Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Alone in the Storm

A strong wind was blowing and the waters
grew rough. When they had rowed three or
three and a half miles, they saw Jesus
approaching the boat, walking on the water;
and they were terrified. 
                                John 6:18-19 NIV

     Has Jesus ever failed to meet your expectations? His disciples believed He would be crowned king, sit on a throne and rule the land. I feel positive they also believed that as faithful followers, they would rule with Jesus. They expected a war against Herod. They expected victory over Roman rule. They got neither!

     I like the way Max Lucado explains this in his book entitled In the Eye of the Storm. “Instead of weapons, they got oars. Rather than being sent to fight, they were sent to float. The crowds were sent away. Jesus walked away. And they were left on the water with a storm brewing in the sky.”

     Jesus sent the disciples to the other side of the lake while He went up the mountainside to pray. He knew the storm was coming, yet he sent his disciples away; alone.

     Like the disciples, I too have been in the eye of the storm wondering if Jesus would save me. Hoping that He stood close by; watching. Hoping that I would not drown in my sorrow before He reached His hand and pulled me to safety; wondering. During that time, I realized that my crisis was not the storm raging around me but the fear and anxiety raging in my heart.

     Then one day, Jesus came walking on the water of my storm, spoke peace be still and calmed my troubled soul. Perfect timing! Just when I knew that I was not going to make it through the storm, the one who stores up the lightening and gathers the storm clouds, who bottles the winds and calms the waters came and spoke peace to my fearful anxious heart. The crisis remained, but the storm was over!

     I, like the disciples, thought I was alone in the storm. But just as the disciples experienced, I found that in Christ I am never alone. Jesus used the crisis of my storm to remind me of His love, grace and mercy.

     If you are in the eye of the storm today, do not fear. Jesus is close by— walking on the water. You are not alone in your storm.

©JP 2013 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Filled With Joy

So the women hurried away from the
tomb, afraid yet filled with joy…
                   Matthew 28:8 NIV 

…the joy of the LORD is your strength.
                   Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

You make known to me the path of life; in
your presence there is fullness of joy…
                   Psalm 16:11 ESV 

…Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy
comes with the morning.
                   Psalm 30:5 ESV 

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises
to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.
                   Psalm 71:23 ESV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you my abound in hope.
                   Romans 15:13 ESV

     Have you ever lost your joy in the Lord? Have you walked through circumstances that struck your heart with so much fear that that even breathing became a difficult task? Has heartache stolen your joy or sadness preoccupied your mind so that you think of nothing but what you have lost? Are you afraid that life will never return to normal?

     I have good news! God knows where you are, and He will not leave you in a joyless place. His Word is life and filled with joy and hope. Even in the midst of death and fear, there was joy as the women left the empty tomb to tell the disciples their resurrection experience. Nehemiah reminds us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

     The Psalms declare there is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord and that although we weep for a night, joy comes in the morning. I refuse to forget that in the midst of my darkest hour, the love of Christ shines a light to guide me through the blackness.

     If you are presently walking through a place of sorrow or fear, run to Jesus. He is the Redeemer—of your soul and your joy. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Sing praise. Read God’s Word. Your joy is not lost forever. It is simply tucked away in a corner of your heart waiting to be uncovered so you can once again be filled with joy.

© Joyce Powell

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He is Risen!

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 lightening, and his clothes were
white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that
they shook and became like dead men. The angel said
to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you
are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here;
he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place
where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He
has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into
Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
                                               Matthew 28:2-7 NIV 

     This morning I sit on the edge of my bed awaiting the Easter sunrise. While I do not expect to physically see an angel sitting on the stone rolled away from the empty tomb, the lens of my heart is zoomed into the tomb’s entrance, the folded grave clothes and the message of our Risen Savior.

     Over the past year I have been afraid as I watched cancer ravage my baby sister’s life. But the message of the empty tomb is “Do Not be afraid.”

     The message of the empty tomb is joy unspeakable. He is risen! The message of the empty tomb is a Living Savior, not a dead God. He is risen! The message of the empty tomb is that all are invited to come and see. He is risen! The message of the empty tomb is that we are to go and tell others. He is risen!

     God is not dead! Christ is not buried! He is raised just as He promised. Therefore, I can trust Him. I can believe that He will accomplish everything He has promised. I can live in joyous expectation of the day my eyes will behold Him face to face.

     So I invite you this morning, you who may never have looked into the empty tomb, you who may be walking in fear of the future, you who have been shattered by the cares of this life… I invite you to come and see the empty tomb and meet the risen Savior.

     His name is Jesus. He waits for you with outstretched arms. Come and see—then go and tell. He is risen!

©Joyce Powell    

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hope is Found in Christ Alone

     Our hope is in Christ, and I remain amazed that often the same Scriptures that urge us to continue on when life is interrupted with hardship and pain are the same Scriptures that give us hope for our future.

