This song says it all!
Tag Archives: Jesus Christ
He Knows My Name
Reading of the empty tomb, there is one story that I love the most.
Mary Magdalene is standing outside the empty tomb weeping in despair. All her hopes were crushed when Jesus died on the cross and was placed in a tomb. This man who had delivered her from the bondage of sin. This man who had made her feel a person of worth once again. This man who had showed unconditional love.
Not only was he dead, and with him all the hopes and dreams she and his fellowers had cherished, but now even his body had been stolen.
Who would have taken it? Why would they have taken it? Would they desecrate his body? How sad to not even have his body to anoint and properly bury.
Suddenly she saw a man standing nearby. She thought he was the gardener. Why did she not recognize Jesus? First, she clearly was not expecting a dead man to be standing before her. Perhaps in her tears her eyesight was even blurred. Perhaps Jesus had purposely temporarily allowed her not to recognize him.
How did he reveal to her who he was?
Not by telling her “I am Jesus.” “Don’t you recognize me?”
He simply called her by name.
At the sound of her name in his mouth, she recognized him. What a joy to think that to Jesus, Mary was not just another one of his followers. She was not just “Hey you.” This was Mary.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
“Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father.”
Whenever I read this story I am reminded of the time in my own life when Jesus spoke my name.
At fourteen my father, who I adored, left my mother, sister and me. He also left the church and turned away from following the Lord. I was devastated. He had been my role model. I saw him night after night sit at the kitchen table after supper and read his Bible. Following his example, I loved the Word of God.
Now, confused, brokenhearted, I sat down at my piano and began to play. Music has always been a source of comfort to me. I go to it when I want to celebrate, when I want to cry. Singing an old hymn, “Does Jesus Care” this teenager sang it as a cry to God. Did He really know me and my hurt? Was this little unknown teenager living in a small house in a small town known to Him? Did he care?
As I sang from my heart, tears running down my face, I suddenly felt someone standing beside me. There was no one at home then but myself. I knew no one had come in the front door. Yet, I knew someone was standing beside me.
In that moment, I felt him speak my name. Like Mary, I knew it was Jesus. I was afraid to turn and look as I felt so unworthy to look on him. I never turned. But as sure as I know I am sitting at my computer right now, I know Jesus was standing beside me. He was telling me he not only knew my name, knew my hurt and sorrow, but he cared.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.”
Our natural inclination is to expect rewards in measure with our performance. If we test well, we expect a good grade. If we perform well at work, we expect a raise or a promotion. We tend to extend this to ethics as well. We have a general belief in reciprocity-I loan my friend bus fare, and I expect she’ll do the same for me if I leave my wallet at home. And in reality, we’re usually fairly quick to admit we have the same tendency with our salvation. We BELIEVE God loves us unconditionally and that our salvation is by faith but we often BEHAVE as though we need to present God with a checklist of salvation-worthy deeds on Judgment Day. But it is good to sit and rest in God’s love. Nowhere else is love so unconditional, redemption so freely offered. Knowing that we cannot earn it, it is our honor to marvel in the midst of it…..Mosaic Bible
A Rich and Satisfying Life
We just finished celebrating Resurrection Sunday. For many when asked why Jesus came it is simply to die and rise again. But why? Unfortunately for many the whole point of his death and resurrection is simply so we can go to heaven someday.
While that certainly is the Christian story, Jesus indicated there is more to his death and resurrection than a ticket to heaven.
At one point He talked about being the good shepherd. He said, “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.”
But He did not stop at that statement. He added “They will come in and go freely and will find good pastures…My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” The word here in Greek is perisson meaning “exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate.”
What is this richly satisfying life? In our self-focused society today, we might begin to imagine a large mansion, fancy cars and the latest fashion. There are many TV evangelists that promote this kind of thinking. I have heard that theory called “name it and claim it,” “blab it and grab it,” or “prosperity gospel.”
If Jesus is our example of what it means to follow God, then the abundant life is not about material things. If so, Jesus would have been the richest guy alive. Yet He said He did not even have a place of his own to lay his head. He depended on the generosity of others for his daily needs.
