Sunday Night Quotes 4/8/2012- Easter

Since today is Easter, here are some Easter quotes to fill your thoughts and soul.

~Monty

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.  ~Martin Luther

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.  ~Emily Bronte

We live and die; Christ died and lived!  ~John Stott

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.  ~Pope John Paul II

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.   ~Kahlil Gibran

This is the Easter message, that awakening is possible, to the goodness of God, the sacredness of human life, the sisterhood and brotherhood of all.  ~Anne Lamott

Before the Resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit came upon individuals only on certain occasions for special tasks. But now, after the Resurrection, Christ through the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer to give us supernatural power in living our daily lives.   ~Rev. Billy Graham

Two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, an event occurred that permanently changed the world. Because of that event, history was split. Every time you write a date, you’re using the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point.   ~Rick Warren

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over
no matter what my circumstances.   ~Robert Flatt

The tomb of Christ is famous because of what it DOES NOT CONTAIN.”   ~Sam Morris

The benefits [of the resurrection] are innumerable. To list a few:
Our illnesses don’t seem  nearly so final;
Our fears fade and lose their grip;
Our grief over those who have gone on is diminished;
Our desires to press on in spite of the obstacles is rejuvenated…
Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints
down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: ‘He is risen, indeed!   ~Charles Swindoll

Good Friday Meditation

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Many people have asked me, "In light of the events that happened to Jesus on this day in history, why do we call it Good?" A standard response is that it is called Good because of what Christ accomplished through the willing sacrifice of His life for ours. Good Friday then sets us up for Resurrection Sunday! So we don't get the resurrection without the pain of Friday's crucifixion.

That does make sense, and it is a "good" answer, but there have also been other names given to this day. Some of the names it has been called are; "Holy Friday" – "Black Friday" – "Great Friday" – "God's Friday." It truly is a powerful day. This is the day that we are reminded that in Christ, God had turned the entire religious system on it's head.

Through all the ages, God has been viewed as someone who dwelt above/beyond the earth. This is the realm where all that sustains life comes from. The sun, the moon, the rain, even the weather patterns. Humanity then began to "look up" and devised ways of trying to get God, or "the gods" to give them the things they needed, from a good harvest to favor in business.

Until the moment Jesus arrived,(an unfortunately still to this day) the religions of the world really moved in the same direction. If you wanted to be in a good spot with God, you had to do whatever it took to appease Him/them… if you did it right, then He would send the sun and the rain at the right times on your crops. If you did it right, you would have many children, if you did it right, good things would happen to you. However, If you didn't appease Him/them, bad things would happen to you. So life was/is spent trying to figure out what side-of-the-bed God got up on today, and where a person stood with God/gods.

It is easy to see how a religious system of "works" and "appeasement" so naturally came into being. Life was lived trying to make the invisible god(s) happy, and it seemed that not many were making much headway.

Then comes Jesus. Jesus reverses the order. In Christ it is not about appeasing God, trying to do things down here that would favorably get His attention…rather Jesus reveals the true heart of the Father. He initiates and completes everything necessary for us to be in relationship with God apart from a religious appeasement system.

Instead of trying to work our way up to God…

He loved His way down to us.

Jesus' sacrifice reminds us that He has done everything necessary for us to reconnect with the Living God. There is nothing for us to add to what Christ has done. His death and resurrection secure our hope. When we think there are things we must do, we are falling under the old system of appeasement again…there is no gift greater than Christ's life…there is nothing more powerful that we can do beyond Jesus raised from the dead…

A life that is following the Rabbi (Jesus) will change as a by-product of the renewed relationship available with God…but it is important to remember that the by-product of a transformed life is not the basis for your acceptance before God…Jesus is, and He is good.

So today is a day to be thankful for God's plan to equalize the playing field through grace. For turning upside-down the religious view that God is always angry, and we are never good enough. For God choosing to enter our skin and His willingness to substitute His life as a ransom for ours…

When you finish meditating on all that God has done…it is hard not to think…this is "Good."

