I’m tired of being lukewarm in my service for Thee.

I’m tired of not standing up for my King.

Others are dying and need your grace.

They need to be set free from their captivity!

Send your revival fire!  Burn in me!

Revival fire burn!  Blaze in me!

Purify my soul, clothe me in righteousness.

Anoint my head with oil,

Touch my lips with the coals from the altar.

I long for another Pentecost.

May the fire of your Spirit burn in me.

Here is your church,

We need your fire to fall and your power

To trample Satan and his evil schemes.

Release in us your energy to take back

What Satan stole from us.

Send your revival fire!  Burn in us!

Revival fire burn!  Blaze in us!

Purify our souls, clothe us in righteousness.

Anoint our heads with oil.

Touch our lips with the coals from the altar.

We long for another Pentecost.

May the fire of your Spirit burn in us!

This is a song I wrote…
We want to feel your presence ©
Our hearts are broken,
Our hope is fading fast.
We need a revival like the ones
We heard of in the past.
Your Spirit moving,
People on their knees,
Lives being changed,
Salvation at last….
We want to feel Your Presence
We want to know You’re near
‘cause in Your presence
There’s nothing to fear.
Please hold us close and
Wipe away the tears.
Let Your Glory be known
We want You here.
Forgive us our sins,
We turned away from You.
We have been selfish, idolaters, untrue.
We are ashamed,
Desperate, hungry,
Lonely, afraid,
But our answer is in You.
We want to feel Your Presence
We want to know You’re near
‘cause in Your presence
There’s nothing to fear.
Please hold us close and
Wipe away the tears.
Let Your Glory be known
We want You here.
If my people would humble themselves and pray,
I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins
And heal their land….
Lord, please hear the cries of our heart,
We need You Jesus, come near!
We need to feel Your presence
We need to know You’re near.
‘Cause in Your presence,
There’s nothing to fear.
Please hold us close
And wipe away the tears.
Let Your Glory be known
We need You here.
(Repeat Chorus)

Undignified! ©

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.

-2 Samuel 6:14-15, 22a

Have you ever danced wildly before the Lord? What about a sway or raising your hands in church? If we were completely honest, the majority of us would be too afraid.

Dancing in church is acceptable for some and for some reason not others. In Africa, many dance with tambourines and hand flags. Pentecostal churches are known for dancing and being charismatic in their show of adoration of the Lord.

However, in the majority of churches, I have seen, people do not dance, raise their hands, or sway. On the odd occasion, a ballet style dance or a few flags flown are a part of a special “piece” in the service. The general rule is that dancing or hand raising is not allowed in churches. We have to be solemn, respectful and staid in church.

In 2 Samuel, chapter 6, David is seen dancing wildly before the Lord. David had just won victory over the Philistines, where the ark of the covenant was being held, and he received the ark back to be taken to its rightful place. However, when the Israelites took the ark, they placed it on a cart instead of using poles to carry it according to God’s law. A man named Uzzah tried to steady the ark with his hand when the oxen stumbled. No one was allowed to touch the ark, therefore, Uzzah was struck dead.

David was at first angry with God for striking Uzzah dead. However, the anger turned into fear. David was afraid to take the ark any further. He instead took it to Obed-edom’s house, where it stayed for three months. While the ark was there, Obed-edom and his family were blessed.

David heard about the blessings and decided it was time to take the ark back to the city of Jerusalem where it belonged. When David and his people went to retrieve the ark, he rejoiced before the Lord and made a sacrifice before Him.

David was dressed in a linen ephod which was white and thin. In fact, it was so thin he was practically naked. David was dancing wildly in the street half naked with the people of Jerusalem.

As he came through the street, his former wife, Michal was watching the parade. She became angry and despised David for dancing before the Lord and being almost naked.

David and the people brought the ark to a tent he had erected. He offered sacrifices and offerings before the Lord. Afterwards, he blessed the people who were there. They ate some food and went back to their homes.

David went to bless his own household, but Michal, came out to meet him. She was livid. She thought he was honoring himself. She fussed at him about being half naked with the women servants around seeing him.

David quickly responded and told her he was dancing before the Lord who appointed him over Israel. He said to her he will celebrate before the Lord at any time and will be even more undignified than this!

