Friday, April 29, 2011

Born to Die

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 (NIV)

When you hold a precious little bundle of joy in your arms for the first time many thoughts run through your mind. Will you be a good parent? What will this child grow up to be? What are God plans for my child? The list goes on. The last thing on your mind is your child being born to die.

I can only wonder when Mary held Jesus in her arms for the first time if she knew He would give His life for a fallen world. That His purpose was to die. Would she try to influence Jesus, change His mind or protect Him?
We know that Mary was obedient to carry Jesus in her womb for nine months. Yet we may know little about how He was raised. God's laws and traditions dictated Joseph and Mary's parenting. Whatever plans they had for Jesus were overridden by God the Father.

Jesus was born to die for a world lost in sin and hopelessness. From the first second of conception to His last minutes on the cross, Jesus' purpose was fulfilled when He returned to the waiting arms of His true father.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Your Son. As your child help me to fulfill Your purpose in my life just as Jesus fulfilled His.© 2011 Dawn M Sexton

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christmas to Easter

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

Christmas is a wonderful time of year! People seem happy looking for the perfect gift for that special someone. I love giving gifts and watching the faces of my love ones, even more my grandchildren ripping and tearing at their boxes full of goodies. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year!

On December 26th something is missing. Christmas day family’s celebrated singing carols and eating food with relatives and friends. I have that feeling of love and happiness all year, because Jesus is the reason for all seasons.

Jesus came as a small package and was the greatest gift. The angels brought the good news to shepherds in their fields. After they saw the baby they returned to the fields glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.

From a baby in a manger to a man on the cross, Christmas to Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the beginning of man’s complete reconciliation with God.

When I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus died for my sins and that God raised Him from the dead, I received the gift of eternal life. That is the greatest Christmas gift I ever received. Sharing the good news with my family and others who cross my path, is the greatest gift I can give to another. Priceless!

Father, Help me to recognize the full meaning of the journey from the manger to Christ’s resurrection.

©2011 Marcella Panowicz

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Universal Donor

This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)

Drip...drip...drip. I watched, fascinated, as blood siphoned from my arm through a plastic tube and emptied into a waiting bag. Precise markings identified donor, blood type, and date. Just qualifying to donate had been a chore. It didn’t matter that I had previously given. I answered the myriad questions designed to weed out unsuitable candidates.

I have never thought much about blood, but I was in a pensive mood as mine dripped away. Would it save someone? My mind wandered to Easter. What about Christ’s blood?

Most people have heard that blood types must match to be compatible for transfusions. One blood type, however, can be given to anyone. People with O negative blood are called universal donors.

That’s what Christ is for us. We cannot save ourselves or anyone else because sin taints our blood. Christ was tempted in every way, yet without sin. And that is the point. He did not sin. He is the universal donor of all the ages. He answered all of God’s requirements, and He is the only one qualified to save. Our Savior gave His own perfect blood, not contaminated by sin, and infused us with His righteousness in a supernatural transfusion.

My blood may save a life someday, but only Christ can save a soul. When we were dead in our sins, Christ died for us. He quickened our spirits, and gave us a chance to live again. Thank God for His gift of salvation! Precious blood now courses through our veins, calling us to live life more abundantly.

Jesus, You have given us the gift of life. We remember how much it cost with grateful and loving hearts.

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is Easter Unique?

…and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:4 (NIV)

I had an interesting conversation with an elderly Jewish woman. She shared with me that she celebrated Christmas with her children and grandchildren. “Why not?” she asked. “Decorated trees, a man in a red suit, presents for everyone and a poor baby in a barn. Nothing wrong with that.” Evidently, the meaning of Christmas and the true identity of the “poor baby in the barn” was not threatening enough to her to deny the joys of Christmas to her family.

It made sense I thought. It would be difficult to live in America no matter what religious beliefs one follows without giving in to some yuletide traditions during the much-celebrated Christmas season.

“What about Easter?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said. “My family has nothing to do with that holiday. Christmas is secular. But, Easter is another story. No other religion in the world claims to have as its leader a god who came back to life. Without Easter there is no Christianity.”

My Jewish friend did not quite have a complete view of Christian theology, but she did have a good point. I must admit, I never thought about Easter in exactly that way. Jesus Christ gave His life as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. He rose triumphantly making eternal life a reality for each person who believes and gives their life to Him.

She is correct! No other “religion” can make that claim.

My dear Lord and Savior, thank You for the twin blessings of Your death for us and Your resurrection for us.

© Christy Struben 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out .... “My God, My God, why have you Forsaken Me?” Mark 15:33-34 (NKJV)

One black, moonless night In Utah, I attended a social event in a hilltop house. Last to arrive and last to leave, I stepped out into a silhouette of Hades …. no street lights, no car lights, no stars.

