The Forgotten Royalty

Did you know there are people among us that are truly special and some of God’s favorite people?  And that when you honor them, stand up for their rights, and care for them that God will bless you beyond measure? 

Well, there are.  They are what I’d like to call the forgotten royalty – the poor and oppressed.  I believe every single one of us is special in our own right and every one of us matters to Jesus.  His love doesn’t spare anyone.  However, He also carves out a special place for those that are in poverty or being oppressed.  In light of events here in our country (with regards to the government cutting food stamps), I believe the Word provides us specific instructions on how to treat the poor and oppressed, and how we as the Body of the Christ should conduct ourselves in a society that increasingly despises them.

Proverbs 14:31

31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
    but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

Proverbs is full of advice on how to please God by honoring Him.  One of the ways we can honor God is to be generous to the poor.  In our society, wealthy people seemingly get more and more things on the basis of them having things.  This is not hate against the wealthy; rather, it’s a statement that reflects our society’s treatment of those that already have wealth.  Since the poor are the real royalty, we can flip that upside down by being generous to them and that honors Him. 

Oh, you say we are already too generous with them?  That we spend too much money on them already?  That your tax dollars are being wasted? That they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work, so they can eat?  Or stop having kids out of wedlock, go to school and make something of themselves?  Unfortunately, those conditions are not in the Bible.  In fact, God doesn’t require ANY conditions on why we give to the poor.  We are supposed to give.  Period.  Consider:

Matthew 14:15-16

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.

Jesus cuts off all excuse making in the passage above.  Even though the disciples rightly concluded that they didn’t have anything to give (or it wasn’t going to be enough) and it was too late to get any food anyway, Jesus commanded them to do the right thing.  Sometimes we think that the poor don’t really need food and are just ‘free-loading”, or, as I often hear, that they are wasting tax dollars on items other than food.  That may or may not be the case, but Jesus doesn’t put conditions on our giving.  Give and let God handle the rest.

Moreover, our true compassion shines through when we can give without conditions or what fits our ideology. Jesus modeled compassion in the above passage by healing those same people even though He was tired (Matthew 14:14) BEFORE performing the miracle of feeding them with fish and bread.  Conditions can block the blessings of God.

Jeremiah 22:16

16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
    and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
    declares the Lord.

The verse above is fast becoming one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  It truly captures the essence of worship through being an advocate of the poor.  God is talking to Jeremiah and reminding him of how good King Josiah was to the poor and how blessed the people of Judah were because of their generosity to them.  I believe our society can be just as prosperous as well.  The causes of the poor should be a non-partisan issue.  If we all say we love God and want to do right by Him, we shouldn’t ever talk about decreasing our aid to the poor.  Our society should treat our poor just as well as we do our wealthy. 

For example, in any organization (or government) there comes a time when certain programs or departments have to be cut, or downsized.  The company or organization usually prioritizes who is more important and who should survive cuts and who shouldn’t.  Every department that is on the chopping block always says that what they do is too important to be cut.  In this case, God is right.  The mission of defending the poor and oppressed IS too important to be cut. Moreover, I believe our society would prosper like no other if we embraced that mentality regarding the poor and cuts to programs.  Instead of looking for ways to cut resources to the poor and needy we should be looking for ways to give more.  Our compassion for their plight should never go in retreat.

Finally, the Lord declares, rhetorically, that THIS is what it means to “know” Him, or to be intimate with Him.  Giving to the poor is another form of worship.  Sometimes I wonder what I can do to be closer to Him in my walk and this verse spoke to me.  Often times we think because we sing some worship songs on Sunday we have done “worship”.  But God desires more – from every one of us. 

I’m being challenged to consider knowing God in a more personal way.  I’m praying I’m more attentive to the needs of the less fortunate because I want to continue to be blessed.  Being obedient about standing up for God’s true royalty is the right thing to do.  Selah.

Psalms 37

I’m back with a blog post meant to encourage myself and others about the promises of God.  His righteousness through us is awesome!   I was reminded of that when I was reading Psalms.  Psalms has 150 chapters, so often times I will randomly pick one chapter and just immerse myself in how David waxes poetic over what God is doing, can do, and has done for him.

Psalms 37 was my pick this time, and I found three major themes of how God tells us to not fret, He gives grace to the meek, and His righteousness through us ultimately helps others.

