Good Friday, March 25, 2016

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Luke 23:33

Luke in this passage says the place of Christ’s death is called The Skull. Other translations use the word Golgotha, meaning “a skull”, or use the Latin form of Golgotha: “Calvary”. These references to “skull” are thought by tradition to describe a low, rounded hill, although a hill is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

But whatever its actual shape, it was apparently a place of execution where the vilest malefactors were put to a lingering death. And in this case not only a lingering death but an ignominious and shameful death, surrounded by criminals.

However, interestingly enough, none of the gospel writers dwelt upon the horrors of this terrible death, each limiting himself to the bare recording of facts, without a trace of emotion.

But we, with plenty of emotion, certainly understand what all of these events mean for our salvation.

Prayer: God, let us never forget that, for us, “they crucified Jesus.” Amen

John and Marge Ziegler

Maunday Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22: 15-16

This is the day Jesus knew was coming. In hindsight we can all see the path that was laid out for him; to suffer, die and then rise. At the time the disciples did not quite grasp the plan that Jesus had laid out before them. Even with the same knowledge, we too still have trouble understanding the plan that is laid out before us. But at this point in his journey, Jesus understood where his path would take him and what he had to do. “I will not eat it until it is fulfilled…” We all know what we must do. I particularly connect to this part of the passage; “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you…” This pits Jesus’ human desire to commune with his followers against the certain knowledge that he must step out from what is comfortable and suffer to reach the ultimate goal. Walking into the unknown is scary, but walking into a known challenge can be even worse, especially knowing it involves your death; leaving your desires behind to suffer for the bigger plan. Jesus left his desires behind to fulfill the biggest plan. May we all have just a speck of that strength.

Prayer: Lord, feed us in this Passover meal with the strength to do what needs to be done and loving courage to live in God’s plan for us.

Christian Kline

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken this seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2

As I look back on my life I tend to feel like I have been running an endless series of races -get through high school and get into college, finish college and get a job in the “real world”, start a family, a long list of goals, action plans or regarding this metaphor, races. The issue is that these human experiences I have termed as races can eventually lead to a dead end pointing to the question – What was this all for?

The Lord unveils in Hebrew 12: 1-2 the ultimate race that ends in glory, fulfillment, and purpose much deeper and more important than any human experience we encounter. First, the Lord identifies a beautiful image of a “cloud of witnesses”; I assume resembling the spectators at a race or competition. This crowd is encouraging us– all the saints that have come before us that finished the race successfully and are now experiencing God’s glory.

The Lord then states that we “throw off” sin like a runner losing excess body fat. So as Christ-followers we must lay aside everything that hinders our faith run so that we finish strong within his will and purpose.

The running metaphor in this passage denotes a marathon and not a sprint as is seen in the phrase “with endurance.” We go the distance with dogged determination, following the path that he has marked out for us. As we progress and seek to “win” the race we are to keep our eyes on the final prize – our Lord Jesus, the perfecter of our faith race. He accomplished his victory by his sacrificial death on the cross, which cleared the way so that we could enter the race of faith. He has removed all the hurdles that could have defeated us, so we could win by entering his eternal glory.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help us as your children to look beyond our present hurdles and keep our eyes fixed on that which matters more than any earth-bound accomplishment– your promised rewards in your kingdom, that we may know that in the end that is what this race (life) is all about!

Jim Cannon

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

What is the message of the cross? Sacrifice, Love, Forgiveness… characteristics often associated with weakness – not the display of power we might expect from an almighty God. We often see world leaders, world leader wannabes, our neighbors and ourselves blustering and bluffing to present a façade of strength rather than expose our true weakness. That would be folly! Everyone knows that you must operate from a position of strength. Yet here is God incarnate, choosing the weakness of human flesh to show us what is most important to him. Not only what is most important to him but what is also most important for us. For those who recognize their weakness and need for salvation, God has shown through sacrifice the power of love and redemption. When the message of the cross is at work in our hearts, it is surely the power of God within us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to recognize the wisdom in the way that you have chosen. We are grateful for the love and sacrifice that began your powerful work within us. Amen

Bill Sinclair

Monday, March 21, 2016

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71: 3

The way I understand it, no matter how bad life gets you can always count on God. Whatever obstacle you have to overcome, no matter the result, God is there. When you have that bad day when you think nothing in the world will help, our “fortress” is God. With faith in God, everything is possible. God is always there to care for us and protect us.

Prayer: God, we give you thanks for being our rock and our fortress always. Amen.

Joseph Smith

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19: 39-40

It seems unlikely that many people would readily identify the story which contains the two verses above when they are standing alone. So, least we interpret this reading out of context, a little background is helpful. It won’t take much! To simply say that it is a scene from that first Palm Sunday will immediately tell most Christians all that they need for background.

At this point, Jesus is mounted on a donkey; his supporters have already strewn his path with their garments and palm fronds; and the crowd has become loud and joyful, except, of course, for the Pharisees, who are there seeking to bare false witness against Jesus that they might have him put to death,.

The conditions seem to be just right for the Pharisees to achieve their objective when Jesus’ followers begin to praise him with many shouting: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The Pharisees interpreted this as heresy.
The Pharisees then demand that Jesus order his followers to Stop! Jesus not only does not do so, but confirms his agreement with their actions. Jesus obviously knew well the words of the prophet Zechariah who, more than 650 years earlier, wrote:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you: He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9

I, as most of you, have read or heard the story scores of times, yet I had given little thought to the subject verses. A careful consideration of these verses has led me to a more complete understanding of their importance. Among them are:

  • Jesus’ public acknowledgement of his kingship
  • The fulfillment of prophecy
  • Demonstration of how one part of the Bible confirms another
  • That each time you read or reread a passage you are likely to learn something new

Prayer: Most high God, we are thankful for your word. Help us to consider each and every passage in the Bible. Prompt us to read and reread, so that we might glean a more complete understanding of your nature and intentions. In our Savior’s name we pray, Amen.

Walt Rudisill