We recently enjoyed a visit to the greater DC area. With reports of protesters in recent days at the White House, we were unsure of what we may encounter. As we approached the area outside the front lawn, we didn’t see the large protests taking place as noted in the news. We did however see two lone protesters, one with a sign concerning Korea in the middle of the road and another standing next to the fence with a sign that said “Traitor!” A news agency rushed over for an interview but I didn’t know why this particular sign caught my eye.
Today is Good Friday! Many ask how can it be good in the midst of the darkness leading to Jesus’ death. While it is hard to see the goodness in the circumstances and events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, it’s more of a time of reflection on what’s been done for us. As we ponder upon the things we have done or have been done to us, not all things are good. But Jesus came and nailed everything we have done on the tree and took it with him! He was and is the Lamb who knew no sin! He died a criminals death, not because of anything He did, but all we have done against Him. We are cleansed by His blood ALL because of His love for us! This is what makes Good Friday, GOOD!
The Crucifixion of Jesus
26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then
“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’[e]
31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Continue reading
The above words have initiated several conversations over the years. The conversation usually begins with the recitation of them, followed by, “What does that mean?”. It is easy to say what it means to me; trusting in God, surrendering my plan, and focusing on him to see me through. While right, as I studied more, I realized that there is more to it.
Who do you turn to first when trials come? God, others, or even self? We all go through trials, sufferings, or circumstances that challenge us beyond measure. As Christians, it’s in these times that we tend to seek the Lord more. We want insight into what the Lord is doing, but do we trust him?
Did you know that trust is five-dimensional? I didn’t until I came across Psalm 37 and the supporting text shared. It said that,
- The renouncing of irritability and envy.
- Delighting in the Lord
- Submitting to the Lord
- Practicing patience in hope
- Avoiding anger
If we’re going to go deep, we have to dig deep. Digging deep is more than reading God’s Word during difficult times, but it’s also about self-reflection. Our response to whatever we are going through matters. Sometimes, the things we think are God turning his back on us or punishing us; He is using to grow our faith and our character. Our emotions indeed get the best of us. We are human after all, but instead of focusing on others, it’s time to get real and ask ourselves the hard questions.
- Am I being prideful, envious, selfish, judgemental, or hypocritical?
- Am I unkind in my speech to or about others? How do I treat others?
- Why does this irritate me?
- Why am I angry?
- Am I being fearful?
- Do I believe God is all-powerful?
- Do I believe God is with me and will see me through?
How we answer these questions reveals the condition of our hearts. Are we ready to receive what the Father wants to say to us?
But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet.Hebrews 10:12-13
Some may relate surrender to giving up all hope. Some see it as a relinquishment of personal rights. Most relate surrender to weakness, and nobody wants that! We want to rally the troops and fight to defend our opinions, our ways, our lives. We see in the above verse that God patiently waits until we are humbled. What does humbled mean? It realizes that there is a better way than envy, pride, anger, hypocrisy, addiction, unbelief, and seeks help. That is a significant strength! When we humble our hearts to His ways, he reveals the answers and gives the power needed to either move forward or to stand in His truth. (Hebrews 12:10-11). It’s in these times that we begin to understand and experience His mercy and grace.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Many say the absence of chaos brings peace; however, with Christ, peace is found within and settles on the heart and mind. This peace causes us to stand firm as we endure the trials and persecutions before us.
Sometimes we are called to bow our heads and endure the storm. It doesn’t seem right or fair at all; but, justice belongs in the hands of the Father and not our own. We can combat the lies, rumors, and hurt around us, but does that resolve anything? If we are honest with ourselves, it typically does more harm than good.
Standing firm under persecution is proof of a changed heart. It is proof that we have a strength that goes beyond our human capacity and a God-given determination to stand up under all those insults, hurts, lies, losses, and ruins because our Saviour is worth it.– Love God Greatly
We learn in Romans 12 three things that we can focus on when we encounter trials.
- We can rejoice in the hope given
- Be patient in tribulation
- Be constant in prayer
In all things, God wants our hearts. He desires to shape and mold them to reflect His plan and purpose, not our own. The Lord can’t grow our faith or develop our character if we don’t let Him dig deep into our hearts. It’s through prayer and supplication that we see he fights for us. We need to get out of the way. As we see Him move, we can delight in Him and rejoice in His mighty hand.
Proverbs 27:19 says, ”As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” To whom do you reflect when waters rise? God, man, or self? Be honest in your self-reflection. We need to remember that the Lord does not reflect upon how we see things. We focus upon the outward appearances of others, but the Lord digs deeper and sets his eyes upon our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7).
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
– Lamentations 3:22-26
Waiting is hard during difficult times. Trusting the Lord seems even harder. I know for me, my desire is to want to fix the problem based upon my interpretation of the situation before me. My heart cries out to the Lord to do my will and the silence in return is deafening. The still small voice within me presses upon my heart that I can only see in part and that the One who sees me has a better view. His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. My ears fill with the resounding crescendo of the words, “TRUST ME!” And so I wait upon the Lord and His perfect timing.
