Welcome to the April Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves.
A WORD FOR TODAY, April 2000
April 1, 2000
Fools Today is April Fool's day. All over the world, people will be playing practical jokes on their family and friends. How did this tradition get started? It is likely that the tradition began in medieval times, when the Gregorian calendar was established. Before the mid 16th century, the Europeans celebrated New Year in the springtime, around April 1st. In 1564, King Charles IX of France accepted the more accurate Gregorian calendar, which made New Year's at January 1st.
Some people were too stubborn to change or they had not received the news of the change, so they continued to celebrate on April 1st. They were called “April Fish.” They were looked upon as fools and were targeted with foolish gifts and invitations to celebrations, which were not happening. Eventually everyone accepted the new calendar, but they continued to play pranks on April Fool’s Day.
We read the base paper today, and there was an article about an upcoming air show. This article shared the exciting news that the Queen Mum would be here for the opening ceremonies and that there was a rumour that Prince Charles was going to sky dive from an airplane on opening day. The article went on to say how Bill Clinton would be flying a jet and that the entire road system of our area would be completely shut down. In the final paragraph of the article, we are reminded of the fact that this is April Fool’s.
Throughout the day, many people will play practical jokes, and as many people will fall for those practical jokes. In most cases, it will be harmless fun. However, many jokes have a lasting impact that we do not realize when we are playing them. Many jokes, which seem harmless and fun, are actually rather hurtful to the one who is made the fool.
Who is really the fool? The one who falls prey to the wickedness? Or the one who instigates the joke?
Read Ecclesiastes 10:1-4
Before you play any jokes this year, remember that your every thought, word and action impacts the world in some way. That silliness may seem harmless today, but it may cause someone you love lasting grief and could be the end of a relationship. Is it worth it?
Mothers Today is Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom. It is a day to honour mothers for the role they have in our lives. The day is spent much like the American Mother’s Day, with special dinners, gifts of flowers and time spent together.
Our mothers do so much for us. They carry us in their wombs until the time for birth. They carry us in their arms until we can walk. They hold our hands through each step of our growth, from infancy through our adult years. They feed, clothe and provide shelter for us as necessary. They even give us things we don’t need, like toys and candy. Most of all, they give us love.
I was blessed to have a mother who had something else, faith in Jesus Christ. She shared her faith with me. It was her perseverance, taking me to church even on those Sundays I’d have rather been in bed, and teaching me the lessons of living a life of service to God, which set me on a path to a deeper and fuller relationship with God. My mother was not perfect in her faith, however, she raised three children who had a solid foundation of faith in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God.
Read 2 Timothy 1:5-7
I know that not everyone grew up with a woman of faith as his or her mother. God has touched people in other ways throughout history. However, if you are a mother, the greatest gift you can give your children is a chance at a relationship with Jesus Christ. Take them to church, even through the terrible twos. Encourage them with Bible stories and experiences with other Christians who love and serve the Lord. Teach them the truth of the gospel, which is love, and teach them to live a moral life, which shines that truth to the world.
However you came to faith, remember that you have the Spirit of God within you, which is not to be hidden from the world, but to be shared with boldness, love and dignity. Give the greatest gift to your children, Jesus Christ, so that they will live in the faith for eternity. Thanks be to God.
Expectation I joined a tour group for a trip to Brugge, Belgium on Saturday for some sightseeing and shopping. I spent weeks preparing for the trip, asking questions about weather, language and currency. I wondered if I would understand the people, if the city would be pretty and what there would be to do. I thought about the waffles, chocolate and lace, and wondered if I would have enough money to buy everything I wanted. I wondered about the ferry ride and if I would have a pleasant trip without getting sick. The questions were endless: how long will it take, what should I take, will I know anyone on the trip?
My expectations were high. Belgium was one place I needed to go before we left England. I spoke to several people who told me it was a beautiful city and that I must take a canal ride. The weather report was favorable for the ferry crossing and our day in Brugge. The bus was filled with people I know, so the seven-hour journey seemed quick and was very enjoyable.
When we arrived in Brugge, I was not disappointed. The city is beautiful, with its canals covered in ivy and ancient brick buildings. The shops were filled with handmade lace and tapestry. There was so much to do and see that we were unable to even scratch the surface. Everyone was extremely friendly and spoke English very well. It was a lovely day.
Read Ephesians 1:17-21
We spend much time wondering what heaven will be like, when we meet our Saviour face to face. We study the scriptures and ask questions, preparing our hearts and minds for the age to come. We have an expectation, a hope, which goes beyond anything in this life. I pray that you might know that hope, just as St. Paul prayed for the Ephesians. It is a hope that does not disappoint. The Kingdom of God is at hand, close to those who believe, not only tomorrow when we see Him again, but also today as we live according to His promise.
Double-decker Bus The roads along the English countryside are lined with walls and hedgerows. These roads often travel very close to ancient castles and old manor houses, however it is impossible to see them from the car. The walls at these estates are miles long. As you drive by, you just know there is something special to see behind them, but it is not possible from such a low perspective.
The perspective is much different from a bus. The seats are higher, putting your eye level above most of the hedgerows and walls. From this higher vantage point, you can see beyond your normal vision, and the view is incredible. You are able to catch a glimpse of the house behind the wall. The top level of a double-decker bus puts you even higher, granting the opportunity to see farther.
