13
May

A Mother’s Love Is Furious

Most often when we hear the word furious we think of its meaning as being enraged, angry, or irate. But furious also means passionate, which lends itself to descriptions such as intense, fervent, and heartfelt. 

Now during Mother’s Day, I took a little time just to breathe. (I hope you did too!) And while reflecting on Mother’s Day, I was reminded of the mother of all mothers. Not Eve, but Mary, the mother of Jesus. And that led me to thoughts on a mother’s love. So what does a mother’s love and the term furious have to do with each other? Not necessarily what you think!

Yep, our children can make us angry sometimes, but they also bring out some of our best emotions too! So let’s look at Mary, and learn how deep a mother’s love can go.

Although Mary was a human, and infallible as the rest of us, she was also a faith-filled woman who carried out God’s will no matter the cost to herself. Today, let’s give a little thought to what she did and reflect on her motherhood.

When most of us think of Mary, we think of a woman. But when God came to Mary, she was merely a child, most likely in her early teens. Can you see her, a young teenage Jewish girl in a long flowing dress that reached her ankles with even her hair covered by cloth? She had never held a man’s hand, let alone kissed one. And then, one day out of the blue, an angel came to tell her she was going to have a baby. And not just a baby, but the Son of the most high God!

In that moment, at that age, how would you have handled it? I know my immaturity would have come flying out, and like most teenage girls, the drama would have started! But not Mary! In the scriptures, she demonstrates maturity beyond her years. After asking what and how this is going to happen, she simply states:

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 ESV)

Mary could not have known all that would unfold, yet she trusted in the Lord. Wow!

Months later, in the middle of the night, in the town of Bethlehem, this child bears a child in a stable filled with animals and smells we don’t even want to imagine –no nurses or doctors attending to her needs, no epidural to ease the pain of childbirth, no comforts of home. And once the process is completed, she lays her child wrapped in some strips of cloth in a manager (a feeding trough) full of straw.

Years would go by, and she would raise Him in the traditions of the Jewish people. Even though Mary had other children later in life, she knew this child was no ordinary child. Where could it all be leading?

Mary’s support of Him was unwavering. She was there when Jesus performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). And she would be there through it all. Watching His ministry grow, seeing the crowds that flocked to Him, hearing the things He did as He traveled the countryside.

I imagine Mary had mixed emotions most of the time. Pride for a son that was able to do such great things in the name of God, and fear that all this attention Jesus was drawing might make some people angry. Yet, most likely, down deep in her heart, she knew this was God’s will. But that would never replace the protectiveness she felt as a mother.

Then, on what must have been the most gut-wrenching day of her life, she hears that Jesus has been arrested. How could this be? What could He have possibly done? I can see her frantic to get more information and desperate to know what is happening.

As those last days of Jesus’ life play out, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish she suffered. Here was her child, and she was helpless to help Him! She had held Him close in the stable the night of His birth, and watched Him sleep for hours. She had washed and bandaged the cuts and bruises he received as a boy of eight years old playing outside. She would have rejoiced at His thirteen birthday as per the Jewish custom. And during His early years of life, she would have watched Him turn into a mature young man who any mother would love to have – humble, gracious, generous, and kind.

But now, her child was being paraded in the streets, beaten and bleeding, carrying a cross on which He would be hung. But Mary would not turn away! In scripture, we find her close by as the nails are driven into His hands and feet. The tears would have been impossible to hold back as the cross is resurrected.

She would have been inconsolable after He took His last breath. As His body laid in a tomb, she would have mourned deep and hard, at times pushing away those who wanted to ease her pain.

Then after the third day, the impossible would happen. She would be told He is alive. Her mind would have raced at the thought of seeing Him again. Her arms longing to hug His neck. Could it be true?

And then suddenly, He was there! Standing in front of her –her child lives! What joy must have washed over her, and then amazement at the thought of what was happening. Peace would once again come to Mary’s heart.

Mary is a mother who loved furiously. Her faith in her God is the only explanation of how one woman could bear so much joy and pain in one lifetime. God has indeed created mothers with a capacity to love their children to depths beyond reason. But in order to do so, we must also love our God with all of our heart.

Not only as a mother, but as a woman, can you say to God – I am Your servant, let Your will be done?

And by the way, the inability to bear children does not discount your ability to be both a mother and a servant of God. We ourselves are adopted children of God, and therefore, those who adopt children into their life and love them as if they are their own are equally special to Him.