Who would have thought you could gain insight into life from a spider’s web? They are beautiful, purposeful in their design, but they are also a snare, deceiving prey with its beauty.
As I reflect on this today, it reminds me of Ecclesiastes, and it states that there is a time for everything. There are no guarantees that life will always be as I currently know it to be. People and things wither away and won’t endure the test of time. Whom will I put my confidence in when these changes happen? Who will hold me together and bring me through? Where will my hope be found when the sword crushes my spirit? If it’s in anything other than Christ, I deceive myself.
Where is your confidence today? Is it in your job, your relationships, self, or is it in the things you have and your talents? As beautiful as some items are, sometimes they can turn into a web of deception when we hold tight to them for security.
Our family recently spent some time captivated by the emerald green waters of Destin, Florida. It was fun to watch my husband and daughter roll with each wave among the ombré hues of the Gulf. With each swell, they would lean back and let the wave carry them and then look to the shore to measure the distance. They would then swim out and wait for the next big one to carry them further. As I watched them from the beach, a pressing upon my heart began and the words, “Keep watching me.” filled my mind. It wasn’t a watching of people but something of the waters that stirred within my heart.Continue reading
That is a hard thought to wrap your brain around first thing in the morning. We go throughout life in the drivers seat weaving in and out traffic just to make it to our destination wherever that may be. More often than not, the speed or gusto used to get there leaves us either tired and restless, or hung up in road construction with all the people we just passed pulling up beside us. We want to get out ahead again to not undue all the ground gained when we passed them earlier. It’s a vicious cycle really. Our driving force should not be based upon the me, the I, or the want, but based on God and His leading. When we are our own driving force, we can’t stop until our goal in life is attained. We throw others under the bus or use them as speed bumps to gain height over them. When God is in the driving seat, we wait until the next green light. We May still get held up in traffic, construction, or even an accident for taking a speed bump way too fast, but He is there to guide us through. The length of time it takes depends upon who has hold of the steering wheel and how we reply to the journey ahead.
I’m reminded that my walk in Christ is not about wandering aimlessly about but walking in His light and worshipping in spirit and truth. We have sent many back into darkness due to fear! What was non-essential in recovery is now essential. What is right is now wrong! It’s been treading that way for a while but with a pandemic at hand, it’s clear to see to see how far the scales have tipped. Everyone has a truth but how does it measure in the light of His Word! We are to expose truth not harbor it or give it a sanctuary. Where are the sleepers! It’s time to rise up and stand. In our anger we are given the demand to not sin, but we can still turn over the changing tables and crack a whip.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Rise up it’s time to shine with Christ!
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases
If God is the source of true hope and blessing, and all glory and honor go to Him however, why do we still ask where He is today? I find the study text supporting verses 2 and 3 applicable to our lives even today. It says, “People deny God’s presence or power when he does not act as they think he should. God is in the heavens and he has all power, authority, and knowledge. He does as he wishes and not what people think he should do. He works out his plans in accord with his will and acts in ways he chooses.”
We live in a broken world where we pray for God to do our will and what we believe is good for us. When He doesn’t answer how we want Him to we become angry, question His goodness, and believe He doesn’t love us because we didn’t get what we thought we deserved. We tune our eyes and ears to align with the worlds way and not that of God and instead miss the very provision given.
Could it be our inclination to see our prayers unfold in the world disrupts our vision of the unseen God present in our lives and who He wants to be for us?
I remember my younger years in elementary school. You could name anything about school and I loved it; from the smell of freshly sharpened pencils to the sound of chalk on the chalkboard. My mom even made arrangements with my teachers to make extra copies of seat work to bring home. I would then teach my younger sister who was my only physical student among a host of invisible ones complete with names and imaginary desks. It was the life!
There was one thing however I disliked about school. It wasn’t P.E., music, or even the school lunches but it was most definitely the language arts exercise of Fact or Opinion. I recall the vulnerability felt not being able to decipher between them. Similarly, we see the same struggle even today. The concept is in our homes, churches, schools, and anywhere in community life where a person or organization tries to place their opinions on others seeing them as truth. We see the church called false when facts collide with false truths or opinions but we also see churches compromising truth to those seeking their own truths. There are many scenarios that we can unfold here but what we fail to realize is we like to make our own rules and cross lines never meant to be crossed to satisfy our own way and desires. We don’t have to look far to see this truth come to light in the Bible.
Thank you for joining me this past week as we read through the Bible on Jesus’ betrayal, trial and crucifixion. As we read today, we see He conquered the grave and overcame death that we may live with Him one day soon! What a great promise to hold on to as this world with all its troubles tries to distract us from what’s been done. I close with this verse spoken by Jesus in John 16:33,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Jesus Has Risen
24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.