This perspective is not always advantageous. I recall a trip to Paris when we sat on the top level of a tour bus. Parisians are insane drivers. They take right turns from the left lane or cut across traffic in whatever manner is easiest for them. At least that is the way it appeared from the top of the double-decker bus. The driver seemed unconcerned by these cars, however they were not obeying the traffic rules.
Read Isaiah 55:8-9
The vision with our human eyes does not see very far. We know there is something beyond the walls that block our sight, however we find it difficult to rise beyond our limits. When something bad happens we often think, ‘Why me?’ Even when something good happens, we often do no see it as the real blessing that it is. As we get closer to the Lord, through prayer and Bible Study, we are lifted up, closer to Him, and see things from a new perspective. We see a view of the beauty behind the wall. It is also a difficult vantage point for us, like the top of the bus in Paris. There are many things about this world which we accept as being normal from our earthbound perspective, but as we grow closer to the Lord, we realize that many of those things are not right according to His Word. God does see our world much differently than we do. As we strive toward a better relationship with Him, He allows us to see our own lives through His eyes.
When I begin to see things from His perspective then we, God and I, can make things right. I do this only by the Power of the Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus my Saviour, for the Glory of God my Father. Amen.
Tower The Belfry and Carillon of Brugge is in the centre of this lovely Belgium town. This tower was begun in the 13th century. It was originally wood but burned down in the 1280 century. The town archives were stored in that tower, and were lost in the fire. This particular tower was never part of a church, but was built as a watchtower. In later years, other buildings were added which were used as a marketplace for the wool traders to sell to the textile manufactures. At the top of the tower are 47 bells, which comprise the Carillon. The bells played throughout the day, making beautiful music to bring a joyful atmosphere to the town. The bells also serve to announce the time according to the tower clock.
The Carillon is controlled either by a musician at a keyboard, or by a large mechanism that is similar to a music box. If you climb to the top of the tower, you can see the copper cylinder that has the pegs, which play the music automatically. To reach the top of the Tower, we needed to climb 366 stairs, one for each day in a leap year. The stairway was a spiral stair as is typical in these ancient towers. The radius of the stairway grew smaller each step of the way, less than a yard wide at the very top.
We waited until well into the day to make the climb, and had already purchased gifts in the lace and tapestry shops. These things added an extra burden making it a rather stressful climb. We helped each other through the adventure with encouraging words and an occasional hand with our packages. In the end, we made it to the top to be rewarded with a lovely view of the city and the peace of knowing that we did it!
Read Galations 6:1-5
It often seems our journey in this life is filled with towers to climb. These become more difficult with the weight of sin in our lives. As Christians, when we see a brother or sister who is acting against God’s Word, such as speaking lies or hatred, then we must gently remind them of the promise by which they are to live. However, we must not be drawn into the sin ourselves. We need to remember to watch our own actions to be sure we are living the life God has called us to live.
A New Life What would it take to get you to move today? Would a new job cause you to leave the life you know today to move to a new place? Would the promise of a family, property or a relationship cause you to dramatically change your lifestyle? For those of us in the military, it takes a piece of paper ‘ or 60 carbon copies of a piece of paper. Occasionally we are given some choice in the matter, but usually we must wait patiently until someone decides where to send us. This is the life we’ve chosen, so each move is an adventure rather than a sacrifice.
However, many people have settled into lives they enjoy, still living in their hometown with family and friends close by. Their houses have been lovingly cared for, and are filled with things they have accumulated over the years. They know their hairdresser, butcher and mailman personally, and trust their advice. They even have jobs they enjoy.
Read Acts 7:2-3
Are you one of those people deeply rooted in a life you love? What if God came to you today and asked you to give it all up? Would you obey? Or would you stay planted where you are, thinking that surely God does not ask His children to walk away from a good life in this age.
Abram did not even know God. At this time, the people believed in many gods. Abram came from a wealthy family and lived a comfortable life with his wife and servants. He was very old, seventy-five, and childless. God made him a series of seven promises ‘ he would be a great nation, he would be blessed, his name would be great, he will be a blessing, those who bless him will be blessed, those who curse him will be cursed, and all people on earth will be blessed through him. (Genesis 12:2-3)
Would you give up everything you know on a promise of blessings? Abram was quite blessed financially. He was in the midst of a life he enjoyed. The promise of being a nation must have sounded ridiculous to him, after all, he had no offspring. Even his inheritance would fall into the hands of others.
However, Abram gave up all he knew and followed the LORD.
Read Acts 7:4-5
Even after giving up the life he knew, Abram still did not receive the inheritance. He received a further promise, one that would benefit his descendants. Yet, Abram continued to follow the Lord.
God has called you to give up your way of life for the promise of eternal life. Your move may not mean leaving your hometown, job or house. However, God’s call today is a deeper, more difficult sacrifice. We must give up our old ways, our lives of living according to the ideas of this world, and live according to His promise of life. Do you ever lie, cheat or steal? Have you done something that has been hurtful to a brother or sister? Do you love like Jesus, or do you hold some hate for someone based on race, ideas, money or power?
Look at your home today. Would you be able to move if you were offered a promise of a new life? Then look at your life. Will you give up the life you are living today, to live the life of the promise?
Accident A car struck a child from our school today. He is in the hospital in stable condition. This type of accident is always a shock, however it is more difficult when it happens close to home. The school did everything they could to ease the concern of parents, and to squelch rumour before it could get out of hand. They sent notes to the parents explaining the incident and offering counseling for the students who are close to the child. The teachers spent time talking with their students, reminding them of safety procedures such as road crossing rules.
