MVS – MALACHI

Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament! Next week we’ll move into the New Testament 🙂

 

Malachi 3: 6

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”

Our Lord does not change. When He makes a promise to us, He sticks to it. He will always love us, no matter what we do.

How great is the love that the Lord has shown us!

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Holy Week: Easter Sunday

Today’s post as part of our Holy Week series has been written by Mark Latulipe!

Happy Easter! – ALLELUIA! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! ALLELUIA!

Easter Sunday – the day that we remember the incredible and historical event that changed it all. On Good Friday Jesus hung on a cross and carried the weight of all our sin. He paid the cost of that sin, which is death; but it doesn’t end there. After his death on the cross and burial, Jesus rose and came up out of the tomb and was alive again. Not even death could hold Him down. Jesus did all this to accomplish everything that was promised and He did it because he loves more than we can comprehend.

Luke 24: 1-49 – This passage that has been on my mind this Easter season.  We read about three encounters that happen after Jesus had risen: the women at the tomb, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the other disciples. The ones I want to talk about are the encounters with the disciples.

First, we have the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus. They were talking about what had happened – Jesus on the cross- and this “guy” comes up to them and asks them “what’s up” (paraphrasing). On any other day this would have been normal question; but on this day it was not. The disciples’ reaction was, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (v18)

Given their emotional state, their snappy maybe even snarky remark was understandable. They “explained” to this guy what had happened and he turns around and says to them that they don’t even know what really happened. He explained to them that they were being foolish because despite knowing the scriptures and despite knowing what Jesus had told them before his death, they still believe that Jesus was actually going to come back from death. (Oh snap, they just got told!) So they continued their conversation with this man as they walked, still not recognizing that this man was Jesus. They didn’t realize it until he broke bread with them, just as He did before his death.

Then we have disciples. Fortunately they recognized Jesus or at least that this being, possibly a ghost, looked and sounded like Jesus. Even after all His teachings and all the time they followed Him before His death, it still took convincing from Jesus himself to make them believe. It took seeing the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet for them to know that this was Jesus, alive again.

For me these encounters these people have with Jesus really shows our human nature and a struggle we all face. Despite knowing the scriptures or the story, and despite knowing Jesus, we still need to be reminded of who He is, what He did, and why He did it. We constantly need Jesus to say to us “hey, remember me, remember what I did for you, and remember why I did it.” We need that reminder sometimes daily, but that’s ok. We shouldn’t feel ashamed that we need reminding; those who knew Jesus best on this earth, who actually witnessed his death, still needed a reminder. And that’s what Easter is about; we celebrate and remember Jesus and the incredible things He did for us.

So take time this Easter, before church and before the family dinner, to sit and pray, and ask Jesus to encounter you, so that you can truly be reminded of “who He is, what He did, and why He did it” – Happy Easter!!!

Holy Week: The Day True Love Died

You begin your day, wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and head to work. As you’re working a job that you’ve been doing all your life, some stranger you have never seen before tells you to drop whatever you are doing and follow him.

Ummmm… what?! Leave my entire livelihood, my family, my friends, everything?!

That’s exactly right. You leave all of it behind and decide to follow this stranger. But you’re not the only one! There are many people who are also following him with you. However, you and 11 others have been chosen to be in this guys most intimate circle of friends. You’ve become a new family.

You eat together, travel together, and live every second of every day together. And this man that you’ve decided to follow performs the most amazing miracles, teaches things that are considered radical at the time and takes you under his wing to teach you all he knows.

Then, one of your brothers, a member of your new family betrays this man who has given you everything. The heartbreak must have been terrible! You ask yourself, “How could I have not seen it coming?” or “What could I have done to stop it?”

To make things even worse, your teacher, the patriarch of your family has been sentenced to death. He doesn’t perform one of his many miracles and escape, he walks straight to the cross and after suffering for hours, dies.

This man whom you have followed for years, for whom you have up your entirely livelihood and everything you had known… is dead. What do you do next? Where do you go? Yes, he has raised others from the dead before, but now he is the one who is dead. Dead people can’t perform miracles.

And that is where I leave you. Imagine the heartbreak, the disappointment, the utter despair, the disciples must have been feeling on this Holy Saturday as Jesus Christ lay dead in his tomb. You had given up your entire life, everything you have ever known. You have no where to turn to, you can’t go back home, and you don’t know what you’re supposed to do next.

