The day after Jesus’s crucifixion was the Sabbath day, a day of rest. Can you image how strange that day must have been? I wonder if those who loved Jesus just sat and starred at each other in dazed silence. Picture the confusion.
There were some who were not resting. The religious leaders, wanting to cover all their bases, asked that the tomb be secured. They needed to make sure that Jesus’s body stayed put. Pilot gave permission and the tomb was sealed and guards were posted.
I just recently watched the movie Risen. I watched the religious leaders looking on as the Roman guards anchored the stone and placed the seal on it. I smiled to myself and thought, “Well, good luck with that!”
Because I know how that story ends.
It's 6:00 a.m. and I'm really tired this morning. But how tired must Jesus have been? He has not slept. He has been beat, spit on, and accused falsely.
Let's walk in His shoes as we go about our day today. Let's be keenly aware of what was done for us.
At 6:00 a.m. Jesus is standing before Pilot listening to their lies as they yell for His death.
In the next few hours, Jesus will be sentenced to death, mocked and flogged beyond recognition, and then He will drag His cross to Golgotha.
By 9:00 a.m., He will hang on the cross for the next 6 hours as the insults and mocking continue, as soldiers cast lots for His clothes, and as a criminal is promised salvation.
Around 3:00 p.m. today, Jesus will cry out, "It is finished."
He has paid our price. He has bought our freedom. Don't let anything distract your heart and mind today. Remember what was done on your behalf and live like one who has been spared simply because you are so loved, not because you deserve to be.
Tonight Jesus will be arrested. He has just a few precious hours left. What do you say to those you love when you know time is running out?
Read John 13-17. Key in on four words-forgive, love, obey, and unity.
Jesus told His disciples to forgive one another after His example; those who have been forgiven much, should forgive much.
He gave them a new commandment, " love one another as I have loved you."
He said, "If you love me, you will obey me."
Then He prayed for their unity and for the unity of those who would come after them-He prayed for us.
That night, with only a few precious hours left, Jesus was thinking about you and me. Let that thought settle into your heart as you get ready for bed tonight. Tonight, all those years ago, Jesus did not sleep. The terror of what lay ahead for Him was just beginning. He would willingly endured it because He thought about you and He thought about me and He loved us so.
Scripture is largely quiet concerning Jesus's activity on the Wednesday before His death. Many believe that today was the day Judas approached the religious leaders and offered to help them arrest Jesus.
Why would he do such a thing? Greed, obviously, but really, when he approached them, he had no idea that they would pay him.
Maybe because Judas never really loved Jesus or believed what He said. Maybe because Judas thought himself to be better than the others. Pride, greed and love for self only opened the door for the enemy to tempt Judas to betray Jesus - to sell him for a measly 30 pieces of silver.
That's all Satan wants to do anyway. He wants to tempt us to believe Jesus is not enough; that there is something out there better than Jesus; that there is a better life than the one He has for us.
Sadly, sometimes we believe him.
But not today.
Today, let's toss the silver coins Satan hands us back at him because, today, we know that there is nothing more precious than our Savior.
Have a blessed Wednesday!
Jesus was busy today teaching in parables – lots of parables. He covered obedient and disobedient sons, greedy farmhands, wedding banquets, even paying taxes. He told them what the greatest commandment was and what the second greatest one was. He denounced hypocrisy and He let the religious leaders hold it. He warned them about the signs of the end times, and at the close of the day, Jesus talked about how He would separate the sheep from the goats when He one day returned to sit on His throne.
What an incredibly busy day! I can’t help but wonder if He was trying to squeeze in every bit of last minute teaching He could manage to squeeze in before He left them.
I found myself focusing in on two things Jesus said.
Loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds was and still is the most important thing above all else. But then He went a step further and told them that the second most important command was to love their neighbors as themselves. (Matt. 22:34-40)
Love for God and love for others. How well do I love? How well do you love?
Jesus said, “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
And we know how well He loved us…
Today, Jesus cleaned out the temple for the second time in His ministry. Tables are knocked over and benches are sent flying. Jesus's righteous anger is justified because of His passion for His Father's temple. It is to be kept holy because it is the Father's dwelling place among His people.
That temple is now gone, not because it was destroyed by Israel's enemies, but because it is no longer needed. God no longer dwells in a building. For those who belong to Jesus, their bodies are now the temple where the Holy Spirit of God resides. Jesus expects that they,too, be kept holy.
The question for us today is this- what tables need to be overturned in our lives? What do we need to allow Christ to drive out of our hearts so that our temples might be kept holy?
Today Christians celebrated Palm Sunday. Did you know that the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey was a very important day even before it ever became known as Palm Sunday?