Schools have contingency plans for those times of emergency. On the news recently, we’ve been reminded of the situation in Littleton, Colorado a year ago. While it is impossible to prepare for such an event, that school did have a plan in place to help the students and families. After the fact, many schools looked over their own safety plans; children were reminded of appropriate behaviour; and the world looked into the issues of bullying and guns.
It took a disaster to open our eyes to the issues at hand.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. God promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, but they complained about today. They were hungry and tired. They wanted to go back into slavery in Egypt rather than follow the LORD into the promise. So, they wandered in the desert until the generation of fathers that left Egypt had died. Just as the children were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses spoke to the nation. He reminded them of the covenant with God, and His Law, and told them to turn toward Him in obedience.
Read Deuteronomy 30:11-16
The Lord God Almighty is so very close to us. Too often, in the midst of our comfort, we forget He is there, we do not seek Him or obey His commands. But when tragedy strikes, we are reminded of our responsibilities, and we turn back toward Him. There was tremendous revival in Colorado following the incident at Littleton. Many turned to God in prayer. Today, our children have been reminded to obey the safety rules, and there are many that are praying for that young boy in our hospital.
The Word of God is in you. Obey. You will be blessed. Thanks be to God.
Read Mark 6:30-31
Those who have been with me from the beginning, know that the WORD FOR TODAY has appeared in your mailbox consistently for over eight months. This ministry is such a joy, and I have never felt it to be a burden. There have been opportunities in that eight months for me to travel to places without access to a computer, however each time I was able to pre-write the WORD and arrange for it to be delivered each day.
This weekend my family and I are going to take some time away to visit the West Country of England, including the ancient Roman city of Bath. We spent time in prayer and have chosen to rest from our labours for these two days. No WORD will appear for April 8-9. I would encourage you to take the time you would use to read the daily, to open your Bibles to any page and read His Word according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you will be moved to fill my mailbox with your own writings, to share your faith with me.
May you be blessed this day and always by a personal touch from our Lord. Thanks be to God. Peg.
Overpacking I have a tendency toward overpacking when we go on a trip. When the children are selecting their clothes, I tell them to take one more outfit, “just in case.” As I rummage through the medicine cabinet, I add this, that and the other thing, “just in case” We fill the cooler with drinks and the trunk with junk food, “just in case” We take bags of toys and books so that we have something to do, “just in case” Just in case what?
When I went to Brugge last weekend, I took so much stuff for a 26-hour trip, it looked like I was going for a week. I ended up bringing most of it home, and it was so annoying to have all that baggage to handle. I didn’t eat most of the food I took, because I enjoyed the local cuisine. I didn’t need the T-shirt I took along because the weather was not overly warm. I slept most of the way, since we traveled by night, so my books were useless.
We had the same situation this weekend. We loaded the trunk, and did not use much of what we took. We prepared for almost any emergency. On Sunday morning, however, we discovered that we weren’t prepared for everything. Bruce wanted to shave so that he would look presentable for church. When he got out his battery operated travel razor, he discovered it no longer worked. We did not have a disposable razor or shaving cream with us. Everything worked out fine, as he was able to purchase what he needed at the reception desk of the hotel.
In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus sends the disciples out to the country to share His message. He tells them to go empty handed. They were to rely upon the people they served to provide them with food and shelter. Even more so, they were to trust God.
Read Hebrews 13:20-21
Trust is a difficult concept for us to grasp sometimes. We want to know what lies ahead and be prepared for every moment. However, some of the most wonderful experiences of our lives, the ones that provide the most growth, are the moments when God provides something we didn’t even know we needed. Today, step out in faith and trust that God will provide what you need to get you through each moment.
Toothless Zack lost another tooth yesterday. He is now missing the two front top teeth. When he smiles, it is like we are looking into the Grand Canyon. When he speaks, it is with a lisp. He had such fun with his funny voice, even emphasizing the lisp at times. The novelty will eventually wear off, and Zack will find that some things he tries to say will be misunderstood. He may feel frustrated by his lack of ability to communicate with this temporary inconvenience. There will even be folk who make fun of his speaking for a time.
As his mom, I need to listen more carefully to his speaking and try harder to understand what he is saying. I need to encourage him so that he will continue his growth emotionally, intellectually and socially. As parents, we need to help our children grow through the tough times, so that they will emerge stronger and wiser.
We often face similar times in our Christian walk. Something happens, which changes us in some way. Sometimes it is a loss, and we need to face the experience and understand about death. Sometimes the change is a touch from God, transforming us into a new person. We find that when we face such changes in our life, that it is difficult for us to communicate our own feelings and understanding.
Read Exodus 3:11-12
Moses stood on holy ground and spoke to God. Even still, his own insecurities caused him to question his ability to do what God was calling him to do. “Who am I?” he asked. How often do we say the same thing? We say it often, brought on by those who have put us down for our imperfections.
Through it all, we must remember God’s promise to His children, the same promise He made to Moses. God said, “I will be with you.” He is with us each step of the way, encouraging our growth, and giving us the tools necessary to do His work. God tells Moses that the sign he seeks will come after the obedience. “You will worship on this mountain when you bring my children out of bondage, then you will know it was my hand which brought you here.” We have to trust that God is with us, and do according to His Will now. Complete the task He has laid before you with faith. Then He will be glorified and you will know His hand. Thanks be to God.
