Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Stone Was Rolled Away

The Burial of Jesus
      As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,  and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
      The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.  “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
      “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”  So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.  ~Matthew 27:57-66
     Can you imagine that?  Can you see all the heavenly hosts looking down, watching the priests and the Pharisees issuing orders to keep Jesus in the borrowed tomb.  The soldiers grunting and straining to make sure the stone was in place, putting the seal of the Roman Empire on it, and then standing guard to make sure that nothing happened.  Think on it, the chief priests and the Pharisees tried to seal up the Son of God with a couple of guards and a rock.
     Can you imagine the God who created the sun and the stars with a word being thwarted by a puny stone in front of a tomb?  Can you imagine that the Great I Am who saved the Israelites by splitting the Red Sea would be stopped by a few Roman soldiers armed with swords and spears?
     Matthew 28:2-4 goes on to say,
      There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.     
     What a scene! God gave the order, and instantly an angel descended from heaven,  the earth shook, the stone was rolled away, revealing the empty tomb, and the guards were paralyzed with fear.
     When I was a child, I thought the angel rolled the stone away to let Jesus out, but that wasn’t how it went.  Jesus didn’t need help getting out.  He had won the victory over death.  The stone was rolled away to let us in.
      The empty tomb means forgiveness.  The empty tomb means that our sins can be washed white as snow. The lamb of God has come.
     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. ~ Is 53:5
      And by His great love, we are redeemed.
     For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  ~John 3:16
     Have a blessed Easter.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Trees and Palm Sunday

     A few years ago Pat and I had the pleasure of going on a brief trip to Florida.  We left cold, damp NY and landed at the Miami airport shortly after a thunder storm had left the area.  It was clear from the moment we landed that we were not in Ny anymore.  The temperature was much warmer.  The air smelled fresh and clean from the recent storm, with a hint of salt.  There were pam trees growing everywhere.  Some were only a few feet tall and others towered over us.  
     As Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jeruselem, the people broke off palm branches and waved them in front of Him.  Less than a week later these same people would gather to see Him crucified.
     The righteous shall flourish like the pam tree:  he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  ~ Psalm 92:12
     In Miami, I saw about ten palm trees on one city block that had tripod supports nailed into bands about seven feet up thier trunks.  I guess this was intended to help support them in hurricane force winds.  I wondered why more of the trees were not protected in this way.  Then I found out that the bands were unnecessary because palm trees are different from other trees.
     We have all seen nails and old clothesline wires sunk deep into the trunk of a maple tree.  As a palm tree grows it doesn't grow around the band - it breaks the bands.
          What is it about palm trees that make them so special?  A palm tree bends in a strong wind, but does not break.  A palm tree has a deep taproot that goes way down through the sands to find moisture far below the surface.  This helps a palm tree to flourish in the desert.  A group of palm trees forms an oasis which shelters other plants from the hot sun and helps to make each one stronger.  Unlike other trees, whose bark is vulnerable, the bark of the palm is meant to take abuse because it's life is on the inside.  The heart of the palm tree is alive.  As a palm tree ages, its fruit becomes sweeter.  Palm trees are evergreens and do not make good fire wood.
     Psalm 92 compares the righteous believer to a palm tree.  In the storms of life, like the palm tree, the believer bends, but does not break.  The Bible and prayer offer the believer a deep taproot that anchors him to God.  The bands of sin and death have been broken for us.  We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  Believers can provide an oasis of shade for those who are weak and hurting.
      Like the palm tree, the life of the child of God is within.
     Though the outward man perish, et the inward man is renewed day by day.  ~ II Corinthians 4:16
     Christ has removed our heart of stone and given us a heart of flesh.  As we mature in Christ, we produce sweeter fruit.  As a child of God, we will not suffer the fires of hell.  Like an evergreen, the child of God has everlasting life.
     After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:  Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."  All the angels fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying:  Praise, glory, Wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Then on of the elders asked me,  "These in white robes--who are they, and where did  they come from?"  I answered, "Sir, you know."  And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple;  and He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.  Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;  he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."  ~Revelation 7:9-17
 It is good to praise the Lord
 To proclaim His love in the morning
 And His faithfulness at night, because
 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree. ~ Psalm 92: 1-2,12

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Strawberry Yogurt Decadence Dessert

     Are you looking for an easy dessert with "Wow!" power?  Look no further.  Everyone loved this!

  3 (6 oz.) containers strawberry yogurt  (light nonfat, if you prefer)
  1 pkg.  (0.3 oz.) Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  10 fresh strawberries
  Optional:  chocolate sauce, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream

How to:
Mix yogurt and the dry gelatin mix in a 1 1/2 quart microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave 2 to 3 additional minutes or until gelatin is completely dissolved, stirring after each minute.
Spoon the yogurt mixture into cupcake wrappers in a muffin pan for stability.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
Plate by drizzling chocolate sauce across the serving plate.  Remove the cupcake liners from the yogurt/gelatin mixture and place  the gelatin on plate.  Top with sliced strawberries, a scoop of ice cream, and whipped cream.
Note:  The strawberry yogurt/gelatin mixture is wonderful just topped with strawberries if you desire something simpler.

