Happy Easter! He has risen, He has risen indeed! We have finally arrived at this glorious day! There is so much to say about the scripture for the day, but the best thing to do is come on over to the church and experience the Resurrection message in person!
If you are reading this early enough, we would love to see you at our Sunrise service at 7 am. If not, 9:00 or 10:30 am will be excellent as well. See you soon!
Loida, Jim and Kristyne
We are almost to the end of our study. We have one more day left, Easter Sunday. A lot can happen in 3 days and we are about to remember that. I hope to see you at our Good Friday Service today at noon and then again at one of our Easter Services. It is important for us to appreciate Good Friday and Easter, we cannot have one without the other.
So What Activity: Join us at our Good Friday service today at noon. A lot can happen in 3 days and we need to experience it all.
Read Today’s Passage – Mark 14
When we were in the Holy Land a few years ago, we saw many neat things; in fact, we saw awesome things from almost sun up to sundown. It was a whirlwind of a trip and so much fun. The trip ended in Jerusalem, and I have to tell you that we were a little on the sleepy side by the time we got there. On the day we were going to see the Garden of Gethsemane, we were exhausted, so tired that almost the whole bus had a hard time staying awake. As the bus driver drove us to our destination and our tour guide talked to us about Jesus in the garden. We all started to drift off to sleep one by one. The tour guide would then wake us up and give us a hard time, and we would try to stay awake, but quickly, we would doze back off. When we finally got off the bus at the garden, we all talked about how if we couldn’t stay awake and all we had been doing was taking a tour of the Holy Land, how much harder it must have been for the disciples. They were experiencing so much in those final days, so much in that final eventing. They truly experienced a movement from peace to chaos.
As we walked through the garden, we saw many olive trees and considered Jesus praying in the garden. Then we came to one place where rocks were spelling out the word peace. Without Jesus, there is no peace, but with Jesus, we have peace. In the Gospel of John, Jesus comforts his disciples at the Last Supper with words about peace; he says… “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 troubled or afraid.” The next few days would be trouble and fear for the disciples, but soon, that would all be in the past.
- Have you ever had a hard time keeping the peace of Jesus in your life?
- Have you ever found it easier to “fall asleep” than to pay attention to what is happening around you with your faith?
So What Activity: Plan now to attend Good Friday services at noon on Friday and one of our Easter Services. Peace will fade for a moment on Good Friday, but soon it will all be in the past.
Have you ever known people who are obsessed with figuring out the end times? They study it, they calculate this way or that way? I’ve known people that draw charts and numbers that can apparently point us to when the end time will come. I admire these folks, but I also find it interesting that in today’s scripture Jesus specifically says, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (v.32) So, if Jesus said that, why would I spend all my energy trying to figure it out? I can understand though that we want to know. We want to know things. Instead, Jesus calls us to trust and to walk always expectant of his second coming. The hope of the believer is that the Son of God will return and make all things right. We hang on to that promise even as we look back and remember the events of the last week of Jesus’s life. Be on the lookout! God is at work!
- Have you ever had to wait patiently for something? How did you remain perseverant in your waiting?
- Any thoughts on why Jesus took the time to share about the end times with the disciples?
So What Activity:
Today, if you have not invited someone to Easter service, think of someone. Pray about it and then give them a call.
Read today’s passage. – Mark 12
When I think about “how” to learn to love people, I know there are many ways to accomplish this. One of the ways I started to widen my circle of people to love was to begin thinking about people I didn’t know and what they might need. This can be accomplished in many ways, but one of the ways that I have found very successful is always to give when asked. One day, I decided to start donating to whatever charity asked for a donation. For example, if I am checking out at Publix and they ask for money for “such and such” charity, I donate. If I walk out the door and someone is collecting money, I drop some in the bucket. If I am checking out online and it gives me the option to round up for a charity, I do it. I even give to people on the street who ask me for money. I decided in those cases that it wasn’t up to me to judge their circumstances or what they might do with the money I gave them.
Part of the reason I decided to always say yes to giving was that, quite frankly, I love my money a lot. I think if we are all honest, we all do. It is easy for us to hold onto our money and want to use it to “love” ourselves. But we are to love our others just as much as we love ourselves. So, giving is an act of loving others as I would like to love myself. If I needed something, I would give it to myself, so I give to others if they ask. It is a discipline to give away and to do it with love.
- In what ways do you love the people around you?
- Why is it sometimes challenging to love people?
So What Activity: Participate in an act of kindness today, out in the community, to help spread love.
I grew up in a church that celebrated Palm Sunday and then jumped to Easter Sunday. We would sing songs of Jesus’ triumphal entry, wave palms, talk about the Messiah entering Jerusalem and then seem to take a time warp and jump immediately to the Resurrection. When I finally became part of a community that went through the whole week everything changed. For the first time I walked with Christ through the last supper with His friends, witnessed his pain and doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane and then watched as Judas betrayed Him. I experienced the sorrow of the trial and crucifixion and even found myself weeping over the loss of our Lord. When we finally came to Easter Sunday the celebration took on a new and more powerful meaning.
