Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Stand Aside

When the Salvation Army first went to India, the British authorities were concerned about them, and issued an order that no open meetings and no parades were to be held. But Commissioner Tucker of the Salvation Army decided that order must be defied. One day the Salvation Army came marching down the street. They were met by soldiers. The officer in charge said, “In the name of her majesty, the Queen of England, I order you to disperse.” But Tucker replied, “In the name of the King of kings, I order you to stand aside.” They stood aside.

One day, one palm-waving day, Jesus marched right into Jerusalem, the Holy City, and said to everything unholy, “Stand aside.” And he is calling Palm Sundayus to join him in the parade, and to say to every form of hatred, bigotry, ignorance and apathy, “Stand aside,” and when we dare to do it those things will stand aside. His kingdom will live in us, and we will help spread his rule in his world.

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Crucified with Christ

            I am a nameless criminal.  Greed controlled my life and evil claimed my soul.  My crimes were eventually detected, and I was arrested by the Romans.  My fate was sealed and my crucifixion date was set.

            On that horrible day, just before Passover, three of us were taken to the place of crucifixion.  As we hung suspended in torment on thosegoodfrib crude Roman crosses, I became aware of the man next to me on the middle cross.  While the life faded from our battered bodies, the third man cursed God and swore bitterly.  But through my agony, I listened to the words of the man on that middle cross.  He prayed as his mother and friends mourned for him.  It occurred to me that my parents had long since cried their last tears of grief and shame for me.  I was alone.  But the man in the middle spoke words of comfort to his mother, words of forgiveness to his executioners, and words of oneness with God.  And suddenly I knew.  My childhood teachings became clear.  This was the Messiah!  This man was the Lamb of God!

            I rebuked the third man to try and silence his foul mouth and tried to tell him who was dying between us.  In tortuous pain, as my life drained from my body, I managed to turn my head toward the Messiah and ask Him to take me to heaven.

            In that one miracle moment, I was changed from a man judged by man and condemned to die to a man judged by God Almighty and pardoned to eternal life.  I was changed form a filthy, bloody, broken criminal to a clean, whole ransomed soul.  I was changed from a man all alone with no one to hear my cry, to a man with the Savior as my advocate and friend.  My heart of fear changed to a heart of peace.  My guilt became innocence.  One moment I was a prisoner, the next I was free.  I was cursed, then I was blessed.  My hopelessness was gone and was replaced by the hope of glory.

            Much more than my body was crucified that day in Calvary.  My sin was.  I was crucified with Christ and received everlasting life.  Your sin was crucified that day – the day Christ died.  That day, just outside the city walls of Jerusalem, he died for all of us.  That day we were all forgiven.

            “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives with me.”  Galatians 2:20

Monica Boudreaux

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Jesus is in the Room

The baby born in Bethlehem came to die. His miraculous birth and his miraculous death and resurrection were eternally linked. The crucifixion was shattering to his disciples. They were lost without the Master and confused about the validity of their faith and the future of the Kingdom they had just begun to envision. Nothing made sense anymore, and they were consumed by loss. The desperation in the room had taken on a life of its own. So, the disciples sat huddled in darkness and fear.

Suddenly, Jesus was in the room! In that one miraculous moment, with His resurrected presence, everything changed. Prophecies fulfilled. Parables lived. Mysteries cleared. Fear melted away. Hope soared. Peace settled. Courage took hold.

Over the years of my life, I have known the presence of Jesus. I have known, without one shadow of doubt, when He was in the room. He has calmed my fears in anxious moments. He has given me hope in times of my deepest despair. He has provided for me a peace that defies understanding in the midst of great turmoil. He has shown me grace in my most unworthy actions. He has blessed me with healing in devastating brokenness.

So many things happen to us in life. We must handle both joy and sorrow on this journey. Broken family relationships, sickness, death, financial crises thrust us into situations where we, much like those early disciples, seem paralyzed and huddled in darkness and fear. The great thing one must remember and acknowledge is that His presence will be ever with us to heal and comfort and bless us with His grace and peace. His resurrected Presence gives meaning to the journey – Jesus is in the room.

Reflection – When have you known that Jesus was in the room?

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THE CHANGER

I saw a sign recently that read, “God is a Changer.” How true! The best picture we have of God is Jesus. Jesus – “God with us!” From His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, Jesus was a changer. That day, at His mother’s request, He changed some jugs of water into the best of wines. That of no value became that of great value. Beginning at Cana, Jesus went about making positive changes.

He changed the black world of blindness into the colorful world of sight for a man blind from birth. He changed rotten flesh into spotless, smooth skin for ten outcasts with leprosy. He changed twisted, atrophied legs into strong legs, leaping and running through the streets of Jerusalem for a little girl. He changed a tortured, deranged mind into a pure, clear-thinking mind for a possessed man. He changed unbearable grief into boundless joy for the parents of a dead child brought back to life.

loaves and fishesJesus took a little boy’s school lunch and changed it into a feast for five thousand people. He changed the turbulent waves of the Sea of Galilee and made the water as smooth as glass. He took a hard-headed, rough talking fisherman named Peter and changed him into His greatest disciple. He took the most tormented woman in Jerusalem and changed Mary Magdalene into a woman of great faith.