Jesus said that this eternal life is that we would know Him (John 17:3). Abundant life – a rich and satisfying life – is not about material things, not about a successful career, not about a large family, not about popularity – or any of the many other things our culture would suggest brings a richly satisfying life. Rather, it is an ongoing, growing relationship with Jesus.
How do we get to “know” God. Basically the same way we get to know anyone else. By spending time with them and sharing thoughts and concerns and dreams with them. It is a growing process.
When I married my husband, I thought I knew him. Now, after almost 39 years of marriage I realize how much more I know him today than on my wedding day. How did that happen? I have spent 39 years in conversation with him. So as we spend time in prayer, in reading God’s word, in just mediating on what we have read, we grow in our knowledge of God.
This ongoing, growing relationship with Jesus is what the abundant life is all about. While clearly Jesus died and rose again to give us access to forgiveness of our sins and the hope of eternal life in heaven someday, it is more than that. Abundant life begins now – as the death and resurrection of Jesus declares “Come walk with me and know me, have a relationship with me. In this you will find a richly, satisfying life.”
Sad, Somber Saturday
I post this every year – but I think the message never gets old.
First, the cross
We talk a lot about the cross and how terrible the death of Jesus was. The story of Peter’s denial of Jesus and the rest of the disciples fleeing from the garden where he was arrested are familiar to us. It is good that we take time to reflect on the agony, the pain, the shame that Jesus suffered for us on that Friday.
Then we jump to Sunday morning and the wonderful fact of the resurrection! The surprise, the doubt, the joy as they realized that Jesus was alive. Again, it is good that we celebrate this tremendous event, this foundation stone of our faith.
But, what was that Saturday like?
Have you ever wondered what that Saturday was like for the followers of Jesus as they hid behind locked doors? After the shock, the horror of his death, can you imagine the range of emotions they felt on Saturday? Sad, somber Saturday!
Of course, there was the sorrow they experienced at the loss of their friend. I cannot really begin to understand the pain his mother must have felt as she reflected on the suffering he had experienced. Perhaps she could not even sleep, or fell asleep only to wake up from a nightmare seeing him once again being viciously beaten.
There must have been great confusion. Questions as they remembered all the miracles he performed, all the parables he had told. Wondering how he could have come to this end. Had he not made tremendous promises? Had he not proclaimed that he was the only way to God? Had he not even raised a dead man after four days in the tomb?
There must have been great disappointment. What were they to do now? They had left their homes, their employment to follow him. They had been so excited about the kingdom he would set up, even arguing over who would sit on his left and his right hand in that kingdom.
There must have been great fear. Would the Romans come after them now? How could they get out of Jerusalem and back to their villages and their old life safely?
Had they really heard Him?
We have the advantage of looking back on history, on knowing how the story turned out. So it is easy for us to say, “Did they not really hear him?” After all he had told them that he would be killed and would rise again on the third day. Did any of them think about that and wonder if it could be true?
We have our Saturdays too
But before we berate them for not really hearing Jesus, not really understanding, not really believing what he said about his death and coming back to life, are we any different today?
When our Fridays of suffering and difficulty come and we face a sad, somber Saturday dealing with the problems we face, do we forget his promises? He said he would never leave us. He said we would have tribulation in this world, but to be of good cheer because in him we could overcome. He said he gave us his peace, not the peace of the world, but that peace that comes from knowing who is in control.
Today, before I rejoice at the resurrection, I ask God to help me in my times of sorrow, confusion, disappointment and fear. I ask him to remind me that Fridays come and we have sad, somber Saturdays dealing with the problems of Friday, but for the child of God, Sunday is always on the way!
Are You Washed in the Blood – A Strange Question
Growing up in a conservative church background we sang a lot of songs about the blood:
- There is Power in the Blood
- Oh the Blood of Jesus
- What Can Wash Away My Sins? (Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
- The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power
I hear less and less songs about the blood. Many seemed to think such songs “turn off” people we are trying to reach. The very thought of being washed in blood is, honestly, a little strange. When I turn on my shower I would be horrified to see blood instead of water coming from the shower head. And who would wash their white tops in blood and expect them to come out sparkling clean.
On the surface it is a silly concept.
