the “day of hope”, God once again reminds and encourages His people saying, Don’t be afraid! – v.16

What will rid us of our fears?  The Lord, of course!!  Why?  Because,

17 )) For the Lord your God is living among you.  (AND)
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

This is all possible because God is love, 1 John 4:8.  Not that God loves, is willing to love, tries to love, …  No, God IS love. And every person innately seeks out love.  Not always in the most healthy ways, but nevertheless, everyone has a desire to be accepted and unconditionally loved.

Can “people” fulfill our desire to be loved the way God promises to love us?  I think we can all speak from personal experience, that the answer is a strong NO!!  So, if you want to be loved in a way that only God can love you, ask Him into your heart, your life.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. –  Matthew 7:7-8

                      ask seek knock3                         kneeling-before-glory-1120x750

The Humble WILL be Rewarded – ZEPHANIAH – Chapter 3e [13]

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. –  Philippines 3:14

 

9))  “Then I will purify the speech of all people,
so that everyone can worship the Lord together.
10))  My scattered people who live beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
will come to present their offerings.
11))  On that day you will no longer need to be ashamed,
for you will no longer be rebels against me.
I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you.
There will be no pride on my holy mountain.
12))  Those who are left will be the lowly and humble,
for it is they who trust in the name of the Lord.
13)) The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;
they will never tell lies or deceive one another.
They will eat and sleep in safety, and no one will make them afraid.”

 

Comparing Genesis 11:1-9, http://wp.me/p5nZpi-2W, and Zephaniah 3:9-13 we see that people were/will be coming together for a single purpose, yet their motivations are quite different. In Genesis 11:1-9, the people are coming together to make themselves famous, Genesis 11:4. Whereas, in Zephaniah 3:9-13, they will be coming together to humbly worship God.

Verses 11-13 tell us that we can look forward to the day when the humble will be rewarded. Rewarded because they lived their earthly lives trusting God, listening and following Him.  They not only listened to God’s word, but they did what it said,  James 1:22.

This is the same day, the day of hope, we pray and look forward to, when we pray, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,  Matthew 6:10.

The day of hope is a “real” day.  A day when those who have humbled themselves, yielding themselves to God vs. self-reliance and pride, will enjoy fellowship with God and God-followers.