Tag Archives: Easter

Leviticus 23; Psalm 30; Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2

Holidays interrupt the ordinary activities of my life and give me an opportunity to revitalize my commitment to God or holidays can draw my spirit into contemplating my recurrent need to depend on God. Such interruptions can lead to restoration and hope of blessings. Leviticus 23 lists the times of many God-ordained holidays, reminders of God’s deliverance, provision, forgiveness, and mercy. His presence is the gift in the midst of community, and the same is true during Christian holidays. I didn’t know how much I missed community until this past Easter. I have felt like a nomad these last 10 years, moving from state to state, changing jobs, changing churches, leaving the bones of loved ones in strange lands.

Ecclesiastes 6:2, written by my soulmate, Solomon, says, “A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it…this is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.” Solomon contrasts this scenario with his earlier statement that every man to whom God prospers and gives the divine gift of enjoyment receives blessings, indeed. Holidays have a way of slowing down my soul’s race to acquire the object and turning my eyes toward the Giver of my soul’s redeemed desires.

Interruptions in my work week can illuminate the threads of discontent or the tears in the fabricated beliefs I’ve entertained. The simplicity of following Christ needs no interpretation – if I am faithless, Christ remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). I am therefore unafraid of the future, and I am free to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.”

So Lord Jesus Christ, resurrected Savior and lover of my soul, I am pleased to be interrupted with holy days that urge me to focus on You. Like King David, I can praise (Psalm 30:11, 12).

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my        sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise            to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

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Leviticus 1, John 20, Proverbs 17, Philippians 4

Read atwww.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lev.%201;%20John%2020;%20Prov.%2017;%20Phil.%204&version=NKJV

Leviticus 1                Now the Lord called to Moses, …saying “Speak to the children of Israel, ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, … If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.  … shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar.” 

           Of your own free will, bring an unblemished offering to the Lord God. Stand before the Lord God with it, putting your hand on the offering and transfer onto the offering the sins which you have committed against the Holy God. The offering serves as your Atonement. Then consider its blood is sprinkled all around God’s altar and Jesus’ Resurrection (we’ll read about later) as proof that the sacrifice is acceptable to the Lord God and your sins are forgiven.

            Son of God, Jesus, You are the unblemished Lamb of God. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29, 36 Jesus referred to Himself, “I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.” Psalm 22:6  (1)

            Lord Jesus, You are the High Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (2)  “So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.”  “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; …for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.… the Son who has been perfected forever.” (3)

            Lord God Almighty, I put my hands on the head of Your Son, Jesus the Messiah, to be the Atonement for my own sins. “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak,And blameless when You judge.” (4)

Then the priest shall bring it all and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord. Leviticus 1:9 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

            I offer my thoughts, feelings, words, actions, hopes, dreams and all that I am to You Lord God in prayer. I ask you to accept the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross for my sins, for everything bad thing I have thought, said, felt, did and didn’t do. Cover me with the Blood of Jesus that I will be clean and fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I would live for You forever and always.  (5)  

            Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27:50-53  (6)

              For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

            Lord Jesus, no one killed You. You performed so many miracles that this fact is undeniable. Instead, You chose to obey Your Father and be the atonement sacrifice for the sins of the world. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (7) 

 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17-18

Lord God – Thank You! Because of what You did, Lord Jesus, I have trusted You for my salvation and my daily life. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.” Psalm 32:1  (8)

John 20         Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, … and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. … and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” … stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; … and he saw and believed.

              But Mary stood outside … Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

            Jesus, You became alive again, healthy and whole, after dying a torturous death! Your life shows that anyone who believes Your Word and trusts You with their life will also rise from the dead!  “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. … I and My Father are one.” John 10:28  I cannot avoid Your evidence Lord Jesus!

             Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. V.19-20

            He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” … v.22

            What patience you have, Lord Jesus. You meet me just where I am. In my frailties, my “lack of faith” and in my head-strongness.

          Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” v.27-28

            Thomas was the first to declare You as his personal Lord and God! Thomas “got it”. Many of us know of Your miracles, but not many of us know Who You are, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” V.29 

             Whether I have in the flesh seen You, heard You or read You, I am to trust You, love You and obey You by the Holy Spirit. Thank You Lord God for the remarkable life You give to me and everyone who adheres to Your Word by the free gift of Faith that You alone impart! 

… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. v.31

Proverbs 17        The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.

