last at the cross, first to the tomb…

Mary Magdalene.

I love that it was a woman who was the last one at the cross and the first one to go to His tomb.   Her story is told in all four gospels;  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

There is nothing romantic about Mary’s life.  She was born in a fishing town, Magdala, and is described as having seven demons living inside her.  At some point in her life she met Jesus and he cured her of her demons and she became a whole-hearted supporter of Jesus and His ministry.  And so, as our Lord hung on the cross, she stood with Mary, His mother.  She was with Him as they took His body from the cross.  She was with Him, watching,  when they laid His body in the tomb.  (Matthew 27:56, 61)

Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. (Matthew 28:1)  To her surprise, there was no one there.  An angel told her that Jesus had risen and to go tell the others.  As they hurried away, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” 

What an honor!  An honor that can’t be said of ANY of His disciples!  She was the first one to hear His voice.

In John 20:16, Jesus says, “Mary.”  

WOW….  She knew His voice and He knew her name

And guess what?  He knows your name.  No matter what kind of past you have.  No matter how many times you have sinned against Him….He reaches out His hand and pulls us out of whatever pit we have dug for ourselves.  Jesus gave Mary life and purpose and He can still do that for us today!

HE IS RISEN…The one that died for you and me has risen and He is my Lord and friend.  How I would have loved to be the first person that Christ spoke to after He rose from the dead.  Mary was loved and her love was rewarded.

God said, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

God rewards the person who is diligent. And for those who will take time in their day to seek the Lord, for those who will take time to read His Word, for those who will take time to wait upon Him, He will reveal His truths to them.

If you don’t know Him, and would love to know Him, here is a prayer that you can say to Him.  Remember, it isn’t the prayer that saves you, but Christ alone.

Dear Lord Jesus, I need you in my life. So many years I’ve tried to live without you. I know I am a sinner and have broken your holy commandments. Lord Jesus, I truly believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross in my place. Thank you for paying the penalty for my sins. Thank you for rising from the dead on the third day. Here and now, with all my heart, I trust you as my Savior and my Lord. Come into my heart and save me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

a woman of grace…

Today I wanted to share an email I received from Pam Kanaly.  If you don’t know who she is, you should definitely check her out HERE.  She has one of the sweetest spirits I know and also has a huge heart for single mothers.  Her ministry is called Alive Ministries and is based in Oklahoma.  Check out their Survive ‘N’ Thrive Conference for single moms in Oklahoma City.  She also has a book/bible study called “Will the real me please stand up” that is fabulous and you will love her fresh approach and enthusiasm for the Lord……Ok.  let me share this as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday…

When I was a college student at Texas Tech, a friend of mine in ministry gave me a paper authored by Dr. Keith Maxwell depicting the cross and Jesus’ suffering from a medical viewpoint. The manuscript was penned from his perspective. He quoted, “What if Jesus came into my emergency room after the crucifixion?” He continued to expand on the idea that as a doctor he’d seen multiple life-threatening injuries with people hanging on to life by a shoestring: motorcycle accidents, gun shot wounds, barbed wire beatings, and much more. He somehow “thought” He was ready for what he would discover in his research.

 

I don’t like horror movies or gruesome stuff, especially when it involves someone I love, like Jesus my Lord. Goodness, at Easter I’d much rather focus on the loveliness of spring and the yellow daffodils. But not to take the time to remember Jesus’ suffering on the cross would rob me of a deeper Easter experience. After all, isn’t that what His followers should feel compelled to do?

 

Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, which meant He fully felt the pain of the cross in a physical way just like you and I would. Though we cannot begin to comprehend it, we can ask the Lord to enable us to glean from the research done on this subject.

 

– By the time Jesus was crucified, He’d been up well over 24 hours without sleep.

 

– Jesus had already that day walked 2 and ½ miles before He carried His own cross.

 

– Twelve to fourteen times in the world the phenomenon of a health condition known as hemathidrosis has been recorded with humans. One of them was Jesus Christ. It’s a condition due to severe stress and agony where a person actually exudes blood from every sweat gland. Instead of perspiring sweat, they drip blood and eventually die. However, in the case of Jesus He didn’t bleed to death. The cool Israeli night air chilled the capillaries constricting the blood flow, only prolonging the suffering.

 

– Scourging was a hellacious procedure invented by the Romans for criminals (forbidden to ever be imposed upon a Roman citizen.) The victim was stripped naked and tied by his wrists to a post with his back and legs exposed. Thirty-nine lashes from the neck to the top of the ankles were inflicted by two robust soldiers. At the end of the whip dangled leather straps, 6 to 7 feet long with a shod made of cattle bone at the end, similar to a sinker you would use for fishing. Upon each blow, it’d lift small shards of muscle out of the skin. Each lash embedded nine lacerations, two inches long and ¾ of an inch deep – perfect bait for the birds.