Taxes At this time of year, we hear everyone grumbling about taxes. The questions arise about the validity of this tax and that tax. Among Bible groups, scripture is scanned, and we are reminded of the words of Jesus to give Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and all that. I personally hate to pay taxes. I do not approve of the use of much of our tax money. It is the law, however, so I will submit to the authority, which has been appointed over me in our country without complaint.
There was a time in Israel’s history, when they did not have an earthly king. God was their King, and He appointed earthly judges to take care of earthly troubles. Then one day the Israelites decided they needed a king, just like all the other nations. So, they went to Samuel and said, “Give us a king to lead us.” Samuel did not like this, so he prayed to God.
Read 1 Samuel 8:7-8
Israel needed an earthly representative that had the same power as those of other nations. This was a rejection of God Himself, since the nation chose an earthly kingdom rather than God’s Kingdom. Samuel told the people what would happen if they had an earthly king. They would have to pay taxes, and the kingdom would take everything from them. Eventually they would become slaves to their own king.
Read 1 Samuel 8:18-19
So, today, Bruce and I will go have our taxes done. We will submit to the governing authority in our country and do our duty as it has been established in the law of today.
There is a deeper concept to consider with this scripture, however. The United States Government is not the only authority we submit to these days. Those of us who belong to church also have a form of government, politics, which we follow. There are times when the hierarchy of the church appears before God as a rejection of His authority. We have meetings where we discuss the running of our church, and do not invite the Lord’s presence through prayer. We do not seek the advice of the Holy Spirit in our decision making, rather we search the rule books or traditions written by men.
The time will come when we will no longer have earthly governments that reign over us. We will have only the Lord God Almighty as our King. Then, there will be no more taxes, pain or fear. Until that time, let us serve the Lord by submitting to his appointed authority on this earth.
Feathers Felix our cat is nearly two years old. He is beginning to behave himself, though he is still a kitten at heart. Every morning he has a moment of insanity, when he just runs wild through the house, jumping at unseen prey. He will go to any length to get what he desires. There was an incident several weeks ago with a bag of feathers. I had purchased the feathers for a craft project. From the moment I brought them into the house, Felix showed a keen interest in having those feathers. I put them high on a shelf, out of his reach. Or shall we say, I put them high on a shelf I thought was out of his reach.
We all had commitments that evening, so left Felix alone in the house for several hours. When Bruce and Zack arrived home, they discovered feathers all over the house. Felix had managed to climb into this unreachable spot to steal my feathers. I arrived home late that night and went straight to bed. I was not aware of the trouble Felix caused that evening. When I awoke the next morning, I heard a strange noise. I looked to see what was causing the noise and discovered Felix had brought a bag of feathers all the way upstairs to lay at my feet. He was so proud for a moment, until he looked at my face. Then he knew he’d done wrong.
The level of understanding with animals is very limited, but they do know when they are doing something they should not do. Felix is an indoor cat with a strong desire to be outdoors. His desire is so strong he has learned to open the doors for himself. We generally keep the doors locked these days, so that he will not go out and get hurt. There are moments when we forget to lock, however, and he is always ready to take advantage.
He has matured in the years since he’s been a part of our family. When those rare moments of opportunity come to him these days, he’s less likely to take advantage of them. Just the other day, the children forgot to lock the door. So, he did his usual trick of opening it, but then he sat there. I realized what had happened, and went to stop his escape, but he just looked at me as if to say, “I know I shouldn’t have opened it.” I closed and locked the door, and gave Felix a bit of love to thank him for not disobeying.
Read Psalm 32:5
As we approach Holy Week, let us take a moment to consider our own disobedience. We have spent the last 6 weeks praying about the sin in our lives and preparing our hearts for the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Has anything changed in your life? For those of you who gave something up for Lent, do you desire Lent to be over so you can take it up again, or have you given it up forever? What have you discovered during this time of preparation that you need to acknowledge before the Lord? Confess it today and know His forgiveness.
Seeds Last night, I was approached with the question, “What physical proof is there that there is life after death?” This is an extremely difficult question for me to answer, since I’ve never personally seen the need to have physical proof of the promises of God. I believe in eternal life because I have faith in God’s promises, so I rest in the hope of that life.
However, I do understand that some desire physical proof for spiritual concepts and they need to ask these questions. I had very little to offer this man, just a few stories I’d heard about life after death experiences. Even these stories are questionable since scientists have shown there is the possibility that those experiences are based on chemical imbalances in the brain, which cause hallucinations. We have the Word of God, through scripture and revelation, which tells us without a doubt that there is life after physical death. Quoting scripture is generally a useless exercise when speaking to someone who looks upon the Bible as merely a book of insignificant stories.
The stories in the scriptures do speak to us in a way that we can see spiritual concepts in a physical light. Paul often spoke about athletics “running a race, winning the prize” as a way to share our own spiritual journey. The Old Testament writers used stories about wandering in the wilderness, because Israel understood from real life experience what it was like to wander in the desert before reaching the Promised Land.
Jesus was an incredible teacher because He was able to reach right into people’s hearts through their own lives. He often used examples from their occupations, such as fishing and farming. In this way, the people could understand through real life experiences the spiritual concepts He was sharing.
Read John 12:24-26
As I pondered the question of life after death, I recalled these words of Jesus. This certainly does not answer the question, but it helps us to look at it from a different perspective. We learn from nature that without death there cannot be life. Jesus had to die so that the seeds for eternal life could be planted in us, and now we too must die to our old selves so that we can have that true life. Eternal life is not just a future hope, it is a present reality. It is interesting to ponder the questions of the unknown, but let us live the promises of God today.
