Sorry Saturday

What always strikes me about the events of the Passion is the disbelief of the disciples. None of them believed Jesus would rise from the dead. None of them believed that this one final prophecy of His would come true. No one stood outside the grave waiting for His appearance (except the Roman guards of course). No one anticipated His return, or prepared for it. In fact, the only preparation you see is the women, taking more spices to the tomb early on that Sunday morning, in further preparation of the body, and probably to see his face one more time before corruption set in.

All of the disciples huddled together in that Upper Room. While other families were together and celebrating the Passover, doing as families do, the disciples were afraid. They were scared that they would be found out. Who knows where Judas went. I don’t think at this point they knew what had happened to Judas since they saw him in the garden two nights ago. Maybe Judas was going to betray them all?

Imagine the self-recrimination taking place. If only I had known Judas better. If only we spent more time talking to him. How could he betray Jesus? Did Jesus know? I can imagine a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on in that room on that Sabbath day. There would have been angry words, short tempers, and we would probably have seen these disciples at their worst, but bonded together by their fear. They surely wouldn’t separate now, because someone else might be a traitor too. They wouldn’t dare let each other out of their sight.

There would have been discussion about what to do next. Peter might have been the first to suggest to go back to Galilee and resume the fishing business. Their might have been some remembrances and stories told. “Remember the time Jesus said, …” They might have laughed and chuckled at a familiar event or too, or when they remembered the consternation of the Pharisees and Sadducees just a few days ago, only to remember it was those same that condemned Jesus to death, and then all would be quiet again.

They were all mourning. They were grieving at the loss of a man who had done nothing wrong. He had in fact been more right about more things than all of them. And was He really the Son of God? There was probably some discussion about that subject. How could the Son of God allow something like this to happen to Him? There might have been the topic of leading an insurrection, no doubt lead by Simon the Zealot, but then they would remember that that wasn’t Jesus’ way. Peter would point out his incident in the garden with Malchus, the High Priest’s servant and his ear. ‘Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” even though they had the two swords.

Sorry Saturday would not have been a lively day, but it certainly prepared them. They all needed the rest, and their hearts were being prepared for what was coming by a Heavenly Father and a Holy Spirit who was reminding them of the things Jesus said. They were receiving comfort in the midst of their sorrow, because the Father was still there with His Son’s chosen, keeping them safe until the Plan could be put into effect.

Like those disciples, we don’t know what’s coming. Though we’ve been told over and again that Jesus is coming back, it’s been so long that we are no longer certain. But Jesus has not left us. His presence is always with us. unlike those disciples, we know the end of that story, and the Living Jesus is with us today. His return is not just promised, but certain. His presence is always and forever. We need not wait for the end of the world to preach a risen Lord. He is risen, and today we have hope because of it.

Lord Jesus, we are reminded those millennia ago that there was a day when the world wasn’t sure You were coming back. We are glad You did. And may we continue to worship You today because You are Living and Active, You are present and working in us today. Thank You Jesus for rising from the dead and being our Savior. May wherever I go be a time I am with You. In Your holy Name I pray, Amen.

I Need Joy

Its not that its a bad day today. In fact, its been a pretty good day. I was able to go to work today. I cam home. Did not run into anyone with the virus, as far as I know. I was able to talk to people today, and I hoped that listening to their troubles gave then some relief. But coming home is staying in and not going anywhere. This weekend was planned tkt be my daughter’s eighth grade trip to DC. Next week was going to belt wife and I’s 25th wedding anniversary trip, but now we need to cancer that too. She doesn’t want to be away from home so far with all the stuff happening. I don’t blame her.

It seems everyday we wake up to new rules. Everyday new businesses are being told to close for fear of drawing crowds, all except the stores that draw the largest crowds, like grocery stores. Nevermind logic. Each day we are given new insights into how thus virus works, how deadly it is, and what I need to do to stop it. I feel more informed about this one subject than anything else I’ve ever seen in the news.

But on top of all this, churches are voluntarily closed. One place that people can go when times are tough is the church. But now you have to have Internet or a phone to get that kind of ministry. I know it’s not permanent, but its one thing that will help all of us get through the next few weeks. I need the church. I need the social gathering. If where two or three or gathered, Christ is there, there is a sense I feel kind of cut off.

