Lent Series: Take up your cross and follow Me

After warning us about not telling anyone he is the Messiah, Jesus spoke to us about his death.  He told us he was going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.  He said he was going to suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, priests, and teachers of religious laws.  He would be killed on the third day, but he would be raised from the dead.  One day it will be necessary for him to go to Jerusalem for a period of time for all of these things to happen.

I felt really sad.  I just began to know Jesus and had the chance to spend more time with him.  Why is he talking about his death as if it is going to be happening any time soon?  He’s young, he’s only in his early thirties.  I didn’t want to lose him.  Surely, as the Son of God, he could put a stop to this?

Peter took Jesus aside and started reprimanding him.  He was saying to Jesus what was on all of our hearts.  Peter speaks up a lot for us.  Often times he puts his foot in his mouth, but we are grateful for him sharing our feelings with Jesus.

Surprisingly, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Get away from me Satan!  You are a dangerous trap to me.*  You see things from a human viewpoint rather than God’s.”

Ouch!  What a sharp statement!  Peter, like Satan?  Us, like Satan?  You could see the sheepish look in Peter’s eyes. Poor Peter stepped back and sat down sulking.

Jesus sat down with us and said “If we wanted to be his follower, we have to let go of our selfish ways, take up our cross and follow him.  If we hang on to our own life, we will lose it.  But if we give up our lives for the Lord, we will be saved.  What will we gain if we have the whole world but lose our souls?  The Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s Glory and will judge everyone according to their deeds.  If anyone is ashamed of him and his message in these sinful and adulterous days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them.”

All of us left everything behind to follow Jesus.  Some left their boats, one left tax collecting, another was a doctor, and I left my family and my things.  What else are we to give up?  Jesus released me from seven demons, I am now a new person, but I am to take up my cross to follow him?  Crosses were for criminals to carry, criminals such as murderers and robbers.  Crosses were a sign of shame so everyone can see you were guilty of whatever wrong you were accused of.  Is this the type of cross we are expected to bear?

How could any of us be ashamed of Jesus?  He has done so much for us.  We have seen him cure diseases, raise people from the dead, make the sea calm, and so much more.  I am not ashamed of him.  He is my Lord, my Rabbi, and my friend.

We all spoke with each other concerned about all we just heard.  None of us really understood what Jesus was talking about but we didn’t want to ask.  The rest of the day we were just feeling rather down.  What were we to do?  We try our best to follow Jesus no matter what, and yet, it seems it’s not enough.  But… Maybe it is, and we are to teach others to live for him and give up everything like we had to follow Jesus.  We have been heckled by many for following Jesus. If following Jesus means dying, then so be it.  I want to do whatever Jesus calls me to do. I couldn’t do anything less.

Note:

*A dangerous trap is a snare, stumbling block and signifies that which causes error or sin.

For further study:

Matthew 16:21-26; 17:22-23; Mark 8:31-38; 9:30-32; Luke 9:22-25, 43-45

Advertisements

Lent Series: Peter confesses Jesus as Lord

One afternoon we were all sitting together having a chat about all we had seen and heard over the past several months.  We were all amazed at what Jesus had done and were still trying to digest everything.

Jesus joined in the conversation and asked us, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Several of us replied, “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other Prophets.”

I knew Jesus was so much more.  He is truly the Son of God.  This was the reason he was able to do all the marvellous things he had been doing.  The power of God lives in him.

Peter answered Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!”

Wow! I knew Jesus was the Son of God.  For some reason, I don’t think it clicked in my head that Jesus was the Messiah.  We have been waiting for centuries for the Messiah.  Prophecies were foretold about the Messiah coming.  At every Passover, we have a place for Elijah and we believe when he came, the Messiah would also. The Messiah is the Anointed One who was to come to save us all.

Jesus told Peter he is blessed because God the Father has revealed this truth to him as he couldn’t have learnt this from anyone else.  He then told Simon Peter his name will always be called Peter which means Rock.  Jesus told him the church will be built on him and the powers of hell will not conquer it.

What is the church?  I know it is a group of people gathered together sharing the same purpose in life.  I didn’t understand anything Jesus was talking about with Peter.

Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus said whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven and whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Jesus warned us not to tell anyone He was the Messiah.

At first, we talked amongst ourselves because we wondered why we couldn’t say anything.  We thought Jesus would love to have people know their long-awaited Messiah is here.  But as we were talking, we came to the conclusion that if people knew, they would treat him even more differently now.  The religious rulers would have a field day; they insist on having to wait for Elijah to come first before the Messiah.