Jesus changed history. We date our calendar by His birth. He changed our approach to God, our worship, how we pray, and how we relate to others.

Jesus, the great changer, will change you, too. Ask Him! He will change your attitude, your motivation, your priorities, your desires, and your goals. He will change your life from one of no hope to one of everlasting joy!


PRAYER: Father – Make me willing to make changes so that my journey will be one of joy as I grow closer to you.

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Lent—A Time to Choose Direction

A great thought from Joan Chittister

Crucifixion_Icon_Sinai_13th_century.jpgLent is an opportunity to look again at who we are, at where we’re going in life, at how we’re getting to where we say we want to go. The Chinese say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” But the aimlessness, the confusion, the anomie that go with it, wear us down, wear us out.

Everybody needs to know that they have lived for something. Everyone has a responsibility to leave this world better than when they found it. Everyone needs to carry light into the darkness of the world around them so that others, too, may follow and find the way.

To go through life with no thought of responsibility for anything other than the self is to live like a leech off the riches of the world around us. To not ask the questions: What is my life goal? What am I contributing to this world? and hear the answer in the echo of the soul, is to be living a hollow life indeed.
Lent does not permit us the luxury of such banality. Lent ends in the shadow of the empty cross and in the sunrise of an empty tomb. There are great things to be done by each of us and each of them takes great effort, requires great struggle, will face great resistance. But the way to the empty tomb goes through the mount of the cross.

Lent is our time to prepare to carry the crosses of the world ourselves. The people around us are hungry; it is up to us to see that they are fed, whatever the cost to ourselves. Children around us are in danger on the streets; it is up to us to see that they are safe. The world is at the mercy of US foreign policy, US economic policy and US militarism; it is up to us to soften the hearts of our own government so that the rest of the world can live a life of dignity and pride.
We must “set our faces like flint,” let nothing deter the Jesus life in us, continue the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, knowing that however our efforts end, the resurrection is surely on its way.

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Eight Days

Eight days changed the world. These eight days have been the topic of a million of publications, countless debates, and thousands of films. These eight days have inspired the greatest painters, the most skilled architects, and the most gifted musicians. To try and calculate the cultural impact of these eight days is impossible. But harder still would be an attempt to account for the lives of men and women who have been transformed by them. And yet these eight days as they played out in Jerusalem were of little significance to anyone but a few people involved. We call these eight days Holy Week, and it begin this Sunday. What happened on those eight days?


1. On Sunday the first of the eight days, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of Hosanna, fulfilling an old prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.

2. On Monday he walked into the Jerusalem Temple overturning tables where money exchange occurred, Roman drachmas were being exchanged for Jewish shekels. Roman coins were not allowed. The image of Caesar was a violation of the second commandment. But the Temple authorities were using the Commandment as means to cheat the people and making the Temple a place of profit rather than a place of prayer.

3. On Tuesday Jesus taught in parables, warned the people against the Pharisees, and predicted the destruction of the Temple.

4. On Wednesday, the fourth day, we know nothing. The Gospel writers are silent. Perhaps it was a day of rest for him and his weary and worried disciples.

5. On Thursday, in an upper room, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. But he gave it a new meaning. No longer would his followers remember the Exodus from Egypt in the breaking of bread. They would remember his broken body and shed blood. Later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized in prayer at what lay ahead for him.

6. On Friday, the fifth day, following betrayal, arrest, imprisonment, desertion, false trials, denial, condemnation, beatings and sentencing, Jesus carried his own cross to “The Place of the Skull,” where he was crucified with two other prisoners.

7. On Saturday, Jesus lay dead in a tomb bought by a rich man named Joseph.

8. On Sunday, his Passion was over, the stone had been rolled away. Jesus was alive. He appeared to Mary, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the 11 disciples gathered in a locked room. His resurrection was established as a fact.

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Expectations

Rembrandt Simeon houdt Jesus vast

Rembrandt Simeon 

Luke 2: 22-35

The season of Advent gives us many opportunities to develop spiritual disciplines that become part of our faith journey all year long. As we look forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ and anticipate his Second Coming we find that being faithful in times when the road ahead is unclear builds our dependence on God’s grace.

We can learn from Simeon about keeping faith. The Scripture tells us that he was a just and devout man in Jerusalem who had been promised by God that before he died he would see the Christ. As Mary and Joseph were taking the infant Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord and make a sacrifice, the Spirit led Simeon to the Temple, also. When he saw the baby he immediately recognized Him as the Messiah, blessed Him, and made a prophecy about His mission. Then Simeon spoke to God and told him he was ready to depart this world in peace because his promise had been fulfilled, his longing had been satisfied, and his waiting had been rewarded. After a life time of expectation the reality of the Messiah had been confirmed to Simeon. His life’s goal of actually seeing the Christ had been accomplished.

