The Work of God Displayed

Lately I’ve pondered events in our lives we wish didn’t happen, or wonder why God allowed in the first place. In re-reading the story of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9, his disciples asked Jesus who sinned. The blind man or his parents to cause the man’s blindness.

Jesus told the disciples neither sinned. The blindness happened so God’s glory, the work of God, might be displayed in the man’s life.

I find people today still ask the question the disciples asked. “Who sinned to cause this calamity?” They assume someone surely sinned. They don’t this it as an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed.

If we jump to John chapter 11, we see after Jesus deliberately tarried before he set out for Bethany, he raised his friend Lazarus from the grave. When Lazarus’ sister Martha questioned Jesus’ delay, he told her it was to show God’s glory so the work of God would be displayed.

A friend of mine once commented it is a good thing when Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus used direct address and called Lazarus by name. Otherwise, if Christ simply said, “Come out!” with no name attached to the command, every body in the surrounding tombs would rise. True.

Thinking of our own lives, and the lives of those around us, can we look at the less than spectacular events, and see the hard things as opportunities to display the work of God? I think so.

Have the eyes of those once blind in darkness opened to the Light of who Jesus is as Savior, Lord, and King?

Have those once dead in sin raised to new life in Christ?

Has the bitterness of past hurts and unforgiveness fallen from lives as surely as scales fell from blind eyes?

Has the one who wandered far off God’s intended path re-calibrated their GPS coordinates and returned?

If so I would say each of these events, and many others, happened so the work of God would be displayed.

How has God displayed his glory and work in your life or the lives of those you know?

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Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NET)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

When You Turn Back

Did you ever notice when Jesus met the disciples on the seashore with a breakfast of grilled fish which he cooked for them after his resurrection, he called Peter Simon?

Jesus didn’t call the apostle Peter, the rock; the name Christ gave him. Instead, Jesus called the apostle by his birth name. I hadn’t paid much attention to that detail until I prepared this month’s Easter posts.

Also, I love the fact Jesus didn’t say if you turn back. No. Jesus said when you turn back.

Thank you, Jesus, he tells us the same.

It’s not one strike and we’re out. Not even three strikes and we’re out. Jesus tells us after we fail, after we fall, when we turn back to him his grace is sufficient. His sacrifice is sufficient. He is sufficient.

Do you think when Peter heard Jesus call him Simon, it was similar to the feeling we get when our parents call us by our first AND middle names? Maybe.

Jesus spoke Simon’s name twice. He needed Simon Peter’s full attention. The words Jesus spoke were extremely important. Especially given Peter’s previous denial as the Lamb of God awaited crucifixion.

Yes. Jesus named Simon the rock, however, Peter needed to understand in addition to his strong side, Peter also had a vulnerable side. Just like the rest of the disciples. Just like the rest of us. Every single one of our strengths can be turned into our weaknesses. Those are the areas where Satan shows up. He takes the good and twists it into something bad.

Peter felt confident he would never forsake Christ. Satan took that confidence and twisted it into self-pride. That prideful spirit allowed Peter to care more about protecting himself, and what others thought of him, than he cared about protecting Jesus.

Each of Christ’s disciples have a vulnerable side, a target Satan intends to penetrate to destroy our testimony about who Christ the Risen Savior is. It is a target Satan can only attack with God’s permission. A target of temptation Jesus prays we will withstand  through the power of the Holy Spirit in those who belong to him.

Peter’s story didn’t end when he denied Jesus around a fire the night Christ was betrayed. After he repented, turned back, and set out to proclaim Christ and him crucified, Simon Peter preached a sermon during Pentecost that saw thousands confess Jesus as Lord. And that was just the beginning.

Like Peter there are times we fail. We deny we ever knew Jesus through our careless words and actions. Jesus knows the outcome before Satan even draws back his bow and sends fiery darts our direction.

Like Peter, when we fall we have a choice.

Will we let our failure define us, give up, and walk away? Or will we acknowledge our fall, get back up, repent, and when we turn back, strengthen those around us?

Who knows? But one thing is sure. Whatever we do after we fall is just as important as what we did before we fell.

Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sins.

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Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Alive!

Although CO-VID-19 may have hijacked the way we usually celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year, the truth remains, Jesus is alive! Nothing. Absolutely nothing can change that most glorious fact. Amen?

In the story of Jesus’ arrest, we read Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. The exact number of times Jesus predicted.

In the Resurrection account recorded in Mark, specific mention is made that Peter be told the Good News. Jesus is alive. That glorious information was not to be kept from the apostle. Peter needed to know Christ rose from the dead. Peter needed to know Jesus was alive. Peter needed to know Jesus wanted to include Peter in Jesus’ story.

Maybe we’ve been like Peter. One way or another, we’ve denied we knew Jesus. Maybe it happened through our careless words or thoughtless actions. Maybe we hid our light under a bushel when given opportunities to represent Christ in this dark world.

