Easter Is Not A Time…

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Easter is not a time for groping through dusty, musty tomes or tombs to disprove spontaneous generation or even to prove  life eternal.  It is a day to fan the ashes of dead hope, a day to banish doubts and seek the slopes where the sun is rising, to revel in the faith which transports us out of ourselves and the dead past into the vast and inviting unknown.  ~Author unknown, as quoted in the Lewiston Tribune

 

But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.  ~Walter Raleigh

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On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer.  ~Douglas Horton

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world.  Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice.  But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.  ~Henry Knox Sherrill

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The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.  ~Robert Flatt

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.  ~Clarence W. Hall

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Do You Need A New Beginning?

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This is the time of year where I have to exert the most self-control—Easter candy is my weakness.  Somehow the combination of pure sugar (jelly beans) and melt-in-your-mouth-chocolate (Hershey’s Eggs) just does me in.

I love the candy, but I also love the holiday.  Furry and chocolate bunnies (hopefully not the same) aside, Easter signifies a season of hope and renewal.  It comes a few days or a few weeks after the first day of spring, which naturally speaks of rebirth, new growth, and life.  Just like the resurrection of Christ.  The death of Jesus on the cross reflects many hefty themes, such as triumph over sin, God’s love for his people, and the significance of the empty tomb, but the one theme that speaks most to me this Easter season is:

A New Beginning

 

For it is with the death of Christ that all of humankind was given a chance for a new beginning  in a relationship with God.

Why are new beginnings important to me?  Because we all need them.  They signify a second chance, a fresh start, a life to be lived in the full.  God is our second chance.  It is through a relationship with Him that we will find the perspective and strength for the new day.

What do you want to begin anew in your life?

A renewed committment to your marriage?  A new beginning in your faith?  A new life breathed into your career?  A renewed spirit during a time of long-suffering?  A new hope and effort toward healing a strained relationship?  A new beginning for something that ended in a difficult way?

Our God is a God of second chances, because He is always pursuing us, hoping we will take Him up on His offer for a new beginning.

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Easter symbolizes a new beginning for me, a reminder again of what I know:

that daily I will fail but I am forgiven,

that yearly I will see God’s plan play out in my life,

and for eternity I will walk with Him in paradise.

 

In his final moments of life, Jesus surrendered himself for our sin, paying the price so that we have a clean slate before God, if we choose to accept this gift of his son, the gift of a new life.

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Will you celebrate this Sunday new beginnings with me?

…And then begin a new diet with me after my Easter candy epic splurge?

It’s Friday, but SUNDAY is coming.

Written by Jen

Good Friday.  Passover. Bread. Wine. Betrayal. A crown of thorns. A cry to God.

Click here and read it for yourself right from the Bible, it’s about 3 pages, you can do it!  It’s worth it!  You just may be surprised at the new details that stick out to you.  It seems to happen to me every time I read the story again.

Final Feast with 12 FRIENDS  (Don’t we still do dinner with friends, bread and wine?)

Jesus had dinner with 12 of his friends the night before his last.  He offered them bread and said, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.  “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-24

Singing Hymns. Praying. Sweating Blood. Betrayed. Arrested.

Accused

“Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death.  Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.”  Mark 14:61-65

Denied. Sentenced. Crowned. Mocked. Spit on.

Crucified

“It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  Mark 15:25-26

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” Mark 15:33-34  Jesus was a Jew.  He knew all their history, psalms and he knew the Jews would know exactly what it meant when he said LOUDLY, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  It was referring to this psalm 22.

PSALM 22, NIV

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

 Curtain of the temple TORN. Body laid to rest. Boulder Set. 3 days.

Angel Encounter

““Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”  Mark 16:6-7

Tears. News. Fear. Confusion.

Jesus finds his 11 FRIENDS.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever BELIEVES and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:14-16

Jesus returned to his Father.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Mark 16:19-20

All the scripture is from the New International Version, emphasis added by me.

Believe? Be Baptized?

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming.

Wise Words : Easter

I have been reading John Pipers book called The Passion of Jesus Christ; Fifty Reasons Why He Came To Die. It has been an encouraging read in getting my head wrapped around why Jesus had to die and what is the big deal about Easter in the Christian faith. I have put the opening scripture that John Piper starts his book off with and then added part of the introduction. You can download this book for free at John Piper’s web site. I hope where ever you are in your faith journey that this book will encourage you.  I know it has been encouraging me!  If you are just checking Jesus out, this is a great philosophical read.  I hope you have a wonderful Easter.  He has risen, conquered sin and death for you and for me.  Jesus did not save us when we had it all together, but he died for us while we were living in sin.  He loves you and me.  There is nothing, not one big bad thing in your life that Jesus’ blood can not wash away.  He loves you, right now, the way you are.  He is our righteousness.  He stands at our door and knocks, if you open the door, he will come in.

Below is the scripture and the introduction to John Piper’s book.  If you don’t have time to read it now, find a minute this week to curl up with a cup of coffee and read this if you can.  It’s so good.

TO
Jesus Christ

Despised and rejected by men
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . .
we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. . . .

He was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people. . . .
There was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief.