             Help me to live my life holy and pleasing to You, my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your wisdom and counsel, Lord God. (9) 

            Lord Jesus, Son of God, You are the “friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”

Philippians 4            Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

            Since You’ve won the war over sin and death – (10)

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:20, 56-57

I am free to think, feel and live for You, Lord Jesus Christ.

          “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Phil 4:8-9

Dear reader, if you have placed all of your sins on the cross of Christ Jesus, and chosen to live for Him today and forever, according to His Word and Holy Spirit, then: “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Phil 4:19-20

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Bible Insights –

1- John 3:16-21; Psalm 22

2- Genesis 14:18-23; Psalm 110; Hebrews 5:1-10; Hebrews 6:13-20; Hebrews 7

3- Leviticus 4:26; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 7

4- Psalm 51

5- Revelation 8:3-4

6- Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53

7- Matthew 26:51-54; Luke 22:51; John 18:4-9; John 18:33-38; John 11:43; Luke 7:11-17; Matthew 26:36-46; Matthew 20:22; John 5:30; John 6:38; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:7; John 3:16-18

8- Psalm 32

9- Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 1-2; Revelation 8:3-4

10- Romans 8:2

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Ex. 40; John 19; Prov. 16; Phil. 3

Please indulge me for a time as I want to focus my work on John 19 and the meaning behind this writing and its timely description of this season of life and rebirth…

In John 19:1-18, it has amazed me over the years what key decisions made that day of Christ’s death had from that day forward, particularly that of Pilate, to be thought and spoken of by so many great men. What my Lord endured for me was brought to life in the 2004 Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ… willing to be exposed to such scorn. While many of the scenes were incredibly difficult to witness, I believe that they helped strengthen my faith exponentially… to behold Christ Jesus in his sufferings… to behold Him, and fall in love with Him even if for the first time; to be still looking unto Jesus in utter helplessness. There was a scene in the film when Jesus was being whipped and the witnessing Pharisees needed to turn away at the sight of Jesus’ suffering… what were they thinking then having help to put Jesus in this place? Even Pilate seemed to have thought that Jesus might be someone above the common order. In the end, our Lord was made to suffer the sins of both Jews and Gentiles; that the Jews should first purpose his death, and the Gentiles carry that purpose out. But, had not Christ been rejected by men that day, we would have been forever rejected of God! Now the Son of man was delivered into the hands of wicked and unreasonable men. He was led forth for us, that we might escape. He was nailed to the cross, as a human Sacrifice bound to the altar. That day, Scripture was fulfilled; he did not die at the altar among the sacrifices, but among criminals sacrificed to public justice.

John 19: 19-30 articulated many amazing events surrounding the circumstances of Jesus’ death. Pilate refused the chief priests that the writing above Jesus be altered… perhaps God dwelling within his heart? That this statement “Jesus of Nazarath, King of the Jews” describing our Lord’s character and authority might continue? Additionally, the many things done by the Roman soldiers were fulfilments of the prophecies of the Old Testament including how Christ tenderly provided for his mother at his death. Sometimes, when God removes one comfort from us, he offers another in ways and places we never considered. Christ’s example teaches us to honor our parents always… providing for their needs, and to provide comfort whenever possible. Observe the dying words of Jesus as He breathed His last… It is finished; that His sufferings were now fulfilled… that all prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings of the Messiah, were accomplished… that the ceremonial law is abolished; the substance is now come, and all the shadows are done away… that an end is made of transgression by bringing in an everlasting righteousness… that His sufferings were now finished in both soul and body… that the work of man’s redemption and salvation is now completed. His life was not taken forcibly from Him but freely given up.

John 19:31-37 saw Jesus lay His life down with his body speared. The very fountain of life offered blood and water from the pierced side of our Redeemer, signifying the two great benefits which all believers partake of through Christ, justification and sanctification with blood signifying atonement and water for purification (Philippians 3). Pilate not allowing Christ’s legs to be broken fulfilled Scripture (Psalm 34:20)… the paschal lamb described in Exodus 12:46.

In John 19:38-42, just as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus stepped up to tend to Christ’s body after his death and show value they had for Christ’s person and doctrine, we are called to do our duty daily and leave it to God to fulfill His promises in His own way and His own time. However, in order to accomplish this task, we must prepare our hearts, for where God has a throne and an altar in the heart, there is a living temple in which the Spirit will be manifested (Exodus 40, Proverbs 16).

My prayer is that we continue to look to Jesus, whom, by our sins, we have ignorantly and heedlessly pierced, who shed from His wounded side both water and blood, that we might be justified and sanctified in His name. So great was His love for us, that He endured unspeakable suffering to set us free from condemnation forever… what greater love than this exists? Let us continue to live our lives in such a way that is honoring to God for His tremendous suffering, so that when people who don’t even know our name can recognize that there is change… that when they see us, they’re seeing You! In Jesus’ name… Amen.