Yet when the Bible was written little was known scientifically about blood. Everything the Bible said about it was in opposition to scientific knowledge.
For instance, throughout the Bible we are told that the life is in the blood. Yet, until just a few hundred years ago doctors would bleed patients thinking losing blood would cure them. Now we know how important blood is to life and have blood drives to encourage people to donate blood. Truly the writer of the Old Testament knew what he was talking about when he said there life in the blood.
Recently reading a book by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In His Image, it was interesting to see how science has discovered the cleansing power of blood.
Such a pipeline exists inside each one of us, servicing one hundred trillion cells in the human body. An endless supply of oxygen, amino acids, nitrogen, sodium, potassium,…surges past our cells, carried on blood cell rafts or suspended in the fluid….that same pipeline ferries away refuse, exhaust gases, and worn-out chemicals….The components of this circulatory system cooperate to accomplish a simple goal: nourishing and cleansing each living cell…Every cell in every body lives at the mercy of blood.
It is not true that blood represents life to the surgeon but death to the Christian. Rather, we come to the table also to partake of His life. Christ came not just to give us an example of a way of life but to give us life itself. Spiritual life is not ethereal and outside us, something that we must work hard to obtain; it is in us, pervading us, as blood is in every living being.
This “Good Friday” I am thankful for the blood of Jesus that cleanses me from sin.
The Best Week of the Year
Christmas gets a lot of attention. The stores have barely cleared their shelves of Halloween decorations when they put out Christmas trees, Santa Claus and elves and all kind of Christmas decorations. All through the month of December, parties are scheduled, churches plan Christmas programs.
But for me as a Christian while Christmas is important, this week is the best. Obviously, Jesus coming in the form of a little baby speaks volumes of God’s love and his willingness to become one of us.
But without the cross and the resurrection his birth would not have completed the mission He had when He was born in Bethlehem.
Good Friday is a day to reflect and weep. But to me Sunday is the highlight of the entire year.
Gospel preachers today preach the gospel of the Crucifixion; the Apostles preached the gospel of the Resurrection as well. The Crucifixion loses its meaning without the Resurrection. Without the Resurrection, the death of Christ was only the heroic death of a noble martyr; with the Resurrection it is the atoning death of the Son of God….R.A. Torrey
Too often this wonderful event is presented simply as a “ticket out of hell.” Jesus died so we could go to heaven.
But His death and resurrection mean so much more than that. He came to restore what He first created in the Garden of Eden. A relationship between God and man. He said He came to give us life and that more abundantly.
As we reflect on the events of this week that happened long ago it is my prayer that we come to understand Jesus did not suffered just so we would be forgiven – though that is of course so important – but so that we could enter into a relationship with Him and through that relationship reach out to others to share His love and His joy.
May this Holy Week bring us all to a new appreciation of the love of Jesus and draw us into a closer relationship with Him. May it empower us to reach out to those around us with this new good news. God loves us!
The Party’s Over – What Now?
I posted this three years ago. This year it is a good reminder to me. Christmas this year was not anything I had anticipated. A few days before Christmas I contacted Covid. All the plans for candlelight service at church and gathering with my daughter and her family for a fun day had to be cancelled. Christmas Eve my husband caught Covid from me and we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day basically sleeping when we were not coughing our heads off.
Our daughter, who normally would have been over – wearing a mask – to bring us food and check on us also had Covid and like me she shared it with her husband. We are so thankful our granddaughter has remained negative. So, we were basically on our own.
Spending Christmas alone while we struggled to have enough energy to sit up awhile and wish each other Merry Christmas made this anything but the Christmas we had always enjoyed. Today we are on the mend but still so tired. It will be quite awhile before we will be back to normal. But as I am saddened by no Christmas for us – I am thankful that the real reason for Christmas is still true. In the midst of our sickness, we are minded that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Christmas 2019 is history. My decorations are all back in the boxes and the boxes are all in the storage area in the basement where they will sit until next December. Here and there I see a few houses with Christmas lights still up but most of my neighbors have removed all the reindeer, snowmen and nativity sets from their yards.
Gifts have been given. Some were, no doubt, a big hit. Others may have been a disappointment. Store clerks have been busy at the return counters.