Finale Any kind of story, whether it is literature or performance, follows a pattern. There is a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning of the story sets up the information, such as characters, setting and plot. The middle of the story takes us through the story, developing characters and story line. We see the plot thicken as we progress through the pages and a conflict is created that needs a conclusion. At the end of the story, we see the resolution of the conflict.
The Bible is the Story of God and His people. We have a beginning. The book starts with “In the beginning” and tells of God and creation. Throughout the book, we see the development of Israel and the world around them. We meet many characters, each having a purpose in the story. The conflict that is developed throughout is the desire of God to be close with His children but our sin stands in the way of that relationship. Jesus Christ is the conclusion to His story.
For three years Jesus ministered to God’s people, teaching them how to live according to the promise of God. The Gospels are filled with stories of His healing, teaching and loving. He was loved by many, but not by all. The Word He spoke was difficult to understand and accept by those who were set in their thoughts and ideas. The people thought they knew God and thought they were living a godly life. However, Jesus came to share the truth.
Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus began to show the people, particularly those close to Him, that there was only one way for us to be able to live according to God’s promises. There had to be one final sacrifice. He had to die. His disciples and the people did not understand when Jesus spoke about death, because they saw His life as triumphant. They saw Him as a king among men. A few, by the power of God, understood.
Read John 12:1-8
Mary understood. At this moment, she sacrificed a great deal to show Jesus her love. Not only did she use the expensive perfume, but also she submitted her heart and spirit to Jesus.
We stand at the edge of the end of His story. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. For the next week, we will follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus as He rides triumphantly into Jerusalem into His death.
The Triumphal Entry The life and ministry of our Lord Jesus was filled with incredible signs, wonders and teachings. From the first miracle at Canaan when he changed water into wine, to the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and everything in between, Jesus showed Himself to be different from anyone the world had ever seen. When He taught in the temple and on the hillsides, people were amazed at the Word as it became alive before them. He helped people understand that there was a better way of living and that there was a deeper meaning to the scriptures.
Jesus was controversial. Whenever he breezed through a town or village, many would follow and listen. However, there were those who did not believe Jesus came from God. His own village rejected Him. Many claimed He was of Satan. Some tried to stone Him for the things He said and did. The teachers in the temple as well as other religious leaders began to fear his power over people.
The people saw Jesus as the answer to their prayers. The sought a Messiah, someone who would set them free from the oppression of the Roman invaders of their land. They wanted to be a free nation again and live as they did during the Golden Age of Solomon their king. As Jesus gained in fame and following, His disciples pleaded with Him to go to Jerusalem and claim His place. They knew that there were enough people to support Him, and that they would fight to give Him the position they felt He had come to fill. However, Jesus did not go to Jerusalem until it was the right time.
As the Passover of His third year of ministry approached, Jesus knew the time had come for Him to fulfill the promise of His Father. It was time to go to Jerusalem. This is Palm Sunday, as recorded in the scriptures:
Read Luke 19:28-48
Clearance Sale Jerusalem was packed with people. It was a holy week for the Jews; the festival of Passover was just days away and many people were in town for the feast. The streets were packed; the hotels were filled with people who came to the Temple to worship. This was a time of remembrance, and to be cleansed in the Temple by sacrifice.
Of course, it was difficult to travel many miles and take with you the animals you need for those sacrifices. So, local vendors set up booths to offer birds, sheep and goats for sale for the convenience of the visiting worshippers. The market was established within the walls of the Temple, in the Gentile court. Moneychangers established businesses since many of the people who came to Jerusalem were from places that had other currency.
Jesus had arrived in Jerusalem the day before, to shouts of acclamation from the crowd. Yet, He still had much to accomplish in the short period of time before the Passover celebration. The people had to learn about true faith in God. His teaching was not unanimously accepted, however, and the leaders began to plot against Jesus.
Read Mark 11:12-25
Relevant We went to a service the other night where some young people performed a very powerful and moving interpretation of the story of Jesus. It was called “Make Way for the Cross” and was filled with contemporary music speaking of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. The band from our church performed and the youth acted out a mime showing the Triumphal Entry and then the Humiliation of the Cross.
As they were practicing for this service, they talked about what this story meant to them personally, and why they wanted to do it. The young people said, “Because it is relevant to us today.” They understood the importance of what Jesus did, not only for those two thousand years ago, but for them personally.
Tuesday of Holy Week is the most written about day in the scriptures. This was a day of controversy and stories. Jesus spent time in the temple teaching, where the leaders sent men to catch Jesus in some sort of crime so that they might have him arrested. His authority was questioned and He was set up with the question about taxes. He warned of false teachers and the end of the age, so that His children would recognize the times He has promised throughout the Word. As He spoke these words, the leaders became more determined to be rid of Him. He seemed untouchable.
Read Mark 12:28-44
Rest How often do we overspend ourselves preparing for some big event? If we are going on vacation, we spend the day before exhausting ourselves with packing and housecleaning. We want to make sure everything is ready so we can leave with a sense of peace that we’ve accomplished our tasks. The day before a big test, we spend the time reading and studying, so we can walk in prepared with all the knowledge in our heads and do a good job. If we are part of some event, like a play or a party, we spend the day before making final preparations so that everything is perfect.