Here is a great meditation piece for you from pray as you go…click on it, listen and enjoy

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Dei Gratia,

Monty

Can You Drink the Cup? -1

The_cup_cu Sharing something to drink is an invitation to intimacy…

Their request bobbed upon the surface. James and John, the sons of thunder, each wanted to sit on the right and left of Jesus when he was seated in his kingly position, but they didn't understand the full force of the conversation that they had started. Beneath the surface there was an invitation to experience the depths of God that would require faith, hope and love.

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Mark 10:35-40 (NIV) 35Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."  36"What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.  37They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."  38"You
don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I
drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"
 39"We
can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I
drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared."

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I wonder, was Jesus holding a cup while this conversation was happening? As He  swirled the contents of they cup, perhaps James and John thought, "sure, no problem, that's easy…in fact I'll have a sip right now!" But Jesus meant a different cup.

They also knew all about Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan river, and they too had experienced John's ministry…however, Jesus was talking about a completely different cup, and a wholly different baptism.

The cup was a cup of sacrifice, agony and selflessness predicated by Divine love and compassion.This cup would cost everything. This cup was a humble cup that didn't focus on position, status or power, but on love. This cup was bitter to the tongue, but had a sweet after-taste.

The baptism wasn't about water, but about the abiding presence and indwelling of the Trinity by the power and agency of the Holy Spirit. The only way a person can drink a selfless sacrificial cup is through the abiding presence in our hearts of the One who drank it first, Jesus. The Holy Spirit multiplies the resurrected and ascended Christ into every heart who trusts and believes that Jesus is the Christ by faith…this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the life and family of God.

It was true, they would drink sacrificial cups, giving their lives in the mission of their Lord, and they would be filled and baptized into the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost…but who sits to the right and the left of Jesus, well, that belongs to the Father and the Spirit.

When we share a drink together, when we share a cup together, there is so much more going on than meets the eye. To drink together is to enter into each others story. It is intimate, relational and beautiful. In  Henry Nouwen's book "Can You Drink This Cup" he states:

"In whatever country or culture we find ourselves, having a drink together is a sign of friendship, intimacy, and peace. Being thirsty is often not the main reason to drink. We drink to "break the   ice," to enter into a conversation, to show good intention, to express friendship and goodwill, to  set the stage for a romantic moment, to be open, vulnerable, accessible. It is no surprise that people who are angry at us, or who come to accuse or harass us, won't accept a drink from us. They would rather say: "I will come straight to the point of my being here." Refusing a drink is avoiding  intimacy." p. 80

Can you drink the cup? This is a choice that has been extended to us by the hands of grace. Yes, we can drink the cup, the question is -will we drink the cup? Refusing the drink is to avoid intimacy, accepting the drink expands the God-conversation.

In another very powerful way Jesus drank the bitter cup, so that we could drink the sweet cup of life. This reminds me that when life is hard, when it seems that the cup is beyond bitter, even then, there is the potential for sweetness if we allow Jesus to enter in.

I see this in the story of the bitter water at Marah in Exodus 15. As the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and began their journey, the first drinking spot the came to had water that was bitter (Marah means bitter). As the complained about the bad drinking water, God had a remedy:

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 Exodus 15:22-25

"22 Then Moses led Israel
from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days
they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah. ) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?"  25
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of
wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet."

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When the drink was bitter, God showed Moses that there was a piece of wood that when added to the bad water source transformed it into sweet, good drinking water.

This is a picture of Calvary, of the Cross of Christ. Are you experiencing a bad drink, a bitter cup? Then, apply the wood of Jesus sacrifice, by accepting His sacrifice for you, and then even the bitterest of drinks have hope and light and life! Nothing is beyond the redemption of Christ's love.

Nouwen also says:

"We have to drink our cup slowly, tasting every mouthful-all the way to the bottom. Living a  complete life is drinking our cup until it is empty, trusting that God will fill it with everlasting life." p. 93

The cup is a celebration of what it means to be human…to be fully alive…may you drink to abundance this Easter.

Dei Gratia

Pastor Monty