The Jews called that particular day in the Passover week, “Lamb Selection Day.” On that day, Jews would come to Jerusalem to select a Passover lamb, one lamb for each family. According to Jewish historians, the lambs were brought from Bethlehem to Jerusalem through the Sheep Gate. In the late afternoon, each family selected a lamb and took it home where they cared for it until it was slaughtered for the Passover meal. (Exodus 12:3-6)
But, on that particular day, while palm branches were waving in the air and people were shouting “Hosanah”, while Jewish families were selecting their Passover lambs and taking them home, God had selected a special lamb and had sent Him to Jerusalem. His lamb also came from Bethlehem, and He also arrived in Jerusalem through the Sheep Gate in the late afternoon.
This perfect lamb would be the very last blood sacrifice that God would recognize. And because of the greatness of this lamb, God would accept the blood of this one lamb for the forgiveness of the sins of all who would place their faith in Him. No more sacrifices would ever be required. This was the last Lamb. This was the very Son of God.
So “Lamb Selection Day” became Palm Sunday because God did the unimaginable and chose His only Son to be the final sacrifice for us.
Have a Blessed Week!
What do we do when our circumstances become so difficult that they threaten to steal the last thread of hope we have left? Rebekah Yoder has been there. This is her powerful story. I know it will encourage you!
Rebekah is married to Caleb Yoder and they live in Sumter, SC.
Here is a great article from www.desiringgod.org about dealing with the disappointment when God's answer is, "No." It's a great follow up to the blog we posted last week. Click on the link below.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. - Proverbs 16:9
One week ago, today, I received the phone call I’ve been waiting on for eight years. The call was from the Principal of a 3A High School offering me the Head Football Coaching job. I was shocked; I really could not believe it. It seemed to be an answered prayer from God. While I was somewhat nervous about the task, I was inwardly swelling with pride thinking about becoming a Head Coach at age 26. This was it; all that I had worked so hard for, prayed so hard for, and dreamed so much about was finally going to happen for me.
The reason I say that I thought this was an answered prayer is because two hours before the principal called me, I was sitting in my office at Sumter High School having my quiet time. I felt very burdened. I fell on my knees and I begged and pleaded with God to send me something, anything that would allow me to “move up” in my career. My heart wanted so badly to have the opportunity to lead my own football program and begin to accomplish things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. Exactly two hours later, that call came.
I’m blessed to have some very wise people in my life, so I began talking to some of them about the job, it’s problems, and what I could do to overcome them. While I still had some doubts, I was sure that God was in control and He would work out all the details. I worked diligently to prepare for my meeting with the high school principal that was scheduled for the end of the week. I was looking at houses, watching film of last year’s team, thinking about how I wanted to arrange my coaching staff; you name it, I was on it. I didn’t know how I was going to make it all work out, but I was absolutely determined to make it work because it was what my heart wanted more than anything else in the world.
Friday finally came and I was nervous because I wanted everything to go right. The principal and I began talking and for the most part he was saying “yes” to every single thing I was asking for. The more we talked, the more I really believed that this was it. We finished our conversation and I took a tour of the facilities and went to my hotel to gather my thoughts. I spent Friday night wrestling with the few problems that were going to come with this job.
Saturday morning, my wife and I woke up early and began our quest to find a place to live. As we began searching, it became apparent that finding an affordable place to live might be tougher than we thought because the cost of living in the area was so expensive. We found a house, but the rent was double what our current mortgage was! Still, even knowing this, I was determined to make this job work.
Just before I left Saturday to head back home, my wife and I were ready to make the call that would officially make me the Head Football Coach. We decided to give it until Sunday afternoon, maybe by then we would feel just a little more confident about taking the job and God would send us a firmer peace about this decision.
On the ride home I began to feel conflicted. The questions that I had been asking all week suddenly became a heavy burden on me. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling like taking the job might not be the right thing to do. Certainly the Lord would not have given it to me if He didn’t intend for me to accept it. I became keenly aware that by me accepting this particular job, my wife would have to make some huge sacrifices.
I got home and the burden became heavier and heavier, I was beginning to have a lot of doubt about whether or not this whole thing could work out. Even with every burdensome thought that came, I was nowhere near willing to let this opportunity slip by me. I was going to become the youngest Head Coach in the state. I was going to turn this program around, and by age thirty, I was going to have a “big” job, one with big lights, big community support, and big money. I was finally going to raise that big state championship trophy high in the sky at Williams Brice Stadium… the same one that had twice been denied to me, once as a player and once as an assistant coach.
On Sunday morning the burden was so heavy I felt as though I might not be able to carry it. I convinced myself that I must need to find a way to fill myself with more faith in God. I went to church thinking, “Surely God is going to speak to me this morning. He will calm my spirit, and give me this overwhelming peace that all these people keep talking about.” As I sat through the sermon, I was doing a very good job of twisting the words of my pastor into pretty much telling me that I should call the principal right after the service and accept the job, after all, I had worked hard for eight years and I deserved it.