The prophet Isaiah
Chapter 53, Verse 3-10

INTRODUCTION

The Christ, the Crucifixion,
and the Concentration Camps
The most important question of the twenty-first century is:
Why did Jesus Christ suffer so much? But we will never see
this importance if we fail to go beyond human cause. The ultimate
answer to the question, Who crucified Jesus? is: God did.
It is a staggering thought. Jesus was his Son. And the suffering
was unsurpassed. But the whole message of the Bible leads to this
conclusion.

God Meant It for Good
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah said, “It was the will of the LORD to
crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10). The Christian
New Testament says, “[God] did not spare his own Son but gave
him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). “God put [Christ] forward . . .
by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25).
But how does this divine act relate to the horribly sinful actions
of the men who killed Jesus? The answer given in the Bible is
expressed in an early prayer: “There were gathered together
against your holy servant Jesus . . . both Herod and Pontius Pilate,
along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever
your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts
4:27-28). The depth and scope of this divine sovereignty takes our
breath away. But it is also the key to our salvation. God planned
it, and by the means of wicked men, great good has come to the
world. To paraphrase a word of the Jewish Torah: They meant it
for evil, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).
And since God meant it for good, we must move beyond the
question of human cause to divine purpose. The central issue of
Jesus’ death is not the cause, but the purpose—the meaning. Man
may have his reasons for wanting Jesus out of the way. But only
God can design it for the good of the world. In fact, God’s purposes
for the world in the death of Jesus are unfathomable. I am
scraping the surface in this little book as I introduce you to fifty
of them. My aim is to let the Bible speak. This is where we hear
the word of God. I hope that these pointers will set you on an endless
quest to know more and more of God’s great design in the
death of his Son.

What Does the Word PASSION Mean?
We associate at least four things with the word passion: sexual
desire, zeal for a task, an oratorio by J. S. Bach, and the sufferings
of Jesus Christ. The word comes from a Latin word meaning suffering.
That is the way I am using it here—the sufferings and death
of Jesus Christ. But it relates to all the other passions as well. It
deepens sex, inspires music, and carries forward the greatest cause
in the world.

How Was the Passion of Jesus Unique?
Why did the suffering and execution of a man who was convicted
and condemned as a pretender to the throne of Rome unleash, in
the next three centuries, a power to suffer and to love that transformed
the Roman Empire, and to this day is shaping the world?
The answer is that the passion of Jesus was absolutely unique, and
his resurrection from the dead three days later was an act of God
to vindicate what his death achieved.
His passion was unique because he was more than a mere
human. Not less. He was, as the ancient Nicene Creed says, “very
God of very God.” This is the testimony of those who knew him
and were inspired by him to explain who he is. The apostle John
referred to Christ as “the Word” and wrote, “In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through
him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen
his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and
truth” (John 1:1-3, 14).
Then add to his deity that he was utterly innocent in his suffering.
Not just innocent of the charge of blasphemy, but of all sin.
One of his closest disciples said, “He committed no sin, neither was
deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Then add to this uniqueness
that he embraced his own death with absolute authority. One
of the most stunning statements Jesus ever made was about his own
death and resurrection: “I lay down my life that I may take it up
again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own
accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take
it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John
10:17-18). The controversy about who killed Jesus is marginal. He
chose to die. His Father ordained it. He embraced it.

His Passion Was Vindicated by the Resurrection
Because of this unparalleled passion, God raised Jesus from the
dead. It happened three days later. Early Sunday morning he rose
from the dead. He appeared numerous times to his disciples for
forty days before his ascension to heaven (Acts 1:3).
The disciples were slow to believe that it really happened. They
were not gullible primitives. They were down-to-earth tradesmen.
They knew people did not rise from the dead. At one point Jesus
insisted on eating fish to prove to them that he was not a ghost
(Luke 24:39-43). This was not the resuscitation of a corpse. It was
the resurrection of the God-Man, into an indestructible new life.
The early church acclaimed him Lord of heaven and earth. They
said, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right
hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus had finished
the work God gave him to do, and the resurrection was the proof
that God was satisfied. This book is about what Jesus’ passion
accomplished for the world.

The Passion of Jesus Christ
Fifth Reasons Why He Came to Die
John Piper
Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004 p. 11-14)

Easter Baskets

Try a twist on Easter baskets, and make a paper basket bouquet for every place setting.

Basket Bouquet How-ToAll you need are small brown paper bags and baby-food jars or shot glasses to hold the flowers for individual place settings. A centerpiece requires a larger bag and a mason jar or drinking glass as a vase. The bags you use must be gusseted, with side pleats and a flat bottom.

1. Draw lines on a bag to make an upside-down T with a fat horizontal bar.

2. Cut along the lines with decorative-edge scissors. Open the bag. Arrange a bouquet of fresh flowers in a vessel of water; set bouquet inside the basket. Join the two halves of the handle with double-sided tape.

I found this on MarthaStewart.com.  Not having as many Easter decorations as I would like, I thought these were so cute and easy—the kids would love to help create this!  An added thought–create little bunny or cross tags with guests names to tape to the bags or hang from the handles.   Happy Easter!

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Paper Basket Bouquet – Martha Stewart Crafts

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