What’s So Good About Good Friday?

What is so good about Good Friday?

Have you ever considered this question? Have you perchance asked this question of someone? There are all sorts of “good Fridays.” There is rejoicing because Friday, for most, is the last day of the work week, and the next two days are days to relax or take care of other things that you need to tend to. There are the Fridays that lead to extended weekends. We all love those 3 or 4 day weekends. There are those Fridays that are actually a Thursday. You know, you have Friday off so Thursday is your Friday. There is Black Friday. That’s a really good one. Just think of all the great deals you get.

However, there is only one Friday that is “Good Friday.” Why is it “Good Friday?” Jesus was arrested, tortured, beaten, spat upon, mocked, and so much more. He was hung on a cruel and rough hewn cross after having been tortured and having carried His cross through the crowded streets. He was nailed to the cross through His wrists and feet. He was bleeding, bruised, beaten. How can you call this good?

Before any of this, Jesus was in the Garden with His disciples. He asked them to wait and pray with Him. He went off to talk to His Father. When He returned they had fallen asleep. This was repeated 3 times. One of His very own betrayed Him to the soldiers to be arrested and dragged off. He was denied by another of His disciples 3 different times after pledging his undying love and following. How can you call this good?

Yet in the Garden, Jesus prayed, “…My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39, NASB) He came and checked on His disciples, found them sleeping, woke them up, admonished them, and went off once again. Once again He prayed to His Father, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it. Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) How can you call this good?

We can call this good. God is so good. It’s hard to understand. From our human point of view we have trouble reconciling all of this with the fact that we call this Good Friday. Oh, my friend, this IS Good Friday. Did you read those words that Jesus said to His Father? “Your will be done.” Jesus told God, “I don’t necessarily want to do it this way. It’s going to hurt bad, but God, I want to do your will.” It is good because it was for you and me that He did this. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you and for me. It is good because Jesus willingly walked the path to the cross to pay the price for our sins.

My friend, the best is yet to come though. S.M. Lockridge coined the phrase, “It’s Friday but Sunday’s comin’.” If we didn’t have Good Friday, we wouldn’t be able to have Resurrection Sunday. Because of Good Friday, we have the opportunity to repent of our sins and accept Christ’s finished work on Calvary. We have the opportunity to go to heaven one day. There was a price that needed to be paid. Jesus paid that price. We have a sales slip so to speak with all our sins listed. When Jesus died that sales slip was stamped, “Paid in Full.”

So here is the most wonderful part: Jesus ROSE from the dead!. He did not stay dead but He arose. He is alive. Jesus bears the marks of our sins upon His body, but my friend, He is alive!
So what’s so good about Good Friday.

The answer is pure and simple: Because of Good Friday, we have Resurrection Sunday and the opportunity to live forever in Heaven with the One who loved us so very much that He did this for us.

Have you received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life? Do you know that one day you will live in Heaven? If you can’t answer yes, please contact us, and we can help you know how this promise can be yours. God is good all the time, and He wants you to share everlasting life with Him in heaven.

Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.

Praising God this Palm Sunday

On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.’” “For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.” (John 12:12-13, 18)

They took the palm branches to meet Jesus. They went to praise and adore Him. Why? The Bible tells us it was because of the mighty deeds He had done. The people of Israel had seen all the things He did, all the miracles He performed. They spent time with Him. Many came to see what else He would do. I imagine that many came thinking He was going to overthrow Rome and be their ruler. Verses 14-15 read, “Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written ‘Fear not daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” Whatever their reasoning for this display, they sang praises to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is and was Messiah.

Sometimes we hear these stories and think, “Well, I know that. What can you tell me that is new?” Let me challenge you to view this Palm Sunday with a new perspective. The story holds true and it never changes. It is God’s word. However, maybe we can change our heart as we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week.

Praise to the King. The people sang “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Hosanna is used to express adoration, praise, or joy (especially in biblical, Judaic, and Christian use).” It is defined as “an expression of adoration, praise or joy” [1]( Internet Dictionary)Jesus is the King of Kings. There is none other like Him. He is loving, just, caring, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, faithful, and holy, just to name a few. Spend some time in worship praising the Lord for Who He is.

Adoration. While praise is defined in the internet dictionary as “the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something,”[2] adoration is defined as “deep love and respect and worship. Synonyms include worship, glorify, praise, revere, reverence, exalt, laud, extol, esteem, pay homage to.”[3] Adoration goes deeper. It brings us to the very throne of God. In the Christmas story, we see the wise men (magi) coming to “adore” the baby Jesus. Do we have that kind of deep love for Jesus? When we spend time with Jesus do we want to fall to our knees in worship and adoration?