The Bible is silent about what Jesus did the day before Passover. While Tuesday is the most written about day, Wednesday has nothing. Jesus knew the time of His death was growing close, why wasn’t He in the Temple trying to reach those that He had not yet touched? I would have felt a desperate need to go continue the ministry until the very last moment, to reach as many as possible.
Jesus knew a better way. He was spending the evenings during Holy Week in Bethany, at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There, on Wednesday, it is likely that Jesus and His friends spent a quiet day in prayer and fellowship.
In Jerusalem, the leaders were plotting against Jesus. They had to find a way to rid the city of this man they saw as a threat to their power. We do not know exactly when Judas went to the Temple to offer to help, however it could have been this day. It is difficult for us to know exactly why Judas would betray Jesus. It is possible that he thought that perhaps putting Jesus on the line would get him to take his rightful place as king. Judas wanted power, but did not understand the kind of power that Jesus was to show. The Gospel of Luke shows us that in this situation, Judas did not have control.
Read Luke 22:1-6
Later we read again about the betrayal of Judas:
Read John 13:21-28
In John, we see Satan enter Judas once again. This time, however, we can see that Jesus is in control of the situation. As we take a day of rest, to prepare our own hearts and minds for the final leg of this journey through His life, let us remember that He is ever present in our lives.
Passover Jerusalem was bustling with preparation for the Passover feast. This is the day many had waited for, the day of Deliverance. Those that surrounded Jesus saw Passover as the ideal time for Him to grasp His kingship. This would have great meaning to the Jews, making a connection to Moses and the deliverance out of slavery from Egypt. The Messiah was to come and save the people, so throughout the week as Passover grew near, the people were expectant for something incredible to happen.
The disciples asked Jesus where they were to celebrate the Passover feast. As usual, the preparation was in the hands of God, and Jesus gave them instructions where to go, who to see. As the evening drew close, the disciples gathered in the upper room, ready to celebrate this meaningful night with their Lord.
The evening did not go as they’d hoped. Rather than speak about being a king, Jesus spoke of being a servant. He spoke of death, betrayal and denial. Peter, as usual, made great claims of his love for Jesus and his willingness to even die. Jesus told him that he would, that very evening, deny Him three times. Jesus knew Judas was the betrayer, and was clearly in control as He told Judas to do the task quickly. The disciples were confused by the words of Jesus, and became agitated as the vision they had of a kingdom began to fall apart before their eyes.
Even in the midst of betrayal and denial, Jesus comforted His disciples. He promised them the Holy Spirit, that they might continue His work after His death. He established a new covenant with the people, one of life, hope and remembrance.
Read Luke 22:15-20
After the dinner was complete, Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives to pray.
Read Luke 22:39-54
Death For the next few hours, the world seemed in control. Jesus was lead before the chief priest and the Roman governor. He was questioned, mocked and beaten. The disciples hovered nearby, too scared to do anything to help their teacher. Peter even denied knowing Jesus three times while warming himself in the courtyard.
Leaders from the temple were scattered in the crowd that watched the proceedings. Pilate did not see reason for the death of Jesus, and tried to push Him off on the temple leaders. They sought the death penalty, and under Roman rule they did not have the power to put someone to death. He was taken to Herod who was quite excited about seeing Jesus face to face. He’d heart so much about the man; he wanted to see some mighty miracle performed before him. When Jesus would not prove himself, Herod humiliated Him and sent Him back to Pilate.
Pilate was around at the beginning of the week. He had seen how popular Jesus was with the people. He did not view Jesus as a threat, after all this was the Roman Empire. Who could destroy it? So, he went to the people. The crowd was easily agitated because events of the Passover evening did not go as they’d hoped. Scattered among the people were leaders from the temple, ready with a word to manipulate the crowd. When Pilate saw that Jesus was innocent, he asked the people if He should be freed. Someone yelled, ‘Crucify him.’ At this, the whole crowd went wild and began to yell for Jesus’ death. Pilate tried three times to release Jesus, but he had no control over this situation. Jesus had to die.
Read Mark 15:16-41
Finished? The dramatic account of the death of Jesus Christ that I shared yesterday ended rather abruptly. “It is too late. It is finished.” Is it?
Jesus died at the ninth hour, 3:00 PM. Even to the final moment of His life, Jesus was in control. Those final moments on the cross, He took care of His business ‘ He forgave His enemies, honoured His mother and found a son to care for her, and provided the hope of Salvation to a sinner in need. When all was complete, when the scriptures had been fulfilled, Jesus cried out for the last time and He gave up His spirit.
All around the world rocked with the anger of God. The earth shook and the rocks split. A centurion pierced Jesus in the side, and His blood spilled into the earth. The curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. This curtain was not some flimsy piece of material like lace, easily ripped. It was thick, a wall like protective covering over the Most Holy Place, the dwelling of God Himself. Within the room which was covered by this curtain was the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, the Throne of God. When Jesus died, God ripped the curtain from top to bottom, opening the way into His presence for all people, not just the High Priest. God would no longer live in a box.
Where was everyone else at this point? Judas, so upset by the events of the day, went back to the priests and confessed his sin against Jesus. He gave back the money. But there was no one left who could help him see the forgiveness offered by Jesus. The priests did not care, they got what they wanted. Jesus was unable to speak to Judas, and the disciples were scared and hiding. So, Judas did the only thing he felt he could do. He committed suicide to end the pain.