Are we not blessed to know that Jesus Christ did indeed rise again? To understand that his death was not a permanent state of being but a stepping stone to paying for our sins?

Amen.

I leave you with the song True Love by Phil Wickham.

Holy Week: Good Friday

Today’s blog post has been written by Laurin Vroom!

Hey there friends!

Today is what we call “Good Friday” also known as “Holy Friday.” It doesn’t seem so good when you think about what we’re celebrating today: The crucifixion of Christ. This is the day we remember what Jesus went through to bring us back into intimate relationship with the Father. Jesus was hit, mocked, spat on, whipped and ultimately hung on a cross next to the lowest of criminals. You can read the story in more detail in Matthew 27:27-55.

There is something good, no great, that came of all this torture and unfair treatment. Christ suffered out of an intense, selfless love, for humanity. He wanted to demonstrate how much He loved His Father, and what complete obedience and unconditional love looked like. He shed His blood, so that it would symbolically cover over our sin, and make us righteous so that we can once again be in an intimate relationship with God- no longer separated by sin. This is an incredible Truth to get our heads around.

I want to challenge you today, to sit somewhere comfortable, by yourself, read the story of the Cross and seriously reflect on what it means, and what Christ’s sacrifice means to you. Think about how hard it would be for you to forgive everyone who spat, hit, beat, whipped and mocked you if you were being killed for a crime you never committed. Think about Jesus’ words, and how super-human Jesus’ forgiveness is.

When Christ ascended to heaven, He later gave the gift of His Holy Spirit, so that this super-human power can live inside of us! This holy power of God, living in us, is what strengthens us in our faith, helps us forgive those who’ve wronged us, helps us love those who hate us, etc. Anything you think is too hard for you, you can look to the Cross, to the One who gave everything for you and you will always find the strength you need.

There is a song that is super appropriate that I encourage you to listen to as you reflect: Once and for All by Lauren Daigle.

Her song reminds us that we can remember, connect and experience the love of Christ, when we remember the Cross and what He did for us on Calvary. That even though you and I are like the criminals that hung next to Jesus- sinful, broken, selfish, screw-ups- He still extends His love and grace to us when we look to Him. She sings about laying down her life to live for Christ, just like He laid down His life for us. I’ll leave you with a few of her lyrics, and pray that on this Holy Day, you take the time to remember what a gracious, loving and selfless Savior we live for.

God I give You all I can today
These scattered ashes that are hid away
I lay them all at Your feet

From the corners of my deepest shame
The empty places where I’ve worn Your name
Show me the love I say I believe

O Help me to lay it down
Oh, Lord I’ll lay it down

O let this be where I die
My Lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdom fall
Once and for all, once and for all

There is victory in my saviors loss
and In the crimson flowing from the cross
Pour over me, pour over me

O let this be where I die
My Lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdom fall
Once and for all, once and for all

Holy Week: Holy Thursday

Today’s Blog Post has been written by Tim Huyer!

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As we prepare for Good Friday, we consider the sacrifice of Christ and what his death means for us.

For me, the image of Jesus, hanging on the cross, uttering the words “It is finished” is one of the most powerful images I can imagine. While suffering indescribable torture – not just the physical torture of a horrific execution but also the much worse spiritual torture of bearing the wrath of God against all of our sins – he gasps out these three words.

These words, like all the words in Scripture, are a message to us. In this case, it was a message so important that, while literally suffocating to death (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2004/apr/08/thisweekssciencequestions), He found the strength and breath to say it to us.

So what do these three words mean? Just exactly was this “it” that is finished? Jesus did not follow grammar rules on avoiding ambiguous pronouns (https://www.cedarville.edu/~/media/Files/PDF/Writing-Center/Student/avoiding-vague-and-ambiguous-pronoun-references.pdf), so there is no clear antecedent to the word “it” in the Gospel. We must instead use other methods to find out what He meant.

We can rule out a few of the things that cannot be the “it” that He said. God’s work on earth is not finished. It continues.

The Word of God is not finished. There is plenty more scripture in the Bible.

Jesus’ time on earth is not finished. We know He rose again three days later. We also know He is coming again.

It isn’t even the last words He said on the cross. Those words, as we know, are found in Luke’s Gospel. (http://biblehub.com/luke/23-46.htm)

“It” must mean something else.

I think the “it” is the purpose for Jesus being nailed to that cross in the first place. The reason why Jesus became man and came to earth.