After church, I was at home attempting to make myself as busy as possible so that I wouldn’t think about all of the problems that would come with the job. Problems that I knew God could and would handle for me. After all, He was calling me to this job; He had answered my prayer. My mom, whom I am very close with and am told by most everyone who knows both of us that I am “just like”, came by my house. She wanted to share something God had laid on her heart with me and give me a book she was reading. She thought I needed to read a chapter in the book before I made my final decision. In my mind I thought, “Great! This chapter will talk about having strong faith, it will talk about all of the rewards we get when we follow God’s plan.”
What the Lord would reveal to me over the next three hours would rock me. I had fallen so far, I wasn’t even aware of where I really was in my life. I had made for myself an idol that I had built so big it had consumed my whole entire life. The reality is that I have woken up every single day for at least the last four years wondering what I could do to become a better football coach, so that I could become a head coach. I woke up every morning trying to find what steps I could take that day towards becoming a Head Football Coach. I dreamed about it, I thought about it all day, I talked about it most of the day, and every day I asked God in heaven to give it to me because I wanted everyone to see me as a Head Football Coach. I wanted all of the glory, honor, and praise from man. That is the ugly truth behind my story to this point. In an effort to shorten this story, I called the Principal at the High School and turned down the job that I had wanted so badly for so long.
So, exactly one week later here is what the Lord has shown me:
When I walked into my office this morning the Lord began revealing to me all that He had been doing during the previous week. When I fell on my knees one week ago, I was not asking for my Father to lead me and be Lord over my life. I was asking, in fact begging with all of my soul, for Him to make me a Head Football Coach. I was on my knees asking him to give me my idol. I was much like the Israelites who begged God to send them a King because God being their King was apparently not good enough for them. I was behaving much like them except I wanted to be a King. I wanted to be a head coach more that I wanted to be close to the Lord, more than I wanted to serve him, and more than I wanted to love him. So, God gave me exactly what I had been asking for. I imagine He got sick and tired of me asking to be a Head Coach instead of me asking what I could do to be more like Him or how I could serve Him better. So, as only He can do, He gave me what I wanted even though it was not what he wanted for me; at least not right now. He used this as a test for me to see if I was willing to put my idol on the altar and sacrifice it to him.
What God taught me (with the help of my mother and Tony Evans in his book Dry Bones Dancing) is this:
“I can say with absolute certainty that you will be tested on that which your heart clings to. I guarantee it. He will test your willingness to sacrifice something that represents one of the most valuable things in your life, something that’s as precious to you as Isaac was to Abraham.”
“The test will take every bit of spiritual reserve we have to pass because He’s ready to move us up to the next level in our journey of following Him and growing closer to him.”
“Is there something God wants you to now put on the altar? If you. Like Abraham are in the middle of a test that you can’t figure out, then the one place you want to be is at worship. Approach his heavenly altar where the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, has opened the way for you into the presence of God. Worship the Lamb and worship God on his throne, even though you don’t understand what He’s taking you through. Worship even though you can’t begin to figure it out. Follow through in sacrificial worship. And there at the altar God will show you his way. He’ll come through for you.”
“The passion of our lives must be for God and not merely for his blessings and gifts. He’s interested in responding to people who are in active pursuit of his heart and who’ll make the appropriate sacrifice in order to experience it.” (Dry Bones Dancing by Tony Evans)
In order for me to please God and truly follow him, I MUST be willing to put my idol on the sacrificial altar of the Lord and be at peace with the possibility of never receiving that idol back. Not all stories end the way the story of Abraham and Isaac did. We must understand that there are times when we place what we love most on the altar and the Lord does not entrust it back to us. We must be at peace knowing that they are sacrifices we will never see again, and that it is for our good. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but if our desire is truly to please God, it becomes so much easier.
Yesterday at this time I would have rather died than be told that I would never be a Head Football Coach. I now realize that I was put on this earth to praise, honor, and worship the Lord, not to be a Head football Coach. So, this morning when I walked into my office and saw an image of myself, only one week earlier, on the floor begging for that which my heart most desired, I smiled and knew that I had finally found the “overwhelming peace” that comes from following my Father in heaven with my whole heart and having no idols before him.
Now on the other side, I am so overwhelmingly thankful to my Father in heaven for sending me this test. I recognize that it was only by the grace of God who used a complete stranger, an old friend, a mentor, a wife, a mother, a father, and a pastor to save me from myself that I was able to pass the test.
My family vacations near this high school every summer. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that God used a school located in a place where I will visit one time every year, right before the beginning of football season, as the place for this test. God chose this specific place to establish a “marker” for my walk with Him. For the rest of my life, I will remember the day and the time that I truly laid my idol on His altar and decided to let nothing be bigger in my life than He who created me.
Assistant Football Coach
Sumter High School
All this, David said, ―I have in writing as a result of the Lord‘s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan. -I Chronicles 28:19
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