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Song of Solomon 4:9-15 – “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices— a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 14;26-33   “But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind,  he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

At one point, Peter looked to his Lord and stepped out in faith.  He walked on water!!!

I am at a point in my life where I am being asked to step out into an unknown and almost impossibly seeming journey.  I am being asked to step out in faith, trusting that my Lord will carry me and hold my head above water. The very thought of stepping out of my “boat” seems like I’d just drown.  Yet, I feel as if I am being called to walk down this very uncertain and scary path.

I hope that in some time in the near future, I can update this post and say that I obeyed and that the Lord was faithful and kept me afloat, though it seemed impossible to my doubting soul.

Luke 2: 8-12,16-19 “That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.

Psalm 29:1-6
“Praise the LORD, you heavenly beings; praise his glory and power.
Praise the LORD’s glorious name; bow down before the Holy One when he appears.
The voice of the LORD is heard on the seas; the glorious God thunders, and his voice echoes over the ocean. The voice of the LORD is heard in all its might and majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, even the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount Hermon leap like a young bull…”

Proverbs 6:1-5 “My son, if you have become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your own mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend; Go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird for the hand of the fowler.”

Gazelle Intensity

Many of you may recognize this name already!! Yes, we’re huge Dave Ramsey fans. We took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University 13 week course 3 years ago, and it honestly changed our lives.
So what does “Gazelle Intensity” mean? Well, it’s really a term Dave coined to describe the process of getting out of debt with a focused intensity. He explains it on his website:
“Gazelles are gentle creatures hunted by the fastest animal on earth, the cheetah. With the cheetah being so fast, you would think the gazelle would be extinct. However they’ve learned that the cheetah is only the fastest animal on earth while running in a straight line. So when being chased, the gazelle bobs and weaves and runs in circles until the cheetah gets tired and gives up.

It’s time to think like a gazelle. If you are a gazelle and the marketing and credit card companies are cheetahs, bob and weave and run; do whatever it takes to get away. When you get that new credit card application in the mail – you know, the one that promises low introductory interest rates and lots of bonuses – scream CHEETAH! and destroy it as quickly as you can!

You do NOT build wealth with credit cards. Use common sense. When you play with a multi-billion dollar industry and you think you’re going to win at their game, you are naive. The only way you can beat the credit card companies is to RUN and not get caught up in their tricky and deceptive games!”

Dave has a ton of verses on his site about all the Bible has to say about debt and money too. You can find those here.

Colossians 2:13b-15 -” He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

As Easter approaches, I am have been thinking of my past. Going to church on Sunday, in my new Easter dress was so much fun. But as an adult, the significance of Easter has come to mean so much more. As I’ve blogged about Christ’s Death (“Crushed“), and how his death provided a way for us to freely have access to a Holy God (“Sacred Veil“), now I want to share about his resurrection.

The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each contain an account of Jesus’s resurrection. The account in Matthew 28:1-10 is as follows:

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them. “Greetings!” he said. And they ran to him, held his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

 

Jesus told his disciples that he would die, but would be risen on the third day. He died on a cross, yet he triumphed over death by rising from the grave. There have been many great teachers and religious leaders in history. All of the died. Yet, only Jesus Christ died and rose again. It is his victory over death, and exceeding triumph that makes him capable of saving humanity.

Many a man has also been astounded by this amazing feat. And on Easter Sunday, in churches near and far, the people sing about it. There is an old hymn written by Charles Wesley, called “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” (click on the link to listen to it.) I’m going to put the words here for you to read. Read them again, and look at how amazing it is that our Lord was able to conquer death.

“Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!”

It is because of Jesus’s resurrection that we can shout Alleluia! He has triumphed once and for all!!

 

Isiah 53:5- “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,and by his wounds we are healed. “

Many people think of the crucifixion of Christ as what you see in old paintings and art. A man with a tiny trickle of blood coming from this hands, feet and head- hanging on a sanded and smooth cross. Yet, that is not an accurate picture of the death of Jesus.

The most incredible description of the events of Christ’s humiliation and death that I’ve found are on this website. Be aware though: it’s highly graphic.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll cut and paste his beating and death. I found 2 good descriptions, and will take a little of each to help explain it.

From the first:

“While most are aware that Jesus was beaten and then crucified, few comprehend the horrific mutilation that occurred to His body both before and during His crucifixion. Jesus’ body was so beaten and battered that He was virtually unrecognizable to the people of His day.

To help clear your mind of the typical picture of a barely-scarred Jesus hanging from a cross, a detailed examination of His execution must be described. While various forms of crucifixion were used, we will describe one possible method.

Before being crucified, Jesus is forced to undergo a severe scourging. To begin the horrible ordeal, He is stripped of His clothing and His hands are bound to a post above His head. A Roman legionnaire steps forward with a flagellum—a short whip with jagged pieces of bone, glass and metal tied into nine strips of leather. This is commonly referred to as a cat-o’-nine-tails.

The heavy whip is brought down without mercy, over and over again, across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs. At first, the flagellum cuts through the skin only. But as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the flesh, causing blood to ooze from the capillaries and veins. Blood then begins to spurt from smaller arteries in the underlying muscles.

The flagellum begins to produce large, deep bruises, which are then ripped open by succeeding blows. In time, the skin of Jesus’ back is hanging in long ribbons, like spaghetti. The entire area is an unrecognizable bloody mass of torn flesh.

The severe beating is halted when the Roman centurion in charge has determined that Jesus is near death.

Though the Jews had a law that prohibited more than 39 lashes, there is speculation that the Romans would not have made any attempt to obey the statute.