I didn’t want to imagine what the rulers would do if they realised Jesus is the Messiah.  I don’t think they would believe it.  I also think they would do anything to get rid of Jesus as they already didn’t like him.

I promised to keep my mouth shut about these matters when I talk to my family and others as we walk with Jesus wherever he goes.  I am sure the time will be right to share… one day.

Notes:

*The keys Jesus spoke about to Peter means authority.  Jesus gave Peter and to us now the authority of Heaven on earth.

*The church has authority to release healing, etc as Jesus released healing in his life, death, and resurrection.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to let His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

*Declaring Jesus as the Messiah would have caused a major political uproar.  It wasn’t Jesus’ time to be known to others as the Messiah.

For further study:

Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

Jesus Walks on Water

After the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus sent us and the disciples back to the boats to go to the other side of the lake.  We went back and forth on the lake a lot.  It’s the best way to get to places and the lake is large and such a part of the area around us.  We walked down to the boats whilst Jesus stayed behind.  He was going to send the crowds home and find a place to pray.

Finally, Jesus had the time alone, he so desperately needed after his cousin was beheaded. He put his emotions and needs aside for everyone else. Now, Jesus needed time alone with his Father.

The night grew darker and later.  We all began to fall asleep as we were tired and full.  The stars were so bright and twinkling and all we could hear is the water lapping against the side of the boats.

Somewhere around three in the morning, there was a very strong wind blowing around us.  Waves were large and beginning to fill the boats.  We all woke up as we were getting completely soaked through.  We began to use some buckets to get the water out.

Out of nowhere, this man came walking on the water!  Some of the disciples were getting afraid thinking he was a ghost.  I had no idea who he was.  I was trembling inside, my heart was racing, sweat pouring down my face.  I was wondering if I was in a dream or something.

The man, ghost, whatever, spoke up.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “Take courage, I am here!”

We all then realised it was Jesus walking on the water!  Phew!  My heart slowed down and even though I was still trembling, I felt a calm rush over me.

Peter, (of course it had to be Peter) called out to Jesus saying, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come out to you, walking on the water.”

I seriously thought Peter was a glutton for punishment.  Didn’t he know men don’t walk on water.  Jesus could because he’s Jesus.  I was worried this was going to end up in a disaster.

Jesus told Peter to come.

I moved closer to the edge of the boat.  I had to see this.

Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  He was walking fine.  Wow!  I couldn’t believe my eyes, Peter, a simple man who was just a fisherman, now walking on the water.

I think the excitement got to Peter.  He started to look around and realising he was on top of the water, he saw the waves smacking against his feet and he began to sink.

Oh no, Peter!  Why were you so stupid to have tried in the first place?  But then again, he did walk on the water with confidence toward Jesus.  It wasn’t until he started to look around and realising where he was, he began to sink.

Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter’s arm.  “You have so little faith.  Why did you doubt me?

I really thought Peter had some guts.  He must have had faith to go out walking on the water.  There was a bit of faith, but Peter didn’t keep his eyes on Jesus and therefore sank. I am not sure if I would have had enough faith to do what Peter did. I believe Jesus is Lord, but I am not at all as tenacious as Peter.

When Peter and Jesus climbed back into the boat, we all began to worship Jesus declaring he is truly the Son of God.  What a glorious time of worship it was!

I pray God will give me the faith Peter had. I want to be able to walk on water. I pray Jesus will help me keep my eyes on him. May I not look to myself and the circumstances around me. I pray Jesus will give me more faith to see him clearly and to be strong like he is.

We then landed at Gennesaret early in the morning.  People recognised Jesus and more crowds came from the whole area bringing those who were sick just to touch the fringe of his robe.  Everyone who touched him was healed.  I just enjoyed watching Jesus taking care of them and seeing the love in his eyes for each person.

For further study:

Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21

 

FB_IMG_1485025368833

Sufficient Grace © Tanya Dooley

No matter what I’m going through,

No matter how I feel,

You are always with me,

You are always near.

 

Though the pain seems unbearable,

Though my heart aches beyond words,

Even when answers are hard to find,

Lord Jesus, You are here.

 

You hold me close to your side,

Your grace sustains me,

Sufficient in my weakness,

It carries me through.

 

Your strength is perfect,

Your love is true.

Your grace amazing,

I can trust in You.

 

For You alone are God,

Holy and majestic,

My Creator and Sustainer,

You are always faithful.