But you know what?

Jesus loves each of us. He really does. He loves us so much he willingly paid the price for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He took the nails and sadistic lashes we deserved. Jesus took the punishment and wrath of God that was headed our way upon his perfect, sinless self.

He did that for you. He did that for me. All so we could be included in Christ’s story of Good News. Jesus is alive!

Jesus is not the Great I was. Jesus is the Great I AM.

Even after Peter’s denial, Jesus invited Peter to eat some grilled fish by the seashore before his ascension into heaven.

We may not be invited to eat fish with Jesus by the seashore, but he invites all who name him as their LORD and Savior to come to the table set in his presence.

The question for us is, what are we going to do about it?

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The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased embalming spices.

Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance.

But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone—a very heavy one—was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb—and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter:

“‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’” Mark 16:1-7 (TLB)

 

He Is Alive!

©Frances Gregory Pasch

“Where has he gone?” the people asked.

“Who rolled the stone away?”

Most shook their heads in disbelief

And knew not what to say.

“Could this have been the Son of God?

Could all he said be true?”

Then angel smiled, “don’t be afraid

He’s gone ahead of you.

He is alive! He conquered sin!

He’s risen from the dead!

He’s on His way to Galilee,

Exactly as He said.”

How blessed we are to have a God

Who reaches out with grace

And promises if we’ll believe,

We’ll see Him face to face.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

The Power of Stillness

Jesus has been arrested and falsely accused. The high council’s next step is to send him to Pilate. As Pilate interrogates Jesus, Christ refuses to strike back. He refuses to plead his innocence before his accusers. Instead, Jesus displays the power of stillness.

Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate the Roman governor.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

When the leading priests kept accusing Jesus of many crimes, Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?”

But Jesus said nothing. Much to Pilate’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who committed murder in an uprising.

The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

“Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

(Mark 15:1-15 NLT)

The day when Jesus stood alone

And felt the hearts of men like stone,

And knew He came but to atone–

That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,

They bound Him with a cruel cord,

And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,

They dragged Him on from place to place,

They heaped upon Him all disgrace;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you from far much less,

With rage, which you called righteousness,

Resented slights with great distress?

Your Savior “held His peace.”

Taken from Streams in the Desert

The power of stillness.

Oh, that I practiced it to a greater measure than I do and let God answer on my behalf.

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But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

On The Night He Was Betrayed

On the night he was betrayed, following Judas’ departure from the upper room where Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus took the remaining eleven to the olive grove known as the Garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron Valley.

Having spent the last three years as a disciple, Judas knew Jesus often went to this garden to pray. So it is no surprise this is where Judas chose to betray Christ with a kiss of friendship.

It is here Jesus pulled three of his closest disciples aside to an inner section away from the other eight. It is here Christ told Peter, James, and John his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.

Before the beginning of time, Christ knew what Judas and the High Priest plotted. He knew the exact moment the betrayer would arrive with armed guards to arrest him on false charges. He knew the horror the rapidly approaching hours held.

Until I read a devotion in Lysa TerKuerst’s book, Embraced, I’d never thought much about the significance of Jesus praying in an olive grove. In this devotion she explains the crushing process olives go through to produce olive oil.

The crushing times she calls it.

  • Lysa says the crushing times are necessary times. In order to be fruitful the olive tree has to have both the dry hot east wind and the wet Mediterranean west wind.
  • The crushing times are processing times. In order for the bitter olive to be edible, it goes through a lengthy process. It is washed, broken, soaked, and sometimes salted.
  • The crushing times are preservation times. The best way to preserve the olive is to crush it in order to extract the oil. It has to be pressed. Hard.
  • Crushing is not the end. Instead, crushing preserves the olive.

Jesus said his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death. His suffering was for our benefit. He could have called tens of thousands of angels to deliver him. He could have told God he wouldn’t suffer for humankind’s sins to bring those who believe in him salvation. He could have stopped Judas from kissing his cheek.

Jesus could have done a whole bunch of other things to prevent his crushing time, but he didn’t.

On the night he was betrayed and throughout the next day, Christ went through the horrific effects of accepting the Father’s will of the cross to bring salvation to lost sinners. He took the bitter sting of death upon himself. He paid the debt we owed but could never pay, making a way to preserve us.

Like the olive, we may go through our own crushing time where we feel beat up by the dry hot east wind and soaked by the wet Mediterranean west wind. We may feel crushed beyond anything we can bear. Our life circumstances might be washing and breaking us to the point we feel like there is no hope.

When we experience these very difficult times, let’s remember on the night he was betrayed, Jesus endured unbearable sorrow in a grove of olives where his soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.

All because he wanted to make a way to preserve us for a life with him in eternity.

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They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Mark 14:32-34 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.