 

– Every strike made upon the flesh would have taken 180 stitches. Multiply that by thirty-nine lashes and you have 2000 stitches.

 

– Jesus was beaten in the face and head. Certainly His mouth was tattered thin like paper where His teeth were likely protruding through His lips.

 

– The cross itself was made of rough unfinished splinters of wood. Jesus carried the cross through the streets with the Romans’ purpose of total humiliation.

 

– Jesus was mocked as “King of the Jews,” and wore a crown of thorns. Each thorn, as sharp as an ice pick, was ½ inch long. Blows to the head hammered the crown into his head touching the outer bone of the skull.

 

– Jesus bore the wounds on His wrist and feet. Romans learned that if they drove spikes through the wrists instead of the palms, the arteries and veins would be avoided allowing the criminal to hold up his body weight. Such a procedure allowed the victim to hang on the cross longer. Crucifixion was never intended to kill quickly but to torment slowly.

 

– The tough part of hanging on the cross was breathing out. In order to do so, the sufferer would have to pull up against the spikes in his feet to get air, scraping his back against the splinters. Such a reality infers a deeper meaning on Jesus’ last words which were uttered in vigorous labor: “Behold your Son. It is finished.”

 

– Jesus physical suffering alone is beyond our ability to comprehend, but it was only a sign of a much deeper kind of suffering: His anguish of the spirit. When Jesus died, the face of His heavenly Father was hidden, and He was torn from the presence of God. He had enjoyed unbroken fellowship with The Almighty from all eternity and now faced hell itself.

 

Why did Jesus suffer?…..because all our sins were placed on Him. He took the punishment we deserved: judgment and hell. And why did He do this?…..because of His love for you and me and His desire for us to enter into a heavenly eternity.

 

Today Jesus Christ sits victoriously at the right hand of God. I rejoice. I celebrate. I shout songs and praises of glorious hallelujahs! His love for us is totally incomprehensible, and I receive it with intense appreciation (the best I know how). As long as God gives me the opportunity to breathe, I shall live for Jesus MY King.

 

Now, my beloved friend, with all that being said, I ponder: How will you approach good Friday and Easter morning?

 

Most reverently,

Pam

they did it again…

Not only did they do it again….but they did it quite well!!

Remember THIS?

Well, now how about a little of THIS!!       GREAT JOB, GUYS…AND GALS of Igniter Media!

The Easter Season is coming upon us …

Remember what Christ did on the cross………for You and Me……don’t look to religion for answers…look to God!

Blessings!!

what easter really, really, really means….

FIRST WATCH THIS….AND THEN READ…..

                                                                                           

It’s not just another holiday….
You see, Christ’s resurrection is more than just a cause for celebration or a special season
in the church calendar. It is the very foundation of our faith!

If Jesus does not live today, then we have not been saved and we will not have eternal life.

In 1 Corinthians 15:14 and 19, Paul put it this way:

“and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain . . . If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

But Jesus did rise from the dead, He is alive, and His resurrection makes all the difference in the world for you today, and for all eternity!

Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, you can be confident that:

God is real. Because He lives, we have the proof we need that the One we serve is God —unlike all the other deities in all the dead religions of the world.

Your sins are forgiven. Think about this: in most religions, forgiveness depends on your good works. But as a Christian, you are forgiven the moment you accept Him as your Savior, because He conquered death and paid the penalty for your sin.

He is at work in your life. The Bible teaches very clearly that Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand, interceding on our behalf. He is a living God who answers our prayers, and He has sent His Holy Spirit to teach and guide us until He returns.

Your body will be resurrected. When you die, you won’t simply be a shapeless, faceless spirit. You will have a recognizable body just as Christ did when He rose again. In Philippians 3:20-21 we are told:

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

To be resurrected into “conformity with the body of His glory” means that your body will be of the same substance as His risen body. You’ll be visible. You’ll be able to eat, walk and move from one place to another—yet in a way that is not limited by space and time.

• You will have a home in heaven. In John 14:3, Jesus tells us that “I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am you may be also.”

Forgiveness of sins, a relationship with a living Lord, a new home in heaven—it’s no wonder that we celebrate Easter!

(adapted from Charles Stanley)

the holy week…

It’s fast approaching.  Easter this year is April 24, 2011.  And you can find out about how the date for the Resurrection Sunday is determined HERE. (I would summarize, but I like this website)

When we were in Israel, it was a rainy day when we approached the Garden of Gethsemane, and was cold and rainy when we went to the Garden Tomb also…

But did that stop us from going?  NO!  It was a moving experience that will stay with me always. It had a holy feel to it!

