The Man was handsome; he had red hair, beautiful eyes and he loved God with all of his heart. But the thing that drew many people to him was the fact that he was probably the most joyful man they had ever encountered. His eyes twinkled and it is rumored that he was known to have danced freely in the streets as a younger man.
If you were to stop and ask about his story he would joyfully share it with you, leaving nothing out and capturing your heart with each twist and turn and ultimately surprising you with the ending. But rather than leave you hanging you can read it for yourself!
The Man was the youngest son of 8 children born to a hard workingman, who believed boys needed to learn how to work. As a boy his father taught him about God and he was a good student. While working for his father The Boy’s faith not only grew wide but it grew deep. The Boy learned how to overcome his fears and stand courageous, lessons that served him well later as he served as a commander in the military.
It was evident to all around that there was something special about The Boy. A stranger came to town and he saw it too and prayed a blessing over the young man.
The Boy understood who his God was and the covenant relationship they had. So when he arrived on the scene of a man bullying his brothers and their cohorts, calling God names and mocking Him, The Boy couldn’t simply stand by and watch. He had to take action and the young man knew God would be with him. Although the bully taunted him too, The Boy stood firm, faced the intimidator and literally stopped him dead in his tracks.
His bravery drew the attention of all who heard and they sang his praises for taking care of the bully. When The Leader in the community heard the story, he took The Boy under his wing and invested in his life. The Boy learned a lot from The Leader during the journey they travelled together. In fact, even though their time together was not always pleasant it was a time of great spiritual formation for The Boy.
Along that journey The Boy made a friend, not an ordinary friend but one that he loved like a brother. He was the kind of friend that you are fortunate to have during a lifetime. The two were inseparable!
The Boy became a young man and he grew in wisdom and strength and was loved by all, well almost everyone. The Man served The Leader well and honored him despite some questionable business practices and a growing spirit of jealousy. It was a jealousy that came from understanding that The Man was a man of integrity and that he loved God with his whole heart. Eventually The Leader’s jealousy got the best of him and he orchestrated circumstances to get rid of the young man. The Man left saddened by the way things had turned out.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances The Man understood authority and honored The Leader who was in authority, not only over him but the whole community. The Man did not bad mouth him, nor did he try to get The Leader removed from his position. As a result God honored that and eventually removed The Leader from authority and placed The Man into that position.
It was apparent, just like when he was a young boy, that God’s hand was on The Man.
The Man was met with success as he continued his life journey in this new position God had placed him in. He drew on the life lessons he had learned under The Leader and led with a rare combination of love and strength always looking out for the best interests of those who served under him. The result was that not only was The Man blessed but all who were led by him and their families were too.
The Man was at the height of his career; he ruled over a vast empire and his capital was enriched with international assets. But, in the midst of all this success The Man fell and his character became stained with the sin of adultery.
The day started like any other, except that instead of going to work he stayed home. While looking out at the view from his house, he saw a beautiful young woman off in the distance and she caught his attention. The man asked about the young woman and found out she was the granddaughter of one of his longtime, faithful and influential staff members, and the wife of a younger and most trusted staff. Even knowing who she was, The Man asked one of his staff to invite her over. From that moment on his life changed drastically!
As you may have guessed The Man slept with the beautiful young woman that day. The Beautiful One soon found out she was pregnant with The Man’s child. Her husband had been off working a special assignment so The Man brought him home hoping that he would sleep with his wife and no one would know (including him) that the child wasn’t his. Unfortunately, the plan failed. The Man then, knowingly, sent him out on a very dangerous assignment where he was killed. After the appropriate amount of time passed for The Beautiful One to grieve, The Man married her. They would live happily ever after and no one would be the wiser.
However, that was not to be. God sent someone to bring home his crimes to the conscience of The Guilty Man.
The Man was broken and became truly repentant. He wept bitterly and confessed his sins before God, (holding nothing back). He had committed adultery, murder, and he lied to cover it up. The Man understood that God was the One against whom he had ultimately sinned.
God’s man explained that even though The Man was repentant, there would be serious consequences to pay. The child that was born to The Man and the Beautiful One would die (and he did) and that the sword would never depart from The Man’s household because he despised God and taken the Beautiful One to be his wife. He also told The Man that God would raise up evil against him from his own household, his family would have no respect for him and that He would give The Man’s wives to a companion and he will lie with them in broad daylight (and it happened just as God’s Man said it would).