Happy Easter all…
Greg (gstefanelli)

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Ex. 39; John 18; Prov. 15; Phil. 2

Filigrees and gems. Rich color and finery. Garments beautifully made. Names engraved like a seal. Holy to the Lord. This is Exodus 39.

Jesus is betrayed and he is questioned about his teaching. Pilate asks,

“So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:37 NLT.

In Proverbs 15, it’s a view of a walking path splintered at choice–on the one side, the things God detests, and fools belching, trash feasts, trouble, and crushed spirits. The other side, understanding, gentleness, a hunger for knowledge, a continual feast, life.

  • A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway. Proverbs 15:19 NLT
  • Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path. Proverbs 15:21 NLT
  • The path of life leads upward for the wise; they leave the grave behind. Proverbs 15:24 NLT

There was a time I never thought about the path I was on. I followed the map that was handed to me, until Jesus redirected my steps.

In Exodus, the priests wore garments with the names of the tribes of Israel engraved upon the gems. And in the New Testament, Jesus, my high priest, bears my name engraved upon his hands.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 NLT

A phone call this past weekend showed me how a path can seem so far, and yet so close at the same time. That map I once held is really only a choice away from me.

Oh, God, help me to always seek and choose truth.

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. Philippians 2:12-18 NLT, emphasis mine.

Hold firmly to the word of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 7-9; Luke 9: 37-62

I am really no different from the Achan, the disciples and followers of Jesus during his time on Earth.  What I mean by this is that all too often my view of God’s love is stunted and pales in comparison to the fierce, unrelenting,  infinite richness of His love.  I become satisfied with so little.  Achan traded the love and affection of God for plunder:  beautiful clothing,  silver and gold.  The disciples became distracted from  the overwhelming love of Christ by personality conflicts and struggles for status and power.  Other followers were sidetracked by family concerns and the desires for security and stability.  All of this sounds all too familiar.  I too have times when I turn away from God and stupidly tell Him that He is not enough;  I want gods that I think I can control and contain.

Thank God for the wild, untamed passion that is not willing to let me go so easily. It staggers my imagination that He loves me so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross to pay my redemption price.  He broke the chains of sin and death that held me to those puny gods that I had insisted on having (and ended up being being enslaved to).  His resurrection breathes new life into my weary body and He calls me by name to come to Him and enjoy the wonder of His love and affection. 

Sin and death do not have the last say in my life because Jesus Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed.

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Deuteronomy 26,27; Luke 7:1-30

Prepare the Way

Preparation is important.

In Deuteronomy the preparation for entrance into the promised land continues with Moses’ instruction to the people. The last 40 years had been preparation for them as they lived in the desert. Now they are instructed to give their firstfruits and tithes when they enter the land. They are instructed to build an altar and to write very clearly the words of the law on stones covered in plaster. They are instructed to obey the laws they have been taught. Preparation is at a fever pitch as we near the completion of this book.

In Luke, John the Baptist sends messengers to ask Jesus if he is “the one who is to come”. We aren’t sure if John was starting to doubt, or if this is done simply to provide an opportunity for Jesus to point out how the prophesy in Isaiah is being fulfilled in Jesus’ healing and teaching ministry. In any case, we are reminded of how John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ coming. And then there is an interesting parenthetical that catches my attention:

29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) Luke 7: 29-30 NIV

These verses make me realize just how important proper preparation is. If my heart is too hard to be prepared for Jesus, then it will be too hard to receive him. It makes me realize how fruitful a proper Lenten preparation can be in the celebration of Easter. We need a season of wilderness, fasting, and repentance in order to prepare ourselves to receive the amazing gift of salvation.

Let us prepare ourselves as we get closer to Easter so that we can rejoice this weekend in a spirit of true rejoicing!

suegraff

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Numbers 1; Psalm 35; Ecclesiastes 11; Titus 3

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 3:4-7

Because of the blood he shed on the cross, because of the incredible the love of God that broke the power of sin and death, this is who I am:

SAVED         REDEEMED

WASHED       PURIFIED     REBORN    RENEWED

 HIS POSSESSION

I BELONG

My prayer for all of us today is that our hearts thrill at the very beauty of the heart of God and his extravagant love for us.  May we wonder at the battle won for us when Jesus left that tomb and enjoy singing back to Him songs of pure joy and thanks.

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Kathy

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