We need a Comforter because we need to be comforted

Sometimes our world can be rocked like wind blowing against a dandelion where it feels like nothing of our life is left except the stem.

Have you ever picked up the phone only to have someone on the other end give you some “rock your world” news?  Perhaps it was news of an accident… a medical report… a death… an arrest… a confession…

In that single instant your world was shattered like a gust of wind against a dandelion where it feels like there’s nothing left except the stem.  It happens to most of us, if not all of us, at one time or another.  And, what did you do?  Panic? Cry?  Punch your fist at God?  Did you ask, “I’m a Christian, for goodness sake… how did God let this happen to me?”

May I encourage you to remain calm in the crisis.  Maybe it is because you are a Christ-follower that this has happened to you.  I’m not saying that God causes bad things to happen, but this world is full of weeds and thorns… and you’re going to get stuck from time to time.  Yes, God’s Holy Spirit surrounds you and protects you. But the Word also says the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is a comforter.  Now why would we need a comforter if we didn’t ever need comforting?  God knew we would all go through seasons of great crisis.  We all need to be comforted when we are in a crisis.

Is your world being turned upside down right now?  Finances in a mess?  A diagnosis in a medical report?  A spouse calling it quits?  May I encourage you to lean into the Comforter.  Wrap yourself in His arms.  Let Him hold you.  It’s going to be all right.

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Passover Haggadah, featuring Jesus the Messiah

PASSOVER SEDER

Our Messianic Haggadah

This Haggadah (or “Story”) was originally written by Rich Ronald for his family in 2000 with input from various teachings by Ilene Zatal, Ray VanderLaan, Martha Zimmerman, Don Finto, Mark Cowley, Dwight Pryor and James Bankowski. Additionally, portions have been directly excerpted from the booklet “Passover Seder Ritual and Menu for an Observance by Christians” by Barbara Balzac Thompson, published by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, © 1984.

Passover Celebration

SHE’MA

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.  Ve’ahavta et Adonai eloheykha bekol-levavkha u’vekhol nafshekha u’vekhol me’odekha.

Hear o Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

WELCOME

Welcome in the name of Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah!  Tonight we will celebrate Pesach (pah-SACH)… Passover.  This is the celebration of the most incredible feast in the Jewish and Christian calendars.  It intricately weaves a story of God’s power, faithfulness and love for mankind in both the Old and New Testaments.  It was celebrated in the Ancient World, in Jesus’ time, and is still celebrated in traditional Jewish homes today.

The first Passover was not a celebration.  It was a night of apprehension, fear and expectation for the beginning of a new journey for the children of Israel.  The Word tells us that the Hebrews were to take the blood of a perfect lamb, and paint it on their doorposts.  By following this command, the Angel of Death which moved through Egypt that night would “pass over” their homes.  But since the Angel of Death did not pass over Pharaoh’s house, and his first born son was taken from him, his hardened heart was finally softened and the next morning Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves go free.  This meal that we celebrate tonight, the Seder, is symbolic of the rush to leave Egypt and the bondage it represents.

We also celebrate the significance of Yeshua’s last meal, a traditional Passover meal, with His disciples in the Upper Room.  There is a lot of symbolism between the Old Covenant meal and the New Covenant meal.  We hope you’ll enjoy learning how Yeshua tied the two meals together… and how it is applicable for us all tonight.

Tonight, we tell a story, the Haggadah, of how the blood of a lamb saved the people of God in the Ancient times… and still saves today.

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Passover First, Then the Resurrection

The Christian faith heritage is Jewish because Jesus was Jewish and He is the Lamb of God.

Passover.  It’s a Jewish holiday right?  Yes… and no.  You see, it was a celebration of the Passover where Messiah Jesus met with His disciples for what has traditionally been called “The Last Supper.”

Yep, the great, intimate evening, where Jesus washed His disciples feet and shared what most Christians call “Communion” for the first time, was actually a traditional meal celebrated by the Hebrews for centuries prior to the final evening Jesus would spend with His followers before His crucifixion.

So, the “Holy Eucharist” is actually a Jewish sacrament?  Well, at its genesis, yes.  You may ask “How can that be?”

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God is Pursuing You

Do you know how much God loves you?

Do you know, at this very minute, that God is pursuing you?  Even if you’ve been a Believer all of your life, He is pursuing you.  He continues to pursue you and wants to deeply connect with you and your heart.

You know when you had that check in your spirit recently?  That was God.  When you said those words you wanted to take back as soon as they left your lips?  That was God.  When you acted one way, or didn’t act in another.  That was God.

He loves you with His whole heart and His Holy Spirit walks with you, follows you,  and even goes after you when you turn away.  In 1893 Francis Thompson coined the phrase “the Hound of Heaven” when describing how God unceasingly pursues us, encouraging us to follow Him.

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Jehovah Rapha, The God Who Heals

"Time heals all wounds?" No, only God can bring complete healing.

May I ask you a hard question today? Is there a painful memory in your past? Most of us have at least a few. It could be as the result of a family argument or someone who coerced you to do something you didn’t want to do.

Mine occurred over five years ago. At the time, I worked for a man who really took advantage of his status over me me and used me to do some awful things… although it was all cloaked in an air of doing good things, which made it so much worse. Sometimes the painful memories are sparked by a fleeting thought, or a phrase, or an image.

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I believe I’ve gotten over most of it. I’ve forgiven him and moved on. But there was a season where just the thought of those situations would raise my blood pressure or quicken my breathing. It was very painful. Have you been there? Are you there now?

They say time helps to heal all wounds. While time does put distance between you and the hurt, I believe only God can bring complete healing.

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Spiritual Strength Training

Spiritual training for life's next season can be challenging. But stay with it!

Just about every January, the health clubs and fitness centers suddenly get very full don’t they?  People make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape and so they sign up for the latest fitness craze.  A few years ago it was Kick Boxing.  This year it’s Cross Fit and Kettle Bells.

And what happens when you finally do put it in gear and exercise?  When you are in training, you don’t see overnight results, do you?  It may take weeks, months, or longer to get that “Body By Jake”  right?

But you endure it because you know that hard training and discipline produces great results.

There is someone I’ve been following on Facebook who started a new exercise regimen at the first of the year.  Yesterday her status noted that it’s been tough, but in January she lost 13 pounds.  Good for her!

Discipline.  Training.  We all know it’s good for us, but very few of us endure it… much less endure it with joy.

The Bible says that suffering and trials — like discipline and training — are all are part of God’s plan to make us stronger, to prepare us for what is ahead.

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Messing up… and receiving God’s grace.

“What were you thinking?”  How many times did your parents ask you that question after you messed up?  How many times have you asked that of your children?  How many times have you asked that of yourself?

Messing up is a part of life.  After all, we’re only human.   When we’re faced with the decision to take the narrow path or the broad, easier path — when we are faced with temptations — how do we react?

I understand that big time messes are more than just an “Oops!”  They can be life changing, rock-your-world messes.  To you.  To others.  To those who you never thought your actions would mess up their lives too.

May I share an encouraging scripture with you?

Paul writes:  No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message)

Now, does that mean that God will make the choice for us whether to sin or not to sin?  No. But this word says He will give us the strength to make the right choice, prompted by His Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth (see John 16:13).

But there are times when we do mess up.  Have you been there lately?   Sometimes the most difficult grace to extend is to ourselves, isn’t it?

Continue reading “Messing up… and receiving God’s grace.”