Monday, April 20, 2015

Watching For the End

“But Peter followed him [Jesus] afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.”- Matthew 26:58

        Peter had done everything in his power to prevent this moment. Earlier, in chapter sixteen, when Jesus tried to prepare His disciples for His pending time of suffering, death, and resurrection, Peter actually rebuked Him, declaring that on the contrary, it was simply not going to happen. In this chapter, he went so far as to brandish a sword when the elders and priests came for Jesus. As far as he was concerned, the scene now before him, and the inevitability of Christ’s death, meant the end of everything they had accomplished up until then. So we find him here in an inconspicuous place with the servants, in abject despair, resolved to sit and watch to the bitter end.

        But as you and I know, this was not the end; it was the beginning—of redemption, resurrection, and victory over sin, death, and hell. All that had come before had only been a prelude. This is why Jesus had come to earth. To see Peter, now huddled in a corner, watching in despondency, makes us realize how shortsighted even the best of us can be.  It has been said, “It isn’t over till it’s over”; but for the child of God, it’s never over!

        Have you come to what appears to be, for all practical purposes, an ending place in your life? Someone, or something in which you have invested time and labor seems to have come to a disappointing conclusion, and you have resolved to simply sit and watch for the end? Here’s a thought: Don’t assume you have come to a dead end; you may have just turned a corner.

         Sometimes what looks like the end is really the beginning. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't Let 'Em Scare You!

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalms 27:1)

There were lots of scary things in David’s life—a lion, a bear, a giant, a malevolent king, and even his own son, Absalom, just to name a few. Sometimes things can bring sudden fear to our hearts; but, for the most part, it’s people who scare or intimidate us. The verse says, "Whom shall I fear," and "Of whom shall I be afraid." Throughout this Psalm, David reminds himself (and us) why those who might strike fear to our hearts should never intimidate us. Not everyone who makes our stomachs churn are themselves to blame; sometimes the fear comes from our own feeling of inadequacy in their presence. Still, there are those who are not secure in themselves unless those around them are uncomfortably "awed" in their presence. In either case, David says, "Don't let 'em scare you."

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we as believers bring to every fearful situation adequate weapons of defense. But like any weapon, they must be utilized. The verse tells us that God furnishes two tools guaranteed to give us sufficient advantage.

The first one is light. “The Lord is my light…” The individual who fights with greater illumination is better able to evaluate people and situations more accurately, while their antagonist may still be stumbling around in the dark. The Word of God, the "light unto our path," will allow us to see our enemy (and ourselves) as they (and we) really are. In addition, the Bible shines a light on the Son of God, who walks beside us. And nothing will calm our souls like the knowledge of His abiding presence.

Second, with the strength of the Lord, we can be assured that no one can wear us down without our consent. “The Lord is the strength of my life…”  Physically, psychologically, and most important, spiritually, their strength may seem overpowering, but your Elder Brother can outdo and outlast any of them. I know there are some powerful personalities out there who feel an inordinate need to control; and, if we’re not careful, they can push us into saying or doing things we will regret. When we realize, however, that the Lord is the strength of our lives, it becomes easy to say, “Of whom shall I be afraid?”

We have all the power of Heaven on our side, so it’s not an even fight. Child of God, stop cowering in a corner. Don’t let ‘em scare you!

“The fear of man bringeth a snare…” Prov. 29:25a

Saturday, April 4, 2015

He Appeared First To Mary Magdalene...a retelling of her Resurrection Story

"The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." (John 20:1)

It was not the safest thing to do, especially for a woman — coming in the early hours of the morning while it was still dark. But then, playing it safe had never been one of Mary Magdalene's virtues. This time, however, her daring was motivated by love for the One who had changed all that and given meaning to her sad, wasted life. As she drew closer to the sepulcher, she saw with dismay that what the Pharisees feared would happen, had indeed happened. The stone had been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and someone had stolen the body of Jesus.

Her first thought was to tell Peter and John. They would know what to do. And when she ran to tell them what she had seen, they of course came and peered in, then finally entered. “Empty,” was their verdict. No reason to stay and risk arrest. So they left; but Mary stayed. She had great respect for Peter and John, but being the kind of woman she was, she had to see for herself.

And so, hardly able to see through her tears, she stooped and tentatively looked in. But now, at either end of the tomb, where the discarded grave clothes lay, were two young men in white. Angels? Peter and John said nothing of having seen angels! Never mind; they were someone to question about the missing Body. Before she could ask her question, however, they had one of their own.

"Woman, why weepest thou?"

What a very foolish question, she thought to herself, but she would never venture to say so. Instead, she replied, mournfully, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."

It was then she became aware of Someone else behind her. She turned to see who it was, just as the man, too, asked, “Woman, why weepest thou?” adding, “Whom seekest thou?”
Who now was this , she wondered, with the same foolish question? The gardener, she reasoned, but it was odd that she hadn’t noticed him before. In desperate frustration, and as her heart beat wildly, she implored, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

After what seemed an eternity, she saw a tender smile begin to play at the corners of His mouth, and she wondered to herself if he questioned her love and resolve? Did this man suppose she had come this far with her Savior, and could not now somehow find the strength to carry His lifeless body to safety, if need be. Well, then, she would just leave. There was no help here for her.  Jesus was gone. She had seen Him die, and there was not even a body left to mourn or commemorate. Had He died in vain? Would the sins that inhabited her past now return to invade her conscience again?

Suddenly, the Man spoke: "Mary," He said, simply. He didn’t need to say His own name, only hers.

Instantly, she was shaken from her dismal thoughts and turned to look once more at the “gardener.” There was only One who spoke her name like that. And now, never had her plain, common name sounded as sweet as it did on this first Easter morning. This Man knew her name....and she knew His.

"Rabboni” (Master)

She had come to anoint a dead body, but instead, she found a risen, death-defying Savior! He had conquered both sin and death. And so would she.

Oh, yes, there were other women at the tomb on that morning of mornings, yet, John chose to speak only of Mary Magdalene. And although others saw what Mary saw, Mark still said, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene....” (Mark 16:9)