     In chapter three of Philippians, the apostle Paul talks about pressing on toward the goal—the high calling, straining toward what is ahead. Our hope is in Christ, and even though life is a journey filled with rocky places and difficult mountains, we have hope that “God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus”

     In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul reminded us to “stand firm, let nothing move you, always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord”. Why? “Because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

     In II Corinthians 4:18, we are reminded to “Fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. And when a ruler of the synagogue was told that his daughter was dead, Jesus responded by telling him “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:35-36)

     Hope is a natural outcome when we see life through God’s perspective. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Hope! “In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Hope!

     Because we know how the story ends, we have hope. “Behold, I (Christ) am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:12-14)

     Therefore, in the midst of turmoil, heartache, pain, and loss we can still hope. Not because of any artificially produced verbiage, but because our hope is in Christ alone. So when we question the horrors of this world, we need never be hopeless because:

1.      Our hope is in Christ
2.      Our hope is not in vain
3.      Our hope remains firm in the midst of crisis and chaos
4.      Our hope is strengthened when we see it from God’s perspective
5.      Our hope is sure because we know how it will end

           Since true hope is found only in Christ, we must share it with the world as we too follow the instructions from the angel to the women at the tomb of our risen Lord"Come and see...go and tell."

© Joyce Powell

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Greatest Exchange in History

When He had received the drink, Jesus said,
“It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head
and gave up his spirit. 
                                   John 19:30 NIV                                                

      Most of us have made an exchange of merchandise at a local department store. When we return the item to be exchanged, we receive a receipt marked exchange or refund. Exchanges happen every day. But the greatest exchange in history happened over two thousand years ago.

     Centuries before Christ walked the earth, the prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming Messiah. He told of the pain and sufferings of Christ as he would be led like “a lamb to the slaughter”. (Isaiah 53:7) In 53:11, Isaiah revealed that “after the suffering of His (Messiah’s) soul, He will justify many”. And the apostle Paul explained it in Ephesians 4:22-24; “Their life of sin is stripped away, and they are clothed with Christ’s goodness.”

     The Bible teaches that the exchange took place on the cross of Calvary as Christ gave up His spirit. The Greek word used for gave up in John 19:30 means to forgive, pardon, remit or cancel. His was a willing exchange.

     Christ left everything in heaven—His Father, the angels bowing down, His royal diadem, His throne. He left it all, as He stepped into a body of flesh, zipped it up over His glory and became as one of us. He exchanged His glory for my sin. “It is finished”—His final proclamation from the cross.

      My acceptance of that exchange happened the moment that I received Christ as my Savior. The old life of sin and shame was forgiven, pardoned, and cancelled for a new life in Christ. He remitted, or paid the price, for what I owed.  

     So, the next time you go to a department store to exchange some merchandise, remember the exchange made on the cross of Calvary. Have you already accepted what Christ has done for you? If the answer is yes, praise God today for his unspeakable gift. If the answer is no, now would be the perfect time for you to exchange a life of sin for the righteousness of Christ and become part of the greatest exchange in history.

©Joyce Powell

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Did Mary Know

They (disciples) brought the donkey and the colt,
placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees and spread
them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of
him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was
stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered,
“This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
                                           Matthew 21:7-11 NIV 

      Thirty-three years earlier a baby boy came from heaven to walk upon earth and proclaim that His Father sent Him to bring salvation to a sin-sick world. His mother, Mary, knew God had entrusted her with heaven’s most precious gift—God’s only Son.

     As Jesus began to walk and talk and work in His earthly father’s carpenter shop, surely Mary wondered how it would all end. Perhaps her heart filled with joy as the crowd shouted hosanna. If so, her joy would soon turn to sorrow. It is likely that she had heard of Zechariah’s prophecy that Zion’s King would come “gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. (Zechariah 9:9) It is also likely that she knew the prophecy of Isaiah 53—He is the Lamb…bearing the sins of the world.

     During the week approaching His crucifixion, Jesus told many parables, discussed taxes and revealed God’s greatest commandments—love God and love your neighbor. He warned against being religious, and He grieved over Jerusalem. He continued to teach and advise His followers to be watchful. He spoke of His return—in all His glory with the angels of heaven by His side.

     As His week of preparation continued, He was anointed with oil from an alabaster box, betrayed by a disciple, shared His last Passover Supper with His closest confidants and arrested as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Lest we forget, He knew what He faced.

     Mary’s heart must have ached as the news of her son’s arrest spread throughout Jerusalem. I wonder how much her human mind could comprehend in the weeks that followed. Did she regret being chosen of God to bear the bearer of good news? Did her mind flash back to the times of runny noses and dirty faces and laughter around the dinner table? Did she think about the actuality that she had cradled God in her arms?

     Thirty-three years after the birth of her baby boy Mary came face to face with the reality of His coming—born to die. Today, you and I must face that same reality and determine whether we reject or accept the salvation of the Lord. The world is still asking, “Who is this Jesus?” Mary knew.  He is heaven’s most precious gift—God’s only Son.

© Joyce Powell

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Heavens Declare God's Glory

After last night's magnificent display of God's glory, no words are needed.

Be blessed today as you remember God's redemption plan for your life and mine.