I know how I feel about my one and only son. I don’t know if I could have done what Mary did, but I am grateful that she allowed the Lord to use her. I do know, however, what it is to love a child furiously, and more importantly, I know that I have a Savior who loves me the same way!

What does Mary’s love of Jesus teach you? And what stories can you share about your own love for your children or that of your mother’s love for you?

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

16
Apr

The Empty Tomb is the Key to Our Salvation

Have you ever pictured it? Pictured the empty tomb on that glorious Sunday morning? What wonder and awe it held. Inside, the body of Jesus had been laid to rest after His crucifixion. But on that joyous and triumphant morning, the stone that sealed the tomb, though heavy in nature, was rolled aside and a bare tomb revealed!

And yet, a few days earlier, it was just a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who secretly believed in Jesus. After Jesus’ crucifixion, placing himself in danger of social and religious exclusion, Joseph requested the body of Jesus so he could properly bury Him.

Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mark 15:46

What did the tomb look like? Well, in the days of Jesus, tombs were carved-out areas in the stony parts of the city or surrounding hillside. According to past records and historical analysis, the tomb where Jesus was laid is believed to have been in a garden previously owned by Joseph of Arimathea and is within the city of Jerusalem. Inside most tombs, multiple shelves on which to lay several family members were chiseled out. The tomb of Jesus contains two.

You can see the actual tomb that is believed to be the burial site of Jesus HERE.

When I think of the lavish ways in which we now bury our dead in cushioned coffins and fancy dress, the tomb of Jesus seems extremely cold and dark. His body was laid out in the openness of this miniature man-made cave. Only linen cloth would be wrapped around Him. There would be no funeral, as the lateness in the day would have required quick action to complete the initial work of preparing the body according to Jewish custom.

I can almost hear stone scraping against stone as Joseph would roll a rounded stone in front of the tomb entrance to close it off. And then there would be utter silence as night fell.

One night would pass, then two, and then three…

For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. Matthew 12:40

Unlike our traditional view that Jesus was buried on Friday and raised on Sunday, the scriptures tell a very different story. Jesus was very clear that he would be buried 3 days and 3 nights. To understand what day Jesus was crucified and buried on, you must account for Jewish tradition. The events in scripture, when reviewed carefully and in the order they occurred, revealed that Jesus was buried on Wednesday, lying in the grave Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. He arose on Saturday! Remember, Saturday is considered a Sabbath day in Jewish tradition, and it ends at sunset. In other words, the start of Sunday is in the evening.

Mary and the other women went back to Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning around sunrise, having purchased spices the evening prior after sunset (start of Sunday) to complete their burial ritual, but Jesus had already been raised from the dead the day before! Here are two sets of scriptures that support the events as described above:

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. Mark 16:1-4

 

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. John 20:1

To see all the evidence that backs up this timeline, read this ARTICLE.

However, what is most important about the story is the fact that the tomb was found EMPTY! (Well, except for an angel that is!)

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Mark 16:5-6

And that, my friend, is the basis of our belief! HE IS RISEN!!!

Our Savior lives! There was no body to find. He has defeated death, He sits at the right hand of God, and He is coming back again!!!

I hope you enjoy this Easter Sunday with your family. I hope it is filled with joy and laughter. But most of all, among the food and the consumerism of the day, I hope you take some time to contemplate the emptiness of the tomb and all that it means!! Easter is about our wonderful, amazing, powerful, holy, and LIVING Savior!!!

Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

14
Dec

Silent Night ~ Holy Night

“Silent Night” is perhaps one of the best known Christmas carols to date. It is by far my favorite! I love that it brings us back to the real “reason for the season” –the birth of the Savior.

I relate to the scenery in the song that is specific to the skyline that night, mainly because I live in the country. And living in the country does have its advantages. One of them is the ability to look up into the night sky on a clear night and see millions of stars glimmering right back at you. Another is that deep into the evening, it gets quiet –deathly, but peacefully, quiet.

Having stood out recently on one of the chiller nights we have had, with stars laid out as far as the eye can see and silence all around, I closed my eyes and let my mind focus on that glorious night when Jesus made His entrance into the world as a tiny baby boy.

There in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary would find themselves in a barn surrounded by animals, such as cows and donkeys. It wasn’t glamorous or royal by any means, but quite ordinary. They would be isolated from family and friends. Joseph would be there watching Mary careful and yet feeling quite helpless at the same time. And Mary, still a virgin, would endure every moment of childbirth naturally. And yet, in that place, under those circumstances, they would birth a King.

We have to take a moment to remember some details leading up to that night. Would you indulge me for a few minutes? Thanks!

