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Archive for April 2011

 

The Promise of the Empty Tomb

The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God's great blessing was upon them all. Acts 4:33 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for Mary Magdalene, the other women, John and Peter to see that empty tomb on Easter morning? Can you imagine the thoughts that must have been going through their heads? "Why is the stone rolled away?" "Where is the body?" "Who took him?" "What's happening?" They did not understand what was going on and did not remember what Jesus had told them.

Each of the people who went to Jesus' tomb early on that Resurrection Day, had different reactions to what they saw. At first, they all thought it was a story, a tall tale, impossible to believe. When the women returned to them with the news that Jesus' body was gone, both Peter and John ran to the tomb to check things out for themselves. They both saw that Jesus' was no longer in the tomb. They both saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth lying there. The Gospel tells us that John saw the facts and immediately believed. (John 20:9) Peter saw the same thing but was still puzzled about what had happened. (Luke 24:11) The women were afraid and confused. (Luke 16:8)

Mary Magdalene was the first to truly believe. But even she didn't recognize Jesus at first. It wasn't until He spoke her name that she finally believed that He had truly risen from the dead. Yet when she ran to tell the disciples, "I have seen the Lord!" they still thought it was just a fairy tale. It wasn't until He appeared among them, until He showed them his hands and side, until He opened their eyes to His fulfillment of the scriptures that they came to truly believe.

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! "Peace be with you," he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! John 20:19-20 (NLT)

It's like this for people who hear about the resurrection and the hope that Jesus offers. Sometimes it takes awhile to believe. At first they might scoff at the idea and think it is just a good story. Even when they check out the facts for themselves, like Peter, they may still have confusion and doubt. It is only when they come face to face with Jesus, when He opens their eyes and hearts to His life-giving message, that they can truly believe.

Sometimes this is what it's like for the ones we pray for. At first, they can't or won't believe that the Lord can touch and change their lives and the lives of their family. They may think that they cannot be forgiven or that they don't deserve to be forgiven. Some of them might not even know that they need to be forgiven. But as we continue to pray for them, the Lord continues to work on their hearts. He shows them the facts and asks them to check it out for themselves. Still, there are many who are confused. It is only when they encounter Jesus face to face, that their spiritual eyes and ears are opened and they can see the truth.

As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?" Luke 24:30-32 (NLT)

This is why we pray for our parents and for others. Our prayers are what can take an unbelieving, confused and doubting person, from disbelief to belief; from restlessness to peace; from "What happened?" to "I believe." Let's pray for your mom or dad and loved ones.

Dear Jesus, I know that You rose from the grave that Resurrection morning so that we may have forgiveness of our sins and a way to eternal life. I pray that You will roll away the stone so that my family can see the promise of the empty tomb. I pray that my (parent) will come to believe in Your life-giving power. I know that nothing is too hard for You to do and I am trusting that You are working on their heart each and every day. Thank You, Jesus for loving me and for loving my family. In Your precious Name I pray. Amen.

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html  
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org  

 

I Have Seen The Lord!

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn't recognize him. "Dear woman, why are you crying?" Jesus asked her. "Who are you looking for?" She thought he was the gardener. "Sir," she said, "if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him." "Mary!" Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, "Rabboni!" (which is Hebrew for "Teacher"). "Don't cling to me," Jesus said, "for I haven't yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, "I have seen the Lord!" Then she gave them his message. John 20:14-18 (NLT)

Alyssa listened intently as her Sunday School teacher wrapped up her lesson on Easter Sunday. She had felt a lot of emotions as she listened to the story. Joy that Jesus was finally getting the recognition he deserved when she heard about how the people lined the street with palms and cloaks on His way to Jerusalem. Sadness when she heard about how Jesus had prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and how Judas had betrayed him. Anger when the Pharisees and Romans and people in the crowd wanted to crucify him. Heartache as she listened to His last hours on earth.