Psalms 37

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

*****

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

With all of the evil in the world, often times it feels as if everybody that does wrong is “getting away with it”.  The beginning of this chapter assures me that this is not the case.  David writes that we shouldn’t fret over what the evildoers are doing or be envious over them.  This is so encouraging not because we as Christians are so perfect and evildoers are so evil but it is encouraging because it is another way of God informing us to focus more about our walk with Him (hard as that is) and not about evildoers.  That can be tough as you see story after story of evil seemingly succeeding in the world.  But we have to trust in Him and that the evildoers will be taken care of.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Being humble has benefits.  David is assured that peace and prosperity will follow those that stay humble and meek.  This is the direct consequence, in a good way, of focusing on our walk with Him and being with Christ.  We get an inheritance (Matthew 25:34) when we obey His commands, keep striving to be the best we can be in Him, and being proud to be meek.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
    a future awaits those who seek peace.

Finally, the righteous are saved through hoping in the Lord.  We are righteous because He called us righteous.  And righteous people consider the blameless and observe the upright.  I believe this passage of Scripture implores us to consider those that are not as fortunate as us.  The poor, the widowed, those that have lost someone (or their things) in some sort of tragedy.  All of these people – blameless.  We all go through things, but some people are going through things worse than we are!  A big test of strength in God is praying for others when you are going through something yourself.  Our prayers for others is a gateway for a future of peace.  And when David talks about a future, then yes, we know that future is going to be super bright because God said so (Jeremiah 29:11).

I am thankful for the many reminders God gives through His Word in every section of the Bible.  Psalms 37 encourages me on these things, and I pray it does to you as well.

Getting the Best Seat in the House

ticketLuke 22:54

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.

I love going to live sporting events.  Seeing the action live and in person is a thrill because there is nothing like being there.  When others describe a great game (or even a rockin’ concert) it doesn’t replace actually being there.  Indeed, it is even better when you have good seats.  I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was down on the floor instead of up in the nosebleeds, praying I remembered to bring my binoculars.

Here in Scripture, I’ve been encouraged at reading how our relationship with Jesus depends on our physical proximity to Him.  That physical distance we have from Him directly affects our spirtual distance with Him.  After Jesus was arrested, Peter follows Jesus from a distance.  He was very interested in what was going to happen to Him and wanted to show solidarity with his Master, the Savior of the world that he had walked with for the last three years.  But he stayed in the background, followed Him ambivalently, and was accosted by people who were asking if He had been rolling with Jesus.  As we know, he didn’t pass that test.  (John 18:15-27)

Similarly, I’ve been challenged in this area as well.  When Jesus wants me to stand with Him, stand up for righteousness, stand for holiness, stand for basically anything He stands for, I’m in the background.  Moreover, as a community of believers, sometimes we respond the same way.  Jesus has a front row ticket for each and every one of us, yet we are content on staying up in the nosebleeds and getting distracted (and angered) by trivial things.  Jesus wants us to stand for Him and the love He has by witnessing for the good things He does, but we are very comfortable with a bird’s eye view. 

I am challenged yet encouraged to accept His ticket and make my way to the front row.  The world needs people, right now, that will stand up for Him regardless of race, politics, or denomination.  We need people that can stand up and say, yes, “I love God and I love His people”.  Let’s vouch for our Lord.  Just as we get excited for our sports teams, we should be excited about being in the front row cheering our Savior on and praising Him for every blessing that happens to us or others.  There is an awesome presentation of His love on display and we have access to it. Moreover, we don’t even have to go to will call to pick it up.  Just walk right down the aisle and the seat is waiting there.  And the best part?

The ticket is free.

God be praised.

The Questions of Jesus, Part 3

Matthew 20:29-34

29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord,[e] have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

Continuing my thoughts on The Questions of Jesus, I was reading the end of Matthew 20,  right before Jesus is going up to Jerasulem.  It was here where He asked a simple, direct question that at times I (and I suspect most of us) have struggled to answer, specifically. 

What do you want me to do for you?

I’ll see if I can break this down:

29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord,[e] have mercy on us, Son of David!”

Jesus was passing by with great crowds.  At this time, right before He went up to Jerusalem, He was probably at the height of His popularity.  So it would seem as soon as the blind men heard all the people shouting Jesus’ name to get His attention, they knew He was here.  The Bible doesn’t say they were sitting there because they knew He was coming, however, but I believe destiny aligned their position.  Sometimes, we have to be in the right place at the right time.  Yes, that’s very cliche’ worthy, but in this case it is true.  These blind men didn’t know Jesus would passing by at that exact moment, but they were ready to petition Him with their requests if they had a chance.