On that note, soon we will be approaching the Holy Week,  which can be explained like this:

Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Monday-Wednesday: He confronts the religious leaders.
Thursday: He meets with his disciples in the Upper Room.
Thursday night-Friday morning: Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried and beaten.
Friday: Jesus is crucified, dies, and is buried.
Saturday: Jesus remains in the tomb.
Sunday: Jesus rises from the dead.

His disciples didn’t even see it coming.  They had no idea on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, what would happen that week.  Even though Jesus had told them on more than one occasion, they were shocked and shaken to the core.

God had a plan at Calvary.  And like the rainy day that we experienced, you couldn’t see very clearly.  And the disciples could not see what was intended.  But if we look at the cross long enough…..really SEE the cross…we will see the wisdom of God.  HE knew what we needed….and we needed a Savior.

One day will come when the sunlight of God’s love surrounds us as we stand in the presence of Jesus who loved us and gave himself for us. When we get to heaven, our eyes will  finally be open to God’s good plan, we’ll look back over our life and see that through all the twists and turns and detours that …God does not make a mistake.  He loves us and has a perfect plan for our lives.

when the rooster crowed…

Here are the facts:  An adult male chicken is called a rooster.  An adult female chicken is called a hen.  Roosters are larger, more colorful and have larger combs on top of their heads.  Chickens are tasty.  But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about…sooo……

In Luke chapter 22, there is so much happening.  It starts out with the Passover, and we find the chief priests and scribes plotting how they might kill Jesus, but they realized that they must do it without causing a big scene because they feared the people.

In verse 3, the Bible says that ‘Satan entered Judas’ (which really creeps me out) and then Judas made a bargain with the chief priests and captains to betray Jesus without causing a riot among the people.  They agreed to give him 30 pieces of silver.

Jesus has now sent Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover meal.  And when the time came, Jesus and the apostles all sat together.

Luke 21:14-23, “And when the hour came, he reclined at table and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves.  For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until he kingdom of God Comes.”  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me”.  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But behold,, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.  For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”  And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

Later, Jesus tells the disciples, that Satan had asked to “sift each of you like wheat”.  And then He tells Peter that He had prayed for him, that his faith not fail.  Isn’t that beautiful?  Jesus had already prayed for Peter because He already knew what was to happen!  But Peter insists that he would NEVER betray him and that he would go to prison with Him and even to die for Him.  And that is when Jesus tells him, ” before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny me three times.”

So now here we are.  Jesus has indeed been arrested,  taken and whisked away.  I don’t know where the other disciples have gone, but Peter decides to follow at a distance.  As he stands by a fire in the center of the courtyard, a servant girl looks over at Peter and exclaims that he is one of Jesus’ followers! Don’t you imagine that the words hit him like an electric shock!  How did they know?  Then as two others begin whispering, the accusation hits him again.  Again he denies him by saying, ‘I’m not one of them.”  And finally, another servant girl insists that he must be one of Jesus’ followers.  I imagine that Peter’s heart is pounding in his chest as they all look at him suspiciously, so he blurts out, “I don’t know Him.”

And that is when the rooster crowed.  But it is the next verse that is one of the most heart-breaking verses in the whole Bible!  (At least in my opinion) Because in verse 61, it says, “At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter.”

Oh………can you imagine? That is like a light being turned on while you are committing a sinful act in the dark.  How devastating…..Even though it is the dead of night, Peter saw the Lord…and the Lord saw him.  One look from the Son of God sent Peter out into the night to weep bitterly.

Oh, Peter….you didn’t deny Christ to the high priest.  You didn’t deny Christ to the soldiers.  You denied Christ to a servant girl! Peter is the man that had just cut off a Roman soldiers ear earlier in the Garden!  He was not a coward! But he had been caught off guard and he had ignored Jesus’ warning.

So it was Peter, the Rock (Matt. 16:18-19) that had crumbled at the most significant point in his life.  He had denied Christ, not once, but three times and I am sure that it is a failure that he would remember for the rest of his life.

I Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” In other words, don’t be so naive and self confident…you are not exempt….you will fall.

In the end, it was Peters courage that failed him, not his faith.  Remember when Jesus said that He had prayed for him that “his faith not fail.”  Jesus knew long before the denial that Peter would fall and how he would react.  But he never left him.  Our Lord looks past our failures and faults and sees our heart.

Do you feel weak and confused?  Peter felt that way.  Are you feeling afraid and backed in a corner?  Peter felt that way too, in fact this story should give us one of hope! Listen to Peter!  If you’ve fallen and feel like you’ve denied Christ, take heart!  God still loves you!  And if he can love Peter … he can love you!