MARK 3:31 ON 3/31

MARK 3 31 ON 3 31

WALKING

I’ve been thinking about family lately.  Holidays make us remember good times with family, don’t they?  Those memories become treasures and more precious as time goes by.  But who was Jesus’ family?

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  – Mark 3:31

If we go on to read through verse 35, we are reminded of the importance of family.  It’s such a confidence booster to know you have these folks in your corner, ready to help you heal after a bout in the real world.  To have family is a real blessing, especially if you are surrounded with supportive people who love you no matter what.

Husbands and wives who stand together against all odds.  Parents who truly love and support their children, and children who know how to honor and cherish their parents.

The traditional family unit is becoming increasingly rare.  Couples who live together before marriage or divorce after marriage, often leaving innocent children in the middle.  What kind of example does that set for children?  They don’t believe that love can last for a lifetime between two people and end up very skeptical about relationships in their own lives.  They also wonder if, since mom and dad no longer love each other, if they stopped loving them.

It may seem like a hopeless situation, but there is a family where love and support is available to everyone and relationships won’t end.  In Mark 3:31-35, Jesus lets His earthly family know about His “true family”.  Of course, his physical family was His mother Mary, step-father Joseph, brothers James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and His sisters.  Not that He did not value His physical family and care for them, but He considered His true family those who follow His real Father.

Remember, even at the age of 12 Jesus knew Who His real Father was.  He let His physical parents know that He had to be about His Father’s business.  He knew His real Father was God.

His disciples were part of Jesus’ family because they worked alongside Him and sought to do the Father’s will.  In the 7th chapter of Matthew we are reminded that whoever does the will of the Father are in turn recognized by Him.  In the 11th chapter of Luke we are told that they are the ones who are truly blessed.

So, the family Jesus treasured most was His spiritual family.  A spiritual family acknowledges God as our Father.  He listens to our prayers, provides every need throughout our life and beyond, and forgives our sins.  God also delivers us from temptation when we ask Him to do so.  Christians get to call Jesus “brother” and we are many times referred to as “brethren” in Scripture.

We depend on God’s Holy Spirit to protect and defend us.  He makes intercession for us and keeps us out of harm’s way.

Could you imagine what it would be like to plan a family reunion for the family of God?  How many should we plan for?  Um…  well…  lol.  There are so many of us!  So many congregations, all with their own theology but with the same basic belief that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, raised as a human, yet He was always the Son of God, part of the Holy Trinity.  He healed the sick, raised the dead, performed miracles.  God sent Jesus to suffer and die for the sins of the world.

We have family in heaven and will be reunited with them one day.  Physical family ties are severed at death, but Jesus’ spiritual family looks forward to an eternal inheritance.  This family will endure through eternity!

The true family of Jesus does not suffer from divorce or death.  Because of God’s wonderful love, Jesus was sent to atone for the sins of the world.  If you believe with your heart, you are a part of this large family.

My physical family is so small, but the larger family – the family of God, is loving and supportive.  I pray that you have received Christ through faith and baptism.  This spiritual family will last forever.  🙂

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (15)

A WAY FOR THE POSSIBLE

This is just a reminder that things are not always what they seem to be.  It’s meant to be a pepper-upper for ones who may feel discouraged.  Some things are enhanced, others are hidden.  Some facts come to light literally years after the person is dead and gone.  The take-away here is that no matter what things look like on the surface, they are never that simple.  People do what they do for a reason.  People say what they say for a reason and last but not least, people believe the way they believe for a reason.

How would these people’s lives and careers have been different if they had not experienced these events or wanted to change their look or ventured out in some way to try something new?  If you thought that celebrities somehow get to walk on easy street from day one – think again!  Some of these people overcame some major obstacles before they got their big break:

  • James Earl Jones had a severe stutter as a child and was silent for nearly eight years.  Aren’t we thankful he got over it?  He has one of the most distinguished and iconic voices in the world.
  • When Stephen King was 2 years old, his father went out to “buy a pack of cigarettes” and never came back.  This has influenced him tremendously.
  • Elvis Presley was a natural blonde.  The familiar black hair was dye he used from the time he got into high school.  He wanted his hair to look like the truck driver’s hair – and most of them had dark, slicked back hair.
  • Vangelis, a pioneer in electronic music, performed soundtracks for movies and won an Academy Award for the score in “Chariots of Fire”.  He can’t read music.
  • Mel Blanc, the voice of Looney Tune characters, got into a near-fatal car crash in 1961 that resulted in 3 skull fractures and a 3-week long coma.  His doctor could not get a response, so asked, “Bugs, can you hear me?”  Blanc, in the voice of Bugs Bunny, responded, “What’s Up, Doc?”
  • At 35 years of age, Harrison Ford was fitting a door for Francis Ford Coppola when a studio executive, testing actresses for a new film, asked him to help out by reading the lines written for the male lead.  The film was “Star Wars”.

