Tag Archives: Messiah

An extraORDINARY moment

Photo Courtesy of Corel<br /><br /> (Israel)<br /><br /> (from Bible Photos of the Holy Land - Biblesoft)

Photo Courtesy of Bible Photos of the Holy Land – Biblesoft

ONE-thousand years before Jesus’ birth, a young boy tended sheep in the hills outside a small, practically unknown town called Bethlehem.  He was brave and courageous.  Reputed to have killed lions and bears with his own hands in an effort to protect his flock, David would do anything for those sheep – often putting his own life in harm’s way for them.

It was a typical afternoon, nothing special.  Keeping a keen eye on the sheep, David sat on a rock singing praises and playing his harp.  Suddenly, he heard a frantic voice calling him.

“David! David! Your father needs you to go home immediately.  I’ll watch the sheep for you. You must hurry!”

Without delay, David hustled home, where earlier that afternoon, his father Jesse had paraded his seven older brothers in front of an old prophet named Samuel.  Once the last of the seven was presented, Samuel asked:

“Is this it? Are there no more sons?”

“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”

Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.” 1 Samuel 16:11 (The Message)

When David arrived, out of breath, smelling of sheep mixed with sweat and in need of a bath, he found his father, seven brothers and Samuel anxiously awaiting him.

He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.

God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

 Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching…         1 Samuel 16:12-13 (The Message)

From ordinary hills, outside an ordinary little town, God called an insignificant young shepherd boy – who had been passed over by his own father – to become Israel’s most extraordinary king.

One-thousand years later, God chose these same hills to reveal his most extraordinary good news, this time to a group of ordinary shepherds.

 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened.

But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.

For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!         Luke 2: 9-11 (Amplified)

Perhaps for the first time in their career, these diligent shepherds determined to leave their flock alone, in God’s care.  Following the angel’s instructions they left their posts.

In darkness, they walked through the city gates of Bethlehem in search of the true light of the world.

Let’s Pray:

Most gracious heavenly Father, these passages today remind me how life changes in mere moments.  Life can seem so ordinary and boring, but little do we know you are just waiting for that exact moment to take us on the ride of our life!  Lord, help me today run – not walk – when you call.  Help me to earnestly seek after you – even when it may come with great risk. Amen

Ironing in out:

David ran. The shepherds sought. When God calls us out of the ordinary, to experience the extraordinary, it always requires a response and action.

If God is calling you to something today, what’s stopping you?  What risk frightens the socks off your toes? 

Are you willing to trust him?  David and the shepherds learned first-hand God offers great reward when we submit in humble obedience. What are you missing?

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Filed under advent, Christmas, Hope, Surrender, Trust

Broken

Suggested Reading: Luke 23:26-56

As we move into this holy week remembering the death and celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior,  I wanted to share a meditation centered on Good Friday to help us prepare our hearts.

Photo Credit: Luigi Diamanti

A couple of years ago, my husband and I watched a program on the History Channel about the ancient practice of crucifixion.  I had to turn away several times as the program reenacted impalements and other tortures of our early world.  Although Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” gives us a glimpse, we just can’t begin to imagine – or comprehend – how barbaric crucifixion truly was.  Nor can we fathom the sacrifice and price Jesus paid on our behalf.

The History Channel program, however, had me intrigued as several scholars and medical experts who have studied the ancient practice of crucifixion discussed what they think might have been actually caused Jesus’ death.  The experts reasoned that the multiple tortures he endured (even before crucifixion) could have caused any number of medical conditions resulting in death.

The scourging would have ripped Jesus’ back to shreds, with ribbons of flesh hanging and exposing his ribs.  His kidneys and other internal organs would have been severely bruised.  That experience along would have left him near-death.  But before he ever reached Calvary, the soldiers would have tied a 100 pound cross beam to his outstretched arms.  The distance he would have been expected to carry the cross on his wounded back was about a mile.

At some point early in the journey however, the Gospel writers tell us the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene into service, making him carry the cross for Jesus.  In their analysis, the experts followed a tradition that is NOT reflected in the Gospel recounts, but certainly is plausible:  before Simon picked up the cross, Jesus had fallen (with a 100 pound beam strapped to his back) because of his weakened state.

Roman crucifixion resulted in death anywhere from a few hours to up to several days. Victims would have constantly tried to find some position of comfort or relief, only to have the wounds on their backs reopened and nerves hit by nails sending electrifying pain through their feet, legs, hands and arms every time they moved.

