Archive for March, 2015

Holy Tuesday

I found an interesting timeline of Holy Week on Biblegateway.com (https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2011/04/holy-week-timeline-visualization/) and shown below. It links relevant Scripture with each day of Holy Week and shows where the various people involved in the events were. On Monday Jesus turned over the tables in the temple. On Tuesday we see the following events:

The encounter with the withering fig tree [Matthew 21:19-22]
The temple debates [Matthew 21:23-23:39]
The Olivet discourse [Matthew 24-25]

In the encounter with the barren fig tree, Jesus withers a tree that bears no fruit. In the temple debates the authorities questioned the authority of Jesus. In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus warns that we must be alert and watchful and prepared for his coming. In judgement will the Lord see our lives as fruitful or barren? Will He know that we recognized his authority over our lives? Are we focused on God in our daily lives, or would we need to run off to fill our lamps if Christ returned today? Some thoughts for Holy Tuesday.

Holy Week

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At Bible study last night we got into a brief discussion of why God let bad things happen  – the recent German airliner crash being the recent cause for question.  Lee Strobel delivered a message after the Aurora, Colorado shooting and I want to share key concepts of that speech with you, as I believe he provides a very good explanation. I have a link to the entire address at the end.

Key points are that God did not create evil in the world.  There is evil in the world because people choose to do evil.  God created man with free will – a will to decide whether or not to love and whether or not to choose God.  People choose not to love.  Second, though suffering exists because people have chosen evil over good, God can use suffering to accomplish good.  Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Scripture promises that God will deal with all evil in the world and triumph over it. We wonder why he doesn’t just do that, but  2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  God promises that he has great things in store for us and that while our sufferings here are painful, he has much in store for us that.  Romans 8:18 tells us “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Finally, it is up to us to decide whether we see evil events and suffering and cause this to turn against or reject God or whether we turn to him for peace and courage.  In John 16:33 we are told “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Towards the end of the address Strobel states: “it’s not just that God knows and sympathizes with you in your troubles. After all, any close friend can do that. Any close friend can sit beside you and comfort you and empathize with you. No, Jesus is much closer than your closest friend. Because if you’ve put your trust in Him,then He is in you. And, therefore, your sufferings are His sufferings; your sorrow is His sorrow. So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.”

I recommend you read the entire speech.  It’s at:  https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering/

good over evil

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Hope is a key part of life.  When people lose hope they lose their love of life.  People place their hope in many things – themselves, other people, the government,fad diets, psychics, science, education, money – the list goes on and on.  There is only one true source of hope, however, and that is God.  God is faithful and will not disappoint.  When we have faith and place our hope in him, he provides lasting joy, peace and hope — even in times of trouble.  Hope placed in other people, in ourselves, and in things is false hope and will not fail to disappoint in the long run.  God is with us at all times, walking beside us and giving us strength to face our problems and joy to celebrate our successes.  God is our rock — our only true source of hope.

hope verses

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Hallelujah!  O my soul, praise GodAll my life long I’ll praise God, singing songs to my God as long as I live. Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, put your hope in God and know real blessing! God made sky and soil, sea and all the fish in it. He always does what he says— he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners— he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen.God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked. God’s in charge—always. Zion’s God is God for good!
Hallelujah!  — Psalm 146 [The Message]


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God speaks to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10-14) with words of hope…hope that the Jewish people will have their lands restored and be removed from exile in 70 years.  With this gracious promise, God offered a prosperous future,  as well as a promise to be beside them throughout their period of trial.  God promises that the Kingdom of God will be with them while they wait to escape their captivity.  This Godly promise, spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, offered a collective future hope for the Israelites that was based on the promise of a faithful God.  Note that God did not immediately release them…God often fulfills our requests in ways other than we ask or expect.  God did however promise and fulfill the hope of the Kingdom of God for his faithful people.  That promise of redemptive hope was once again fulfilled by Jesus and Christians continue to enjoy the collective hope brought about by the presence of the Kingdom of God today.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  [Jeremiah 29:10-14]


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God of Hope

God of Hope
by James Gregory

You hold the broken-hearted
You stand beside the weak
You go to those in darkness
And so must we
Your heart is for the outcast
For those we call the least
You lift the broken spirit
And so must we
God of hope
God of futures
You can take a broken heart and make it sing
God of life
New tomorrows
You can shine the light that changes everything
You go to those forgotten
The faces we don’t see
You give Your life to save them
And so must we
A God who speaks, opens graves
With one word our God saves!


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Hope and Faith

John Piper points out that there are typically three kinds of hope that people routinely express:

  1. A desire for something good in the future (I hope daddy gets home early!)
  2. The thing in the future that we desire (Our hope is that Jim will arrive safely)
  3. The basis or reason for thinking that our desire may be fulfilled (A good tailwind is our only hope of arriving on time)

All of these “hopes”, which we hear in daily conversation, are based on uncertainty – we are uncertain of a result and we hope (cross our fingers) that in the situation we will get what we want.

Christian hope, however is based on certainty – a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.  With Biblical hope there is a moral certainty that God is loving, that His will for us is good, and that He will be beside us in all circumstances.  Christian hope is based on knowing that we have a faithful God.

“When Scripture says “Hope in God!” it means, in the words of William Carey, “Expect great things from God.”  Whenever faith in God looks to the future, it can be called hope.  And whenever hope rests on the Word of God, it can be called faith.   Hope is faith in the future tense.”  [John Piper]


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This week our Bible Study topic is Bubbling Over with Hope.  As a Christian, our hope is a “confident expectancy” in all that God can do.  Christian hope is not just wishful thinking, but reflects faith in God’s power, righteousness and grace.  Because we believe in a powerful, all-knowing, graceful and loving God, we can have a hope that culminates in love, joy and peace.  Over the next week we will explore the basis for our hope and how we can trust in the plans God has for our lives.


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Applying Kindness

We are called to demonstrate kindness as an act of following in the footsteps of Jesus.  As Christians we need to do more than just deal with kindness in the abstract.  Christians need to apply kindness in our day-to-day lives.

We should begin by exhibiting kindness in our home.  We can get so busy with things we need to get done for ourselves or others that we begin to take advantage of those we care about the most.  Harsh words to our spouse or children can cut very deeply.  Daily words and acts of kindness among those we love most are a necessary part of living with each other and form family bonds that can last a lifetime.

We demonstrate kindness to our friends by providing time to meet with them and listen to them.  We can be there in both good times and times of need.  We can offer prayers and service.  We can offer hospitality and support.  We share life experiences with our friends in ways that bring memories and joy that are shared over time.

We should demonstrate kindness in our work life.  We want to achieve our goals by working well with others, even when we are faced with difficult people.  We can accomplish much by working together in kindness and toward common goals instead of getting into contentious relationships that are competing and power-based.  Recognizing colleagues efforts, giving credit for work accomplished, being a team player, and supporting each other to meet difficult schedules and goals can make our time at work better and can leave an imprint on those we work with.  This applies not only to paid employment, but also to work we do in service or through volunteering.

We should also seek opportunities to show kindness to strangers – those we encounter in our day-to-day life who are not part people we consider our family and friends.  This involves kindness to random people we meet through the day as we are in the marketplace, as we commute, or as we run errands.   It might be as simple as saying “have a nice day” to the bagger at the grocery store, or holding a door open for someone or smiling at someone who looks like they may need some encouragement.

We are kind not only because it helps people, but because it is a reflection of God in our life.  We do this to serve others and also to demonstrate God’s presence in the world today.


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“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”  [Philippians 2:3-4  The Message]


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