The Man was King David, the ruler of Israel.
[Although this is a fanciful description of some of the key moments in his life, the essence is true. This man, a national hero, with a passion to serve God withstood temptation again and again as he was attacked. But at one point he failed, miserably.]
King David also is the author of about 80 of the Psalms. Psalms 32 and 51 reveal the deep struggles of his soul and his spiritual recovery. How could King David (The Man) live such a joy filled life and be called “A man after God’s own heart” after all that he did and the consequences he suffered because of it?
Good question!!! He experienced Joy in the Shadow of Great Failure the same way we can!
Because of the message the angel brought the shepherds that night – “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy for you and all people; today a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10–14) – we can all experience Joy in the Shadow of Great Failure!
Luke speaks of a global Gospel: the “Good News” is for everybody, not just the Jews! What was this good news? That God had sent a Savior, His Son Jesus Christ, to meet man’s greatest need, forgiveness of sins!
Having confessed his sins and repented, King David asked God to purify and wash him whiter than snow and to hear joy and gladness. He asked that God would create in him a new heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him. Then David asked God to “restore the joy of his salvation” and God did just that!!!
AFTER he sinned David continued to be known as a man after God’s own heart!
David’s career had been one of great prosperity and success prior to his sin. After becoming broken before the Lord, David did not allow his past failures to define who he was, instead David, having been restored by God, lived in the joy of his salvation.
What is keeping you from walking in the joy that is yours according to the message of the angels?
- Is it that you have never experienced salvation?
• Could it be that you have never confessed and repented of your sins before God?
- Or perhaps it is because you have not believed that God would do what He said He would do – restore you to the joy of your salvation.
Whatever it is won’t you determine today to make it right and to dance with joy, no matter the source of the shadows, on the platform where God has placed you!
To learn more about the life of King David I recommend you read 1 & 2 Samuel. You may be surprised by what you learn about “The man after God’s own heart”!
I am sitting here thinking about the metanarrative (Big Story) of the Bible (the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration) and how it explains the smaller stories in the Bible. It’s not a random line of thought nor is it a scholarly pursuit. I’m actually working on a 5 year Kids Camp series.
As I’m contemplating this, the air is pierced with the sound of a mother’s heart shattering, underscored by the quiet weeping of those too young to process such a loss as this.
Family and about 30 teens are gathered in the two waiting rooms next to ours and line the hallway, trying to sort out the circumstances that drew them all together at this particular moment in time.
The medical team had come to deliver news that no mother should ever have to hear.
The young man had made terrible choices. The night before he chose to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and was shot as a result.
“What does this have to do with the Big Story of the Bible?”you may ask. The answer is “EVERYTHING!”
There were others in the waiting rooms too. It was the church ministering God’s mercy and love declaring Gods plan of redemption as they loved on the boy’s mother, family and peers. The presence of these believers was telling the Big Story of the Bible as a whole.
They were fulfilling the purpose God had for them from before the beginning of time. In fact, they were created for such a time as this.
A mentor of mine once told me, “Times of crisis were natural times of ministry for all believers.” I understood that in terms of what “I could do.” Send cards, texts, visit the hospital, take a meal etc. Yes we should.
But it’s much bigger than that! It’s the metanarrative, the over arching story of redemption. Times of crisis are the church’s opportunity to tell the story of redemption.
Each one of us is a “smaller story” that is part of the bigger story! We are all created in God’s image for God’s glory. We are part of His plan from the very beginning. But because of the fall the world is now fractured. Without Christ we are broken, dead in our sins and without hope.
As believers we must live with our eyes wide open to the opportunities around us to share the redemption story! It is the role we play in the metanarrative.
What is the National Day of Prayer?
The National Day of prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May. It was designated by the United States Congress as the day when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. Days of prayer have a long history in America. Read more about their history
Each year since its inception, the president has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. This year President Trump proclaimed May 3 as the National Day of prayer. Read the proclamation
Desperate times require Desperate measures
These are desperate times for our nation! Daily we see the moral fiber of our country being shredded. How has a country whose motto is “One Nation under God” ended up in such disarray? It is my personal opinion there are a multitude of reasons. However, I believe the two core problems are the failure of the church to share the gospel which resulted in the church’s lack of influence in today’s culture, and the collapse of the family as God established it are in the forefront.