When Jesus was arrested, the disciples hid in the crowds. They listened in fear to the accusations and watched the events unfold. At the trial, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. He wept because he was so heartbroken over his actions. The other disciples went into hiding. Only a few of Jesus’ closest companions were at the place of the cross. His mother had watched Him die, to be comforted by John, the man whom Jesus appointed to care for her. Mary Magdalene was also present. She had anointed Him once, just days before, and now she would have to anoint Him again, but this time with the spices that accompany burial. Other women who were His followers were also present.
Read Luke 23:50-56
Read Matthew 27:62-66
The disciples spent that day in fear and confusion. They hid from the world and mourned the loss of their beloved teacher and companion. Can you imagine the things they must have thought about, and talked about? Who was Jesus? Why did He die? Why did we spend these years following Him? What will happen to us? Had we truly wasted three years of our lives? Is this really the end?
We, too, consider these questions as we journey with Jesus, particularly at times of sorrow and distress. Why me, why now, why this? Is this really the end?
Resurrection A boulder blocked the entrance to the tomb. It was sealed and Roman guards watched over it. There was no chance for tampering. The disciples were in hiding, afraid to show their faces to the world. They did not know what awaited them. If Jesus died, He who was so good and truthful, what must become of them?
As morning approached, the women awakened to the sad task of preparing Jesus’ body for burial. The scriptures tell the story better than I ever could.
Read Luke 24:1-12
Read John 20:1-18
The tomb is empty. He is alive. Hallelujah. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Thanks be to God.
Personal “Mary,” He said, and she knew. Mary was in the garden at the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for final burial. She had spent many hours weeping over the loss of her beloved Master and friend. On the morning of the resurrection, she went to the tomb to find it empty. This added to her grief.
She turned from the tomb and saw a man. She thought He was the gardener and asked, “Sir, where have they taken my Lord?” He said, “Mary,” and she knew. Jesus called her by name, and she knew. Over the next forty days, Jesus made many appearances to his disciples.
Read Luke 24:13-35
These disciples did not recognize Jesus at first. They listened to his speaking and welcomed Him into their home. It was not until He broke the bread that their eyes were opened and His resurrection became real to them. After, they wondered why they had not recognized Him? “Were not our hearts burning?”
These people, Mary and the two disciples, knew Jesus intimately before His death, yet their eyes were closed to the truth until it was revealed to them. He spoke to them personally, calling them by name and revealing Himself in a way that touched them deeply. Today, there are many that still do not recognize the resurrected Christ. Those of us who know Him grieve for those who are still lost, who still do not see. However, the story of Christ’s appearances after His resurrection, offers hope. Jesus calls us by name and reveals Himself in a personal way, in His time and way. Thanks be to God.
Forgiveness One of the disciples I relate to most closely is Simon Peter. He was a paradox. Several times throughout the Gospel stories, Jesus had very intimate encounters with Peter. One time, Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” At that moment, the Truth of Jesus was revealed to Peter by the power of God, and Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Moments later, Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about death.
In another episode, Jesus was washing the feet of the disciples. When he reached Peter, Peter said, “No, you shall never wash my feet.” When Jesus told him it must be this way, Peter said, “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and head also.” Later that evening, Jesus told the disciples that one of his beloved would betray Him and another would deny Him. Peter boldly told Jesus that even if he had to die, he would never disown him.
At the trial of Jesus, when the people recognized Peter as one of the disciples, Peter denied knowing him. This happened three times, just as Jesus said. When the rooster crowed, Peter realized what he had done and wept bitterly.
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared before the disciples several times. One encounter happened after a night of unsuccessful fishing. As the disciples came in to shore, they saw a man waiting for them. He told them to cast their nets to the right side of the boat. From there, they caught so many fish they had difficulty hauling it. John realized it was the Lord, and the disciples went to shore to be with Jesus.
Read John 21:10-19
Peter had denied Jesus three times. Jesus gave him three opportunities to confess his love. For each denial, Peter made a confession of faith. Each time Jesus forgave Peter by commissioning him to a great task. Peter’s denial had the potential of destroying his confidence to do God’s Will in spreading the Gospel.
How often do we deny Jesus in our daily lives? We all have moments when our thoughts, words and deeds are not according to God’s command and will in our lives. We deny Jesus each time we do not feed the hungry or clothe the sick. We deny Jesus each time we speak against our neighbor. Jesus loves us, however, comes to feed us with His Word, gives us a chance to confess our love for Him and sends us out to live and work to His praise and Glory. This is forgiveness. Thanks be to God.
GO! Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ spent a short time on earth and changed the world. In the days since, the world has wondered about this man. Christians and non-Christians alike have debated the meaning of his parables and they have questions the events which surrounded Him. Today, the story of Jesus Christ has been told all over the world, and people continue to worship Him.
In His final moments, Jesus Christ finished the work He had come to do. He opened their minds to the scriptures and told them to go out in the world to share the Truth of God’s mercy and love with all His creation. Then He was taken to heaven to sit at the right hand of God.
Read Matthew 28:18-20
Read Luke 24:44-53
The Story of Jesus Christ is one that we continue to share today. People spend hours debating the details of His life, work, death and resurrection. I am a simple girl who loves the Lord. I believe all that has been written about Him in the scriptures and I know He loves me so much He died that I might have life. It is now my responsibility to take this great gift and share it with the world. By the power of God’s Holy Spirit, His life that lives in me, I am able to obey His command. Thank you God, for giving me Jesus. Help me to live according to your promise every day. Amen.