  1. Jesus’ destiny was already arranged. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:20-21
  2. Joseph was a righteous man who obeyed God. When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. Matt. 1:24
  3. Mary was chosen from among all women. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” Luke 1:42
  4. Bethlehem was a prearranged birth place. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:6-7

Yes, Joseph and Mary were in the right place. A magnificent Lord would start off in humble beginnings, but He was not destined to stay there. Isaiah describes Him best:

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6

Yes, that 7-8 lb baby wrapped in strips of cloth would start out in lowly circumstances, but He became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And even now, we are yet to see Him in all His glory! What a day that will be!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. I also hope you will take some time to ponder what a miraculous event occurred that night. I am right there with you, sometimes getting caught up in the tinsel, presents, and fun that occurs this time of year. Let’s not forget to be silent, even if just for a few minutes. Let’s quiet ourselves and experience that silent night, the holiest of nights and savor the moment!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!!!

Elaine


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

30
Oct

Leadership Building

Are you a leader?

Wait, before you say no – are you a parent? a teacher? or even a consistent volunteer in your church? You don’t have to be a CEO of a major company to be a leader! Chances are you are doing something which requires others to follow your lead, and therefore, you are a leader!

A few weeks ago I signed up to take part in the John Maxwell International Leadership Training & Certification program. I want to grow my leadership skills so that in a few years I can help others like me to grow as well. Right now, I am just a mom, a wife, a small group leader, co-leader of a missions team, a prayer warrior, a writer, and a speaker. And when I wear any of those caps, I am influencing someone (something I recently came to realize in a big way).

John Maxwell states leadership is influence: nothing more, nothing less.

Now, when you put it that way, it is easy to see how even someone in an ordinary, everyday position can be a leader!

But as a leader, there is one person we must be sure to follow and that is God!

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Romans 13:1 AMP

No matter our position, we must continuously remind ourselves on whose authority we are ultimately working under. In addition, we must be humble leaders and not proud, boastful people. How do we treat those we might see as our followers? If we are Christian leaders, we should be following the teachings of Jesus.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. Luke 6:31 AMP

 

But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…” Matthew 20:25-26 NLT

Yep, if we want to be the leaders Jesus called us to be, we must be the ultimate friend and servant.

Today, take into account those you look up to as leaders. Do they possess these qualities? Do you? One thing is for certain, all of us are works in progress, so if you feel you fall short, keep working at it!

I am excited for the days ahead and for all that I will learn. Learning is growing forward! Will you join me?


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

14
Jun

Can You Pass the Tissue Test?

Have you seen the commercial for Crest toothpaste that states: “Can you pass the tissue test?” Now, the commercial has to do with the whiteness of our teeth, but I can’t help relating this to our spiritual life.

Jesus has come to save those who are lost, and in that process He forgives us of our sins. In the Bible, sins are equated with “a red stain.” Yet through the forgiveness offered by Jesus, we are cleansed and made “white.”

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Isa. 1:18 NLT

Now Isaiah is talking about a shade of white that is not described as off white, eggshell, magnolia, or any other shade. No, he is talking about a very bright, very clean white. And the Bible describes Jesus and his believers as represented by white. Why this color? White is a significant color meaning clean, pure, and righteous. Let’s look at some scriptures that include the color “white” in the description:

  1. Jesus’ transfiguration. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Matt. 17:2
  2. Inside Jesus’ tomb post resurrection. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. John 20:12
  3. Jesus’ ascension. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. Acts 1:10
  4. Jesus’ appearance per John’s vision. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. Rev. 1:14
  5. Jesus’ giving of a new name to believers. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17
  6. Jesus’ followers in End Times. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Rev. 3:5
  7. Again Jesus’ followers in End Times. After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. Rev. 7:9

Are you getting the picture? 

Through Him we are unsoiled, unstained, and without fault. Nothing represents that better than the color white.

Today, let’s think about what we can do to show the righteousness of our Savior. When our lives are compared to His, let’s hope we can pass the tissue test because our spirits so closely reflect His love and nature.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Esp. 5:1-2 NKJV


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

16
May

4 Levels of Perseverance – Succeeding in Each

Wow! My heart is so full! There is so much I want to tell you, but my thoughts are coming so fast that I have to take a deep breath and really concentrate to untangle them!

Within the next month, I hope to tell you all that God has done recently (yep, I’m leaving that teaser right there!).