Children are counting down the days until they have to return to school while many are heading back to work after a few vacation days.
Here and there I hear comments about the letdown after Christmas. It is understandable that after all the shopping, decorating, baking, parties and family gatherings, going back to the “normal” routine of life can be a bit of…
View original post 154 more words
He Knows My Name
One of my favorite parts of the resurrection story is when Mary Magdalene was standing outside the empty tomb, heartbroken because the tomb was empty, and she did not know where the body of Jesus had been taken.
When Jesus appeared to her, she did not recognize him and thought he was the gardener. “Sir, if you have carried him away, please tell me where you laid him.” At that moment, Jesus spoke her name. “Mary,”
At the sound of Jesus speaking her name, she realized it was Him!
Something is very special to us – the sound of our name in the voice of a loved one.
Jesus spoke of knowing His voice in John 10
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
In Psalm 139 the writer reflects on how well God knows us.
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
To me, in times of difficulty – it is so good to know that Jesus knows my name.
What Are We Celebrating?
It’s that time of year again!
Time for making cookies, shopping for gifts, decorating the Christmas tree and all our house inside and out. Time for family gatherings, parties at friends, watching Hallmark Christmas movies. The list goes on and on.
As I listen to people talk about the holiday, it almost seems at times as if it is more of a stressful time for some than a joyous celebration. People wonder if they will get the right gift for that special someone, if their decorations will look as nice as the neighbor’s next door, if they will have enough time for all they need to do to celebrate this holiday.
And I have to ask myself: what are we celebrating?
The Early Church did not celebrate Christmas. For them the important date was the day Jesus arose from the grave. Granted without His birth He could not have grown up and died for us. But for the Early believers, the important thing to celebrate was His resurrection. Two of the Gospels do not even mention the birth of Jesus but all four Gospels give great detail of the last days of His life as He was crucified, buried and rose again. The Aposle Paul shared that this was the heart of the good news.
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Doing some research into church history, I discovered that the first Christmas was celebrated December 25, 336. The Roman emperor Constantine decreed this celebration to take place throughout the Roman Empire and Pope Julus I selected the date of December 25. Bible scholars tell us there is nothing in the Bible or in Early Church history to know the date of the birth of Jesus. Many reason that it was more lately that his birth was in the spring. Would shepherds be out on the hills with their sheep in the middle of winter?
Many pagan societies observed this date as a celebration of the winter solstice. This was the shortest day of the year and would lead to the return of the sun. In ancient Germanic cultures, they would burn a Yule log, light bonfires, tell stories and drank ale. Ancient Romans had a seven-day celebration, Saturnalia, beginning December 17. They would have a sacrifice at the temple of Saturn followed by several days of a carnival atmosphere. oldest winter celebrations in the world.
It is believed by many scholars that the Pope chose December 25 to try to turn people away from the celebration of Saturnalia and begin to follow the Christian way of life.
Whatever the reason for the choice of December 25 it has come down to us as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
But again, I ask: what are we celebrating?
I recently visited a Christmas celebration at a local mall. I wondered what someone who had no knowledge of our customs and came to the celebration would think it was all about. There were all kinds of items with Santa Claus, the elves, the reindeer. But I saw nothing about the stable, the manger, Jesus.
Now – do I sound like Scrooge?
I certainly do not mean to. I love the decorations, the Christmas movies of the Elf on the Shelf and all that goes with our holiday in America. This week I will be busy putting up my tree and decorating my home all in red and gold, looking for that perfect gift for my husband.
But I wonder: What if you were told your friends were going to have a party to celebrate your birthday. You get excited and come to the party expecting greetings from everyone – and maybe some presents. You arrive early because you are so happy your friends want to celebrate this day with you. When you arrive, no one acknowledges your presence. No one offers you a seat at the table. There are no signs saying, “Happy birthday.” Instead, another person is seated at the head of the table. Everyone is talking to him, wanting to have their picture taken with him, toasting him. You are totally ignored.
You might go home wondering: what were they celebrating?
I hope you will enjoy this month and all the food, decorations, shopping, family gathering, parties. But I hope you will truly remember who and what we are celebrating.
I hope you will take time to listen to this song – and ask yourself: what am I celebrating?