Many died from suffocation, a theory I’ve heard over the years for Christ’s death.  However, these scholars don’t buy it.  The Gospels tell us Jesus called out in a loud voice just before he died — something they say would not be physically possible if he was on the verge of suffocation.

What they believe happened was (according to tradition) when he fell on the Via Dolorosa, the weight of that 100 pound cross beam on his back combined with the impact on the ground would have likely bruised his heart, causing a heart aneurysm.  While on the cross, his heart (beating at least 170 beats per minute) would have quickly created a fluid “balloon” at that aneurysm site.  Eventually, it would burst.

These medical experts believe there is further evidence for this theory in the fact that when the Roman guard pierced Jesus side, first blood – then clear liquid – flowed from his side (John 19:34). From this description, they think the guard would have likely pierced what’s called the “Pericardial Sac” which surrounds the heart. Normally this sac contains clear fluid that acts as a lubricant for the heart, but if there’s been an aneurysm, it would contain both blood and clear fluid.  If this analysis is correct, Jesus’ heart literally burst.

Broken.

It chills me to the core when I consider that Christ’s heart was broken not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as he hung on the cross.

Luke tells us:

The people stood watching, the rulers sneered, the soldiers mocked, and even the criminals hurled insults.  They all called out to him to save himself.  One crucified criminal next to him told him to “Save yourself and us.”  (Paraphrased from Luke 23:35-39)

They didn’t understand that he was…and he did.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2b)

His death was the only acceptable payment for our sin.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

He spared no expense for us, and that  humbles me as I prepare and remember the events of Good Friday and the celebration of an empty tomb.

Let’s Pray:

My precious Jesus – What you endured for us is incomprehensible.  You were beaten beyond recognition and executed in the most humiliating manner possible.  So great is your love for us that you would do that!  Yet, despite all you did, I know I continue to disappoint and sin against you.  Help me Lord to remember – not just this week, but all year-long – the tremendous price you paid, and to live a life worthy of your great sacrifice. Amen.

Taking it deeper: 

How have you broken Jesus’ heart?  Will you take it to him and ask not only for forgiveness, but also the strength to help you turn it around or right a wrong?  

If you want to know more about receiving Christ’s forgiveness and receiving him as Lord and Savior of your life, drop me a line here.

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Filed under Good Friday and Easter, Personal Reflection, Salvation, Thankfulness

Face the music

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Matthew 25:14-28

Few things warm a mother’s heart this time of year more than watching her precious little cherubs sing in a Christmas choir. Oh, the little voices, the faces, the personality, and the stage fright!  While they can’t catch every word and phrase, boy can they belt out those choruses!

I love singing. While I don’t have many opportunities (or the time) to sing in a choir these days, my heart will never forget the exhilarating experience of singing in perfect harmony with 100 other voices. There’s indescribable power in that body of voices that you just don’t have with a single (albeit beautiful) voice.

Have you ever experienced a sensational presentation of Handel’s “Messiah?” It is, by far, one of my favorite sacred/symphonic/choral bodies of music.  Whether I’m an active participant, or an audience member I can’t hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” without goosebumps covering me, head-to-toe.  Still, I always find myself just the slightest bit envious when the soloists step up. Shaping every note in breath and space with flawless precision, they make the most challenging bars of music appear effortless.

Oh, to be able to sing like that!  What a gift.

While I can carry a tune, I’m painfully aware that my voice is not in any way, shape or form soloist material.  God blessed me with good pitch and the ability to read music, but my voice is definitely not a show-stopper.

Like my musical ability, sometimes God gives us gifts (or talents) that are more “average” in nature and were never intended to be displayed out front. Unfortunately, these gifts are sometimes hard to recognize – and receive. When the ability doesn’t measure up to what I want, it’s easy to say “I’m not very good at that…that’s just not my gift.” And we move on.

But imagine for a moment what it would sound like if those 100 singers belting out the Hallelujah Chorus had the same attitude? Would there even be any music?

God, in His infinite wisdom fashioned us perfectly – “average” gifts and all – to serve Him and serve others.  All His gifts are good, and He doesn’t regret giving even one of them.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I sometimes wish you’d given me other talents that I admire in others. Help me remember that even the “average” gifts are perfect in Your sight. You fashioned me this way for a purpose.  There are no mistakes.   Help me to use these gifts to bring You honor, glory and praise – forever and ever. Amen.

For discussion:  We tend to have a bad habit of comparing our talents with others and then feeling down because we fall so short.  Could it be that God made you average by the world’s standards, so that He might be glorified in a greater way?

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Filed under Average, Christmas, Contentedness, Talents