At this point, Jesus is close to being in shock. One can only imagine the agonizing pain pulsing through His nerves. He is then untied from the post and allowed to fall to the ground—soaked in His own blood. The soldier performing the beating notices a great irony in a “simple, unsophisticated Jew” claiming to be a king. A robe is thrown across Jesus’ shoulders, and a stick is placed in His hand, like a scepter. To complete the mockery, flexible branches covered with long thorns are formed into a crown, which is pressed firmly into Jesus’ scalp. Since the scalp is one of the most vascular areas of the body, profuse bleeding begins almost immediately.

The soldiers proceed to mock Jesus and strike Him across the face. They then take His “scepter” and strike Him on the head—the thorns are driven deeper. At last, the soldiers grow weary of their vicious attack and tear off Jesus’ robe. This causes agonizing pain, similar to carelessly removing a surgical bandage, due to His robe having bonded to the clots of blood and serum in His wounds. Significant bleeding takes place once again, as though He were being whipped with the flagellum.

Ironically, in respect of Jewish custom, the Roman soldiers return Jesus’ garments, and then make Him carry a long wooden beam along His back. The condemned “criminal,” along with the Roman soldiers, begins His slow journey to the site of the crucifixion, Golgotha. Jesus struggles to walk erect, but considering the immense weight of the wooden beam and the state of near shock produced by incredible blood loss, He constantly falls. The weight is too much to bear. The beam gouges into the shredded skin and muscles of the shoulders. Jesus tries to rise, but the endurance of His muscles has been exceeded.

Wanting to hasten the crucifixion, the centurion-in-charge selects an onlooker—Simon of Cyrene (Matt. 27:32)—to carry the beam. Jesus follows behind Simon, perhaps slightly relieved, but still bleeding and in near-shock.

And the second continues:

“Jesus’ Crucifixion: Jesus is again stripped of all clothing – not even a loin cloth (contrary to images depicted in artists’ paintings). Simon is ordered to place the cross on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His torn shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. To comment on the shout Jesus must have released is too much to bare.

Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some movement. The cross portion is now hoisted to the upright pillar where it fits into a groove near the top.

Jesus left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. To make matters worse, the Victim is mocked by His executioners as well as some of the religious onlookers in the gathering throng.

As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in His wrists, excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain – the nails in the wrist are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the abiility to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostals muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods of fighting for air that Jesus uttered the seven short sentences which are recorded.

The Death of Jesus: hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain where tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber in order to take a breath.

Then another agony begins. A terrible crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues; the tortured lungs are making frantic efforts to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.

A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, is lifted to His lips. He apparently does not take any of the liquid. The body has reached its limit. This realization brings out His sixth words, possibly little more than a tortured whisper, “It is finished.” His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally, He can allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, and straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

We have had our glimpse at what Christ went through – a terrible sight, and more than enough to leave us depressed and despondent.

Remember, this was all done willingly. Christ offered up Himself for the sins of the world – and more particularly for you – that through His sacrifice we might know life.”

Not only did Christ endure the cross for us, but he knew that it was coming.  He knew the scriptures and was familiar with all the text. These verses in Isaiah were written 700 years before Christ’s birth. Yet, Isiah 53 so accurately describes exactly the life and death of Jesus, it’s almost as if it was written after the fact. Yet He willing endured it all for you and I.

Isiah 53 -“Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal his saving power? 2My servant grew up in the LORD‘s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. 3He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

4Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! 5But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! 6All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.

7He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins—that he was suffering their punishment? 9He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10But it was the LORD‘s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD‘s plan will prosper in his hands. 11When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. 12I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.”

He was “crushed” so that we might live!!!

 

Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Peace” is the third in my “Fruit of the Spirit” series. The idea of peace reminds me of the idea of “peace like a river, ” which led me to think of one of my favorite hymns: “It Is Well”. You can listen to the song and read the story on Godtube.

“It Is Well”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Refrain: It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, 0 the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but in whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 0 my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

I’ve always loved this song. The words are so powerful. But they mean so much more when you know the story behind them. In the 1870s Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer and a close friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.  Spafford and his family desperately needed a rest so in 1873 he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. While in Great Britain he also hoped to help Moody and Sankey with their evangelistic tour. Last minute business caused Spafford to delay his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters on the S. S. Ville Du Havre as scheduled, promising to follow in a few days. On November 22 the ship was struck by the English ship Lochearn, and it sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford sent a telegram to her husband with the brief message, “Saved alone.” When Horatio Spafford made the ocean crossing to meet his grieving wife, he sailed near the place where his four daughters had sunk to the ocean depths. There, in the midst of his sorrow, he wrote these unforgettable words that have brought solace to so many in grief.

You can read a much more detailed version of Spafford’s store here. In writing about the same story of the same song, Jody McBrayer from the band Avalon ends with “It is my prayer that when you and I are faced with struggles, we respond as Mr. Spafford did. With the “blessed assurance” of knowing that God is bigger than our circumstances. He is greater than our speeding tickets. He is more powerful than divorce. He is mightier than cancer or disease. Our God took into consideration all of these situations, both joyful and difficult, long before time began. Then, He sent Jesus to take those burdens from us and to renew our lives.

In Isaiah 53 it says; “…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

I wish you all peace, the kind of peace that Horatio Spafford had. The peace that only comes when we trust God with every fiber of our being. Knowing deep within us that, no matter where we are in this life, no matter what answers we don’t have, no matter how difficult the path ahead may be, we can sing and truly believe “It is well, it is well with my soul.”