The difference between David and the majority of us, is he was not afraid of what other people thought of him, including his former wife. He rejoiced and celebrated before the Lord with dancing.

I am not in any way saying we should go dancing half-naked in the streets or in our churches! What a mighty stir that would cause.

First, we should not be afraid of what other people think of us, especially when we are worshipping and praising the Lord. When we worship, we should have our eyes focused on God and not on those around us.

Second, may we not be like Michal judging others who raise their hands or bop up and down while praising the Lord. Those people are not doing it for show (although I do understand some may and have done so).

If we are worried about what others think, our focus is not on God, but them. Likewise, if we are judging others for what they are doing, our focus is not on God either.

God loves our praise. He blesses those whose focus and praise is on him.

We all have different ways of praising the Lord. My prayer is we all will be undignified when it comes to showing God our passion, affection, and adoration. I pray we will not be afraid of what others think.

I promise you that in heaven it won’t matter how we praise him. There will be dancing in the streets and shouts of joy all the time. Our affections will be upon Jesus and not on those around us.

The next time we desire to dance before God, imagine yourself in heaven with Jesus standing there. It’s just us and him.

Now dance!

Be undignified!

Praise the Lord for he is worthy of our praise!

Let Go and Let God! ©

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30
God is saying to you and me today to “Lay down our burdens. We’re carrying burdens that we don’t need to bear. Give them to Him for He cares for us.” When we do give them up, we will experience great freedom within our relationship with Him.
Jesus tells us to come to Him when we are weary and tired. He realizes that we are prone to carry heavy loads and that we tend to try to do things in our own strength. However, He promises us that if we give Him our burdens and cares, He will give us rest and a load that is much easier to carry. Sometimes we carry around burdens that really do matter. However, most of the time, we carry extra and unnecessary baggage around. David talks about his guilt weighing him down and being overwhelming (see Psalm 38:4).
2 Corinthians 5:4 says: “While we live in this body, we have burdens and we groan.”
We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life. – It is human nature to groan about our burdens. We know that there is a better life beyond this. Whilst we are here on earth, we are not exempt from burdens. It’s because we desire to be clothed with life.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7- “Give all your worries to Him, because He cares about us.” God has a plan for us, a great race for us to run. We will go places where we never thought that we would and we will serve in many ways that we could have never dreamed.
However, burdens hinder us from fulfilling what the Bible describes as our responsibility to care for others. God desires for us to show mercy, kindness, and gentleness to others. Help the weak, comfort others as we have been comforted, care for the interests of others and help with other’s troubles.
If we want to be truly free, we must give our everything to God. Give Him our burdens and cares. Allow Him to give us His load which is far lighter than ours. For the sake of our God we serve, let it go. For the sake of those we love, let it go. For the sake of our own joy and the joy of others, let it go. God is saying to us, “Lay it all down, children, let it go and I’ll carry the heavy load.”
Deuteronomy 33:12 says “The Lord’s loved ones will lie down in safety because He protects them all day long. The ones He loves rest with Him.” Notice what God tells His children here; we can lie down in safety, God protects us whilst resting in Him, and the ones God loves rest with Him.
Sometimes we find this very difficult to do because we are so used to carrying our own burdens. But Jesus says in John chapter 8, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed!” If He promises us that we will be free in Him if we give our burdens to Him, would we not want to live in that freedom? What are some things that may be hindering that freedom within our lives? May it be stubbornness, pride, or even fear? It’s not easy to let go and let God take complete control of everything. It’s like a prisoner that is held in a ball and chain, being set free, but not willing to take off the chains. What chains are holding us back to being all that God desires us to be?
God wants us to let go of the old man. Let go of worldly desires, such as uncleanness, passion for worldly things, evil desire, covetousness, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying. Let go of the guilt from the past. Let go of the troubles that wear us down. Then God says to us, put on the new man, clothes of righteousness, etc. When we put on the things that God desires us to wear, to carry, etc. we will have the peace of God rule within our own hearts. People will see the difference within us and will be drawn to God through us.
The only way that we can put on godly attributes is to let go of the worldly and ungodly ones. Laying down our heavyweights of the world at the foot of the cross and allowing Jesus to carry them. When we do this, we will experience great freedom in Christ. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:13, “My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love.”
Mary, like the rest, stood amazed at the appearance of Jesus in the room. She had been weeping since Friday when news of His capture and trial had reached her. Her heart had been pierced at the sight of Him, beaten almost beyond recognition. But a mother always knows her son. She had longed to run to His side, to clean the blood from His face, and soothe His tattered back. She had wanted to stand between Him and the Roman soldiers, protect Him from His persecutioners. When the nails had pierced his hands, she’d turned her eyes from the scene, but she’d stand her ground. She would not abandon this precious son, her gift from God. And though it had broken her heart, she’d stayed nearby until he was gone. She had seen Him dead. And yet here He was, alive! And in his resurrection, she found freedom. She was free from the approval of the temple leaders, free from all her little motherly worries about him, free from the tensions and sibling rivalries within her family, and free from the sorrow that had pierced her heart like a sword.
We too can all have this same freedom. If we are living in Christ, living in His power, putting on the clothes of righteousness, and letting go of all the burdens and weighty burdens we carry, we can experience freedom as Mary did: freedom from approval of the world and freedom from the heaviness that comes with carrying everything on our own.
Jesus invites us to drop all the baggage at the foot of the cross that we are carrying in this life. He doesn’t want us to keep trying to carry these burdens alone. If our hands are so full carrying this heavy load, we are not able to reach out to others in need. Worrying about life and all its troubles, not letting go and letting God will interfere with our ability to help others with their troubles. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you are shall be free indeed!