Update:  This recipe was included by the fabulous Jenny @ thenymelrosefamily in her list of 40 Spring Desserts: Perfect for Easter post.  Click here for a wonderful list of desserts!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pearl of Great Price

     Not only did I marry a man who’s blood runs green, but I am mostly of Irish descent myself.  On St. Patrick’s Day, I remember my Irish grandmother.  My Grandmother was born in Colorado, but raised in Ireland. As a school girl, she once sung a sassy song about a Lord and a Lady that got her in lots of trouble.
     The Lord and his Lady were riding about.
     The Lord laid a fart, and the Lady jumped out.
     A spot of poetry that earned her punishment at home and school, especially since the Lord in the cart heard her!
     My grandmother had a beautiful pearl necklace with matching earrings that she wore on special occasions.  When she passed, my mother gave Grandma’s pearls to me.  One evening, I wore the necklace to dinner and when we got back home, the pearls were missing.  The next morning, I was so happy and grateful when I found them laying in our driveway.  I treasure the pearls because they were once my grandmothers.
     The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
     Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away sold everything he had and bought it.  ~Matt.  13:44-45 
     Have you ever thought about that scripture?  The merchant sold everything he had over a single pearl.  While my grandmother’s pearls are valuable to me, they are not particularly expensive.  And why pearls?  Jesus could have picked any precious stone.  Certainly a jeweler would have chosen a more valuable, pricey stone over a pearl.  He could have said diamond, emerald, ruby, or perhaps even topaz.
     A pearl is actually the product of an irritation.  A tiny grain of sand becomes painfully trapped in the tissue of an oyster.  The oyster coats the sand with layer upon layer of a beautiful iridescent substance that hardens into a pearl.
     Diamonds and other precious stones, on the other hand, are dug out of the earth.  They require polishing, cutting, and shaping by a skilled artisan.  A substantial portion of their value comes from the way a person cuts it - the work of man’s hand.  A pearl is the only natural gemstone that has more value when it is found then when men finish with it.  A jeweler may pierce it or glue it into a setting.  The setting adds cost, but detracts from the value of the pearl itself.
     A pearl is a work of beauty produced by pain and transformed by grace.
     I think that I can begin to see why Jesus spoke of the pearl of great price.  He paid a tremendous price for us.  We can add nothing to the work of Salvation.  The Great I Am, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords left all the splendors of heaven to reclaim His bride the Church.  We are fully paid, fully ransomed, and fully redeemed.  We are the pearls of great price.
     But because of his great love for us, God who  is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.  Ephesians 2: 4
     Top of the morning to ya!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Snow Man

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  ~Isaiah 55:10-11

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

"When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me.'
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.  ~Matthew 10:29-31

Monday, March 4, 2013

Altered Sephora Gift Box

     My wonderful husband gave me perfume for Christmas from Sephora.  The perfume came in a nice gift box.  The box was sturdy and a nice size.  It also had a hinged lid with velcro on it.  A DIY project in the making!
Materials:  Box, 12 x 12 scrapbook paper, scissors, Modge Podge, paint brush to apply the Modge Podge, and a flower embellishment.
     I rather liked the black and white stripes on two sides of the box, so I opted to leave them as they were.  The scrapbook paper was cut to the  measurements of the top and sides of the box.  A coat of Modge Podge was added, and the paper was put in place.  I layered Modge Podge over the top of the scrapbook paper.
     The paper contrasts beautifully with the black and white stripes.
     The inside of the box is a glossy black. To add a little interest,  I added a piece of scrap paper cut to echo the curve on the top flap.
      Finally, the box was embellished with a silk flower that I had in my stash.  I think that it came from Hobby Lobby.
     This project was simple and quick to do.  I will use the box to put notecards and envelopes in.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fingerprints of Faith

     My elderly neighbor once came home and found her front door ajar.  Afraid that she had a burglar, she called the police from our house.  The police investigated and after asking her if she had left some papers on the table and the clean laundry on her bed, determined that no one had been in her house.  She had probably failed to pull the door tight as she left and the wind had blown it open.
     Now I wondered, had I been in the same situation, if the police would have only had to ask about a little laundry and some papers.  On any given day, all manner of things are randomly strewn around the house.  Our house looks like it has been tossed to look for something -  and likely it has.  Things are dumped to find the special lego piece, the charger for the phones or the ds.  Books are taken off of shelves to find a favorite.  There are shoes and sneakers at the door.  The dog carries socks around and leaves them in little piles in various places.  There are piles of paper from the mail, homework, crafts, stock charts, and magazines.
     Then I thought about fingerprints.  If law enforcement ever had to dust our house for fingerprints they would never be able to solve the crime.  The fingerprints would, however, surely tell a story.  Patty’s fingerprints would be found primarily, in her room and on the kitchen mixer where she bakes.  The boys prints would be all over the snacks and the electronics.  My prints would be on the washing machine and dryer, the refrigerator, the vacuum cleaner, my computer and Pat's wallet.  Pat's prints would be found in his small office and our kitchen.
    The location in our home that our fingerprints are most concentrated reveal a lot about our priorities and our personalities.  Think about the number of fingerprints on the tv remote as compared to the family Bible.  
He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work.   ~Job 37:7
  When we touch something we leave a fingerprint on it, and in the same way, when we touch someone or serve someone we also leave a mark or impression on them.                    
     Our Church has left its fingerprints on the lives of our family for more than 20 years.  The church has watched over us as we have added to our family, mourned loved ones, been sick, baptized, and joyful.  We have benefitted from the baby sitting, children’s ministry, sermons, friendship, and fellowship hall.  We’ve visited one another in hospitals and celebrated births.  We’ve sang Christmas Carols and dressed children as shepherds.  We’ve painted and glued sparkles and glitter on projects in children’s church and VBS.  I’ve taken quite a few pictures.
     I am grateful for the people who have been led by God to leave fingerprints of faith on the lives of our church family.  Perhaps God will lead you to leave a few fingerprints of your own where you worship.

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