It’s also a reminder – God really does have a great plan for your life.  Now, it doesn’t mean that you will be a movie star or become famous at all, but remember that you will always be God’s STAR because you belong to Him!  Wink!  😉

PALM SUNDAY

TL PALM SUNDAY

When I think of Palm Sunday, I’m reminded of years past when I taught children’s Sunday School.  There is usually a children’s program scheduled on this day that consists of kids of all ages waving palm branches and singing songs of praise to Jesus.

You may think that we teachers just stand up there coaxing the children to sing louder because we have nothing better to do.  Sorry to disappoint you, but as teachers, we hope and pray that the seemingly ritualistic Palm Sunday children’s program stays with the kids and that they will remember the meaning behind it.

We also hope that something in the presentation will soften the hearts of the parents and help them to come back to a solid relationship with the Lord.  As teachers, we hope and we pray that our efforts will be blessed by God and produce results.  Palm Sunday children’s programs are a seed-planting mission of sorts.  That’s why we practice those songs over and over (and over…)  sigh.

We teach the children simple songs like “Jesus Loves Me” because we want them to remember throughout their lives that no matter what happens, they have a Savior who loves them and wants them to lean completely on Him every day – to keep them safe and help them make good decisions.

HIS LAST WEEK ON EARTH

What are the benefits of becoming a Christian?  Let’s review…  the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is a perfect example of how God provides for His own.  We never have to worry about being left alone or lonely.  Our needs – all of them – are supplied every day.  We see the hand of God all the time.

We give, but we will never out-give our Father in heaven.  His limitless resources are ours if we will just ask.  He has provided His Holy Spirit to protect and guide us.  He has promised us a home in heaven where streets are pure gold and gates are made of pearl.  Down here we see gold as so precious, but God uses it to make the streets!  I mean, if that doesn’t give you some perspective…

He promises us a mansion – again, something that people spend years saving and sacrificing to buy on this earth – is just given to those who call Christ Lord once this life is over.  I’ve got it on good authority that we won’t even have to mow or trim the lawn either – no maintenance with this mansion.  No property taxes…  that alone – well – it’s a good thing.  You might say…  it’s HEAVEN.

Angels singing and no more night because we won’t have to sleep – we will have new bodies that won’t get tired.  They won’t have chronic illness or joints that wear out.  There will be no Alzheimer’s, no Diabetes, no Parkinson’s or any other affliction in heaven – it will all be behind us and we can just be with the LORD forever.

You can’t see me (and I can’t prove it), but I’m waving my palm branch today for KING JESUS.  I’m thanking Him for all the promises that He has made, has kept, and will keep in the future.  He is worthy of our praise.  Hail King Jesus!  ❤

 

 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORYTraditionally, people had to enter the church building in order to hear God’s Word preached in 1865.  That changed one day when William Booth was invited to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in the East End of London.  It was a tent meeting in a Quaker graveyard.  The services were an instant success.

His popularity as a religious leader spread throughout London and he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women.

Drunkards, thieves and prostitutes were among the first converts to Christianity.  He preached the gospel message of hope and redemption, his goal of course was to lead people to Christ and get them involved in a church for further spiritual guidance so they could grow in their new faith.

In the spring of 1879, the newly named Salvation Army in London was very small and all the workers knew each other personally.  Eliza Shirley, a 16-year old, joined the Christian Mission and was appointed as an evangelist at one of the “stations.”  At first, her parents were skeptical.

Eliza’s father was an experienced silk weaver and sought employment in the United States.  He found work in Philadelphia and sent for his wife and daughter.  Eliza expressed her desire to begin a work in America after hearing from her father how ungodly Americans were.  She got permission from General Superintendent William Booth, and the rest, as they say, is history!