Today we begin the walk… we start the journey of the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb coming to be crucified for our salvation. I encourage you to not miss the week. Take time to read the daily devotional, come and witness the Living Last Supper and then go through the darkness of Good Friday. When you finally come to our Easter Celebration next weekend it will truly be a time of praise and joy as we celebrate the Risen Savior.
- Think about why the people welcomed Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem and within a few days were screaming, “Crucify Him!” What would cause the people to change so quickly?
- Now, imagine Jesus coming into our town and our church. Think about your own life. How would you react to Jesus? Would you be like the people of Israel? Would you welcome this man who would challenge your ideas and assumptions or would you yell, “Crucify him?”
So What Activity:
If you haven’t done so, take time to set your calendar to attend the services this Wednesday at 6:00 pm and Friday at 12:00 noon. Then think about some neighbors or friends that you can invite to church this coming weekend and make a plan on how you will invite them.
Today, my video is a little longer than usual. So, I will keep my words short. It has been great to be with you this week walking through the gospel of Mark. As disciples we walk with Jesus, we learn from him, and we watch in awe his love and compassion. Today, though, he once again reminds his disciples, “Listen, he said, we’re going up to Jerusalem…” (v.33) Now, they had gone to Jerusalem before, but this time Jesus is certain that the time has come to lay down his life. All of us may have concerns that might discourage us in our lives. I think the disciples found comfort that Jesus was going with them. In the same manner, whatever situation you might be facing, personal or within your family, loss of a friend or family member, or whatever situation; Jesus still walks with us. Read Chapter 10 today and observe the way Jesus encourages his disciples to continue in the journey.
- What has been difficult in your journey this year?
- What holds the highest priority in your heart? Are you willing to surrender that priority to Jesus?
So What Activity:
Today, make a list of your “treasures” and then in an act of faith, write at the bottom of the list: “I give Jesus total ownership and authority over my treasures.” Now, go and walk in peace.
One of my favorite vacations I took as a child was a 10-hour trip up in the mountains of Honduras to see the birth of a river. All of us five siblings and my parents piled up into a van for this long trip. It was a hassle. Someone had to go the bathroom, someone hit me, someone fell asleep on my shoulder. It was torture. But when we got there… all of us were amazed at the beauty of the place. There was water, tons of water, falling from a tall rock formation into a somewhat shallow pool which then extended into windy turn downward. The water was crystal clear, though a little cold, and we could swim in the shallow end. We had such a great time. All of us kids wanted to build a tent and live there for the rest of our lives. Of course, we had to come back to school, how boring! In today’s scripture reading Peter, James, and John, experience Jesus as the Son of God. It is commonly called, “The Transfiguration.” They went up into a mountain and saw Jesus glorified. Peter had no words, so he blurted out what came to his mind, “let us build a tent,” but before he could finish, another voice from heaven said, “This is my son, listen to him.” In other words, “be quiet Peter! Just observe.” I can understand Peter wanting to stay longer. There is something that pulls us simple humans to the grandeur of God and his creation. Today, as you continue reading Mark 9, you will also observe Jesus as God, yet Jesus humbly continues to teach his disciples about the Kingdom of God.
- Do you recall being in a place or with people that you were in awe of God? What was your reaction? What did you do?
- What amazes you about God? Can you write it down in a sentence or two?
So What Activity: Today is Thursday. Look up the different names given to God in the Bible and make a list of those names.
So, I learned about easter eggs, the easter bunny, and easter candy when I came to the United States. I was so confused. We had celebrated Holy Week all my life, but never had Easter Eggs. I have grown to love painting the eggs and getting candy but still can’t find the relationship with that of celebrating the last week of Jesus life! People have tried to explain about the empty eggs and the empty tomb. It is a stretch. However, we are going into that week when we focus on, and we remember Jesus’ last week on earth. I imagine the disciples were puzzled. Mark chapter 8 describes a Jesus in action: healing, teaching, and challenging people’s understanding of God’s kingdom. Yet he begins to share with his disciples how the Messiah had come not to restore Israel’s kingdom on earth, but to actually lay down his life for the salvation of the world. The disciples resented this. This was their master and their rabbi, and they wanted earthly success for him. Grief filled their hearts. Jesus used words of comfort to explain and in vs. 35 he asked an astounding question, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Jesus had a spiritual mindset. He had come as a Messiah to bring about God’s kingdom on earth, but it is not a kingdom of rulers, powers, and success. It is a kingdom of humility, surrender, and service. The disciples began to grieve the death of a dream, but also the death of a friend.
- Have you experienced grief lately or do you know someone who has? Where do you find comfort? Are you able to share comfort with others?
- Have you found that Jesus has not met your expectations? Maybe it is time to measure those expectations against God’s idea of Kingdom living instead of earthly living.
So What Activity:
Think of those who are grieving today. Pray for them. If you know someone in your family or neighborhood that is grieving, write them a card and give them a call. You don’t have to have the “right words,” just tell them you love them.