Today, we don’t have to wait for Jesus to walk on by to get His attention.  We can be assured He’s always walking past us, hoping we’ll call out or reach out towards Him.  The right place at the right time is right now!  Also, the blind men knew He had the power to do something about their condition because they recognized His authority. I’m learning that before I ask Him to do something on my behalf, I make sure declare who He is first.

31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

The blind men wouldn’t be deterred.  They kept pleading to Jesus to “have mercy”, again recognizing that His authority over their sins and that He could save them from them.  The crowd was annoyed at the blind men probably because their loud cries got in the way of wanting to ask Jesus to heal them, or trying to challenge His authority, or who knows what.  I’m sure back in those days Jesus was the celebrity everyone either loved or hated, but they couldn’t get enough of Him – either way.  I can only imagine people looking down on these blind men because the blind men weren’t worth Jesus’ time.

I touched on this in some earlier posts, but I’m thankful that Jesus does give the floor to the marginalized.  Yes, they were blind, but they could be any one of us one day.  We could be blind in many other ways, and the rest of society (the crowd) would say, “Hold up, why are you having that issue?  That isn’t worth all that prayer.  Just stop doing it…” – or some variation of that.  But Jesus is concerned with every issue we have.  None is too big or too small for Him to care, and most importantly, fix it.

32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Finally.  They have gotten the Master’s attention, and instead of simply healing them, He asks them what do they want.  The key part here is that, of course, Jesus knows what they want.  He knew it before He even started down that road.  He knew when He heard their loud cries.  He knew as He was asking.  My point being, He knows! 

Moreover, I’m learning that when Jesus asks you for something, the answer has to be something that glorifies Him.  I’ll admit, if I heard that type of question, my answer would be something like:  “Shoo, I want you to give me a new car, new house, pay my bills, bless my family, oh, heal the world, make it a better place for you and for me, oh, and money so I can tithe…”

Well, all those things can glorify God, but those motives are from a selfish heart.  I believe when we tell Jesus what we want it has to be born out of our love for Him.  And if we love Him, we definitely will give him petitions to make His name great, not ours.

33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

The blind men state the obvious, and Jesus heals them.  In His compassion, He shows that He does care for our physical condition as well as our spiritual condition.  What’s interesting is that the Scripture doesn’t say that they were saved immediately.  But it does say that once they could see, they followed Him.  Wow! A life-changing miracle by Jesus is the true catalyst for action!  These men were essentially blind lowlifes of society on the side of the road a couple of minutes ago and now they had 20/20 vision and were (probably) on their way to becoming disciples!

The response to a miracle or even a small blessing is a closer walk with Him.  He blesses, I get closer.  The reaction is not merely to ask for more of what you just received, but it is to want more of Him.  It’s all about Him.

God be praised.

Identity in Him Part 2

I wanted to expand on my earlier post regarding our identities in Him. One Scripture that captures the grace we have in Him is 2 Corinthians 12:9:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I touched on my experience about how I handed a question about what I did, as a man, when I was out of work a couple of years ago. I couldn’t answer that question because I thought my identity was tied into if I had a job, or what particular line of work I did. However, as I learned, my identity isn’t tied to a job or even a specific thing I do. It’s tied to the One who saved me from everything I could have been, and placed me on a solid foundation where I can live this life, whatever it is, in the liberty and freedom of Christ.

In this verse, a very famous verse, Paul talks about how Jesus reminded him that His grace is made perfect in our weakness. If we were perfect like Him, we wouldn’t need Him. But we are not, and His grace covers up for that. Personally, sometimes I thought my weaknesses were not really weaknesses. Yes, that sounds crazy, but the enemy tricked me into thinking that I really didn’t need to work on them because that’s how I was or, if those weaknesses hurt other people, it was really the other party that had to adjust to me. Wrong headed thinking at its finest!

Fortunately, reading this Scripture and being reminded that if I am in Christ Jesus I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), those weaknesses are now His to perfect with grace. With regards to my identity in Him, now I can be confident that those very weaknesses will be shored up with grace. How so? Jesus promises so. Many times people think the worst part of them will always be there. How many times have we’ve heard that “God ain’t through with me yet”? He’s not, but with our identities in Him, we can be assured that the process is continuing, especially if we GIVE him those weaknesses. Giving Him those weaknesses involves praying everyday to help you with them, and then – the most important part – believing that He will help you overcome them.