 

So no matter what tomorrow brings,

I will bless Your name

and lift up my praise,

because Your grace is sufficient,

Your grace is true.

I know I can make it,

By simply relying on You.

 

2 Corinthians 12.9 (8)

Jesus Feeds the 5,000

Jesus got into a boat toward Bethsaida to a remote area to be alone with us.  We haven’t eaten for quite a while and Jesus wanted us all to find some food.  As we arrived on the seashore, again, crowds were there.  People had heard where we were going and followed on foot from many areas.  Jesus saw the crowd and had compassion on them.  He saw them as sheep without a shepherd needing guidance and love.  He healed the sick and taught them about the kingdom of God.

It was evening and the skies were getting dark.  The area was remote so it would take some time for anyone to go to their villages for food and rest.  The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd to the local villages and farms to eat.  I knew I was hungry and ready to rest myself so I joined in agreement with them.

Jesus just looked at us and said “You feed them.”

What? How can we feed them when we don’t have enough money?  Even a month’s wages from all of us wouldn’t be enough to feed the many people that are around us.  Jesus told us to ask around if anyone had any food.

Andrew came back and replied to Jesus, “There’s a young boy here with five loaves of barley bread and two fish.”

I thought, “How in the world is that going to feed these many people?  I know Jesus can perform miracles, casting out demons, bringing people back from the dead, calming storms, etc.  But to only use five loaves of bread and two fish? I guess I need to trust him. He has never failed me or any of us so far.”

Jesus told Andrew to bring the food to him.  He asked the people to sit down on the ground.  They sat in groups of fifty and a hundred.  Jesus lifted the food up and prayed over it.  He blessed it.  Jesus then broke the bread and fish and gave it to us to distribute among the people.  It took quite a long time to give the food out.  The food just kept coming!

We all sat down as well and ate.  I was so glad to finally eat.  The bread was lovely and soft.  The fish was fresh. I ate until I was completely full up and could no longer eat anything else.

After everyone finished eating, Jesus asked us to pick up the leftovers.  The twelve disciples had a basket each.  We ladies helped as well.  Despite the amount of people, it seemed ages to pick up the food.  When we were finished cleaning up, all twelve baskets were full!

I was completely amazed.  Jesus just fed about 5,000 men plus women and children with just five barley loaves and two fish.  Is there anything impossible for Jesus?

When the people realised what had happened they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

Yes, Jesus is indeed.  But He is more than a Prophet.  He is the Son of God.  He is amazing!

Jesus spent time chatting with the people, getting to know them.  I loved to watch his reactions as he went around the groups.  He had so much tenderness in his eyes.  He cared for people no matter their status in life.  Everyone mattered and I believe that is what drew the crowds to him.  People needed to be encouraged and loved. Jesus is who they have been looking for.

For further study:

Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14

bs-five-loaves-two-fish-6989695

 

Lent Series: The Death of John the Baptist

Yesterday, we went with Jesus to his hometown of Nazareth. He tried to teach there, but they didn’t want to hear what he had to say. His own fellow men rejected him and sent him on his way. Because their lack of faith he could not heal people who desired to be healed.

Whilst we were walking, one of John’s disciples came running to Jesus weeping. Jesus asked him what was the matter. He told Jesus that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, was beheaded. He and the other disciples of John’s buried John just before seeing Jesus.

We asked for the details. Herod was having a birthday party. During the party, Herodias’s daughter danced well and pleased Herod. Because she pleased him, he promised her anything she wanted. She asked her mother what was best, and her mum told her she wanted John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  Therefore, John was beheaded in prison and his head was brought to the daughter on a tray during the party!

Herod and Herodias didn’t like John. He told Herod the truth about his marriage which did not settle well with him. You see, Herodias was seduced by Herod. She was his niece and wife of his brother Philip. He persuaded Herodias to divorce Philip and marry him. John told Herod it was against the law to marry her.

Despite hearing the truth that his marriage was wrong, Herod would not kill John. He was afraid to. He had respect for John and would even chat to him about things. Herod was grieved and did not want to behead John. However, because he had made a promise, he could not back out now. He ordered his men to carry out the deed.

I was very upset. I could not believe all that I had just heard. I knew John was in prison, however, I didn’t know why.  I remember John baptizing me in the River Jordan when I first saw Jesus. I felt so different afterward. My life has never been the same since that day.

The disciples with us were upset as well. Some disciples had left John to follow Jesus and John was so understanding. He even encouraged them to follow Jesus.