Lifting holy hands. In I Timothy 2:1-8 we read, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” “Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6) “Let my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (Psalm 141:2)

In each of these verses, we see that the lifting of hands is equal to an offering of praise and worship to God. Some of us feel awkward at lifting our hands in public worship. It makes me wonder why? Why do we shy away from it? Are we simply afraid of what those around us may think? We need to realize that this is an act of worship. This worship is to God. May I challenge you on this Palm Sunday, this first day of the Holy Week, when you spend time with your Creator and Savior in praise and adoration to allow yourself to raise your hands as an act of worship?

Marvel. Dictionary.com defines marvel as “to be filled with wonder, admiration, or astonishment, as at something surprising or extraordinary.”[4] Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona? I have once. I remember the moment I laid on eyes on it. I wanted to cry and sing and praise God all at the same time. In fact I started singing How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God. My heart was so full that all I could do was pour out all I was feeling in worship of the One who created that magnificent sight. I marveled at it.

Do we marvel at God and all He has done? When we see God working in our lives and the lives of those around us do we say ‘I know that was you God” or do we think, cool? We need to make sure our praise and thanksgiving goes where it belongs. “…Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!” (Revelation 15:3)

As we celebrate Palm Sunday may each of us come in Praise and Adoration, lifting holy hands as we Marvel at all God has done and continues do in our lives. Hallelujah to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

1 Hosanna
2 Praise
3 Adoration
Marvel

This New Year:
Pray, Pray, Pray

This poem was written by dad (Ralph Snyder) on December 31, 2008 as he looked toward our family gathering the next day to celebrate New Year’s Day. At that time he looked back over the past year and saw the path that he and his family had traveled. 2008 had seen many challenges in our family. However, he also made sure to look forward. His focus was putting Christ first. His desire for himself, my mom, his children, and his grandchildren was for each of us to focus on God no matter what paths our life journey took us on. Through the highs and the lows, he wanted to make sure we prayed. What better way to keep our eyes focused on God than to pray to God, seeking Him first and foremost in our lives.

What better way to face a new and unknown year than to pray to the One Who is the author of that year. He is our Creator and the One Who knows what is going to happen. Why not give all of everything over to Him and give Him control

Make sure this year to take time to pray, pray, pray.

 

If you need to kick start your prayer life this year, check out Project Prayer or the Project Prayer Resources.

7 Ways to Serve the Lord with Gladness This Christmas

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
(Psalm 100 ESV)

Many times throughout scripture we are told to “serve the Lord.” How fitting it is that at this very special time of year we think about serving God. There are many ways, large and small, that we can serve the Lord. We are going to look at just 7 of these as our countdown to Christmas continues.

1. Offer to babysit free of charge.
Many young couples need time. They may need to finish shopping, have a date night, spend some time decompressing from all the busyness of the season. Offer to take their little ones for a few hours as your gift to them. What a great way to show God’s love. You can take time with the kids to do something special (like making cookies) to make memories for them also.

2. Offer rides to the elderly or those who can’t get out themselves.
There are always those who can’t drive but yet would like to go get those last minute gifts or even just go for a ride to see the lights in the neighborhood. This would be a great time to get to know these folks a little better as you fellowship in the car. If you are taking them shopping, give them time to shop. Many don’t have this time to leisurely shop. They always feel like they need to hurry because someone is waiting for them. Give them the gift of time.

3. Hold a door open for someone who is struggling.
Give someone a gift of kindness. We’ve all seen those with walkers or canes trying to get a door open and get through it with their walking aid. Holding a door for them may take you all of 30 seconds to a minute, but it could make a huge difference in their life knowing that someone would take time to help them.

4. Make cookie trays for your neighbors.
This is a great outreach for your neighborhood. Choose 5 or 6 homes around yours to take cookie (or goodies) trays to. As you walk around handing them out, you will have an opportunity to wish them a Merry Christmas and give them the gift of yourself. Don’t forget to wear that smile.

5. Visit a nursing home and/or retirement home.
Many folks in nursing and retirement homes feel very alone this time of year. They just need someone to talk to. Take an afternoon or evening to spend a couple hours visiting and listening. Let them tell you their favorite Christmas memory or story. Give them the gift of friendship.

6. Invite extra people for Christmas dinner.
There are many people that are alone on Christmas. There may be any number of reasons why they are alone. This is a very difficult time of year for them. They struggle and are lonely. Look for one or two that may need that extra gift of belonging. Be sure to include them in the family fun time. They may enjoy playing games with you or in watching a Christmas movie. If you open gifts while they are there be sure to have a little something for them also. It will make a world of difference in their life.

