On Wings Of Eagles

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27:46 (ESV)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

What a heart wrenching question from the mouth of Jesus. The son who has been sharing an unhindered relationship with his father since eternity, is now driven to say these words. While we might think he is tempted to doubt his father’s love, he positions his circumstance against the backdrop of scripture and quotes from Psalm 22:1. From the depths of his pain he quotes scripture. Jesus’ life is so steeped in scripture.

Just as Psalm 22 is the cry of a community, Jesus here is identifying with the sufferings of this world and experiences what it means to be concealed from God’s love. He enters our struggle and abandonment and experiences what each one of us has to go through when we abandon the love of God for other lesser loves. The writer Augustine expresses this beautifully, Jesus is praying as the head and as the body.

This cry is a reminder that Jesus unites all our suffering. As Christians, we are reminded here that our suffering is not private. Jesus associates with us. Our suffering is also not private because we are a community of believers. Ideally, we ought to suffer with those who are suffering.

Today, let us remember that our suffering is not an isolated experience but we have Jesus who suffers with us. Let us also remember those who are suffering so that we may enter into their circumstances and offer our help and assistance.

We might feel Jesus isn’t doing enough to alleviate our suffering. Instead, he seems to plunge us deeper. That is right, he plunges us deeper by helping us realize that our suffering is not in vain. It is not meant to be an individual experience but a cooperative experience of redemption. Jesus’ involvement in human suffering and his cry of abandonment must serve as a model for us to stand in the gap and help.

Dear Lord, help us to step into, walk with and alleviate the pain of those who are suffering. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Woman, behold your son! Behold your mother!

John 19:25-27 (ESV)
25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

This is the second time Jesus is referring to his mother as “Woman.” The first time was at the beginning of his ministry at the wedding of Cana. And now at the end of his earthly life he refers to her as “Woman.” At the start of his ministry she spoke and expected him to obey. Now at the end of his earthly life she sits quietly by his cross.

Mary is a model mother, who steers her children to go out and do something but continues to stand by her children when the going gets tough. Parents have the privilege of steering their children to accomplish something beautiful. However, there are also times when parents are brought to their knees to silently cry for their children.

While Mary was crying, Jesus was making all things new. This offers hope to parents that Jesus is going to make all things new. The tears for our children will not be in vain. He will, indeed, make all things new.

The relationship children share with their mothers is most special. Mothers usually care for their children in ways most fathers struggle to. Here, we find at the foot of the cross when most people have abandoned Jesus, his mother, his aunty, 2 Marys and John.

It is difficult to be the mother of a misunderstood child. I have seen mothers argue on behalf of their children who they think deserve more. Mary here, is portrayed quiet at the foot of the cross where her bleeding son hangs. What the silence implied is difficult for us to comprehend.

Maybe, Jesus heard her heart's cry and the loneliness she might be feeling and said, “Woman, here is your son,” and then looking at John he said, “This is your mother.” We have an opportunity this season to reach out to our parents and offer them our company as they wade through the struggles of old age.

Like John, we can also reach out to the elderly in our community; welcome them into our homes. Or visit them, listen to them, or simply just give them company.

Dear Lord, hear our heart's cry and help us to hear the silent cries of the elderly wherever they might be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Today you will be with me in paradise.

Luke 23:39-43 (ESV)
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The promise of salvation is not just for the future. It is also for today. There were two prisoners on either side of Jesus. Each of them had a view of Jesus that might resonate with anyone of us. The first one, in continuation of the mocking that Jesus had already received, challenges him to perform a miracle: “If you are the son of God, save yourself and us.”

This challenge was not new for Jesus. Even before he began his ministry Satan had asked him a similar question: “If you are the son of God, change these stones into bread.” Sometimes, we are tempted to ask Jesus the same question: “If you are the son of God, do this for me…”

To Satan he responded with scripture. To the first prisoner he chose to stay silent. He didn’t see the need to defend his identity.

Conversely, the second criminal on the cross does not want Jesus to ‘perform’.  Rather, he wants Jesus to ‘remember’ him. So to the second prisoner Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus’ ultimate answer to every one of our requests is – heaven.

Yet, he reminds us that heaven is not merely a place. It is a person. “You will be with me.” Heaven is where Jesus is. The offer of heaven is himself. He can make heaven enter into our lives if we are willing to allow him to make his home in our hearts. Jesus can help us change the perspective of our experiences.

The second criminal surprisingly viewed Jesus as ‘The King’ despite Jesus’ powerlessness. He asked Jesus for the most important thing – to remember him. Don’t we all get a boost when someone great remembers us? What a privilege for us to see Jesus now in all his power and know that he remembers us!

Today let us remember two things. One, heaven is not only a place to arrive at but we can have a foretaste of it, here on earth, with Jesus in our hearts. Two, Jesus has regained his splendor and majesty and he remembers us by name.