Prayer of Adoration and Praise ©

1 Chronicles 16:8-36

Adoration is the spontaneous yearning of the heart to worship, honour, magnify and bless God.  God wants us to cherish Him, exalt His name, and focus on His goodness.  Adoration involves thanksgiving and praise.  Thanksgiving is giving glory to God for what He has done for us.  Praise is giving glory to God for who He is.  Psalm 35:18 says “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise You.”

Throughout history, praise and thanksgiving was prominent in Jewish worship.  Let’s have a look at 1 Chronicles 16 starting with verse 4.  David appointed different Levite priests to make petitions, give thanks and praise the Lord.  Asaph (a well- known psalmist) was made the chief of praise. The ones who were appointed were to praise God by playing the lyres and harps, Asaph to sound the cymbals, Benaiah and Jahaziel to blow the trumpets regularly.  David wrote a psalm of thanksgiving and gave it to Asaph and his associates to play (verses 8-36).   Look at verses 32-33: “Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!  Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD for He comes to judge the earth.”  Even creation praises the LORD their Creator.

In verse 29 it says to “Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.”  To worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness is a phrase that shows a close link between worship and the holiness of God that must lie at the center of the life of restored Israel and us Christians.

A thank offering was a prominent feature in Jewish worship.  “These are the regulations for the fellowship offering a person may present to the LORD: If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering, he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil. Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving, he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast.  He is to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the LORD: it belongs to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the fellowship offerings” (Leviticus 7:11-14).

There are many scriptures that praise the Lord and invites us to do the same.  We cannot help but to praise the Lord as we read through the book of Psalms.

Another part of adoration is blessing.  Blessing is jubilant praise or in other words praise raised to the highest point.  Psalm 103:1 says “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise the Lord.”

Many translations say “bless the Lord, O my soul.” But notice the words, “with all my inmost being praise the Lord.”  Blessing the Lord allows our whole self to be enveloped in His presence.

St. Augustine says “God thirsts to be thirsted after.”  He desires our praise.  He created us to praise Him.

Praising the Lord may be one of the easiest things we do in prayer, simply because that is how we were created.  However, there are obstacles that can get in the way of adoration.  The first is inattention.  How many times have we missed out on what God is saying to us because we were not listening? Even walking in the sunlight, how often do we miss the simpleness of a butterfly, a bird singing, the trees blowing in the breeze, or even the hum of a bee because we are too busy thinking of everything else?  We have to be careful not to miss out on the blessings of God because we weren’t listening to what He is saying.