But when Mary Magdalene said, "I have seen the Lord!" that part of the story made her heart soar with hope and joy. She knew that Easter was celebrating Jesus' resurrection from the grave, His triumph over satan, and His promise of eternal life. She knew that because of that empty tomb she was forgiven and now had a part in the heritage of salvation that Jesus offered. She knew that because He lives, she could live also, in the light of His love and the comfort of His arms.

"I have seen the Lord!" Alyssa repeated that to herself over and over and wondered what it must have been like for Mary. Mary had been there and watching as Jesus died on the cross. She had felt the unbearable sadness of the last few days as she thought that she would never see her beloved Teacher and friend again. She had known the heavy heart as she accompanied the other women to the tomb that Sunday morning, wondering who would roll away the stone. She had felt the confusion and surprise when they came to the place where Jesus had been laid only to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.

Alyssa could just imagine the joy that Mary Magdalene must have felt when she realized that Jesus was standing there right beside her, talking to her. How wonderful that must have been, not only to see her beloved Teacher again, but to know that Jesus had kept His promise. Not only to her, but to the other disciples and to the other believers and to all of mankind.

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. "Listen," he said, "we're going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead." Matthew 20:17-19 (NLT)

Alyssa could sort of relate to Mary Magdalene. She had gone through all those emotions this past year as she had watched her family fall apart. The unbearable sadness as her dad drove away, the heavy heart as she tried to make the best of this new arrangement, the confusion as she tried to make sense of it all. But along with all these emotions, deep down inside, there had always been hope that the Lord would resurrect her family as she and her mom and been praying for. Alyssa wondered if Mary Magdalene had also had that hope deep down inside.

"I have seen the Lord!" Wow, what a joy that must have been. Alyssa closed her eyes and prayed. "Jesus, thank You for loving me so much that You would sacrifice Your life so I could be forgiven. Thank You for keeping Your promise of resurrection so that we can all have the hope of eternal life. I know that You have a promise for my family. I know that You always keep Your promises. Thank You, Jesus that today I know, You have already resurrected my family and I will soon know the joy that Mary Magdalene knew. I love You, Jesus. Amen."

Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you." The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel's message. Matthew 28:5-8 (NLT)

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html  
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org  


May you have a very Blessed Easter!  
Charlyne, family and staff

 

RUN THE RACE

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a

Each year, Nolan and his family participated in a school-sponsored walk/run that promoted wellness and family participation. People could choose between a one mile walk or a five kilometer run/walk. For the last three years, Nolan had walked with his mom and baby sister while his dad did the longer route, but this year he was determined that he would do the 5K route. He and his dad had made those plans last year. Nolan got very sad as he realized he would be doing the run alone this year. His dad had moved two states away many months ago so Nolan had lost his running partner. But he still spoke with his dad quite often on the phone and his dad had continued to encourage him to give the 5K route a shot this year. In fact, Dad had been sending little cards with encouragement on them to Nolan the last couple of weeks.

Nolan knew in his heart that his dad still loved him very much and wanted the best for him. He also knew in his heart that his dad was in a different place right now, not just physically, but spiritually as well. His mom often told him that his dad was like a man who couldn't see things clearly right now and that they needed to pray that the Lord would remove the blinders from his eyes. They also prayed that the Lord would touch and change his heart, bringing him back into Jesus' arms and into the arms of their family. Nolan knew that it would take perseverance to continue to pray and it might take some time to reach the finish line, but he was determined to run this race with confidence.

Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26a

The day of the race dawned sunny and warm. Nolan, his mom and his little sister stood in line at one of the many registration booths. Nolan couldn't believe how many people there were and how excited everybody was. He looked around at all the brightly colored banners and multi-colored flags that lined the route. There were people standing along the side of the route, waiting to cheer on the participants.