I can’t tell you how much this process has helped me! For example, I could now see how my actions hurt other people or the way I said or not said something to someone caused an injury. Now instead of blaming the other party for it, I can become like Christ and take the responsibility of mending that relationship by offering a sincere apology with no excuses, and pray that the relationship would be restored, which it usually is. The reminder that your identity is in Him causes you to model His behavior. That’s a good thing.

Understanding you are in Him and your DNA has His artifacts in you assures you will become a better person. Christ changed everyone He came into contact with, and I’m thankful the changes He is making in me will benefit everyone. Christ be praised for His identity of Glory!

Stepping In for Us

ImageHe’s our Healer.  He’s our Provider.  And yes, He’s defninetly our Protector.  Not only for those that believe, but for everyone.  As a protector, there are times He will step in for us even if we are totally in the wrong.  I was struck at how Jesus responded when someone wanted to inflict, reject, or, harm someone else.  Consider, for example, when He rebuked the disciples for dismissing the little ones:

Mark 10:13-16

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.

The disciples may get a bad rap here because I can imagine they were dealing with thousands of people crowding around Jesus and He was healing them all. Shoulder to shoulder and maybe hundreds deep, the disciples were part Secret Service and part club bouncers.  It had to be crazy in those crowds.  In addition to Jesus healing all sorts of grown people, there were also those bringing their children and pressing the disciples to take them to Jesus.  The disciples were probably annoyed and scolded the crowds for “wasting their time”. You see this crowd? How in the world does He have time for them?

Today, how often are lesser concerns of the Kingdom considered a “waste of time”?  As believers, how often do we resonate with issues Jesus cares about other than the hot button issues of abortion, gay marriage, and social injustice?  These issues are important, yes; however, just because Jesus has His back to the “crowd” of issues does not mean they don’t warrant His full attention.  Or that He can’t “see” these issues over and throughout the crowd.  I pray that the issues that are on the fringes of society (human and sex trafficking, child poverty, wealth inequality) are brought to the forefront.

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Jesus intervenes and provides a teaching moment for the disciples.  The kingdom of God belongs to those that receive Him as a child.  Remember back when we were kids we always pushed the limits?  I remember jumping off my dresser into my bed time after time before I got in trouble for it.  Or trying to jump down a whole flight of stairs because I thought I could fly.  However, I wasn’t scared of getting hurt (even though the bed was far away!), I was scared of getting in trouble.  Likewise, Jesus wants us to have that same kind of fearlessness in receiving the Kingdom of God.  Not afraid of “pushing the limit” in our relationships, in our dreams of impacting people for Christ, in loving people, man, even in believing that He can and will do the very thing you need in your life right now!

I am thankful that throughout Scripture He steps in for us when we need it.  When the disciples wanted to call down brimstone and fire to a Samaritan village for rejecting Him, He said no (Luke 9:54-55).  A city full of sinners – but Jesus cares.  When they wanted to stone a adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), He said no. A high profile sin there – no dice.  Jesus cares.  Whoever you are – Jesus will step in for you, just for you.  He is our very own Secret Service agent.

Thank you Jesus for always stepping up and stepping in for us.  God be praised.

No Words

It gets tiring.  It really does.  Here we are again, after another national tragedy, searching for some sort of semblance and understanding of this world we live in.  And each time, after we’re done praying, giving, promising to hold our loved ones tighter and tighter be more vigilant, we fall back into the normal confines of our routines.

I’m struggling to find words on what the events in Boston mean.   I believe that God holds our future, and my trust and complete faith is in Him.  Period.  I’m going to pray, give, strengthen my relationship with Jesus and my family…and keep doing so.  It’s just I have no words, but…I don’t know…to say, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I trust You will get this right because you have overcome all of this (John 16:33)”.

I’m hoping it’s OK to throw up my hands and know Jesus has this.  He does.  I know it.

Identity in Him

During the height of the recession, I was laid off at my employer after working there for almost four years.  The shock was pretty jarring, especially after being assured that despite the worsening economic conditions, my department’s jobs would probably be safe.  Ultimately, it wasn’t.  And to top it off, my wife was laid off as well!  Following that crazy turn of events, we moved to another city with her new job while I earnestly prayed for a new gig, all the while consistently and faithfully filling out endless applications.