The second obstacle is the wrong kind of attention.  We can find ourselves easily giving our attentions elsewhere.  Sometimes it is to our family members, our friends, our careers, our circumstances, etc.  We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not have our attentions drawn elsewhere.

Greed can be an obstacle.  Now this may sound a bit odd.  We know that greed is wrong, that we should not be desiring or trying to gain things for our own selfish desires.  But hear me out.  If we come to God just to receive something and that is the only time we worship, then that is considered greed.  We are coming out of selfish motives.  To truly adore God, we are to set aside ourselves to thank God for all He has done and to praise Him for Who He is.  We must come and worship in spirit and truth.  When our motives are pure, our praise and adoration will be like sweet music to God’s ears.

The last obstacle that may get in the way is conceit.  If things are going well for us, we may forget to worship God.  We may reason that all is good, I am good, life is good, I do not need God.  Sometimes we act as if we are all that and more because we go to church and sing hymns to God.  God looks at the heart, not at how good we can sing, or how wonderful we are to other people. We must come to God with pure motives.

So how do we praise the Lord on a daily basis?  Start simple. Thank God for the butterfly, the sunshine, the humming bee, the warm breeze, etc.  Take time to notice the world around us without analyzing everything.  Enjoy what God has given us and say thank you to Him for those things.  Put praise music on and sing along with the words.  Praise is a great weapon against the enemy!  You would be amazed at the difference it makes in your home when you listen and sing to praise and worship music and hymns.  We can clap, laugh, shout, sing and dance.  All we need to do is celebrate God!

Jesus’ Resurrection

I tried to sleep again last evening, however, I found it so hard to as I was thinking of Jesus being in the cold grave.  I rose early and got my spices and oils together that I had prepared on Friday night.  I, Mary the mother of James and John, Salome and Joanna went to the tomb carrying the spices we had prepared.  We went to anoint his body for proper burial.

As we were walking, we asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away for us?”  The stone was very heavy; it was made of rock.

Suddenly there was an earthquake.  We trembled in fear.  I began to cry again.  I couldn’t help myself, the past three days I did a lot of crying.

When we arrived at the tomb, the stone was rolled away!  There was an angel sitting on the stone whose face shone like lightning and his clothes were as white as snow.  The guards by the grave were lying on the ground.  The angel asked me “Why are you crying?”

“Because I have no idea where my Lord is?”

The angel said to us, “Don’t be afraid!  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.”

I walked into the tomb and sure enough, Jesus was not there! There were two angels sitting in the tomb, one at the foot and one at the head of the slab Jesus had laid on.  The angles said to me whilst I was inside, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here!  Remember what he told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and that he would rise again on the third day?”

I walked out of the tomb and the angel outside, said, “Now, go quickly and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead.  He is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there!”

I was in a daze, full of fear and joy.  I still hadn’t quite processed all has taken place.  All I knew is that Jesus was not in the tomb.  I wondered what had really happened to him.  I turned to leave and saw someone standing there.  He asked me, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was just a gardener I said, “Sir, do you know where Jesus was taken?  If you tell me, I will go and get him.”

“Mary!”  Jesus said.

I recognized that voice!  How beautiful! How wonderful! It was Jesus!  My heart skipped a beat!  I did not know what to say other than “Rabbani, which means teacher.”

I knelt before Jesus and the other ladies with me did as well.  We worshipped him. I finally got to tell him how much I loved him.  I wanted to hug him but he said, “Don’t cling to me for I haven’t ascended to the Father.  Go find my brothers and tell them I will see them.”

We ran back to the disciples in exuberant joy and fear.  We gave them message the angels told us and I said to them, “I have seen the Lord!  He even spoke to me!”

Sadly, the story sounded like nonsense to the disciples, so they didn’t believe it.  Peter however, jumped up and ran to the tomb to find it was empty with just the linen wrappings.  The cloth that covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying separate from the other wrappings.  Peter came back to us wondering what had happened.

In the evening, we were meeting behind locked doors because we were afraid of the Jewish leaders, especially if word got out about Jesus and the empty tomb.

While talking and sharing a meal together, Jesus suddenly appeared to us!