Falling was not an attractive thought, so with arms stretched out, and feet edging along the side of the road, I avoided thinking about snakes, tarantulas, and wild animals by remembering the Lord’s promise of never leaving us. That assurance, and the knowledge that the car was nearby averted panic.

Looking back, I know my feelings were minimal in comparison with what Jesus felt while on the cross between noon and three p.m. The physical and metaphorical gloom of that ominous solar eclipse did not equal the isolation, abandonment and despair revealed by His words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Unable to sense the Father’s presence, Jesus headed into a trial of black nothingness. He had to have known that the Lord was there, but His experience of separation was more intense than that of anyone else who has ever lived. Christ is the only one ever forsaken by God. On earth, it is the other way around. People forsake God.

Because Christ endured the separation, took our punishment of being cast into outer darkness, we can claim the Lord’s promise of never leaving us. Resurrection frees us from darkness.

Lord, I praise you for loving us and for saving us from eternal darkness. Amen.

© V. Colclasure 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter No-See-Ums

These things I have spoken to you, That in Me you may have peace, In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NASB

As we stood under elegant live oaks draped with Spanish Moss, morning dew dripped from the curly tendrils. A mist hung over the Ashley River as a slight breeze stirred its marshy aroma. The scene was ethereal as we gathered in hushed expectation for the Easter sunrise service to begin.

This was my first Easter after being saved and our first since moving to Charleston, South Carolina. Everything felt new and perfect. My heart was bursting with gratefulness, as I contemplated what Jesus had done for me. On a morning such as this, so many years before, He arose, defeating death and the power of sin over me! Life was definitely looking up, just like the sun barely breaking the horizon across the river. Ahhh, peacefulness.

Ouch! Suddenly, I felt a sharp sting on my ankle. As I bent to rub it, another smarted on my neck, and then in the part of my hair. My husband was also under attack. Looking around, we seemed to be the only ones distracted by the sharp bites of something that appeared to be invisible.

After the service, a couple walking beside us explained the mystery: tiny insects that Charlestonians referred to as “no-see-ums,” for obvious reasons. Locals knew to prepare beforehand by applying a certain repellant to prevent being bitten.

Satan is watchful for opportunities to steal our peace. Jesus said we will have tribulation; not maybe, but will. The cure? Pray and take courage in Him. He has overcome the world by providing forgiveness through His death and resurrection.

Praise God, Jesus arose! AMEN!

© Bonnie M. Evans 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Crack

…forgive your brother from the heart. Matthew 18:35b (NIV)

Imagine yourself living in a beautiful house. Upon looking out the front window, you see Christ walking up the flower-lined sidewalk to the front door. Your welcoming arms invite Him to come in. As the two of you walk down the center hallway, He sees the beautifully decorated rooms. At the end of the hall is a closed door. He asks to see the room. Reluctantly you open the door and enter a cluttered, trashed room. Christ sees the trap door in the floor and asks to go down into the basement. You hesitate.

A huge crack runs from the base to the top of the foundation. Christ reveals a strong wooden cross extending the length of the house with the cross beam supporting the structure above. The wooden beam also holds together the cracked foundation.

This vision captured my heart. It brought me to an understanding of Christ holding my foundation together and fully forgiving me from the cross. A month after this exercise at a seminar, I visited my daughter’s church. As I am walked through the halls, the same vision of the cross in my perpetrator’s basement was very clear to me. I needed to forgive someone for a past sin of 40 years ago. Christ died on the cross for him, too. Later that morning the sermon dealt with forgiving your brother seventy times seven from Matthew 18:21-35.

Only the cross could have given me the peace and freedom that I now live. My foundation is secure because Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin.

Dear Lord, help us to forgive others and live the lives You intended for us.

© 2011 Mary Burkey

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Easter Pageant

Dear Friends...I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3b (NIV)

Years ago, a local church presented an Easter pageant. My husband and I attended, along with my daughter and son-in-law and my mother. Mother sat on the end seat next to the aisle. When Pontius Pilate washed his hands and the crowds cried out "Crucify him!" there wasn't a dry eye in the auditorium.

Mother was completely engrossed in the play as the soldiers marched a beaten and bloodied Jesus down the aisle and up to Golgotha's hill. As the last solider passed, Mother reached out and smacked his shoulder with her umbrella. The soldier turned around, surprised. She realized then what she had done and, embarrassed, she ducked her head, shielding her face with her hand.

The suffering of Jesus was very real to Mother, and she had forgotten momentarily that this was a play. She was defending Jesus, her Savior.

As Christians, we should be ready to defend our faith in Jesus too. He willingly sacrificed His life on the cross. What He did for us deserves defending.

Lord Jesus, may the Easter memorial remind us of Your sacrifice for us. We thank You for the joy of Your resurrection and the one to come for all mankind. Amen.