But today, let’s talk about perseverance. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perseverance this way: a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Notice that little word ‘despite’ makes all the difference in the world when one is trying to understand the meaning of perseverance.

When we push through difficulties in our life to achieve our goals, we are preserving. Some days we are just trying to get through the daily routine of the house –preparing meals, getting the kids off to school, or surviving an eight-hour work day. Other times we are dealing with some really heavy stuff –guilt, depression, rejection, loss.

I would love to tell you there is an easier way through this mental stress, but unfortunately I can’t. However, I can encourage you that if you are walking with Jesus, He has your back!

For lessons in working through difficulties, we can turn to the apostle Paul who knew a few things about having a bad day.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:23-28 NIV

Most days, Paul’s tribulations make mine look like child’s play. But there are those who are certainly suffering, certainly preserving despite some really troubling situations. So what advice does Paul give?

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Rom. 5:3-4 AMP

I believe that Paul reveals the different levels of perseverance in this verse. So let’s take a few minutes to really break it down.

  1. Surface issue. Whatever difficulty you are facing, the difficulty itself is a smoke screen that is attempting to keep you in a place where you are ineffective in your walk with God. Once we can take a step back (and I’m not saying that is easy to do), we start to fully appreciate that there are boundaries. What I mean by that is, when we can remove ourselves emotionally from the situation and start to see the options we have (and there are always options), something arises in our spirit that says: “I can make it.”
  2. Patient endurance. As our mind starts to formulate an end to our situation, our spirit is strengthen and we find a resolve we didn’t know we had. Instead of living in a constant state of anxiety, we become steadfast, steady, and unwavering. And all the while, we are patient, able to tolerate all that is happening to or around us.
  3. Proven character. No other time do we learn what it means to fully trust God as when we are in situations that cause us to suffer one way or another. And as we are fighting our way through, our spiritual maturity grows. No one becomes a spiritual giant without having faced a few mountains.
  4. Hope. As we reach this level of perseverance, something in our soul explodes. We call it hope! Once we grab a hold of hope, there is no turning back. At that stage, we fully expect and believe that the situation is going to shift. And as we put one foot in front of the other, day after day our hope grows bigger.

No, no real difficulty goes away over night. But as we persevere through the situation, we change. And as we change, we become stronger.

As I went through the chaos that interrupted my life between 2008-2013, there were days I certainly felt defeated. There were days I bawled my eyes out. But day after day, I learned to persevere. When I could finally see the situation for what it was -a smoke screen meant to throw me off course- I realized there were options. I could either let it defeat me or I could turn the tables and become all that God wanted me to be. When that clicked, I was then able to patiently endure all the ups and downs that came. As I grew up spiritually, my faith rose to new heights. And as hope took a hold of my heart, I knew there was no turning back.

Since then, there have been other challenges, but I now face them with great confidence because Jesus is my hope!

I keep my eyes always on the LordWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8 NIV

Is there a challenge in front of you today? Are you preserving? If not, turn to the One who can show you how!


Amplified Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

3
May

Strong Family Project

SFP #2 (FB Horizontal)

Hey there! I hope your week is off to a great start!

I want to share information with you on this awesome project I was blessed to contribute to! The Strong Family Project – sponsored by Sarah Ann of Faith Along the Way. Sarah Ann is well-known and well-respected in the blogging community for her love of family and for encouraging all those who want healthy family relationships.

She has pulled together about 25 of the best Christian bloggers out there to contribute to this series. When you sign up, you will receive a unique post each day from a different sister in Christ that will share a little of what God has taught them about family matters!

I have seen the line up, and it is AWESOME!! (my post will run in June – hint, hint!!) It is a true honor to be among these great ladies!!

You can sign up for the series, which runs from May 30th to August 5th here! Scroll to the bottom of the post, sign up, and get ready for God to speak into your life and your family’s!!

Once the series starts, don’t forget to visit some new FB pages and blogs (there will be a lot to choose from), share with your friends, and take part by leaving comments!!!

Hope you enjoy the series! Look for more information as the end of May approaches!!!

Blessings to you and yours!!

Elaine

24
Apr

Three Levels of Healing by Jesus

Luke 13_13

When my dad developed a chronic lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), I hoped and prayed that God would spare him from the sometimes severe effects of the disorder. Some COPD patients go several years before needing supportive oxygen, but as a heavy cigarette smoker, my dad went only a couple of years. It was painful to watch him deteriorate, but before the condition became too severe, he passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident.

Have you had the experience of watching a love one suffer from chronic illness? Perhaps they had a condition such as severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, heart disease, or cancer. Maybe that someone is you?