As the starting gun sounded, Nolan sprinted ahead of the other runners, wanting to get a good view of all the pageantry. There were people cheering and shouting, there were flags and banners and colored streamers. And...there were a LOT of runners. Nolan soon became engulfed in a sea of runners and lost sight of all the neat things around him. With a couple of kilometers yet to go, his pace had slowed considerably and his legs were aching. He didn't think he could finish, despite all his preparations. But just as he was about to pull out of the race, he heard a familiar voice behind him. "You can do it Nolan. You can do it."

Out of that sea of runners, his dad emerged to run alongside him. Without another word, father and son ran together; Nolan's dad matching his pace to that of his son's. The two of them ran in silence, neither asking the questions that each knew was in the other's heart. They just ran. And Nolan could once again see the people lining the path and the colored flags and the finish line. He knew the race was far from over, but he knew now he could finish it.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html  
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org  

 

One Of Those Days

Praise the LORD! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting! The LORD is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension! Psalm 147:1-5 (NLT)

Mom was serving Ryan's favorite meal tonight. Chicken with mashed potatoes and corn. Chocolate layer cake for dessert. Ryan could hardly wait. It had been a tough day at school with a pop quiz that he had not been prepared for and his best friend playing soccer with some other boys rather than basketball with him. Then he was late getting on the bus and had to sit in front by the bus driver, a place usually reserved for those he wanted to keep an eye on. To top it off, in just the two short blocks to home he had managed to step off the edge of the sidewalk and his left shoe was now covered with mud. "Jeez," Ryan thought. "At least I have SOMETHING to look forward to tonight."

The house was quiet when he opened the door and he wondered where his mom and little brother were. As he spied the yellow note on the kitchen table, he knew his day was just going to get worse. Mom had taken his little brother to the doctor because he was running a fever. She would be home as soon as she could. "Man," Ryan thought to himself. "That means no fried chicken and no chocolate layer cake. Jeez."

He flung his book bag on the kitchen table and headed to the cookie jar for a snack. No Oreos - his favorite. The only cookies left were the oatmeal with raisin ones and he hated raisins. He headed to the fridge to get a glass of juice, only to find that it was gone, too. Ryan just shook his head at the kind of luck he was having that day. "Just as well do my homework," he reasoned. He dumped his bag on the kitchen table and knew right away that he was out of luck there, too. He only had the science homework to do and, of course, he had not brought his science book home.

"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?" Matthew 6:25-26 (NLT)

Ryan went up to his room and laid on his bed. It wasn't long before he fell asleep. He had a dream about fried chicken and chocolate layer cake. He dreamt about his little brother and how much fun they had had in the back yard last night. He dreamt about his mom and how she tousled his hair to show him she loved him. He dreamt about his dad and the corny jokes he used to tell at the kitchen table that made everyone laugh. He dreamt about his family being whole and complete once again.

It had gotten dark while Ryan napped and there was still no sign of his mom. Ryan remembered how his mom always talked about how everybody needed to pitch in and do their part and how they needed to do the best they could with where they were right now. She had talked about how we will have trials and tests but that God never asks us to go through them by ourselves. She had told Ryan that Jesus was always there, walking beside us, lighting our way and picking us up when we stumbled. And she had told him about how when we feel like we just can't take another step, Jesus will come in and carry us until we are once again strong enough to walk on our own.

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Matthew 11:28:30 (NLT)

Ryan might not know how to make fried chicken but he did know how to make ham and cheese sandwiches. And he might not know how to make chocolate layer cake, but he did know how to dish out ice cream with chocolate syrup. Ryan decided to make the best of the situation and pitch in to do his part. He knew that his mom and little brother would be tired when they got home so he was going to make them supper. Ryan smiled and hummed as he set the plates on the table and got the bread from the pantry. Just as he was getting ready to start making the sandwiches, he heard the garage door go up. He opened the back door to see his mom and little brother pile out of the car. "Is he OK?" he asked his mom. Ryan was surprised to find that he had actually been worried about his little brother.

"Just a little ear infection," Mom answered. "We stopped by the drug store to get his medicine and it took a little longer than we thought." Mom noticed that the table had been set and that sandwich makings were out on the counter. "Ryan, thank you so much for getting supper ready for us. It is so thoughtful." Mom tousled his hair and Ryan smiled.