The Salvation Army came to the United States.  Eliza began the work with Booth’s blessing.  Captain Elijah Cadman, her superior officer, gave her 100 penny song books to take with her.  Little is Much when God is in it!

When they reached Philadelphia, Eliza’s mother shared her desire to begin Army work.  They walked and prayed for an affordable meeting place, settling on an abandoned chair factory.  The whole Shirley family worked together to get the place cleaned up and ready for the opening meeting.

They put up posters announcing “TWO HALLELUJAH FEMALES.”  They didn’t have any standard uniforms, drums, or any of the usual bling that attracted crowds, but people flocked out of sheer curiosity to their open air meetings.  I’m sure the words used on those posters brought out the curiosity in folks…  lol.

The police told them they couldn’t gather out on the street anymore, so they found a vacant lot several blocks away, but no one followed their march to the hall.

God has the most creative way of providing for His own.  A tar barrel fire was set by some boys on their lot.  When the Shirleys saw the lot filled with people watching the firemen, they went ahead with the meeting!  Reddy, the worst drunk in the area, walked over to the hall.  Others followed him over just to see what would happen to him.  Well, Reddy was converted and the news not only reached the local papers, but people were burning up the phone lines spreading the news up and down the coast!  For once the gossip was a good thing.

The Salvation Army was becoming a household name.  Shortly after the Reddy conversion, the Shirleys opened up another hall in West Philadelphia.  Eliza’s father was given a choice by his employer to keep his job or keep the Salvation Army.  He chose to keep the Salvation Army and lost his job.

When General Booth became aware of the situation, he promoted the Shirleys to captain and promised to send George Scott Railton to America to take charge.

Eliza’s father died in a fatal accident a short time later, but Eliza and her mother continued in the work.

Eliza married Captain Philip Symmonds.  They had four children and a good long life.

Philip and Eliza retired in Chicago.  Eliza became an ardent fan of the Chicago Cubs.

I love this part of the story…

As Eliza was on her deathbed, the Cubs were in the final games of the World Series.  She was drifting in and out of consciousness, alternately praying and asking how the Cubs were doing.

When word came that Eliza Symmonds had been promoted to glory, there was a moment of silence in the stadium in honor of this gallant lady.

https://youtu.be/3KnOfYVkCQk

Little is much when God is in it…  if you go in Jesus’ name.  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (12)

I spent most of the day rummaging around estate sales yesterday!  If I can find some unusual item or collectible that looks lonely and forgotten in a corner, it’s my duty to rescue it and take it home where I can then nurse it back to health with love and care.

Each sale has its own unique ambience.  When you walk in the door you immediately get a sense of whether these things were taken care of and worth taking a look at, or used, abused and ultimately thrown aside when no longer needed.

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better.  – Kristin Chenoweth

There were two sales that represent each of these scenarios.  The first was a collector’s paradise – filled with little treasures at every turn.  The second was filled with items that were obviously well used, a little abused and may not have many more miles left in them.

The odd thing I noticed was at the second sale.  It seemed every other item I saw had a large sign on it that said AS IS.  The price did not reflect the fact that there was a flaw or damage to the item.  There was a flawless price on flawed merchandise.  As I said, we expect to strike bargains, and the buyers expect us to bargain with them.

What of this sign – AS IS???  I know without a doubt that this physical body of mine has that sign on it – and maybe yours does too.  Does my soul have a sign hanging on it too?  Were any of us born without flaws of character and needing redemption?  No.  We have an AS IS sign on our souls too.

Why were we worth redeeming?  Have you ever asked yourself why God sent Jesus to save us?  Why didn’t He just let the flood wipe everything out?  He had a deep-down faith in His creation – that we would seek a relationship with Him.

He saw the AS IS sign on us but sent His only Son, Jesus, to suffer and die on Calvary’s cross.  Then rise again on the 3rd day.  We are not stuck in Saturday, weeping and mourning in our sorry state.  Once we accept Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, we are free and redeemed, washed clean by the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb of God.

Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.  – Psalm 105:4

Seek the Lord while He may be found.  He loves you so much He was willing to pay full price for you – AS IS.  He purchased your soul and wants to lovingly care for you throughout your life – and beyond.