“Peace be with you,” he said.  He showed us with the wounds in his hands and side.  We were filled with joy!  Again, Jesus spoke to us, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

Then Jesus breathed on us and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven.  If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

When Jesus breathed on me, I felt a tingling down my spine. My heart felt it was on fire. I felt like a whole new person. It was as if I had been reborn, made new again. All I wanted to do was shout out in praise!

He stayed talking with us for quite a while.  He left us suddenly as he came in.

I remembered the words Jesus said to Martha before he raised Lazarus from the dead and I share this with you to finish off my journal…

“I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.  Do you believe this?”

I know for sure my Jesus is alive.  He lives and will live forevermore.  The question is, do you believe Jesus is alive?  If yes, then go.  Go and tell others about our amazing friend, Savior and Lord!

For further study:

Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-15; Luke 24:1-13; John 20:1-31


Promise of Comfort

As we sat together thinking over what happened the past couple of days, we chatted about things Jesus taught us.  The one thing that stuck with me is Jesus promised us comfort at the Passover meal.  I needed comfort.  The grief was unbearable.  I did nothing but cry and talk about all Jesus had done.   I shared with everyone what he said.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s house.  If this were not so, would I have told you I was going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you so you will always be with me.  And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Jesus, we have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you know who my Father is.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus answered, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am?  Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!  So why are you asking me to show him to you?”

We all discussed this and agreed we were crazy not to realize Jesus was who he said he was.  Why did we ever doubt him?  And now, he is not with us.  He is dead, in the dark cold grave and his body is not even anointed for burial yet.  We were not able to go after we prepared the spices and oils last night as Passover started and according to law, we are only supposed to rest, not do anything else.  Sadly, Jesus was just laid in the tomb wrapped in a simple linen sheet.

Jesus promised us, “If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask my Father and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit.  The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.  But you know him, because he lives with you now and later, he will be in you.  I will not abandon you as orphans- I will come to you.  Soon the world will not see me, but you will.  When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me and I am in you.”

We then talked about what Jesus said to us before.  He said he will die and be raised back to life in three days.  He promised us he will be back.  We saw men and women raised back to life from the tombs that were shook open yesterday by the earthquake.  Truly if God allowed this to happen, he will raise Jesus back to life.  I do hope so, but, what if he doesn’t?  What will we do?

I couldn’t focus on the possibility of him not coming back.  I continued to share Jesus’s promise with everyone there in the room together.

Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be afraid or troubled.  Remember what I told you:  I am going away, but I will come back to you again.  If you love me, you will be happy that I am going back to the Father, who is greater than I am.  I have told you these things before they happen so when they do, you will believe.”

That’s all we can do.  Believe.

God, we need the peace Jesus promised us.  We want to believe he will rise again like he said but we honestly struggle with our doubts.  Please help our unbelief.  Help us get through today in your peace and comfort.  Amen.

For further study:

John 14

Jesus’ Crucifixion

I didn’t sleep so well despite how exhausted I was from last night.  I heard from one of the disciples that Judas Iscariot hung himself first thing this morning.  I am honestly not surprised.  How could he betray our Master and Friend?  But then again, I am no better, I ran away when they arrested Jesus.

I walked to the center of Jerusalem and I saw a crowd of people gathering.  I decided to join the crowd as I was curious as to what was going on.  We all ended up in front of Pilate’s house.  I saw Mary, Jesus’ mom and Mary the mother of James and John, so I went over to be with them.  I also saw some of the disciples mingling together.  I wondered what all the commotion was about. I understood when I saw Jesus on the balcony of the house.  We made our way to the front of the crowd so we could hear what was going on.

Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews.

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

The leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes.  Pilate asked Jesus if he was going to respond to the accusations.  Jesus said nothing.

Each year during the Passover celebration it was customary to release one prisoner to the crowd, usually anyone they wanted.  This year there was a man named Barabbas.  Barabbas (meaning son of the father) stood next to Jesus in front of us.  Pilate asked everyone, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Barabbas or Jesus?”

While waiting for a response, Pilate sat down on his judgment seat and his wife began talking to him.  While they were talking, the priests and elders were telling the crowd to say “release Barabbas.”

Pilate stood up and asked the people again who they wanted to be released, they all said, “Barabbas!”

