Tag Archives: Calvary

Being Disciples on this Strange Good Friday

 

God is the originator of all good things—so the Bible tells us in James 1:17 (NLT) ~ Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.”  In other words, everything in heaven and on earth that is good comes from the one true God. Even that dark Friday when His Son was tortured, beaten, slapped, cursed, insulted, jeered at, spit upon, and nailed to a wooden cross turned out for our good.

 

I’m sure that Friday didn’t feel good as Jesus’ mother, brothers, and beloved disciples looked at the cross in unbelief. I can imagine thoughts like this going through their heads: What just happened? How did we get here? This is not what we bargained for? This is not how following Jesus was supposed to turn out! Is God anywhere to be found?

 

We’re talking about real human beings here—His disciples. Oh, they were not highly-educated men of position and power, nor honored high priests in the Jewish synagogue. Truth is—each of those men was basically an unknown member of society and a nobody as far as the world was concerned.

 

And on that Good Friday when Jesus died, all their hopes and dreams for being a somebody died too. The hopes that they had found the promised Messiah just got deflated. All dreams of being in Jesus’ official cabinet when He set up His kingdom on earth vanished as well. They were actually in hiding for minutes, hours, and days not knowing where they were in the bigger scheme of things. No doubt they were bewildered. It surely must have felt as if hell had won.

 

Today, on this Good Friday in April of 2020, it somewhat feels the same way for us modern-day disciples. We are hold-up in our homes due to COVID-19 safer-at-home orders spending minutes, hours, and days not knowing where we are in the bigger scheme of things. There is hardly any normal life to be found. It has affected all of us—crossing all lines of division—wealth, race, education, religion—and marginalizing us into one big category—bewildered! And it surely feels as if hell has won.

 

Aren’t we asking those same questions: What just happened? How did we get here? This is not what we bargained for? This is not how following Jesus was supposed to turn out! Is God anywhere to be found?

 

But wait—the truth is that one dark afternoon at Calvary changed everything for Jesus’ disciples then and now. I guess we could say it was a game-changer deluxe! In that fateful moment when Jesus declared “It is finished,” the curse on mankind was broken and the redemptive plan of God was accomplished. In just a few days, that dark moment would yield to a glorious resurrection morning. Great joy would fill the hearts of the disciples when they realized that Jesus was alive forevermore!

 

You see, the time hidden here in this dark moment of a world pandemic is only for a few days. We too will have a glorious resurrection morning and Jesus will appear to us once again. Our hearts will be filled with joy when we understand that just as He had not abandoned His disciples then, He has not abandoned us now. And since we serve a game-changing God, who knows what good will come out of this dark time? Who knows what it could mean for us who believe that He always keeps His promises, and that everything He ever told us will be just as He said?

 

It is in our best interest as modern-day disciples of the Living Lord to trust our faithful Father and believe that this too is indeed a Good Friday! He has never failed us yet!

 

May we celebrate this strange Easter as disciples of great faith! Blessings to all ~ Janie

Oh God, I Need Some Rest!

I’ve read it a thousand times—Hebrews Chapter 4. I’ve chased its interpretation for more years than I care to count. Still today, verse 11 perplexes me: “Let us therefore labor to enter that rest…” It doesn’t make sense to labor at resting. Why not just lie down and rest? To top that, the word labor in this scripture actually means to “make haste.”  So now I’m supposed to hurry at resting? I want to label this an oxymoron, but I know God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

Oh God, I need some rest! How I long for rest! I can only hope to find it someday!

 

I’m smack-dab in the middle of accounting season, near drowning in sheer circumstances. For an accountant, that means deadline upon deadline to meet with little recourse. Even a good night’s rest for the body is scarce. I told a friend the other day that it felt as if I were submerged in water and all that remained on the surface is one hand slowly sinking down through the bubbles from my last breath of air as I mumbled a final cry for help.

 

While it was intended to be funny, I wonder how many of us feel just like that about life. We’ve tried to keep afloat, made every effort to hold things together, did our best to swim against the current of never-ending demands on our lives, but somehow we feel that we might not make it. Does life grab you that way—hold you under until you’re not sure the next breath will come?

 

And what about our spiritual lives—ever felt that you’re just not getting the hang of it? You do all the right things, you work and give and help and support. You struggle with thoughts like, “Oh God, I’ve given and given and it never seems to work for me like Joel Osteen said it would!” And what about the strength we’ve been promised—you know from lofty verses like, “your strength shall be renewed, mounting up with wings like eagles?”1 Somehow that seems to have slip right past me. Yep, this eagle is merely hopping along on the ground trying to dodge the muck and mire of life.

 

If any of this sounds like you—I have good news. I’m not sure why its meaning has eluded me for so long, but Hebrews Chapter 4 is our answer. It is the very substance of what God knew we would need and what He provided for us in advance. Remember, God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

So what does it mean—this laboring to rest business? Newer translations say, “Let us be diligent to enter that rest.” It means: Let us hurry diligently at finding the rest provided by God and then enter into that rest. I suspect that we don’t hurry diligently because we do not know what that rest is or where it is. If we just knew what it was or where it was, we would!

 

While there are many clues to unfold in this chapter, let’s take a closer look at Verses 9 and 10: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His (God’s) rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”

 

Did you see that—ceased from his works? Let that soak in. Amy Carmichael said, “Perhaps what demands most will power is the resolution to cease from our own works, our own busyness, and to stay our minds upon our God.”

 

We know that earning salvation by good works is included here, for only the works of Christ at Calvary can save us. But don’t stop there. Look for more. Could this also be the key to living the Spirit-empowered life?

 

God has plan and a place for us to rest. God wants us to find and enter into it. Moses’ generation didn’t enter in because of unbelief. In other words, they heard about it, “but the word which they heard did not benefit them because it was not mixed with faith.”

 

We must first believe this rest of God is available to us. Once we believe it is there, we must hurry diligently to find it. Look up and look forward as we unpack the secrets to finding and entering that rest! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Isaiah 40:31; All other scriptures Hebrews Chapter 4.