Dear Lord, help us to live everyday with the knowledge that You remember each of us. Help us to share that great gift with those around us today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do

Luke 23:34 (ESV)
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

In the movie – The Passion of the Christ – the suffering of Jesus is portrayed very accurately. You can imagine what Jesus had just been through. He had been spat upon, his hair and beard pulled, they made fun of him, they ridiculed his teaching, they slapped him, they whipped him and they pressed a crown of thorns into his head. Eventually they nailed him to the cross. And this is what he says, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Even from the cross Jesus along with the father forgives his perpetrators. The union that he shares with his father is evident even in his forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that when injustice is being done to us the father takes it personally. Likewise, when we forgive we are forgiving on behalf of the father.

Jesus then reminds us that sin is ignorance. When we sin we become ignorant. We become so ignorant that despite being aware of the consequences of our behavior we still choose to go ahead with our action. Jesus reminds us from the cross that we can accept his forgiveness and change our ways.

Forgiveness is a very difficult decision. But it is a very important decision. More than anything,  it offers us, the victim, freedom. We must strive to forgive, because the father has forgiven us. With God all things are possible. So with God’s help let us try to forgive. Additionally, with the power of the Holy Spirit let us hope for our pain to be transformed into compassion and our memory into prayer and intercession.

The cross is at the center of our journey as Christians. Jesus reminds us from the cross that forgiveness comes from the father's loving heart and we must extend this forgiveness to others.

Dear Lord, thank you for the relief that Your forgiveness brings to our life. Help us find others to offer it today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

I Have a Hope that Never Dies

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Life without the empty tomb would be hopeless.

The very existence of Christianity depends on the truth of the empty tomb. Without Jesus fulfilling the promise to rise from the dead, where would we be?

Mary Magdalene saw it with her own eyes though. Mary Magdalene, the woman who was once possessed and didn’t know hope until Jesus found her, was the one to first see it with her own eyes. And not only did she see the empty tomb, she saw Jesus. Jesus came to her and spoke her name.

He simply spoke her name and things changed for Mary Magdalene. Hope had come back into her life.

When he walked out of that tomb, Jesus brought hope to the hopeless. He conquered death. He conquered death.

1 Corinthians 15:55 says, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Our victory is in Jesus. Our victory is in his life, his death, and, praise God, his resurrection. The resurrection means everything. The resurrection validates that Jesus was who he said he was. It validates every word Jesus ever said. It shows us that Jesus can be trusted. He does what he says he will do.

The resurrection gives us unbreakable hope.

Will you say yes to that hope today? Will you live fully today because of the victory we have in Jesus?

Today’s Challenge: Be joyful today. We have the ultimate hope. And if someone asks why you have so much joy today, tell them why.

Dear Lord we thank You for the hope that we have through what You did for each of us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, April 12, 2019

I Have the Promise of Eternal Life

Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you and I any different than the thieves that hung on the cross with Jesus?

Think about it. We are all sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God. Just like the two thieves who died next to Jesus.

The question today is: Which thief are you going to be? One thief joined the crowds and mocked Jesus. He said, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” I wonder what it was like that day. Were the witnesses of Jesus’ death giving in to peer pressure and mocking because everyone else was doing it? Either way, one thief joined the jeers.

The other thief was changed. His heart had experienced the truth of Jesus while he hung on that cross. He was repentant and confessed his sins. Jesus said to him in Luke 23: 43, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus saved a thief being executed right then and there. We don’t know any details of his wrongdoings. We don’t even know his name. Do you think that’s symbolic? Perhaps Jesus is saying it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. Place your trust in me and you will live with me for all eternity.

Breathe that in for a minute.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

We can’t save ourselves but glory to God He can. God has given us this breathtaking promise through Jesus.

Will you trust today that God wants to give you the gift of eternal life?

Today’s Challenge: Schedule 10 minutes of quiet time for yourself today. Listen for God as you’re quiet. Or perhaps pray to Him that He will help you trust that this gift of eternal life is real.

Dear Lord, we thank You today that You paid the price for our sin. We thank You that because You took our sins upon You we can have eternal life with You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

My Life Has a Plan

Romans 8:28 (ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

When a baby is born there is often celebration. There are tears of joy. There are prayers of thanksgiving. There is pure wonder.

Imagine what Mary must have been feeling as she held the son of God in her arms for the first time—her son. Did she have plans for Jesus? Did she have hopes for her baby boy? Of course she did—what mama doesn’t have those types of plans for her children?

Not many mamas I know would have plans that would include a violent death. So as Mary watched her son hang on the cross, the sorrow and pain for her had to have been unfathomable.

This wasn’t the happy ending she pictured for her baby boy. Far from it—it was a nightmare.

But when God is the author of our stories, they often play out quite differently than had we been our own authors. God’s will doesn’t exclude pain and suffering. And that sometimes seems senseless to us.

How senseless the death of Jesus must have seemed to Mary. Do you think that when Jesus spoke to Mary from the cross, Mary had a feeling of hope or comfort? Do you think it was being revealed to her little by little that Jesus’ death was God’s plan of hope for His people all along?

When life seems unclear, God can be trusted. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Will you rest today knowing that God has a beautiful plan for your life?

Today’s Challenge: Take a small gift to a tired mother you may know. Read Romans 8:28 to her. Pray with her. Pray that she will trust her children’s lives in God’s hands no matter what that means.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we can trust our children’s life in Your hands. Help us to be the encouragement someone needs today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.