© 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yes, Lord

Ye shall find a colt ..... bring him. And if anyone say unto you, Why do ye this? Say ye, The Lord hath need of him. (Mark 11:2b-3a ASV)

On Palm Sunday the Lord sent his disciples to find a donkey. If questioned, they were to reply, “The Lord has need of him.” There are two odd aspects to Jesus’ request.

First, why would the Lord need anything? He once directed a fish to deliver a coin to Peter. He could have had an animal walk in from the hills. Second, would I hand over my car to strangers just because somebody said, “The Lord needs it?” Why did these people hand over their animal?

Answering the second question is fairly easy. The colt’s owners probably knew about Jesus and recognized the disciples. Their trust in Jesus allowed them to place the colt into the care of the Lord’s followers.

Actually, this answer solves the first question. The Lord didn’t need to borrow the colt, but He did need to give believers opportunity to be a part of the kingdom, to demonstrate trust in Him. The Lord could send ravens with food to every hungry person. Instead He asks us to give it. He helps hurting people, but also provides parents, friends, or fellow believers to advise, encourage or help them. Just as He appeared to Paul, the Lord could appear to each individual, but He asks us to teach and baptize others.

I wonder about those nameless owners of the colt. Did they stand on the wayside and joyfully wave palm branches? How grateful they must have been to have had a special part in the joy and acclamation of Palm Sunday!

May I also have the opportunity and joy of saying “yes” to You. Amen.

© 2011 V. Colclasure

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. Matthew 26:26b (KJV)

“Here you go,” my husband murmured, passing the communion tray to me. I thanked him and took the nestled cups; juice in the top, cracker in the bottom. The tray continued its journey down the row, and I settled back to remember our Lord’s sacrifice. I closed my eyes. The piano’s melody washed over me, and my heart welled in praise for redemption. Who was I that God had been mindful of me?

Prepared to take the elements, I pulled the cups apart to get the cracker. It fell into my hand in several tiny pieces. Annoyed that someone had crushed it, my sense of God’s presence followed the communion plate down the row. But I could not escape His voice.

“Do you not see that My body was broken?”

Tears stung my eyes as I looked at the little broken wafer in my hand. The fragments were no longer an annoyance; they represented the cruel death of my Savior. Being broken was neither convenient nor pretty. It disfigured and demanded pain—pain that would have been ours had He not taken it upon Himself.

Nibbling thankfully on each miniscule piece, I settled back to remember our Lord’s sacrifice. I closed my eyes. The piano’s melody washed over me, and my heart welled in praise for redemption. Who was I that God had been mindful of me?

Father, we cannot fathom the pain You must have felt as Your Son was broken for our sin. We are grateful that You loved us so. Open our eyes daily to see Your love, and help us to walk in that love as Your dear children.

© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, April 8, 2011

Healing Treasures

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24b-25 (NIV).

In recent months, the Lord has brought to my attention some poor choices in my life. Some TV shows may not be the best options for me as a Christian. At the end of a long, stressful work day exhaustion often prompts excuses: I want to relax and enjoy watching how they solve the mystery. I really need this treat because it comforts me or, I am lonely and deserve this pizza.

Many people in the Christian community use these same excuses, so they will find common ground with mine. But what does God think?

We get a clue when Jesus says that those who come after Him must deny themselves. Learning to deny myself will give me courage to obey God’s call. Deciding to ignore the TV will give me more time to read, write and pursue neglected sewing or craft projects. If I choose to eat good food, my health will improve. Better choices in my life will open doors of healing from the Lord and wonderful treasures from His hand. And out of death will come life.

Oh, Lord, I want to accept from Your healing hand the beautiful treasures You have for me in this life. Strengthen me to deny myself and take up Your cross as I choose to follow You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Joke's on You!

And you...hath he quickened together with him...blotting out the handwriting...that was against us...and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them....
Colossians 2:13 15 (KJV)

Well, Devil, I guess now’s as good a time as any to let you in on the little joke. I don’t know how you missed it for so long, but we’ll chalk it up to pride.

So here’s the thing. Remember tempting Adam and Eve in the garden? I suppose you had the upper hand then, huh? But there were hints, even way back then. First a riddle, that He would crush your head and you would bruise His heel. Then a clue: God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins.

In hindsight, do you see it? You must not, because day in and day out for the last six thousand years or so, you have tried to make us fall short before God. But you know what? It’s a funny thing about those animal skins. They required bloodshed. You know what else? Those skins covered their nakedness.

Okay, okay, I’ll spell it out. Sure, you got Adam and Eve to sin—plus a bonus! All their descendants inherited sinful natures. I agree: it looks bleak if you stop there, but fast-forward to a little place called “Calvary.” Christ shed His own blood (infinitely more effectual than that of animals’) to pay for our sin. I guess He gave us His own skin, too, because He calls us His Body.

Oh, I almost forgot. The “bonus?” Our sinful state qualifies us to receive grace and inherit His righteous nature. Good one, huh?

Dear Jesus, help us to share the joke with everyone we know!

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller