Holy Saturday Passion Week

Today is called Holy Saturday and it is the day after Good Friday. Holy Saturday is also called Black Saturday. It is the last day of Holy Week, in which we await the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning. On Holy Saturday we remember the day that the body of Christ lay in the tomb.

From the book of Matthew we find this event happening on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. Matthew 27:62-66: The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

John 16:20-22: I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

On this day, I am certain that the disciples were confused and scared. Jesus had been crucified and all may have seemed hopeless and lost. We know that the disciples often struggled in their walk of faith and on this dark day they probably could not begin to comprehend what was about to take place the next morning. The despair that they must have felt and the guilt of abandoning Jesus would have been a heavy burden to bear. They probably could not see or imagine – the light and the hope that would forever change the world – come tomorrow morning. Even though it may have seemed that evil had prevailed we know that evil will never prevail against God’s Kingdom. Tomorrow we can say with complete joy and confidence that – Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

As Jesus was preparing to leave this world, he said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NIV)

Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday. And while it would have been great to celebrate this day with her, I am thankful that she is at home with the Lord. I am also thankful that her pain and suffering is no more. She struggled through the last few months of her life here on this earth but she now has a new and glorious body and she is free of any sickness, sorrow, or pain.

My mother had a great impact on my life. My father did as well, but it was my mother who taught me more about how to have a life long relationship with God. She lived a life that reflected the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ. She was not perfect but she gave me her time and made me feel loved. As I grow older, I find myself doing many of the things she did for me for my own children. I love them fiercely and there is not a day that passes that I do not begin my day praying for their health, safety, and for God to be merciful towards them.

Jesus wanted his disciples and us to know that heaven is a real place that is being prepared for each one of us who believe in Christ, as our Lord and Savior. Before Jesus left this earth he said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” What a wonderful and reassuring promise from Christ. He has prepared heaven for all who trust him and believe upon His name. And he waits for us in our heavenly home.

In this life we come to know many disappointments. When we lose someone, we certainly feel sorrow and disappointment. Jesus promises us that in heaven, we shall never again encounter sorrow or disappointments. In heaven, we will have all that we need. We will never lack anything and there will be so many good and wonderful things that we will enjoy. Although I miss my mother today, I take great comfort in thinking about her and all that she is seeing and experiencing in heaven at this very moment. She is where we all desire to be.

On earth, we are separated from our loved ones who have passed and we are separated from God. However, in heaven, there will be no more separation. The seas on earth separate people and continents from each other. The Bible tells us that in heaven there will be “no more sea.” In heaven, we will no longer be separated from our loved ones who have believed in Christ and we will no longer be separated from God. In heaven, we will be perfectly content and have all that we need. We will dwell with God. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

I recall standing by my mom’s bedside and holding her hand as she drew her last breath. I remember looking into her face for the last time. I remember asking God to bring her into the heavenly home that Christ prepared for her long ago. I had a powerful feeling of peace as we let her go, knowing that she was already in the presence of God. Happy Birthday Mom! I know that I will one day see you again in that incredible heaven that I can only imagine, but you are experiencing, in the presence of God.

God Is Speaking, Are You Listening?

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NIV):

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

How often do you find yourself saying, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening?” It’s more likely that we find ourselves saying, “Lord, why don’t you just listen to me?” Or, “Hurry up Lord, I’m listening!” We become so wrapped up in ourselves and our own lives that we fail to acknowledge that the creator of the universe knows what’s best for each of us and is more than willing to give us direction for our lives, if we will just stop and listen.

Most people lead very hurried lives and they allow little or no time to slow down and listen for God. Think about how you either begin or end your day. Do you set aside any daily time for God in the morning, at night, or at some other time during the day? I often hear people complain that God seems distant and far away from them. They tend to blame God for this lack of communication instead of their own failure to seek out and spend some quiet time, listening for God.

The text from 1 Samuel makes it very clear that God expects us to “listen” to him. God can and does reveal himself to us in many different ways. God greatly desires to connect with us through the reading of his word, through prayer, being outside enjoying the beauty of nature, and often through other people. God can and does communicate to us in countless ways, but we must be willing to listen.

We see in this text that Eli, the priest, was not listening for God. His sons were doing bad things and treating the offerings made to the Lord with contempt. “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12). Eli had failed to restrain them and so God reveals to Eli that he and his sons will be judged accordingly. Remember that it took Eli three times to realize that it was God who was calling out to Samuel. It appears that Eli was more preoccupied with other matters rather than listening to God. Is the same true for you in your daily walk with God?

Remember the story of the transfiguration from the Gospel of Matthew? Peter, James and John are led by Jesus up a high mountain and Jesus is transfigured before them. These three disciples were given a unique revelation of His glorious nature. And Moses and Elijah even appear before them and began talking with Jesus. And what does Peter do? He keeps on talking! And then do you remember what happens next?

Matthew 17:5: While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

While Peter is talking, God interrupts him and says, “This is my Son – Listen to him! It doesn’t take a genius to understand that God wants us to listen! 

Do you desire a closer, more intimate relationship with God? Do you want to feel God’s presence and sense His direction for your life? If so, the Bible is very clear on how we are able to do that – Listen to him! We can’t listen to God or feel his presence if we push him to the outer part of our lives. You must make God the center of your life, each and every day. And then you must be patient and listen! Are you willing to listen and then follow where God leads you?

Remember the words of Samuel in your own daily walk with God: “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace in a Troubled World

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.”

It seems that each time I read or listen to the news; I am constantly reminded of all the turmoil that is going on in our country and our world. We are exposed to so much violence and evil on a daily basis that it can cause us to become discouraged and even fearful of what is transpiring in our world. It is important to remember, that as followers of Christ, we have a choice. We can continue to allow the world that we live in to cause us to worry and become fearful, or we can remember that our Savior has already overcome the world and its many trials and tribulations.

Jesus warned his disciples of the many troubles they would face, as he talked about leaving this world and going back to the Father in heaven, after His resurrection. He warned them that they would face ridicule and suffer many tribulations because of their ministry in Christ’s name. He also promised them of a future time in which “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22). Like the disciples, we remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, as the sign that Christ has already defeated death, and the sin and evil of this world. This should be a daily reminder to us that no one in this world will ever take away our peace and our joy. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, we have the joy and peace of knowing that through belief in Christ, we have the promise of eternal life in our heavenly home.

As followers of Christ, we should begin each and every day in God’s word, as we remind ourselves of the truth that Christ has already overcome the world. God’s word can guide us through the many pitfalls and traps that this world sets for us as followers of Christ. This fallen world will never know complete peace until the second coming of Christ. However, as believers, we have the promise that absolutely nothing in this world can take away our joy that comes through the promise of salvation for those that believe in the name of Jesus the Christ. May the peace and joy of Jesus Christ be with you this day and every day!