Simon had spent those long years of faithful anticipation as an opportunity to know God more intimately and to practice his devotion more fully. Some lessons can only be learned in a time of spiritual darkness or uncertainty, so God gives us the blessing of this time to realize the rewards of faithfulness. He gives us a sure hope that binds us to the assurance of holy promises. He frees us from the limitations of the measure of earth’s time or human standards of success or achievement.

When Simeon did see the Lord, he knew Him at once because his years of waiting had given him a clear understanding of God’s revelation. When finally realized, our expectation brings the joy and affirmation that God’s promises are real. A transcendence of head knowledge engages the heart and soul – that eternal part of us that is made in the image of God. We find that God’s promises are a certainty not a possibility. We can be sure of the outcome, not doubtful of the end.

Advent is a time of spiritual expectation and longing, a time of confirmed promises, a time of unashamed hope of Christ’s Second Coming. Advent is the celebration of the realization of God’s promise to Simeon and to us – Christ has come and Christ will come again.

Reflection – What spiritual lessons would you like to learn this Advent?
Monica Boudreaux

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My Soul Shook

It was dark with only a small fire for light and warmth.  Suddenly an intense brightness, a light such as we had never seen, a light that could never be produced from a fire or oil lamp flooded our field.  An angel stepped out of the blinding light.  I have never been so terrified.  But the angel spoke words of reassurance to us and then the promise of Good News.  The Angel instructed us to go look for a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding trough!  This baby was the Messiah, the Savior.  The sky was suddenly filled with a multitude of heavenly beings singing a holy hymn of joy.

Still partly blinded by the light and recovering from fear on trembling legs, we were led by a sense of holy presence to a barn behind an inn.  He was lying in an ordinary crude manger filled with fresh hay.  I saw Him – MY SOUL SHOOK! Aaron, the shepherd.

Emmaus

It was the day after Passover.  The crowds were leaving Jerusalem, traveling back to their homes.  The Temple was nearly empty after the hectic days of the annual pilgrimage.  I am a doctor of the law and on that day, I made my way over to meet with my colleagues for the discussion of the day’s questions.  I was surprised to see in their midst a small boy.  All of us were amazed at the depth of his understanding of the intricacies of the law. For him, the law was more than rules; it was a matter of heart.  He led us to see Yahweh’s purpose.  With all our combined years of study, our insights paled in the light of his knowledge.  For those hours, the law lived.

After three days of conversation with this remarkable boy, his parents showed up in a panic.  His mother reprimanded him for worrying them so.  His response has never left me.  He said to her, “Why are you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

I saw the impact of his words on his mother’s face.  She knew.  I began to wonder – His Father? Could he be? As He walked away, He looked back. I saw Him – MY SOUL SHOOK! Saul, Temple Rabbi

The Scripture tells us of many others who saw the Christ, recognized Him, and felt their souls shake – the magi, Anna, Simeon, Paul the Apostle, the centurion at the crucifixion, Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.  Today, when we see Christ with spiritual eyes, recognize Him in our heart; sense His real presence – our Souls Shake!

Reflection – When did you feel your Soul Shake because you saw Christ?

 Monica Boudreaux

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God Choices — Luke 6:39-45

Choices – they seem unending, especially at Christmas.  The Scriptures can be our guide as we observe the way God chooses and the way he challenged others to choose.  From the very beginning when Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s provision, each person who has ever lived has faced that decision.

Martha, out of self-righteous frustration, reprimanded Jesus because he would not condemn her sister, Mary, for not helping her with chores.  Jesus simply tried to help her understand that Mary, in choosing to simply sit in His Presence and internalize his every word ,had indeed chosen “the good part.”  Mary chose the part that never goes away, never gets old – the part that is eternal.

The rich young man expected a quick, easy answer from Jesus.  He needed to know how to inherit eternal life.  He could not imagine that inheriting eternal life could be any more challenging than inheriting his father’s wealth.  But Jesus told him he would have to make a choice between what the world could give and what God could give.  The rich young man chose the part that goes away – the part that is temporary.

The Christmas narratives portray God’s nature by the choices He made.

  • God chose a teenage peasant girl, not a daughter of a ruling Pharisee.
  • God chose a carpenter, not a king.
  • God chose Nazareth, not Jerusalem.
  • God chose a stable, not a palace.
  • God chose a feeding trough, not an ornate cradle.
  • God chose shepherds, not rabbis.
  • God chose to show his star to Gentiles, not Jewish royalty.
  • God chose poverty, not wealth.
  • God chose humility, not position.
  • God chose service, not recognition
  • God chose earth, not heaven.

This Advent, this season of endless options, is a perfect time to evaluate our decisions, to align our choices with the eternal and holy and divine.  Jesus told us that a good person with a heart full of good treasure makes good choices, lives a good life, recognizes holiness, and lives in the Kingdom of God.  He told us that choices reveal our souls, our decisions come from what dominates our hearts, and our lives mirror the Master that controls them.

  •  Reflection – Consider each decision you make this season in light of God’s decisions in the Scripture.

     

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