As they sat down to eat Mom prayed. "Lord, we thank You for the bounty You have provided for us. We are so grateful for Your loving hand of protection and guidance in our life. The depth of Your love for us continues to amaze us. Thank You Lord that You are watching over this family and that You will make us whole again in Your perfect timing. We know that Your thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. Thank You, Lord, that You are in control and we don't have to worry about anything. Amen."

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html  
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org  

 

Weapons of War

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

David moved his platoon leader out from behind the pile of books that was his "mountain." The enemy soldiers were not looking in that direction. His platoon leader launched a grenade and the enemy was scattered. The rest of the little action figures followed the platoon leader as he staked his claim on the enemy camp. David smiled as he chalked another one up for the "good guys."

Mom opened David's door and said, "Dinner's ready." As she surveyed the action figures thrown helter skelter to one side of the room and the line of triumphant soldiers standing tall and proud, she knew that another fiercely fought battle had been won by the good guys. "So," she observed. "Looks like the good guys won again. How'd you do it this time?" she asked David.

David explained to her about all the maneuvers to get the good guys in place and how his brave platoon leader had launched the grenade that brought victory. "Those grenades are good weapons," David commented. "You need good weapons when you fight a battle."

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT)

Mom got quiet for just a moment, then reached down and picked up the platoon leader. "What made this man so brave?" Mom asked.

David had a ready answer. "He had the best weapons and he was fighting for other people." Mom waited out his silence. "Just like we are fighting for Daddy," David added quietly.

Mom smiled as she recalled the conversation she had had with David just last week. She knew that David loved his action figures and army games so she had told him about how they were in God's army now, fighting for Daddy to come home to Jesus and home to them. David had really liked that comparison and she had often heard him up in his room saying, "Take that Satan!" as the "good guys" launched one attack after another.

Mom picked up the platoon leader along with the little, green grenade he had launched. "This grenade must be a pretty powerful weapon," she noted. "Especially since it's so small." She held the little green object between her thumb and finger, looking at it from every side.

David snatched it from her and explained how the grenade might be small but it had a lot of power behind it, especially when it was thrown at just the right time in just the right place. Without missing a beat, Mom talked to David about the weapons that they were fighting with to bring Daddy back into the arms of Jesus. She talked about how prayer was such a powerful weapon because it had the strength of God's promise behind it. She talked about how their faith made that prayer even more powerful. Even if the prayer was small and the faith was weak, the Lord could take what they offered and multiply it until it became so big and so strong that not even Satan could fight against it.

"no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

Then Mom told David about the story of Joshua and the Jericho Wall in Joshua 6 in the Bible. She told him how the Lord told Joshua ahead of time that He had already delivered Jericho into his hands. She explained about the strange battle plan that the Lord had given Joshua; how they marched around the city for six days sounding their trumpets but not doing anything else. She told David about that seventh day when the priests sounded the trumpets and Joshua commanded the people to "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city!" (Joshua 6:15b)

"And the walls of Jericho fell that day, David," Mom told him. "Not because of the trumpets or the marchers or the bows and arrows. Jericho fell because of that shout of faith."

David thought that was the most awesome thing he had ever heard; that a battle could be won just by a shout of faith. They didn't need the guns and the grenades. They just needed faith. Mom hugged David and reminded him about dinner. "In a minute, Mom," he said.

As Mom made her way back to the kitchen she heard the sounds of battle in David's room again. Her heart was warmed as she heard David's shout of faith. And she knew that walls were tumbling down, strongholds were being broken, and hearts were being healed. "The Lord is good," she thought, "all the time."

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 (NLT)

God bless,
Kim, a stander in Nebraska
http://rejoiceministries.org/kim.html
Rejoice Marriage Ministries, Inc.
Post Office Box 10548
Pompano Beach, FL 33061
http://rejoiceministries.org