The call of the church is to “Go and make disciples of[a all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) In order to make disciples we must first share the gospel of Christ with them. The church, instead of going out and making disciples, has built walls and hoped people came in to be disciples. We have remained inside and not reached out.
It has been said that “As the family goes, so goes the nation!” Since the beginning families have been close to God’s heart. In fact, they were God’s idea in the first place. God established the family to be the bedrock of society, to be the basic building blocks of nations, to reveal the kingdom of Christ here on earth. God’s plan and desire has always been for parents to raise up their children to know and love Him and walk in His ways. (Deuteronomy 6:6).
There is an all out war on marriage and the family. Families are not only broken but they are being redefined. The church has not stood firm on the truth of the Word concerning divorce and marriage, nor have they stood against those who seek to redefine what God instituted. Christian couples have not lived out the Word of God nor have they assumed their God given responsibility to teach their children the word so that they would fear God. Church and family have not been salt and light to a dying world. It’s no wonder we are in such a state of decay.
As believers we need to unite and pray for our nation, not because the congress and President designate this as the National Day of prayer, but because it is what God has called us to do. Yes we join in today, however it doesn’t stop there! The church, which we are a part of, needs to confess its part (both corporately and individually) in the decay of this once great nation. As a body and individually we need to intentionally set aside times to come together and pray for our nation.
How do we pray?
Pray for the church
- To teach the Word of God so as to encourage and strengthen the body
- To equip the body to minister to those around them
- To lead by example
- To ask God to reveal any unconfessed sin/unforgiveness
- To ask God for wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of His will; and strength
- To love God with whole heart and love people as themselves
- To honor and glorify God in all they do
- To grow strong in the Word; obey it and the courage to do so
- To share the gospel from whatever platform they find themselves on
- To become educated about the elections, both national and local and to vote. (Not every candidate will be a believer but each one will have a platform. Vote the platform which is closest to what God’s heart is)
- To ask God to reveal unconfessed sin/unforgiveness
- To honor and glorify God
- To be committed to growing together and staying together
- To be committed to teaching the children God’s word and how to obey it
- To share the gospel from whatever platform you find yourselves on
- To committing to put Jesus on display in every aspect of your lives
Pray for all those in authority
President, Vice President, Congressman, Senators (by name)
Police officers, local officials (by name)
Pray for Unity among authorities, individual churches, families
A nation divided against itself cannot stand. A house divided against itself cannot stand – Mark 3:24-25
Pray for eyes and ears to be opened to see the power of God as never before, to see the truth, hearts to obey and the courage to do so.
God has a plan and a purpose for everything
Remember, even though we don’t understand what is going on around us God does! He reminds us that He is with us, He will help us, He is sovereign and has not lost control but has a plan and His purposes will prevail bringing honor and glory to Him.
We can be assured, that He hears our prayers and He knows our needs. There’s great power in uniting together, turning our hearts towards God, and praying on behalf of America, our nation.
I believe we are at a crossroads in the history of our nation and there is nothing more important for us to do than pray. However, our real hope is found, not in ourselves, not in our leaders, not in the economy, not in the condition of our nation today, or any other day. “Our hope comes from the Lord.” Psalm 62:5
Learn more about the History of Prayer in America.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
As a young believer in a small “country church”, I was puzzled by the way the people greeted each other my first Easter as a Christian.
The atmosphere was pregnant with a sense of excitement that went beyond the sugar high of children who had spent the morning feasting on chocolate, jelly beans and marshmallow peeps.
Families began to gather in their Easter finery. Ladies wrapped in bright colors wearing millinery that rivaled the splendor of spring flowers dressed by their Maker. Gentlemen in freshly pressed shirts adorned with new ties. Children wearing their new Easter outfits accessorized with chocolate mustaches.
Suddenly the air gave birth to shouts of “He is risen!” and the reply shot back “He is risen indeed!”
What was this strange ritual that was taking place before my newborn eyes?
For as long as anyone knows, perhaps as long as we have celebrated the resurrection, the Paschal or Easter greeting has been “Christ is risen!” And the reply that follows is “He is risen indeed!” This greeting, in a very simple way sums up the core of Christianity.
We quickly adopted the tradition and taught it to our children. It warms my heart to hear, my now adult children, greeting others in the same manner. But as I heard one of my teenage grandsons respond “He is risen indeed”, my heart was full.