I’m sure I’m not the first to sense it. And maybe I just need to get over it for the duration of this crisis. Others have been cut off from church. I am not the first. Others have survived. I will too. But I am down and need joy. And I know my Lord can bring me joy.

Heavenly Father, this is not a good time. In fact, this is a difficult time. I feel Your church has been slighted. And I am angry. But I know these happen or not at Your word. If we need some time away from pretty buildings and slide presentations, loud music and smoke machines to help us hear your voice again, help me hear it. Help me hear that voice that calls to me day and night, so that I might enter the joy of the Lord. In Your Son’s holy Name, Amen.

Learn Something

You ever met someone in worse circumstances than you are, and then they teach you about how good life really is? In my line of work, I meet many who are rejoicing in the Lord despite their illnesses and setback, and often it makes me ashamed. I have so many blessings, so many good things to be thankful for. I have no reason to be down.

So it is with this morning’s text. Paul writes, as a prisoner under guard, to tell the Ephesians to live their lives worthy of their calling. They remain free while he is in chains. Did they think they have bad days? Sure. But the note of encouragement comes from someone who is in a worse position than they are.

When your day seems down, consider those whom you’ve met with far worse problems, and yet encouraged you. Rejoice in the Lord for what you have and who you. Live your life worthy of the calling laid upon it. You’ve been given the highest calling by the highest authority to the greatest work. You are important. Don’t let discouragement tell you differently.

Broken Spirit

Have you got one of those? Has warranty on your spirit run out and now it just doesn’t work like it used to? Maybe it’s been under too much stress. You know too much stress can break a crush a spirit. Maybe you’ve worn it out trying to build up other people. Maybe you’ve used it up being too strong for too long. Whatever happened, you know when your sport is crushed.

That’s why today is a good day. Today is a day to renew your spirit. Dust yourself off. Get to a good church, and experience the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord will renew your spirit, and a cheerful heart will do you good, like an injection of adrenaline and cortisol. Well, maybe even better than that.

What’s a good church? A good church is where God is worshipped and the Bible is preached. You find yourself one of those. Not a place where man is worshipped and social issues preached. That does not renew the spirit, but only makes it worse, because you can get no good power from those things. You need power from someone higher than yourself to help a broken spirit. If it was a broken mind or a broken arm, man’s solutions might help. But this is a broken spirit. It needs help from God.

May God bless you today.

The Enemy at the Gate

In 597 BC the enemy was Babylon, and the gate opened to Jerusalem. King Jeconiah, who had only been on the throne a few months at age 18 knew the end was coming. The Babylonians had warned them, but Jeconiah’s defiance would now be the ruin of his kingdom. Even the prophet Jeremiah had given him a personal warning from the Almighty, “You will have no sons on this throne” (Jeremiah 52:31-34)

Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin) was a wicked king. Like many of the kings who preceded him he had no love for God. Yet his grandfather Josiah had been the spearhead of religious reforms that were short-lived. His example still resonated in the mind of his grandson. Though Jeconiah was not good, he was smart, which is almost as good. He realized that if he resisted Nebuchadnezzar’s will again, he would die. He chose life. He surrendered his household to Babylon. Years later in 2 Kings 25:27-30 we find that Jeconiah was released from prison with his family and treated like royalty at the King’s table.

Jeconiah’s story is significant because he stands on a hinge of history. Matthew 1:1 and 17 recall that Abraham, David, and the exiles to Babylon are the three important hinges of the history of the Messiah. Abraham was called to an unknown country. David was called to be King. Jeconiah was called into exile. While not glamorous, Jeconiah’s decision to surrender preserved the people of Judah, and the line of the Messiah to come. Even in his defeat, God still worked through him.

I want to remind you of this. Right now, you may feel defeated. You may even see your enemies gathered at your gates. But this may be exactly where God wants you to be. Because God wants you to surrender, not to the whims and desires of the enemy, but to himself. God wants you to surrender to His will, power, and His best for your life. The same prophet who pronounced doom on Jeconiah pronounces hope for you. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:11-13, ESV)