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Archive for March, 2016

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Excited people of all ages make snow angels; others make testimonies through wilderness wanderings.

I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, USA. After marrying, I lived in several different areas of our beautiful nation. I was awed by the Southern California desert region. The differences between the two geographical areas were vast.

The words desert and wilderness are frequently synonymous.

A desert wilderness is arid with little flora. 

Individuals sometimes wander through a spiritual and emotional wilderness. The LORD has the power to transform a wilderness into an oasis of praise!

“He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings (Psalm 107:35 NKJ).”

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The Lord God frequently does what we least expect. If we try to put His activity in a box He is sure to escape its confines. Resurrection morning was not scripted by any of the disciples.

Before daylight, a close knit group of faithful women began a mission of love for their departed Lord and friend. Laden with spices to anoint His body, they reverently approached His tomb. They likely discussed the problem of getting inside to perform their task. The large stone sealing His tomb created a barrier they needed to overcome.

The sight of His open tomb caught them by surprise. The stone lay off to the side, giving complete access to the burial place (that had been given by a wealthy Council member). The kindness of Christ follower Joseph of Arimathea did not go unnoticed.

The women humbly entered the tomb and discovered the tomb was empty; Jesus no longer occupied the grave!

Suddenly, they encountered two men in radiant clothing. The natural reaction of fright gripped the women; in awe, they fell to the ground.

The men asked a penetrating question, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead (Luke 24:5b NAS)?”

The messenger continued, “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again (Luke 24:6-7 NAS).”

Yes, they remembered Jesus telling them of his death and resurrection. To rise again? That had not seemed possible. Alive? They saw Him die! Three days had passed since His lifeless body had been sealed inside the tomb…

The morning skies brightened. Hearts cold with grief now pulsed with hope and joy.

Culture, tradition and prejudice prevailed. Women held few places of influence. Against all odds, women were the recipients of the angel’s resurrection announcement. Matthew said, “And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to his disciples (Matthew 28:8 NAS).”

Catch sight of frail women lifting their skirts and breathlessly running to tell Jesus’ disciples.

Before carrying out their mission, they came face-to-face with Christ. He encouraged the women and gave them His personal message. “Do not be afraid; go and take word to my brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see me (Matthew 28: 10 NAS)”

Women…

*Women were first to see the open tomb.

*Women were first to hear of His resurrection.

*Women were first to see the risen Redeemer.

*Women were first to carry the Gospel message. Jesus lives; He conquered death.

The disciples rejected their message.

“And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them (Luke 24: 11 NAS).”

Jesus later appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body.

Proof cancelled out rejection.

He lives and He is coming again!

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“The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ‘Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One—the King of Israel (John 12:12-13 HCS).”

Have you ever been part of a festival’s exuberant crowd? The excitement is contagious. We lived in the historical city of De Funiak Springs Florida, for several years. Serving as home to the annual Chautauqua Festival, it has drawn crowds numbering several thousand. I have a sense of what the Jerusalem crowd anticipated as they waited for the arrival of Jesus…

They awaited their King, expecting him to deliver them from Roman rule. As symbols of victory they palmed palm branches and rushed to see this Jesus, King of Israel. Shouting praises they gave him an enthusiastic welcome. The public opinion quickly changed. In a matter of days, shouts of ‘Crucify Him’ replaced ‘Hosanna.’

“Pilate asked them, ‘What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Messiah?’ They all answered, ‘Crucify Him (Matthew 27:22 HCS).”

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I assume you are familiar with the children’s  Itsy-Bitsy Spider sing along.

In the Old Testament book of Numbers, we find whining Hebrew spies. Faithless, they felt like itsy-bitsy-grasshoppers.

“There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:33 NAS).”

They saw themselves as insignificant and powerless. Likewise, the giants in the land saw them as spineless invaders they would crush under their heels.

In contrast, Caleb had seen God’s children through eyes of courage and faith.

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it (Numbers 13:30 NAS).”

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I live in an area that is predominately agricultural.                    

Farmers, families, and friends depend on crops to keep money in circulation. We all talk about the weather. In times of summer drought, we talk more.

Farmers pray.

Christ Jesus compared the lost and dying to a harvest.

In our churches, pastors and congregations talk about the lost. In times of dwindling numbers and apostasy, we talk more.

Missionaries pray.

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:1-2 NKJ).”

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