I PRAYED FOR YOU

photo courtesy of S.G. Lutz

I’m going to take this thought a step further and submit that we should all look for the AS IS sign on each other?  I’m not suggesting that we prejudge anyone, but that we cut each other more slack.  I’m not suggesting that we whitewash over sin either; however, I would remind us that it’s not our job to change anyone.  That can only be accomplished by God’s Holy Spirit.  Here’s a great idea – let’s pray for one another, that our hearts and minds would be open to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit!  Doesn’t that sound like a winner???  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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HANDS FOR JESUS

If you are not yelling at your kids, you are not spending enough time with them.  – Reese Witherspoon

I didn’t get to raise my own children, but I taught children’s Sunday School classes for over 40 years.  I also taught a few adult Sunday School classes…  briefly.  I begged to go back to teach the kids.  Adults have way too much baggage!

There were times I wondered if God just didn’t trust me with my own kids.  It really does seem as though it would be the heaviest load of responsibility you could possibly get – I mean, you are molding a little person’s character for the rest of their life – and wow – that is HUGE!

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  – Proverbs 22:6

As a teacher, I had responsibility for other people’s kids for an hour once a week, which in the grand scheme of things is not that much.  Their teachers at school and their coaches and even their band directors have more time with them.  Chances are that my influence will not make a huge dent one way or the other.

Hours after our first child was born, a nun at the hospital handed my husband a typed poem:

“Be careful where you go, young man,

Be careful what you do.

Two little eyes are watching you now –

Two little feet will be following you.”

It’s easy to overlook that those little eyes soak up things you might not be aware you’re transmitting.  Like how family members treat one another.  How often please and thank you punctuate the day.  Whether you come to a full stop at a stop sign.  The kids might look oblivious, but they’re watching.  – Paula Spencer

Children are so impressionable and tender.  All we adults, but parents in particular, need to be so careful when we label others a certain way or make off-hand or slightly off-color remarks.  You may not think those little ones are paying attention, but they really do pattern themselves after you.  We have a choice to teach love or hate, peace or combat, patience or impatience.

I’m reminded of a little song I taught in the Kindergarten class.  Oh, be careful little eyes what you see…  remember that one?

No, I’m certainly not an expert on raising children.  I’m just a children’s Sunday School teacher who has seen a lot through the years.  Take it for what it is.  🙂

 

ROMANS 3:25 ON 3/25

TL ROMANS 3 25 ON 3 25

 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.  – Romans 3:25

WORDS WITH CHANGE

Have you ever stopped to consider that God willingly gave His only Son to die on the cross just for you?

Did He do that for angels?  No.  The angels were there, watching and weeping, but the work of redemption on Calvary’s cross was not to save the angels.  They understood the majesty and wisdom and goodness of God toward man.  As God provided the perfect Lamb for unworthy sinners, the angels had a bird’s eye view and watched intently.

Did He do that for Satan and his demons?  No.  They have already rejected God and see the cross only as the point where Jesus bruised the serpent’s head.  Evil sees the cross through its own eyes with its own twisted interpretation.  They do not admit defeat even then and will never declare the powerful truth that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

The one and only reason God sent Jesus to die on the cross was for your salvation.  Now it’s up to you to either accept this precious gift that was purchased with His blood – or reject it.  You were given free will by your Creator to either follow Christ or follow Satan.  There’s no in-between.

Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns!  – Allison Gappa Bottke

ALL BECAUSE OF GOD’S AMAZING GRACE

1.

Amazing grace O how sweet the sound,
That saved a poor sinner like me!
Though once I was lost, yet now I am found,
Though I was blinded, now I see!

2.

And it’s all because of God’s amazing grace!
Because on Calvary’s Mountain he took my place!
And someday, some glorious morning,
I shall see him face to face,
All because of God’s amazing grace.

3.

Through disappointment through danger, too,
Through labors and sorrows we’ve come!
But God’s grace has guided safely through,
And someday it will take us home!

4.

Then with the ransomed around God’s throne,
We will praise our Redeemer and King!
We will tell how his mercy for sin did atone;
Through countless ages this song we’ll sing;

5.

It was all because of God’s amazing grace!
Because on Calvary’s Mountain he took my place!
And someday, some glorious morning,
I shall see him face to face,
All because of God’s amazing grace.

Cho.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
And someday, some glorious morning,
I shall see him face to face,

Tag.   All because of God’s amazing grace!

God’s grace…  it’s pretty amazing, huh???  🙂