Pilate then asked us, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

The crowd shouted, “Crucify him!”

My heart sank. This man is my friend.  He has done nothing wrong.  Why are they shouting to crucify him?  Did they not know that Jesus is truly the Son of God our Father, not Barabbas even though his name suggests that?

Pilate asked them “Why?  What crime did he commit?”

But the crowd continued to shout louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate was very disturbed.  He sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands in front of us saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.  The responsibility is yours!”

People yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death!”

Barabbas was released to the crowd who were rejoicing.  Jesus was sentenced to flogging and crucifixion.

I began to weep.  I could not believe all that happened in the past hours.  I, the other ladies with me and the disciples followed Jesus to the soldier’s headquarters.  There they stripped Jesus, put a purple robe on him, wove thorn branches into a crown and placed it on his head.  They placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter.  They knelt before him mocking him and spitting on him.

They shouted, “Hail! King of the Jews!”

They grabbed the stick and began to hit Jesus on his head.  The crown of thorns was pushed deep into his skull.  They beat him with a lead tipped whip.  We watched as his skin was torn and blood began to pour out from his back, his sides, his legs and his arms.  I struggled watching this brutality.  I didn’t understand why they were doing this.

When they were finished mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put back on his regular clothes and then led him away to be crucified.

We walked behind Jesus and a crowd followed us.  I even saw my neighbor (the one I had problems with) on the side of the road watching as Jesus carried his cross.  Jesus carried it for quite a way but collapsed due to such a great loss of blood.  A man named Simon picked up the cross and carried it for him up to the hill called Golgotha.

When we arrived on the hill, they nailed Jesus to the cross.  I cringed as I heard the sound of the hammer and watching the nails go into his hands and feet.

Jesus winced in pain but said nothing.

When they rose the cross up, we saw a sign they placed above Jesus’ head; it said “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” in different languages.  There were two other people being crucified beside Jesus.

While Jesus was on the cross, people who were around us were shouting abuse, shaking their heads at him.  They said, “Ha!  Look at you now!  Well, then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The leading priests and rabbis also mocked Jesus, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself!  Let this Messiah come down from the cross so we can see and believe him!”

Jesus just looked at them with love and compassion in his eyes and said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

But the crowds just continued mocking Jesus, “He saved others, let him save himself, if he really is God’s Messiah, the chosen one.”

The soldiers shouted, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

One of the criminals next to Jesus laughed at him saying, “So, you’re the Messiah, are you?  Prove it by saving yourself and us too!”

The other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to death.  We deserve our punishment, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he looked at Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus said to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

From noon until 3 o’clock, a great darkness covered the land.  At about 3 p.m.  Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus shouted, “Father I entrust my spirit into your hands.”

Then he said, “It is finished!”

Jesus bowed his head. I heard the last gasp of air. Jesus died.

I just broke down in tears.

The earth shook, tombs opened up and bodies of godly men and women who had died rose from the dead!  The Roman officer and the other soldiers were terrified and said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

Inside I was shouting at these people, “Why? You heard his teachings, you saw miracles, but you still didn’t believe.  He showed nothing but love and compassion for everyone.  And what do you do, you have him crucified!”

The crowds began to disperse, people walked back towards their home.  The neighbor I told you about was standing there with tears in his eyes.  He left with his head down.  Who knows, maybe he will truly believe Jesus is the Messiah and our God is the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I stayed behind with the other ladies watching as they broke the legs of the criminals beside Jesus.  It was customary for them to do this so people would die quicker.  It was just before the Sabbath.  When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead.  I held on to Mary, Jesus’ mother’s arm as they pierced his side with a spear.  Immediately blood and water flowed out.

Mary, the mother of James and John, John, and I held onto Jesus’ mother.  We all just hugged each other weeping.  Words cannot even begin to describe the grief we felt.  Our souls were in anguish.

Joseph, a wealthy man from Arimathea came to take the body down from the cross.  He wrapped Jesus in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. We walked with Joseph and watched as he placed Jesus’ body in his own tomb near the hill where Jesus died.  Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance of the tomb.