Television British television is different than American television in many ways. Now that cable has been introduced to the country, there are more stations and choices, but nothing like the states. On base, we get the Armed Forces Network, so we have access to American programming and news, but it isn’t like in the states where you have 60 stations from which to choose. The one thing I do not miss is the networks going live for hours on end about one story. They stay on air waiting for that one insignificant moment in the story, just so they can be the one to be the first to report.
When there is a major news story, everyone has an opinion. It is hard not to think about these things and decide from the facts presented what should happen or second-guess that which has happened. We are bombarded with information from the news services, all with their own opinions attached, as shown by the choices of pictures and guest experts they use.
I have been asked my opinion about such stories, but I rarely give one, since I cannot make an intelligent decision based on the information I have. However, I do look upon these situations and try to answer the questions from my Christian viewpoint. A lie is a lie. Murder is murder. Situational ethics doesn’t work in God’s Kingdom. Either you act according to God’s Law or you act according to the world. This is a hard lesson.
Read John 15:18-21
The life we have chosen to live walking in the ways of the Lord, is not an easy life. We will face persecution for speaking the truth and living according to the Kingdom of God rather than the world. We have made this choice, let us continue to trust in God’s promise and live in His love each day.
Harsh? I love my kids. They are my gifts from God, and it is my responsibility to bring them up as best I can in this world. I provide them with food, clothing and a place to sleep. They are educated in the school as well as in the church. I love them and act in a way so that they know that I love them. This is my job. I am also demanding. I have taught my children the difference between right and wrong and I expect them to live accordingly. Do I ask too much?
Honesty has been a major topic for conversation this week. I was presented with a question of situational ethics and asked the response was a sin. I said, “A lie is a lie.” Some have commented that this is a blanket statement and not practical in our world. There are many times when it seems we must, for love of neighbor or our own protection, hold back on the truth. A little white lie on occasion seems harmless enough. They often help a situation, to keep peace and edify the person to whom it has been spoken. Is a white lie evil? Certainly not. However, it is still sin.
Read Proverbs 12:13-18
The ideal is always honesty. Perhaps this is too much for me to demand in this world where the ideal seems impossible. We find ourselves in situations which call for a decision, we weigh all the options and choose what we feel is the best. When something is at stake, such as our job or a relationship, we see the lie as being the better option. God does not lie; He keeps His promises. When you are faced with such a decision, do you take into account God’s promise and walk in His ways?
God demands a great deal from His children. We hear in the book of Luke, the words of our Lord, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” You have been given the greatest truth ever told the Gospel message of God’s love for you. Does God demand the truth? Yes. Is this too harsh? Impossible?
This is when the Gospel message has its greatest impact. God does demand the impossible, but it is by His grace we achieve. Reach for the ideal each day, but when you fail remember God’s forgiveness.
Jemima Puddleduck Several first grade classes from our school took a trip to the Theatre Royale in Bury St. Edmunds to see a play. I had the pleasure of tagging along as a chaperone. For an hour and a half, these six and seven year old children sat mesmerized as seven actors told the beloved stories of Beatrix Potter in song and dance. In the section around me, I did not notice any need for parent discipline during the show. It was the best presentation of a children’s programme I’ve ever seen. The quality of the performance showed in the response of the children.
I woke this morning to writer’s block. During my prayer time, my mind wandered from the intimate conversation between God and I to the earthly troubles that often plague my life. I was watching the wrong show, so was easily distracted from the task at hand.
Read Psalm 73:22-26
I sought the aid of some friends, and was reminded in this Psalm that even when I fail, God is with me. There is no greater love than the love of our Father, and no greater story than the one which tells of His grace. There are times when the WORD FOR TODAY speaks to an ideal which seems impossible in our world today. Perhaps it is. However, even when we cannot seem to reach the ideal, when we are watching the wrong show distracted by the cares and worries of this world God is still our guide and our strength. He will take us into His glory. Thanks be to God.
When? Bruce has been in the military for twenty-four years. People often ask the question, “When is he going to retire?” I usually answer with a hearty laugh and say, “That is a good question. Four years ago?” We have looked forward to the day of retirement, but have continued with this life for many reasons. We stayed on for this assignment in England, and it has been such a blessing. There is job security and we have enough to live a comfortable life. We have the opportunities to travel, meet new people and experience things, which would not have been possible, if we had another job. There are disadvantages but we continue in this life knowing that we will have what we need from day to day.
God made a promise to Abraham. He said that Abraham would be the father of many nations. Abraham left his home and followed the guiding hand of God to unknown regions, believing in the promises. Sarah, his wife, followed. Many years passed, many things happened along the way, Abraham acquired great wealth. But Sarah remained childless.
One day three visitors came by the tent of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham warmly welcomed the three men, and prepared a fine meal for them to enjoy.
Read Genesis 18:9-15
Oh, how difficult it is for us to wait for things like Christmas, the last day of school or a trip. We have the promise but the day of its fulfillment seems so far away. Christmas will always come on December 25th, but time has no meaning to a child. There are times when we cannot define the moment the promise will be fulfilled, such as it was for Sarah. God promised her a child, but as years passed her expectation of that promise faded.
We often react as Sarah did, with laughter. “It is too late. How can the promise ever be fulfilled?” It is never too late. If it seems like the time is long past, remember Sarah. God does not forget His promises and they will be fulfilled in His time.