I felt awful that we could not be there when they buried his body. I have no idea what they ended up doing with the head. I can only imagine Herodias kept it as a trophy in her room. I shivered just thinking about it.

Jesus told us he wanted to go to a remote place to get away for a bit. He was really upset. I could understand. This was his cousin. They were very close and grew up together.

We set off in boats. However, crowds found out where we were going and followed us. Jesus had compassion on them. He decided to heal and teach despite his grief.

I was utterly amazed at how Jesus dealt with everything. If it was me, I would tell the people to leave me alone. I need time to grieve. But Jesus didn’t. He loved everyone and he wanted everyone to know about his Father God. He wanted them to be healed and set free. He wanted them to be a part of his kingdom.

I sat down next to a group of ladies and their children and listened to Jesus. I watched as queues of people came to be healed.

The day was growing shorter. I wondered what was going to happen next. I was tired. I was hungry. I was sad. I pray Jesus will find time to grieve and be alone with his Father. I pray we will get fed soon and have some time to rest.

*For further study: Matthew 14:1-13; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9

*Note- Jesus grieved on the inside. He did minister to others despite his grief. However, as we will discover later after he ministered to the people and fed them, he finally had time away on his own with God. If you are grieving, don’t hide behind the pain and keep working, etc. Take time to be with your heavenly Father who loves you more than anything and wants to share the grief with you.

196363_481808835175777_1523577415_n

Lent Series:  Jairus’ Daughter Raised and a Woman Is Healed

People from all over must have heard Jesus was heading their way.  As soon as we arrived at the shoreline at the other side of the lake, a crowd was there waiting.  We stepped out of our boats and began walking towards the crowd.  By this time I have been able to follow Jesus closely alongside the twelve disciples and a couple of other ladies: Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples (Luke 8:3).  What an awesome privilege to be counted among Jesus’ friends.  I am indeed a very blessed woman.

Jairus, a synagogue leader saw Jesus and fell at his feet pleading for Him to come see his daughter who was dying, she was only twelve years old.  Jesus went with Jairus and the crowds followed us.  There were so many people around us it took us some time to get anywhere.

A woman in the crowd touched Jesus’ robe.  Immediately she was healed.  Jesus realised someone was healed and stopped us all from walking and looking around the crowd asked, “Who touched my robe?”

The disciples were getting upset and started fussing among themselves about the urgency of getting to the dying girl whilst Jesus was here asking about who touched his robe.  They asked Jesus, “What does it matter?  There are far too many people around here and we have an urgent matter to attend. Come on let’s move on.”

Jesus kept looking around for who touched him.  The woman, frightened and trembling, came and knelt before Jesus and told him what she had done.  We ladies listened to her story.

“Jesus, I have heard about your healings and many wonders.  I have been suffering haemorrhaging for twelve years.  I have seen many doctors spending everything I had but only kept getting worse.”  Taking a breath and still trembling, she looks up to Jesus and said, “I just thought to myself, ‘If only I can touch his robe, I will be healed.’ So I touched you and immediately the bleeding stopped and I felt so much better, better than I have in years.”

Jesus looked tenderly into her eyes and said to her- “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.  Your suffering is over.”

As Jesus was still talking, messengers arrived to tell Jairus his daughter had died.  Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

The woman went on her way back through the crowd which followed Jesus to Jairus’ house.  Jesus stopped the crowd from getting too close.  And when we and the disciples arrived at the house, Jesus only allowed Peter, James and John to enter.  One of them relayed the information of what happened inside to us later when they came back out.

When they came to the house, Jesus saw people wailing and weeping.  He went inside and asked, “Why are they making so much noise?  The child isn’t dead; she’s asleep!”

The people laughed at Jesus.  He made them all leave.  He, the mother, Jairus and the three disciples went into the girl’s room.  Jesus held her hand said to her, “Little girl, get up!”

She immediately stood up and walked around!  The family was completely amazed.  Jesus insisted that they did not tell others what had happened.  He then told them to give the girl something to eat.

I just love how Jesus makes everyone feel so important.  He didn’t have to take the time to find out who touched him in the crowd.  He could have just went on to Jairus’ house before the girl died.  I believe he had a purpose in it all and I do hope that Jairus came to know Jesus as I have.  What an amazing, powerful God I serve!

Notes:

*Jesus has compassion and time for all of us.

*The number 12 is mentioned here which is very interesting.  The woman suffered for 12 years, the girl was 12 years old and of course, there are 12 disciples.  The number 12 is considered a perfect number symbolising God’s power and authority which of course was seen here on both occasions.

For further study:

Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56