We stood there for what seemed like hours.  Then we turned to go to our homes.  I went with Mary, the mother of James and John and we prepared spices and ointments to anoint Jesus’ body.  But by the time we were finished, the Sabbath had begun.

We could do nothing until sundown Saturday night, early hours of Sunday morning.  All we could do now is rest.  There were so many things that were going through my mind.  I was still exhausted, but there was no way I could sleep.

The thing that bothered me the most was even though I knew Jesus said he was going to die, I never thought it would really happen.  I also never got to tell Jesus I loved him.  Mary of Bethany was able to at Simon’s house. I am so grateful for all he did for me.  I am a totally different person since I met him.  I love Jesus and he did as he said at the Passover meal, he laid down his life for me.  He is truly my friend and I am his. I just wish I could have told him how much he means to me.

For further study: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19

The Passover/Gethsemane

Today is Thursday, which began like any other day, except today we were preparing ourselves for our traditional Passover meal.
The disciples asked Jesus, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
Jesus answered, “Go into the city, you will see a certain man carrying a pitcher of water. Tell him ‘The Teacher says, ‘My time has come and I will eat the Passover meal at your house.’”
We all went to prepare the Passover meal in this man’s house upstairs in a large room which was already set for the meal. I and the other ladies with me washed the vegetables and put everything on the table ready for the meal. The items which needed to be cooked such as the matzah bread (it has no yeast) was done a few days ahead of time. All we needed to do is put the food out.
Before the meal, Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash our feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. I felt odd as he did this as it should have been one of the servants who washed our feet before the meal.
Jesus came to Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
Peter protested, “No! You will never wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
Peter then said, “Then wash my hands and head as well, not just my feet!”
Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.”
After washing our feet, Jesus put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me teacher, which is correct. I am your teacher. Because I have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. No one is more important than the other. God will bless you for doing this.”
The time for the meal came. Jesus reclined at the table with us. As we were eating our meal, Jesus looks at everyone with a serious look and says, “One of you will betray me.”
We were all disturbed. Why would anyone want to betray Jesus? We knew the Pharisees wanted to have him killed. I couldn’t believe someone in our small group would want to hurt Jesus. We all asked Jesus, “Am I the one, Lord?”
Jesus said to us, ‘One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man must die as the Scriptures say. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him.
Judas Iscariot asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”
Jesus told him, “You have said it.”
We all looked at Judas with a disgusted and hurtful look. We knew he took money from us but then to betray Jesus, how dare he! The meal was a bit tense after this revelation.
As we ate, Jesus took the matzah (a type of bread) and blessed it. He broke it and gave it to us saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
I remembered as I ate the piece of matzah Jesus’ words “I am the bread of life. Eat of my flesh and you will never go hungry again.”
And then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He gave it to us to pass around the table to drink from it. “This is my blood which confirms the covenant between God and his people. This blood is a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”
We drank the wine and I remembered Jesus’ words, “I am the Living Water, drink from me and you will never thirst again.” Jesus told us we were to drink of his blood to have eternal life.
The Passover meal was always special. It was a time where we remembered the journey of our ancestors out of Egypt. The matzah represented the unleavened bread (without yeast) they made in haste to prepare to leave. The lamb and the wine represented the blood that was placed on the doorframes of every house on the dreadful night when the firstborns were killed. As we went through the meal, we shared this victorious escape and give thanks to God for his provision and love for his people.
At the end of the meal, we sang a hymn together and went to the Mount of Olives to the olive grove. Jesus told us to sit in the grove while he went to pray further up the hill. He took Peter, James and John (they were his closest friends) towards the top. Jesus looked rather worried and concerned. I did not know why, but I knew he was quite anxious.
Whilst Jesus prayed, we fell asleep. After the beautiful meal we had, we were full and after the glasses of wine, we were rather tired. So, we just rested and the next thing we knew we were asleep.
Jesus came back to us later and said to us with a very disturbed voice, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s be going. My betrayer is here! Pray!”
We jumped up onto our feet in a daze. The next thing we saw was Judas Iscariot with a crowd of men with swords and clubs. Judas went up to Jesus. “Greetings Rabbi!” he said and gave him a kiss.
Jesus said to him, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”
I thought to myself, “Friend? Friend? Jesus did you really call Judas a friend? He is betraying you into the hands of the Pharisees. Do you know what you are doing?”
The other men with Judas grabbed Jesus and arrested him. Peter was so angry about this, he grabbed a sword and struck one of the men (Malchus who is a slave of the high priest) slashing off his ear.
“Put away your sword! Don’t you realize I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us and they would be sent? In order for Scripture to be fulfilled this must happen.”
Jesus then healed Malchus’ ear.
Jesus asked, “Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But this is what is to happen according to the Scriptures.”
When Jesus was arrested and taken away, we all ran in different directions. I couldn’t bear to watch what they were doing to Jesus. Yes, I am a coward. I should have stood up for Jesus. I should have said something, telling the men to leave him alone. But I didn’t. It was as if I couldn’t speak.
I felt awful. I just sat down on the side of the road crying myself to sleep. I cannot believe I just ran away and did nothing. My heart is broken. I am angry. I am sad. I am exhausted…
For further study:
Matthew 26:17-30, 36-40; Mark 14:12-26, 32-42; Luke 22:7-20; 39-46; John 13:1-38; 18:1-11

