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This is more than just a blog post.
If I had realized how difficult it would be, I probably would have put it off for another time.
I decided to take a fresh look at The Final Days of Jesus. But, the history of those days is recorded by four different men who witnessed the events from different perspectives and at times from different locations. Also, each of them wrote down the events that stood out to them. I'm talking about the men, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It turned out to be a huge challenge and I ended up with all four Gospel Books open in front of me going from one to another, making my way through the story, choosing the most descriptive account, and trying not to miss relevant details. I chose the Amplified Bible version for maximum comprehension and ease of reading.
Using the Bible's own words, I wanted to somehow put together the biggest, most complete picture I could, using all four historical accounts. I know it has probably been done before, but I wanted to do it for myself. I also thought it would be interesting to insert relevant prophetic and historical scriptures into the the place in the story where those scriptures were either fulfilled or added meaning.
I shared the result with our congregation on Palm Sunday by simply reading the story, allowing my oldest son to read the inserted prophetic insertions. It was powerful to just simply experience the beauty of the most wonderful story Earth has ever known. It was not what you might call a normal Sunday morning service.
Several times during the reading, the Word of God made a connection with me in an unusually powerful way. Each time I became emotional and found it difficult to continue reading. At the conclusion, I was gripped by the awesomeness of the story. I was overcome. I could not speak. Tears flowed and for minutes, as the congregation remained completely silent, I gasped and groaned beneath an emotional tempest of love and appreciation mingled with feelings of grief at what Jesus was willing to endure because of me.
I hope you will give a few minutes of your undivided attention to the most amazing story ever.
So, it’s snowing outside. That should be no surprise, as the media has been warning us of this terrible apocalypse named Storm ‘Q’ for days now.
It is funny to me how there are so many different reactions to snow. Some have been living in dread for the last two days, just knowing it is coming. One teacher I know led her students in prayer and in the ‘snow dance’ yesterday, desperately hoping for a snow day (they got it). Everyone has stocked up on their bread, milk, and eggs. The risk of being stuck inside for a few hours without the ability to make french toast is evidently too great to bear.
Now that the dreadful ‘Q’ has arrived and is bearing down on us, the different reactions continue. My own attitude is typically to stay in the shelter of the warm house and ignore both the snow and the minute-by-minute reporting. My wife seems to enjoy monitoring its progress from the window, regularly encouraging me to look. Our septuagenarian neighbor has already been out to shovel the sidewalk once. It doesn’t matter that there was less than an inch on the ground and it’s still coming down. He will happily be out again soon. The 30-something neighbor across the street seems to have the need to meet ‘Q’ head on by continually running to his car for forgotten items, all while wearing a pair of shorts.
You probably have your own idea as to whether a snow day is a fun day, a day to be feared, if it means more work or less. But the fact is, ‘Q’ will do what it wants without regard to how each of us views it.
Storms of life come for all of us. The Bible tells us that it rains ‘on the just and the unjust’ Matthew 5:45. (Click link to read entire chapter) You can cower in fear. You can smile through it. You can try to do the work to make it go away like one of my neighbors, or pretend it isn’t there like my other neighbor.
But two things are true:
1. The storm will come. Whether you prepare or are surprised, fear or rejoice, it will come.
2. The storm will pass. It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s a part of life.
In a few days, ‘Q’ will be just another letter in the alphabet, the only remnants of it being that pile of snow around the light post in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The storms of life that you walk through will pass too. The Apostle Paul promises that God will provide an escape from every temptation, and will always make a way that we can bear it. I Corinthians 10:13 (Click link to read entire chapter)
So the storm, like the snow, won’t last. But as long as it’s here, I’m staying in my shelter. Not my warm house, but the Lord God. The prophet Isaiah called Him a ‘shelter from the storm’ Isaiah 25:4 (Click link to read entire chapter) If you haven’t known Him as this for yourself, let me encourage you to seek Him. Get inside…otherwise, you’re just wandering through the snow in a pair of shorts.
Why do I wake in the loveliness of a new day, in a comfortable bed, in a warm room with painted walls, carpeted floors, and pretty curtains at my windows; in a land of plenty with a choice of good foods for my breakfast; with my loved ones close by sipping their coffee, reading the morning paper, listening to the radio, going off to work or school? Why me, Lord? What have I done to deserve such luxuries?
When women in far-off lands awake with only a scrap of cloth between them and the chill of a gray dawn, to face another day, with the sounds of the horrors of war close at hand; with the ache of hunger in their bellies and the throb of lonliness, oppression and fear in their hearts...
Why me, Lord? How have I come to be so blessed?
Unless - do you suppose there is a purpose I do not yet understand? Could it be that my knowledge of the Lord and His blessings must surely be shared?
If this be so, then show me, Lord, in ways I can understand; that I may walk in paths, not small and selfishly planned - not narrow and self-centered, but that I may walk in the ways of sharing with others the love and knowledge you have so freely given me!
Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you... By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35 (click to read entire chapter)
Why, Lord, do I deserve to know this, and not others? Why me, Lord?
Hear the cry of millions around the world, "Does no man care for my soul?"
by Pastor Jonathan Blake
Numbers 21: 16-18 (click the link to read the whole chapter)
It is a wonderful thing when thirsty people find water. The human body is an awesome creation of God. According to wiki.answers.com, the human body can live without food for 7-8 weeks under certain conditions, but only 8-14 days without water. Thirst can also be an amazing motivator. When a person is truly thirsty, they won't think about anything else until they get a drink.
Thankfully, when it comes to our soul's cravings, God is a limitless source of life-giving water. It is available to anyone who is thirsty. The bad news is, it is expensive. In fact, it is so costly, we could never afford it. The good news is, Jesus already purchased it for us by dying on the cross of Calvary, and He made it available through the free gift of His Holy Spirit.
If you have never received this precious gift, it is for you. Jesus promised it to all who are spiritually thirsty. Does it seem like there is something missing in your life? Is there a craving for meaning and fulfillment that you have yet to find? Here is one example of thirsty people finding this life-giving water.
Acts 2:37-39 (click the link to read the whole chapter)
In our first scripture reading, we find a vast number of God's people in the wilderness. It was dry and they were thirsty. But, God had promised them water. So, when they came to the right place, they did two things. The sang to the well, and as they sang, they began to dig. They didn't have fancy digging tools, so they just used their walking sticks.
Don't be disappointed and discouraged if the thirst of your soul is met with dry dusty ground. God has promised you life-giving water.
Sing! "Spring up, O Well!" And as you sing, start digging. Dig through the dirt and debris of your past. Keep seeking and praying and singing and digging until The Holy Spirit comes and fills your soul. You will know when it happens. It will be supernatural and beautiful just like it happened in Acts 2.
Pastor Jonathan Blake