Jesus came to earth to die for us. He came to fulfill the Law, to atone for our sins, to reconcile us to God. He completed this task, this gift of unthinkable grace, on the cross.

The Bible speaks about our fall from grace. How we sinned and stopped walking with God, turning away from Him time and time again.

Everything changed the moment he spoke these three words.

Because of Jesus’ gift of his death, because of the blood of our Lord and Saviour, our fall is finished. Our being cast out is finished. Our being condemned to death and damnation is finished.

In a way, we can think of a new testament, a new story, beginning at this point. The “it” that is finished is the story of our fall. The story of our redemption is begun. That story will continue until He comes again in Glory and, speaking from the throne, says “It is done.” (http://biblehub.com/revelation/21-6.htm)

3 minutes – 3 questions: Lent Edition

Hello everyone! We are back for another 3 minutes – 3 questions (I feel like I’m hosting a game show!) where we will be wrapping up our Lent blog posts.

If you don’t remember, here’s how it works:

“I’m going to ask three questions. After each question, I challenge you to stop and think about each question for ONE WHOLE MINUTE and ONLY ONE MINUTE. After you have gone through all the questions, please feel welcome to revisit each one and take your time doing so. But for the first time only stop for a minute to think.”

Ready? Not yet! Before reading the questions, take some extra time to pray.

 

Question 1 

a) What does sacrifice mean to you?

b) What does sacrifice look like in your life? 

Yes I know there are two parts… yes you can have a bit of extra time.

Take a minute (or two) to think, and answer. 

 

Question 2

Are there areas in your life where you need to ask God for help and greater self-control in order to resist temptation?

Take a minute to think, and answer.

 

Question 3

What are the mental and physical challenges that you have faced during Lent? and that you face regularly?

Take a minute to think, and answer.

 

Some last thoughts:

  • Take some time to go over the questions again.
  • Pray for any struggles you may be facing and pray in thanks for God’s help.
  • Read the blog posts which address each of these question if you haven’t already; and if you have, read them again! The links to the posts can be found within each question.

In the desert with Christ

This week’s blog post on Lent has been written by the awesome James Duckett!

We all know Lent can be difficult—but it’s supposed to be difficult! And while we don’t like giving things up (like chocolate or TV) and though it can feel like a chore to take on a new challenge for Lent (like praying for someone you don’t like), part of the reward comes from doing something that is challenging. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, right?

But some of the challenge in Lent can be mental, and not just physical.

Let me explain.

When we struggle through the challenges of Lent (like the ones mentioned above, or others), we have to act in a way that doesn’t really reflect our reality. We have to turn down chocolate when we know that we really want it. We have to do something other than watch TV (hopefully something prayerful or penitential—that is the idea after all!) even though the TV is right there and everyone has been spoiling all the exciting plot twists. We have to put ourselves in the desert when we’re really not there.

But it’s not easy to hold these conflicting ideas in our heads: “I am going to resist chocolate and imagine my life without chocolate (even though it’s all around me),” or, “I’m going to say these prayers even though it’s the last thing I want to pray for.”

But dealing with these conflicting ideas is nothing new for Christians—or at least it shouldn’t be. For example, “Jesus is fully God, but, Jesus is also fully human.” Those two ideas aren’t compatible, yet they’re both true. “God is eternal and immortal, yet, God died on the cross.” Again, two ideas that are not compatible, but both are true.

The central idea of Lent is that we are placing ourselves in the desert with Jesus. While Jesus is preparing for ministry, we too will prepare—but we are preparing for the central event in Christian history: the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our fasts or chores in Lent help us feel like we are in that desert with Jesus, even though we aren’t.

But it is worth pondering both of the conflicting ideas:

#1 – We are really not in a desert at all. Things are much better for us than they were for Jesus for those forty days. We can count our blessings and be thankful that we aren’t struggling without food and water and shelter.

#2 – We really are enduring something (even if we are enduring it through our own choice). We are experiencing circumstances less pleasant that we are accustomed to so that we might better understand Jesus and become more like him. Jesus learned in prayer to rely solely on his father for all his needs. We too can learn some small part of that.

And while we are prayerfully pondering in the desert, let us also ponder another great mystery of our Christian faith: we are saved through Jesus, yet, we are still waiting to be saved at his return. As before, both are true, and both have something to teach us.

Happy trails in that desert!