7. Help serve at a Rescue Mission or some other “soup kitchen” type of place.
There are many homeless people on the streets. During the winter it is especially difficult and they are looking for some place warm to get a bite to eat. Offer to help serve food. It will help those serving get a new perspective. We hear so much about “what we want” for Christmas. This will help us focus on what we can give. We have been given so much. Let’s share God’s love and give the gift of warmth.

These are just a few ways that we can share God’s love with others as we serve God this Christmas. We would love to hear some of your ideas also.

May God bless each of you with a very joyous and blessed Christmas season.

Check out the rest of our Countdown to Christmas posts here.

Taking Care of Those who Take Care of You

There are all types of Christian leaders. We have pastors, elders, Sunday school and Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) teachers, kids’ ministry leaders, women’s and men’s study leaders, youth leaders, worship leaders, and last, but certainly not least, missionaries.

What do all of these have in common? They are our spiritual leaders. They study for their messages and lessons. They minister to their “flock” (kids and adults). They get called out at all hours, day and night, and they have their own personal lives and struggles.

They care and minister to the people–to us. But, who takes care of them? When they have marriage conflict, financial struggles, personal struggles, loneliness, sickness, and death in the family, who do they turn to? Yes, they turn to God. But, did you know that God can use you to minister to them?

Maybe you’re saying, “How do I minister to these leaders? What can I do? I don’t know the Bible nearly as well as they do.” My friend, there are so many ways to minister. (Let’s not forget their families, too. Being the spouse and children of someone in ministry means you are in ministry also.)

Let’s look at a few practical ways to minister:

1. Pray for them. Pray for them. Pray for them. Pray for wisdom in their ministry. Pray that they would remain faithful to God and His word. Pray that they would make, and hold dear, their family time. Pray that they would be men and women of integrity. Pray that they would remain healthy. Pray that they would rest on God for all their needs. Pray for their families that God would protect them, use them, and encourage them. Pray that they would take time to allow God to minister to them also.

2. Realize that this is full-time (most pastors and full-time missionaries). They don’t just get up on Sunday, preach, and that’s it. There is much time and effort that goes into their ministry.

3. Give them space for family time. Most leaders have a scheduled day off; let them have this. Unless it is an emergency, try not to bother them on their day off.

4. Bless them with a meal. Contact them as to what they can and cannot eat (allergies), and either bring them a meal or have them over. They are in need of fellowship also.

5. Send a note of encouragement. There are times that they are discouraged and just need a little “pick me up.” It’s so encouraging to know someone cares.

6. Thank them for what they are doing. The task is not simple. There are attacks on every side, and sometimes the feelings of giving up become strong. God tells us in His word, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we will reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9 KJV) Sometimes though, the way is tiring. Sometimes, while they don’t look or ask for it, our Christian leaders need to be thanked. Yes, they are doing it all for the Lord, but they need to know they are making a difference.

7. Remember, not all those in ministry have families. There are many who are single. Make sure to care for them also. Sometimes, they need family time. Maybe include them with your family from time to time.

These are just a few ways to help take care of our Christian leaders. Let me challenge you to look for ways to encourage and take care of those in leadership. Don’t forget those on the mission field. These same principles apply to them also. You may not be able to have them over for a meal, but you can send them a care package. With the world we live in, we can minister to missionaries through emails. How wonderful to see you have an email and read words of encouragement.

Be creative and have fun ministering to those around you but especially to those who have been chosen by God as ministers of God and His word.

Let us hear (in the comments below) your ideas for how to take care of those who take care of you spiritually.


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Let’s Pray?

Prayer. What is it? What importance does it serve in our lives? Why pray? Does God even hear and answer our prayers anyway? I’m not that important. Why would God want me to talk to Him? How do I pray? Sometimes I don’t feel like my prayers go any higher than the ceiling. I tried praying once, but God didn’t give me what I asked for.

Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind? Have you ever questioned prayer? Have you ever made any of those statements?

We are so very excited to introduce you to a site-wide project on prayer. We will be exploring some of these questions and so much more. We will be exploring the prayers of Jesus, why pray, different prayer models, visual prayer, praying for those who minister, and more. There will even be a prayer challenge.

We are thankful to have you join this journey with us. Like any journey, it will be quite the adventure. Please feel free to share your questions on prayer and your answers to prayer as we take this journey together. We want to hear from you.

Our prayer for you is that, whether you are a prayer warrior, a casual pray-er, a novice in prayer or someone who questions whether prayer is a real thing, that you will grow in your prayer life. We pray that prayer will become a priority for you and that you will draw closer in your relationship to God.

Peter Deyneka, founder of Slavic Gospel Association, started the mission, ministered daily, and lived his life based on the concept of “Much Prayer, Much Power.” To this day (over 80 years later), this is still the basis of the ministry of SGA. Does prayer have this kind of impact in your life? Do people see you as a prayer warrior? Come, let’s go on this adventure together.