Though chronic illness is hard, tiring, frustrating, and just plain overwhelming at times, our Savior is a healer. Over and over in the New Testament are stories of Jesus healing – the young, the old, individuals, groups, Jews, and Gentiles.

From these stories we can gleam all the ways in which Jesus healed – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Let’s take one of those stories and breakdown the elements within the story to see these various levels of healing unfold.

Luke 13:10-13 (NLT) states:

One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

Have you ever felt trapped by your physical or emotional state? Do you feel hopeless to resolve the issue? Jesus is our healer, and what He touches no one can reverse.

I relate to this story of the woman crippled by an evil spirit. There have been times in my life, I have been crippled, engulfed, and overwhelmed by my emotional and physical flaws. Trapped by feelings of insecurity, fear, loneliness, and low self-worth. Trapped by feeling that I am not pretty enough, not tall enough, not slim enough. Gripped by an evil spirit that wanted me to feel less than worthy, less than adequate in regards to my Savior. Jesus constantly flips the table on such things, just as He does in this story.

In the short 3-4 verses that reference her situation, we learn a couple of things about her:

  1. First, she was crippled by an evil spirit. We are not told more than that. We don’t know if the evil spirit was attached to her due to something sinful she did, or because she was simply under attack. In either case, we know she suffered.
  2. We also know the length of her suffering -18 years! The Scriptures state, “she had been bent double for 18 years and was unable to stand up straight.” Can you imagine always looking down, never being able to see beyond the issue? Can you imagine as each day, then week, then month, then year went by –each passing moment must have been more depressing than the first?

Then Jesus, being the compassionate Savior He is, notices her. He sees something inside her that is worth redeeming, and immediately He goes into action! Notice He “called her over.” She didn’t come to Jesus until He called. Is Jesus calling you?

Then He proclaims, “you are healed of your sickness.” Imagine how those words must have rung in her ears. Her heart must of leaped in that moment. Do you think her faith began to rise?

So here’s a question for you –if Jesus can speak anything into existence, why did He not stop there? She was healed right? He said it was so. Why then did He reach out and touch her? I believe Jesus is all about relationship, not just an acquaintance, but a personal, concrete relationship! And so, He touched her. It doesn’t get more personal than that.

“Instantly she could stand straight.” I would love to know what she saw first from her new vantage point. Was it the crowd? Was it Jesus’ face? Or maybe, it was the synagogue leaders?

Whoever or whatever she saw first, doesn’t compare to her reaction: “How she praised God!” Can you see her thank Jesus over and over? Can you see her almost dance around? Can you imagine how many people she stopped to tell her good fortunate on the way home?

I hope you see the pattern:

  • He called her over –this healed her emotions. She mattered to Him!
  • He told her “you are healed” –this healed her spiritually. Her sins were forgiven.
  • He touched her and she straightened – this healed her physically. Complete healing!

Whatever you face today, remember your healer! No matter the circumstance, no matter how much time has passed, don’t give up on believing in His power. One day, He may call you over, speak to your condition, and release you from what “binds” you. Then how you will praise God!


Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

26
Mar

Easter Series: Sticks and Stones

Cross by Maddie for blog post

Do you remember getting up Easter morning and finding that basket of goodness waiting for you? My Easter basket was always at the entrance to our living room. Probably like most kids, I was ecstatic. I would take everything out and examine it, and then put everything back. Finally, I would make my selection on what I would try first. As a kid, having grown up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, a mystical rabbit delivering that basket as I slept wasn’t too far of a stretch for me to believe. But as I grew older, and the relevance of the holiday came into focus, I quickly moved away from this secular tradition and onto the real celebration of events behind the day.

Oh don’t get me wrong; when my son came along, I had a little fun with the Easter bunny again. But as he grew older, we quickly let that aspect of Easter fade into the background. Today, I am a little saddened by the wealth of commercialism that has taken over both Christmas and Easter. Kids now days get their picture taken with both Santa and the Easter bunny. But my soul longs to sing out above this noise and reflect on the true glory of it all.

The True Easter Story

Can you imagine that first Easter morning? Just three days earlier, Christ’s followers had witnessed his brutal and gory execution on the Cross. That scene etched in their minds forevermore. How bloodstained the ground around him must have been as the blood dripped from His beaten and broken body. How many tears must have flowed in those 72 hours.

