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May 5, 2022

We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Luke 24:21 

On the day of Easter, two companions are making a journey away from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. It is a sad journey, evidenced in the tone of their thoughts and conversation. They spoke of the things that had taken place in these days. But it is all framed in despair: “we had hoped….” They did not hope now, now that Jesus was dead. All of this is brought into the light of day by the Stranger who walks with them. 

 Sometimes we, too, are caught in the sad stories in our reflection of the things that have happened. We may want to move away from them, but the sadness and despair are constant companions. And we may fail to see or to admit how deeply we are affected by it all. But we do not make our journeys alone. The Stranger, who hears the story of our lives, joins our lives with his. And when our hearts are burning with his promise, we go back to share the joy. 
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

May 04, 2022

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46 

The worst nightmare to a young child is being abandoned by his or her parents. It can also be a burden to those whose parents or partner have died or left them later in life. It can be a significant burden for those who have been shut out, shut up behind prison doors or shut in to nursing homes. Being abandoned is never pleasant. We may try to put up a stiff upper lip, but the nagging despair of forsakenness is still with us in our minds, hearts and bodies. 

Jesus faced the harshest scar when he was dying on the cross. He had already been abandoned by those who wanted him crucified. He had already been betrayed and abandoned by his disciples. But now he was abandoned by his Father, the very One whose mission he was seeking to fulfill. There was no answer from the heavens. But one thing was certain. Jesus was and is still with all of us in every moment of time when we are abandoned—even when the truth of our abandonment is exposed. But as people of the promise, we also know that this will not be the last word.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

May 03, 2022

for fear of the Jews … John 20:19 

We like to put names on the things we fear. We like to blame them for our troubles. We might even make expressions under our breath or out loud that are insensitive to the race, gender, orientation or views of others. We’ve never really taken the time to get to know them. We may even be going along with the crowd, like those who cried out for our Lord’s crucifixion. And worst of all, we may even think we are justified in being this way. 

But we aren’t. We are just dwelling in fear. And the truth is, we may have something truly more fearful that we have never really entertained—the fear of death, even death deserved for all our sins, and for the people we have hurt in thought, word and deed. That would be finally frightful were it not for the word that Jesus speaks: “Peace be with you.” Then he shows his scars to free us from the scars of all our fears and death itself.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,
 

April 29, 2022

The doors of the house … were locked … John 20:19 

We do not generally lock doors to keep ourselves in but to keep others out. There are many in our world whom we have locked out because we find them unimportant, uninteresting or offensive to us. We have preconceived notions that they are not to be trusted and convince ourselves so. All of this in the name of “being safe”—and who doesn’t want to be safe? But it is also a clever disguise and denial of our true feelings toward others. What we are unaware of in all of this is how much we have also become locked in to just ourselves. Our hearts become hardened not only to others, but also to God—whose creatures we and all others are. Brothers and sisters are crying for our help, but that thought never enters our mind as we turn the bolt. It would be damning were it not that all barriers—even the barriers of our isolated hearts—are no final obstacle to our risen Lord. Watch for the Stranger!
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

April 28, 2022

When it was evening on that day … John 20:19 

What is it about nightfall that the events of the day—or many days past—come back to us? What is it about these happenings that we can not so easily dismiss or move beyond? The first disciples remembered how Jesus was arrested, tried, beaten and crucified unto death. The funeral was over. They remembered his dead body laid in the tomb and thought it was still there, but it wasn’t. Would those who crucified him seek out them next or seek to hold them accountable for his body’s dis appearance? These were their evening scars. What are our evening scars? What are the thoughts that haunt us and make us toss and turn at night? We often seek to deny them, to put them out of our mind. But have we considered looking at them directly; confessing what it is about them that really troubles us; praying that God will help us in this hour? It was the evening of Easter that the disciples first celebrated in the breaking of bread. God will be present with forgiveness and peace, even as we struggle.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

April 27, 2022

John 6:35  Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty."

Jesus has fed 5,000 men and probably many others who were with them in the area of Tiberias. When He departs for Capernaum, the crowd follows. After all, this is some bargain! We can sense the pounding of their hearts as they feel the beginning of a new time when their meager existence would be enriched with daily bread provided by their new king!

Most of us aren't asking for the world and don't expect to win the Reader's Digest sweepstakes. But our life experience is confined to limits imposed by life and death. So we are weary of throwing our lot in with someone who claims to be "the bread of life." We can taste the food on our table, even if it is only peanut butter. How can we let go and trust Jesus to provide for all our needs, spiritual and material?


 

Jesus tells us that if we let go of our lunch pail we will have a much greater banquiet in store. Still, we take along our sandwiches in case the great wedding feast fizzles. Finally He meets us at the door with the wedding garnent of salvation, and we know that we have to drop everything to put it on. And, miraculously, we do! And we discover the Bread of Life is more than adequate to all our needs.

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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

April 25, 2022

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Occasionally, we see someone in the bleachers at a baseball or football game holding up a sign bearing the Bible reference John 3:16. What is the significance of this verse? Why do we remember it and proclaim it to the world?

It is one of the best remembered and loved verses in the Bible, frequently referred to as the Gospel in a nutshell, because in it we learn of God's entire plan of salvation: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,...." We were helpless to save ourselves and doomed to perish in eternal damnation. But out of God's great love for us, He sent "His one and only Son" to suffer our punishment on the cruel cross. Now, "whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Redemption was completed at Calvary. By God's grace we are saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). In Baptism we are received into fellowship with God.

John 3:16 sums up God's plan for our salvation, and we in turn can use it to witness to a dying world.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

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