My wife’s co-worker hosted a holiday party over that winter and invited me to go. Sure, of course I said.  We arrived and my wife and her firends chatted while the husbands attempted to get to know each other.  Then came the question.  Cue the Beethoven!

“So, Craig, what do you do?”, Ted, my wife’s friends husband, asked.

There it was, the question I desperately did not want to answer.  With the other gentlemen looking on, I hesitated out of sheer embarrassent. I was unemployed.

“Um, I’m…um…uh…well…unemployed”, I stammered, and began tryinig to explain what industry I was in before I was laid off.  I felt my cheeks go red, and after we moved on to sports or some other topic, I began thinking about my response.  Why was I so ashamed of being unemployed?

I was ashamed of being unemployed because my identity was tied into my job.  My identity was tied into what I did for a living. It was tied to the very essence of me being a man.  And because I was “in between work” at the time, I felt I had no identity.

But praise God for Jesus!  Not only do I get to co-opt His identity, I take on everything else about Him!  His love resides that inside me, His joy that can brighten up any situation, His peace that passes all understanding – yeah, all of that.  Knowing that has truly altered my perspective of who I am as a man, and who I can become in Jesus.  I believe we all are from Him, brought to Him, for Him (Colossians 1:16-17) and knowing that central truth can untie you to a job, hobby, school, a passion, and re-knot your core identification in Him.

When I realized that my trust and faith were completely in Him, I could answer qeustions like that with a confident answer that glorifies Him at the same time leaving a positive and lasting impression on the person that asked the question.  Even if you are employed or do work that you love you can answer that question.  It brings the focus on glorifying Him in what you do.  It also keeps you humble, and takes your pride out of the equation.  Pride definitely is a problem because it focuses the lens on yourself.  And when it’s on yourself, where can Jesus be?

Finally, identity in Him is like letting all the air out of a inflatable air mattress and watching it deflate.  The pressure is instantly off!  At times in our lives it feels as if we have to live out a certain script based upon what we do, or what we are about.  Now we can  begin to trust that He is really going to handle whatever we are going through.  His yoke is easy and light (Matthew 11:30) and that means we don’t have to worry about how we look to everyone else, as I did.  Grab hold of that yoke, don’t let go and then boast in the Lord:

“Yeah, my finances may not be in a good place at this time, but my identity is not tied to my bank statement.  My trust is in Him!”

 

“I’m struggling with my classes this semester, but Jesus is my hope!  I know He will turn it around.”

 

“I may have <insert symptom Jesus can heal here>, but I’m not a victim.  My God is a healer!”

Once we are made new in Christ, we are not our old idenitities anymore.  We are His.  Time for some new ID cards.  God be praised.

The Improbable Gospel of Jesus Christ

He is Risen.  The agony of death has passed and the sweet aroma of victory are at hand.  Jesus is the Savior of the world, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Finite, as we say.  But before we get to the awesome and world-changing ministry of Acts, I’d like to ponder how improbable this story really was.  In doing so, we see that’s God’s timing and favor is just mind-boggling.  Truly improbable, but truly divine.

You start in God knowing the lineage Jesus would come from, through King David and Solomon (Matthew 1:6) and then all the way up to Joseph and Mary, who were the exact opposite of royalty.  Then you move on to Jesus being born in a manger, a place reserved for livestock and other farm animals.  Essentially, Jesus was reduced to a lower form than a human, yet and still three wise men were led to Him.  Oh no, you see, not at a castle or palatial estate reserved for future Kings, but a manger in the back of the back of a seedy motel (Luke 2:7).  Sure.

To come from that, and then to get out of Bethlehem while the fake “king” is on a rampage killing all young boys under four is astonishing.  And later, as a young boy, Jesus is teaching older, learned men in the synagogue.  You can only imagine the older gentleman questioning Him, challenging Him, and Jesus just answering every question with the grace and knowledge that can only come from the Father.  Jesus then goes to be a carpenter, just like His father, and toils for years and years after that, patiently waiting for His time.  Can you imagine that?  Jesus working among the people of Nazareth and they don’t even know He – this guy – would soon flip the world upside down.  Imagine hearing of John’s ministry and knowing that the same guy shouting from the rooftops to repent is referring to You, and that You would fulfill his declarations.  I’m shaking as I type this, because God was among us (Emmanuel) for 30 or so years,  lived and breathed as us, normal as can be – and we didn’t even know it.

