The loud last cry

“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” (Mark 15:37 NIV)

The very moment Jesus, Having cried again with a loud voice, gave up His spirit.  The temple curtain was torn from the top down (Matt 27:51 NIV).  This curtain, known as the “veil,” was made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn.  This veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was placed.  The word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator that hides.  What was this curtain hiding?  Essentially, it was shielding a Holy God from sinful man.  Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God.  In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die.  Even the high priest, God’s chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year, on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement.

“But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” (Hebrews 9:7 NIV)

The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence.  So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel.  However, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed that.  When He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom.  Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it.  The curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick.  Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.  The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God.  The age of animal offerings was over. The ultimate offering had been sacrificed.

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30 NIV)

As Jesus cried out “It is finished!” on the cross, He was indeed proclaiming that God’s redemptive plan was now complete. He has done everything that God himself had required of him.  He completed the work God gave him to do, “It is finished,” was his cry. These are the words of exultation of the man Christ Jesus.  Aren’t we delighted to finish a great task?  You type the very last footnote of the Ph.D. thesis,three years work! – “it’s finished” you say to your husband.  You walk out of prison after a ten year sentence – “it’s finished” you say.  You make the last payment of a thirty year mortgage – “it’s finished.” You complete rebuilding a derelict house from the foundations to the roof with additional extensions – “it’s finished.”  You sail around the world single-handed and finally step ashore in the harbor you left months earlier – “it’s finished.”  Here is the Christ Jesus expressing a deep inward sensation of relief.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)

Jesus torn down the temple curtain through his sacrifice of death on the cross.  We are now free to come to God and speak to Him directly.  The High Priest of yesteryear who for centuries needed to part the curtain in order to enter the sanctuary is no longer necessary.  Jesus has torn away the curtain and has said, “Come and be with me.”  Today, the veil is gone! Because of Jesus Christ, our “new and living way,”  we can come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need.  Through Jesus, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Not only is God not hidden from us, he indwells within us.  By the New Covenant, He no longer must hide His face from us for we are made worthy by his blood.  “Don’t you know that your yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  God’s temple is sacred; and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV)  We often forget the seminal nature of the New Covenant: through his blood, Jesus has given us the opportunity to have a deep personal relationship with God.

God is not far away, He is very near and you Indeed can have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ!

Giving Up?

Have you ever felt like giving up? Elijah did. The Lord had just used him to show the nation of Israel that the Lord is God (1 Kings 18). Yet, the threats of Queen Jezebel so alarmed him that he ran to Beersheba, 100 miles south (19:3). Then he walked another 150 miles south to Horeb, the mountain of God.

I alone am left; and they seek to take my life. —1 Kings 19:10

Twice God asked Elijah what he was doing there (vv.9,13). Both times he answered with identical words—“I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (vv.10,14). He had become so preoccupied with his own fears that he had forgotten what God had done through him at Mount Carmel. Despite his great victory, Elijah plunged into the depths of discouragement. How easy it is for us to do the same.

God did not accept Elijah’s notice that he was quitting. Instead, He commissioned his tired servant to handle three major tasks (vv.15-17). And by the way, Elijah was wrong when he said he was the only faithful one left. God had 7,000 others who had not bowed to Baal (v.18).

Perhaps, like Elijah, you are despairing at the circumstances in your life. Let God speak to you (v.12). Instead of allowing you to quit, He will show you what you can do through His strength.

Life goes on 3.23.10

Almost a year ago, my life was turned upside down by someone.  On March 25, 2009 I was forced to leave the place I was renting, not because I didn’t pay my rent but because of someone accusing me of trying to harm them.  I had about 20 minutes to load up any thing I could into the back of my van.  I took what I could including Toby my dog and left every thing else behind not knowing at the time that the person accusing me would take every thing I left behind and never gave it back.  I had no place to go, so I just stayed in my  van with my dog.  I lived out of the van for a week and then rented a hotel room for a week, but let’s just say the hotel was not a 5 star hotel!

Not having a lot of cash saved up made it hard to find a new place to live.  I was looking at Craig’s list and found a place in West Amana, it’s not much but it will do.  I moved in on April 1st and have been living there ever since.  If you know any thing about me, you know I’ve made a few mistakes and have been trying to get my life back together.  Ever since I was arrested, I knew I had to find a church but just didn’t have the courage too.  The week before I was forced to live where I was living, I was dating a wonderful woman who loves the Lord and she encouraged me go to church.  I was afraid to go to the church where my mother was a member of, thinking they “knew who I was” or better yet, what I did!  Some how, I got up the courage to walk through the doors.  The night I was forced to leave was a Wednesday night and the church was having a Lenten Super at the church.  Since I now was homeless and no place to go, I though I would stop by the church and see if I could hang out with them.  It felt really odd, not knowing too many people there and just walking in on them but they really made me feel welcomed.  They even had a bible study that night and I stuck around to study with them.