Jesus is the Vine

Jesus teaches us that we are like the vineyards.  He is the vine; his Father is the gardener and we are the branches.  He says to us, “My Father cuts off every branch that does not produce fruit and prunes the branches that bear fruit so they can produce more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me and I will remain in you.  You cannot produce fruit if you are away from me.”

He continued, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me, you will bear much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing.  Those who do not remain in me will be thrown away like a useless branch.  These branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But, if you remain in me and my words in you, you may ask for anything and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.  This brings great glory to the Father.”

As he was saying this, I remembered my neighbor (the nice one on the other side of us) who has a small vineyard.  I understood the work involved with the pruning process.  My brothers and I used to run around the vineyard in the spring.  We loved going up and down the rows.  Every spring he went out to cultivate the vines and prune them. In the middle of the summer he got rid of the bad vines and took time to burn them.  Near the end of summer, the grapes were ready to be picked.  Some were sold in the local street market and others were saved to make wine.  I watched the process happen year after year since I was a little girl.

I imagined being a branch connected to the vine taking in all the nutrients.  I have been listening to all Jesus has been teaching and soaking everything in like a sponge.  I pray my life shows this by my attitude, words and actions.

Jesus continued sharing with us.  “I have loved you as my Father loves me.  Remain in my love; obey my commandments.  I have told you these things so you shall be filled with joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than laying down your life for a friend.  You are my friends.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.  You are my friends.  I have told you what the Father has told me.  You didn’t choose me.  I chose you!

“I appointed you to produce fruit; whatever you ask in my name, my Father will give you.  My commandment is simple:  love each other.”

My heart leaped for joy.  I am loved by Jesus.  The greatest thing he has taught me throughout these years with him is love.  Jesus loves everyone.  He doesn’t care if you are a prostitute, a liar, a cheater, a tax collector, an outcast, ill, or even rich.  Jesus loves you!

And then to be called “friend.”  I am a friend of Jesus’ not just a follower!  He calls me a friend because I have listened to his teachings and followed him all this time.  I am amazed at his love and grace.

I pray that I will bear much fruit for Jesus.  I pray that others will see his love radiating in and through me.  I want everyone to know how much they are loved.  I don’t want them to miss the point and only look for his miracles but be a true friend of his.

Jesus concluded this time of conversation with us by warning us we were going to be hated by the world because we are his.  He said anyone who hates him hates God.  He told us he will send an Advocate- the Spirit of truth.  We are to testify to others about him because we have been with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry.

People already hate Jesus.  He isn’t what they want. They want a king to save them from the rulership of Rome and Caesar.  They want things from his hand, not his heart.  They do not want to take his teachings to heart and try to live pure and holy lives.  If they hate him, I am not surprised they will hate us as well.

I pray that I not only love others as Jesus does but I will be able to tell others about how wonderful he is.  I want to tell them all he has done in my life.  I think my neighbor (the one who always scorns us) is one of the first people I should talk to.  I will have to pray about what to say and how to do so when the time is right.

For further study:

John 15:1-17