Jesus went from being an incognito and in descript in Nazareth to preaching and teaching all over Israel and becoming the biggest rock star EVER.  Can you imagine if YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were around back then?  Can you imagine video of every miracle posted online in seconds while Jesus is doing His work?  It would be insane.  And yet here He was doing so many miracles that you couldn’t fit them in a book (John 21:25).  Moreover, He was reaching people that were the most marginalized in society, and telling them that they instead were going to be the most valued.  The improbability of everyone, including His disciples, not believing He was God in human flesh at first, then finally realizing, hey, He is! And, through knowing that, hear Him tell you after He’s done all these things (casting out demons, walking on water, healing blind people) that He’s going to be beaten and killed like a criminal.  Then when that happens, exactly as He predicts, everyone just runs away in fear and He’s left to die, alone.  You have to be kidding me!

Finally, to go from being crucified, brought down from the cross and then handed to a wealthy businessman, whose exact purpose is to take Jesus body (Matthew 27:57) to bury it in a specific tomb that had to be big enough to be enclosed by a big rock.  And this rock was so heavy, yet in God’s divine power was rolled away without any evidence of a human (or humans) touching it.  Wow.  Then, Jesus appeared to His disciples and received them as if the last two years didn’t happen.  Hey guys!   He appeared exactly like He did before He was beaten, scourged, and crucified. Unbelievable.

The improbability of this story, if it was happening in real time, would make any Hollywood producer blush.  But God in His divine ways doesn’t go by a script.  To ensure the gospel to be spread in the way it should be, it had to be done at the exact time, moment, and circumstance.  And the improbability of it all suggests that God’s plans are perfect plans.  Plans that are still unfolding in the making, using His hands as a guide. If the beginning of the gospel is any indication, we are in for an awesome ride.  God be praised.

The Cross

For Good Friday, I’ll post a reflection of the cross I penned last year. Due to the complications of moving to a new city, I didn’t get the chance to get to church for Easter Sunday. I was pretty bummed out about that, so I wrote out my thoughts on the ultimate sacrifice.

The Cross
What it Means to You, I, and us All

By Craig Scott

April 4, 2012

Passion Week brings me to reflect on The Cross. What was really nailed there other than Jesus’ body? Well, truthfully we know that our “sins” were posted to that tree, never to be heard from again. But yet still, 2000 years later, we still sin, and in essence, those sins still nail Jesus to it. The Cross is the place where we can go give him everything that is not like Him, in order for us to be saved. You see, before Jesus died, He told His disciples He would be crucified, die, and after three days, get back up.(Mark 10:33-34). I believe the disciples heard it, but of course did not believe it. But in this the Scriptures would be fulfilled, and that we, all of us, had a place we could go for redemption.

You see Jesus’ agony in the Garden when He prayed while his disciples slept. He asked the Father to “take this cup” because He knew what it would take to bring glory to the Father and to bring us salvation. Not only was He saving the current generation, He was saving all of us that were not even thought of yet. Can you believe it? Jesus was thinking about every single soul at that time, and He knew that the entire enormity of the world’s sin was being placed upon Him at that time. Oh what agony! Oh what distress! The Savior of the world was “overwhelmed”(Mark 14:34). I think I look at the Cross and see a Jesus that is overwhelmed at all of the wrong we do to His name, His people, and yet and still He took it anyway, and disposed of it, just so we could be redeemed back unto Him. That redemption is so sacred! And he did this for those that will NEVER come to Him! The power and the love of God are so unconditional. That is one of the beauties of the Cross.

Finally, we as “regular” Christians joke about how Easter and Christmas are the only time you see everyone in church. This year, I won’t do that. You see, I need an everyday reminder of His goodness on Easter just like one-time a year visitors as well. Jesus atoned for my sins when I was unsaved, and He is still atoning for them as we speak! Every bad thought, deed, and action signifies how much I need my Savior, and how much pain, agony, and distress I am placing on Him as He is nailed there, waiting to die. I am so thankful that there is a Cross there, where Jesus takes my sin and disintegrates it, and in that I have liberty. We should all be thankful for the One who bears every sin. Thank God for the Cross.

Thank God for the good in Good Friday. And Happy Resurrection Sunday.