That was a year ago and I have been going to church all most every week, only missing 2 or 3 weeks.  They have accepted me, or should I say; they just love me as I am.  I have done so much in the past year, Bible studies, Community work, Walk to Emmaus , Lay Speaker training, and even joining the church choir.  All of my life I wanted to sing but thought I wasn’t good enough to do it, but since I’ve been practicing and singing with the choir I’ve found that I can do it and really love singing!  My biggest step will be next week as I get to lead second service at church, our Youth leader who leads second service will be gone and I will be filling in for him.  If you would have told me a year ago that I would be leading and singing at  at church, I would have said; no way!

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)

I am so blessed to have new family, my church family who loves me.  I give all the credit to the Lord, he alone saved me.  The old me could have NEVER done this, some times I think it’s a dream.  I still can’t believe it’s me, I know the Holy Spirit t is in me!  The old me has died and I was given a new birth, a life in Christ.  I no-longer live for me, but live to glorify the Lord.

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns, Unending love, amazing grace.

Walk with God?

People who want to feel better, reduce stress, and shed unwanted pounds are discovering that walking may be the best exercise of all.  It’s even more important to stay spiritually fit by “walking with God,” which the Bible describes as an intimate, growing relationship with the Lord.  To walk with God, we need to keep in step without running ahead or lagging behind.  Along the way, we talk with the Lord, listen to Him, and enjoy His presence.  We trust His guidance when we cannot see what lies ahead.  It is not just the destination that’s important, but the journey we take together.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7 NIV)

The kind of life that Jesus lived while here on this earth is an example to each of us as to just what God is looking for.  Jesus lived a life of peace. He loved and blessed others, even those who hated Him.  He did good, healing the sick miraculously and driving demons from the minds and bodies of those who were tormented by them.  Most of all, He lived in perfect harmony with God the Father. He prayed to God.  He talked about God’s Word with others.  He listened to God speak back to Him.

Before beginning a walk with God, you must get to know Him.  There is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ the Son of God. God set it up this way, and nothing you or I can do will change it.  Jesus is our Savior, and He is also our example.  As such, we must repent of our sins, telling God we are not only sorry for breaking His laws but also that we wish to turn away from the life we have lived.  Then, we ask God to forgive us of all the things we have ever done which have been contrary to His way of living.  After we ask forgiveness, we simply believe that He is Truthful when He says that He will forgive us (1 John 1:9).  Then, we confess that we believe that He is the Son of God, that God raised Him from the dead, and that He is now the King of our lives.  After you have come to know God through Jesus, you must realize that this is the beginning of a new relationship in your life.  Like any relationship, there is much to learn about this new Person.  At first you may be a bit hesitant to open up and share freely because of a fear of being rejected. That’s OK. God made you, and He understands how you feel.  He is committed to a long term relationship with you.

Since we show our love for God by obeying Him, we have to learn what His commands are.  This is really very simple to do. Start by reading the Bible, especially the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  Obedience is really the central part of our walk with God.  Without obedience, we cannot walk with Him at all. When we do obey His commands, His richest blessings become a natural part of our lives.  His life becomes our life, and the peace, joy, love, exuberance and hope which only Jesus can give will fill our lives.

Riding Out The Waves

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day(Psalm 25:5)

What can ride ocean currents for years before finally washing ashore and springing to life? According to National Geographic’s World magazine, it’s a nut that is native to South America and the West Indies. Some people call them “sea hearts” (Entada gigas).

These 2-inch, chestnut-colored nuts are hardy, heart-shaped seeds that grow on high-climbing vines. They often fall into rivers and float out to sea. There they may ride the currents for years before coming to shore and sprouting into a plant.

This life-bearing, time-enduring, wave-riding seed illustrates a basic spiritual principle. God’s plans may include extended times of waiting for Him to act on our behalf. This was true of Noah, who endured ridicule while spending 120 years building a ship; of Abraham, who waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would have a son in his old age; and of David, God’s anointed, who chose to wait for God’s timing rather than take the life of envious King Saul.

Sea hearts can’t choose to be patient, but we can. Nothing is harder or better for us than to follow the example of David, who wrote Psalm 25. By waiting on the Lord we can have peace, and our faith will grow—even while we are riding out the waves.