I have to admit though, it seems like the greeting is on the decline. As we greeted others in recent years, some looked quizzically as if to say “What did she say?” Others said, “Yeah isn’t that cool?” But there were still a remnant who responded with excitement, almost a shout “He is risen indeed!”
Crucifixion and Resurrection
On Good Friday we remembered the crucifixion of Christ, and we all know the crucifixion is vital to our salvation. But, on Easter we celebrate His resurrection. In fact many call this day Resurrection Sunday.
Yes, when we say resurrection we really mean that Jesus was actually physically dead. He was in the grave Friday evening, all day Saturday, and even part of Sunday. He was actually physically raised from the dead – His body became alive again!
But, why is that so important that it becomes the focus of the holiest day of the church calendar?
Even though leaders of other religions have died none can boast that they had been raised from the dead! That is what makes Christianity distinctly different from any other religion.
Why is the Resurrection such a big deal?
- The resurrection is the proof that Christ’s sacrifice was enough.
- It provides the power for us to live a life of surrender
- It give assurance that we have access to the throne room of heaven.
The Resurrection means that we will also be raised from the dead.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Now the phrase “first fruits” means there will be second fruits. Jesus was first, but in Him we will all also be made alive. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! We have nothing to fear! Death, the last great enemy is defeated.
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Since Christ was raised from the dead we know that
- He was sinless.
- His sacrifice was accepted.
- our sins are forgiven.
- there is no reason to fear death, we will be resurrected just as Christ was resurrected.
Some things to think about
This may sound like a change of subject, but stay with me. What is it that you are afraid of? What is it that worries you and keeps you awake at night?
If Jesus has given us victory over death, isn’t everything else we worry and fret over much less of a big deal?
On Resurrection Sunday worship and celebrate the risen Lord! Each day rest in the fact that even death is conquered, so everything else is going to be ok. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow!
The Light of the world overcame even the darkest dark of Good Friday – giving us Hope for whatever today and every day holds!
Next year when you are greeted with “He is risen” shout out loud and proud “He is risen indeed!”
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
- Matthew 28
- Mark 16
- Luke 24
- John 20, 21
- 1 Corinthians 15
- Romans 6
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each believer tries to understand what it cost Jesus to win our redemption.
As I sit here on this Good Friday the oppression weighs heavy on my spirit. I love how my friend Alicia put it
The Grunt in my heart of hearts is the best expression of how I feel this “GOD” FRIDAY MORNING! There are NO WORDS-just deep Holy Spirit-led WORSHIP springing up from the depths of my being… HE DIED FOR SINS! MY SINS!
It is not a day of celebration but of mourning, both for the death of Jesus and for the sins of the world which His death represents.
The night before, Jesus had His last supper with His disciples, men who followed Him from the beginning of His ministry. They had listened to His teachings, saw Him healing and casting out demons.
Jesus came to radically change the world. He had been preparing His disciples for His death throughout His earthly ministry. But it was so beyond their comprehension that they couldn’t grasp it. Not yet, but in a few days, that would change.
Jesus’ last night
Jesus spent His last night with these men teaching them what they needed to know before He was gone. What is so fascinating to me is the last command that He gave them
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. – John 13:34
Why this command?
I’ve pondered this for many years. Why this command?
I’ve commented tongue in cheek (with a twist of truth) – “It’s because Jesus knew how hard it would be to deal with other believers. After all, ministry would be great if it weren’t for people.”
I believe I have had an epiphany – Perhaps He knew they already loved God with all their hearts, which they already demonstrated by leaving their previous lives, taking up their cross, and following Him.
So why this command? Love one another even as I have loved you. Perhaps He knew that after He was gone life as they had known it was about to be radically different. Persecution, suffering, and pain lie ahead. They must be unified to stand firm and to carry out their God-given purpose.
I am beginning to think it was more than that.
I wonder if it had to do more with the new “rules”. Instead of the 613 laws of the previous religious institution of the Pharisees, Jesus said these are the most important – Love God and to Love people (Matthew 22:34-39).
Love one another – Perhaps it was the last command because it would help them keep focused on what they were called to do.
Sorry, I got a little distracted, so let’s move on.
It is Friday morning and Jesus has been transferred from the Jewish to the Roman authorities.
We aren’t going to look at all the events of Friday but I wanted you to see them and encourage you to read about them so you can see in the Word the gravity of the day.