And all his acquaintance and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. Luke 23:49

I have to tell you, the first time I saw the Passion of the Christ in a local theater; I almost became violently ill as I watched how He was beaten and whipped, and then nailed to that cross. When I watched it again in my home a few years later, my stomach begin to turn again. But sitting and watching a movie doesn’t even start to compare to how it must have been to be there and hear all the sounds, see the disfigurement, and smell death in the air.

I say all this because it is so important to remember the mood of the disciples, and the women who traveled with them, just prior to that Sunday morning. Probably no time in their entire life had they experienced such deep emotional turmoil. We cannot begin to understand the depth of their anguish as they contemplated what the future might hold.

The Cross Was Only A Stick

I know you remember that little children’s rhyme regarding sticks and stones. It went something like this:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

I think we would all agree, that phrasing certainly helped us in some tough situations to look strong, but its wording is entirely untrue. I believe Christ felt it all during his trail and crucifixion. Certainly, the physical abuse left its mark, but the emotional cuts were no better. Don’t misunderstand, I know He was above the insults thrown at Him because He knew who He was; but the hatred that was behind them must have saddened Him deeply.

Yet, as final as the Cross may have seemed, we must remember it was only made of wood. Though our Savior hung on it, He was not bound by its power. He remained on the Cross in His own power to pay for our sins once and for all. Death was imminent, but victory was just around the corner!

“…But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64

There Was No Stone Big Enough

As Christians today, knowing the outcome of those events, I believe the most amusing thing about the Easter story is the placement of the stone in front of Jesus’ grave. Here were men, who had just roughed up Jesus to the point of being unrecognizable and who had physically nailed Him to a cross, using the biggest, heaviest stone they could find to seal the tomb of a corpse (or so they thought). And then, to seal the deal, not a few soldiers, but many soldiers were placed outside the grave to guard it.

The irony is astounding!

But the good news of Easter is that no stone on earth was going to hold Him in that grave. HE AROSE! And without an ounce of effort, the angels rolled that pebble from in front of the grave to prove it.

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:5-6

Let’s do a happy dance right now!!!

Oh, how joyful the disciples, both man and woman, must have been once it all sank in days to weeks later. And that joy has been carrying us for over 2000 years!!!

This Easter, among the festivities, food, and family; take some time to remember the real meaning of it all. HE IS ALIVE! Death has been conquered. Our sins have been atoned for forever. And He is coming back for us!

Praise Jesus!

14
Feb

Our True Valentine!

Valentines Day

Hey there! It seems like ages since we talked. I hope your New Year’s got off to a great start. To be honest, mine has been a little rocky. But I am not surprised! Anytime we put our efforts into starting over or beginning something new, there will be obstacles. I have learned those obstacles are allowed by God to refine us, to mold us, and to strengthen us for the long haul which we call life. Sure, it’s not exactly fun to go through, but the payoff is greater than the frustration, and that is something you can trust in.

So how do we endure the many disappointments and hurts that come in those seasons? We continue to lean on Jesus. Sometimes I just have my hand resting on His arm. Other times I feel like I have wrapped myself around His leg like a kid clinging to his/her parent in total fear. But here is the thing. Jesus can handle it. Even when I have a death grip on His hand, this I know – He still loves me!

So this Valentine’s Day, I want you to remember how much He loves you! I can’t think of two more fitting verses than John 3:16 and 1 John 4:19!

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

 

We love each other because he loved us first. 1 John 4:19 NLT

These are very familiar verses. Some of us have heard them a thousand times. We may even have them committed to memory. But today, I want them to speak straight to your heart. Let’s slow down for a while today and really take some time to absorb them.

I absolutely LOVE (no pun intended) that this Valentine’s Day is on Sunday. Not only will I celebrate the love I have for my husband, but first, I will celebrate the love of my Savior. It is extremely easy for us to forget in the day-to-day rush that He left the comfort of Heaven and came here to be among us. That He suffered and died a sinner’s death though He was perfect and holy. And that His resurrection provides a hope for us that we could never achieve on our own. Never.

I hope you enjoy your day, and that it brings you great happiness. I’m going to enjoy a little chocolate myself. But among the rush of feelings that this day will evoke, take some time to remember the One who gave it all for you; whose love is so pure, its transforming powers cannot be denied.

And remember this:

Jesus, I thank you that You love us even with all our faults. I give You praise for all that You have done. Forgive me when I allow the things of this world to blind me from Your grace. Tug on my heart daily, and remind me whose I am. I love you Lord and all that You are – my provider, my protector, and my friend. Today, I fall to my knees to worship You, the one true lover of my soul. Amen.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Elaine 

 


Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.