- Jesus’ sentencing by the Jews (Matthew 27:1-2)
- Judas’ death (Matthew 27:3-10)
- Jesus’ sentencing by the Romans (Matthew 27:11-26)
- The mocking of the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31)
- Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-44)
- Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:45-56)
- Jesus’ burial (Matthew 27:57-61)
- The guard placed at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-64)
Jesus stands before the Jews
Judas led the temple guards to the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. After His arrest, the temple guards took Jesus to Annas, a former High Priest, and father-in-law of the current High Priest, Caiaphas (John 18). After questioning Jesus, Annas sent Him to Caiaphas, the High Priest. There Jesus was questioned, condemned by false witnesses, spit upon, and viciously beaten.
Jesus brought to Pontius Pilate
Early Friday morning, the religious leaders of Israel officially declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy. Because Jerusalem was under Roman law, the Jews did not have the right to execute capital offenders (John 18:31). The Jewish leaders bring Jesus before the Roman governor, Pilate, and demand Jesus’s execution.
Judas has an apparent change of heart. He is “seized with remorse”. Judas does acknowledge his sin and Jesus’ innocence, but he does not demonstrate the mark of genuine repentance. (more about what true repentance looks like in another blog)
Judas confesses and tries to return the money the Jewish leaders paid him, but they aren’t interested. Responding in anger, he throws the money on the floor and goes out and kills himself.
Pilate’s only concern is whether or not Jesus has broken Roman law.
He asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responds simply, “It is as you say.” While being accused by the Jewish leaders, He did not answer. Then Pilate questions Him and He does not answer even one single charge and Pilate was amazed. Pilate proclaims there is no basis for sentencing and he refers Jesus to King Herod who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus and receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate.
Pilate’s wife has a dream and warns him to “have nothing to do with this righteous man.” Pilate realizes Jesus is innocent but, the Jewish leaders demand crucifixion. At Passover, Pilate often would release one criminal as a sign of goodwill to the Jewish people. He offered the crowd Jesus or the murderer Barabbas. The murderer was set free, and the innocent man was murdered. Jesus died in Barabbas’ place.
Pilate washes his own hands as a sign he has no part in this condemnation. However, in order to prevent a riot and ultimately to keep his job, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified. Jesus is stripped, beaten with whips, mocked, and beaten again.
Jesus carries His cross to the site of the execution. Finally, at about 9:00 am, Jesus is nailed to a cross and crucified along with two criminals. Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth. He was mocked by the crowds and insulted by the religious leaders. Pilate has Jesus’ crime posted on the cross, above Christ’s head, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
Jesus agonized on the cross and then, at noon, the sun stopped shining. And until 3:00, the Light of the world hung in darkness.
At about 3:00, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and died. The veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, and the centurion cried out, “This man really was the son of God.”
Pilate requested confirmation from the centurion that Jesus was dead, a soldier pierced the side of Jesus causing blood and water to flow out. The centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead.
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to His condemnation, requests the body from Pilate. He and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen shroud and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved out of a rock in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. They rolled a large rock over the entrance to the tomb. Then they returned home and rested because the Sabbath had begun at sunset.
The Darkest Dark
It was the “darkest dark” of all eternity. The spiritual darkness was even worse than the physical night. The one who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. As one old preacher said, “It was such a horrible sight, the sun refused to shine, and the Son hung between heaven and earth in darkness.”
It was not only physically dark but spiritually dark. I wonder if anyone really noticed?
Although Friday is a solemn time, it is not without its own joy. For while it is important to place the Resurrection against the darkness of Good Friday, the gravity of Good Friday should always be seen with the hope of Resurrection Sunday.
Something to think about
On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’s death in our place. Like Barabbas, we deserved death, but we were set free while the innocent man was crucified.
Friday was a dark and desperate day. The King of Glory died at the hands of sinners. But “It’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming!” We must always see the gravity of Good Friday in the hope of Resurrection Sunday.
Jesus died for you
God made Him, who did not know sin, to become sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (from 2 Cor 5:21, John 3:16, Romans 5:8)
This means nothing you can do will make Him love you anymore, and nothing you can do will make Him love you any less!
It is always darkest before the light shines through and hope explodes on the horizon!
In case you have missed the previous blogs, I’ve included their links below. It is not too late to read them and meditate on the events of Holy Week prior to and including Christ’s journey.