Bittersweet

This weekend is different from any I’ve experienced in my adulthood. I really don’t have the words to express all that I’m feeling. I have been on an emotional roller coaster of sadness and gladness since earlier in the week when I began reading St. Mark’s recording of Jesus’ final hours before being crucified. Here’s what Mark wrote:

32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”

35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.

41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

As never before, I am convinced that He knows the depth of emotional pain and mental anguish. Because of what He experienced in that place where the reality of His separation from His Father took front and center, I am compelled to see, do and be better by His amazing grace. I can only imagine because all that I have suffered still is no comparison to having the weight of the world’s sin, past, present and future bear down upon you. I can only image at that moment, sorrow overpowered Him as gross darkness blanketed His soul caused by the reality of His sacrifice—separation from the Father, from all that He was, and had ever been from before the foundations of the world—pure holiness.

And when the reality of this hit me, I was overwhelmed by the liberating truth—He did it for me. Yes! I made it personal. Somehow making it so personal changed my whole perspective about the meaning of it all and the benefit of it all. I was both sad and glad. I am sadden by how the whole script played out—the plot to kill, the plan to betray, the human frailty to deny, reject and abandon out of fear. And as He said, “Nevertheless….”

God’s plan doesn’t always make sense to us; however, His purposes shall always prevail and for that, I am glad. When I think about the purpose for it all….that I might be a part of God’s family, I am thankful! And the best part of the script, I read is the reason for tomorrow’s celebration! He is risen!

What about you?

Giving Thanks

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].   —I Thessalonians 5:18 AMP

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Like me, you probably learned the common courtesy of saying thank you as a child.  If you have children you probably taught them also, and if you have grandchildren, you’re probably teaching them too. In fact, like me, you are probably annoyed when this common courtesy is neglected by children today, and especially adults.

As children, it may have taken some of us awhile to develop the habit. And some may have learned quickly in fear of the consequences if they showed signs of ungratefulness or forgetfulness.  However, the circumstances surrounding our expression of thanks as children usually centered on our receiving something.  It was always exciting to receive toys, gifts, goodies, and other items and rewards just for expressing gratitude. 

Oh, remember the birthday presents, and the Christmas gifts? I vividly recall the exchange of gifts at Christmastime. The room reverberated with excitement as the rippling and crumpling of wrapping paper mixed with unrehearsed but harmonizing expressions of gratitude sent exhilaration off the chart. The atmosphere reeked with gratitude because everyone had received the gifts they desired. Our hearts were overjoyed and giving thanks was easy… 

Also, saying, “Thank you” in response to compliments about our appearance or apparel was equally important but not equally grasped as a child. Children must be taught how to be thankful. Occasionally, while in the market I hear the same training technique used years ago especially among African-Americans. If the child does not respond immediately after a compliment, the mother mediates by asking the child, “What do you say?”  She may have to ask the question again before the child remembers what to say, but not really knowing why he should say it because he’s accustomed to saying thank you only when he receives something tangible.

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When what you write…

helps you…

Funny how inspiration works! Currently, I’m in a situation that was weighing on me to the point of worrying about it. But the words I had been inspired to write some days ago popped into my head.  So I went back and read what I now know was divinely inspired. And, guess what? Now I sense that these same words are meant to help someone else, could that someone be you?  Here’s a timely word tailored for the heart.

 

Worrying? Stop it!!!

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7

 

Don’t worry about anything? I know you’re probably thinking it’s easier said than done.  No; it’s just as easy to do as it is to say. The reason you think it’s hard to stop worrying is because you’ve convinced yourself that it is hard…that you can’t help yourself.  Worrying is an habitual sin! What? Yes. What makes it a sin is the Lord Jesus Christ said don’t do it. Plain and simple.  (Read Matthew 6:25-34).

Read the entire article….http://wp.me/P2IDx9-40

Rejoice in suffering?

Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. —Romans 5:2-5

MPWM faithful reader, do you like pain?  Do you like suffering? I certainly don’t.  I reach for pain relief meds at the slightest sign of a headache.  How and why should we rejoice in our suffering? Suffering is uncomfortable and painful.

Do you think Paul was speaking only of himself, perhaps in third person? I think not. Based on my belief in the inspired authenticity of the Bible, I believe he’s talking to Christian believers today.   Reading Paul’s letters, it’s obvious that he had his share of suffering—painful experiences, troubles, trials and hardships. 

 

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, Paul listed all he endured: 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

(Can you believe the audacity to complain about having to wait in rush-hour traffic?)  Also, in his letter to the church at Philippi, which was written during imprisonment,  Paul expressed his desire to know Christ better by partnering with Him in his suffering. Enduring much suffering for the cause of Christ taught Paul to be content in all circumstances. He encouraged the Philippians to cultivate this same ability. (Philippians 3:10-11; 4:11).

The idea of Christians suffering today is frowned upon.  The message of suffering is no longer on our list of sermon topics or Bible Study teaching series in the local church. On the rare occasions that the subject of suffering comes up it is directed toward foreign countries plagued by enormous hardships, persecution, and suffering.  Yet, in America the reality of suffering, hardships and adversity among Christians is evident by the long prayer lines, many prayer requests. Since suffering is on the rise, perhaps now is the time to teach people how to rejoice and not lose hope during tough times.

The disadvantages and distresses of life are more prevalent in our time than during Apostle Paul and the early Christians lifetime. Why? It’s a different world—larger population, different culture, along with changing socioeconomic factors.  Without a doubt, life can be hard and painful…brutal in fact! The main point of emphasis Paul makes is that of our attitude during suffering. While going through the adversities of life, we must always have hope—an expectation that troubles won’t last always. Having this hope gives us a reason to rejoice…envision better. Secondly, we are able to rejoice when we “know” there is purpose for our pain. Knowing that God is intentional in allowing us to experience the unpleasantness and vicissitudes of life should motivate us. Our motivation is based on our knowledge of God.  Know this: whatever God allows is to empower us to be better, do better, live better, and have a better relationship with Him; living in harmony with His plan for our lives. Ultimately, suffering is a process that produces Christ’s character in us.

How should I rejoice in suffering? By continuing to give God praise, being thankful and worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in spite of hardships, trials and tribulation.  Why should I rejoice? My hope (expectation) is solidified by my knowledge of what the outcome will be. (God always causes us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).   Although we have disappointments in life, hope and faith in God will not result in disappointment. He pours into us His love, which will sustain us through all life’s ups and down.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to the subscribers of Majestic Publishing and Writing Ministry, and everyone who read the content posted on this site in 2011.

WordPress.com sent my annual report for 2011, and I am thankful for the number of views this blog received in 2011. Thank you. (Click link below, or paste in your browser to view full report.

Excerpt from the report: “A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people.  This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2011.  If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.”

https://majesticpublications.com/2011/annual-report/

I’d also like to thank the writers who contributed to Majestic Publishing in 2011: Ms. Monica Jackson (Minutes with Monica); Ms. Tatianna Aker (New Featured Author); Minister Ross Adams (Weekly Devotional).  I’m confident they shared from their heart; and what they shared has blessed the readers.

I’m looking forward to a blessed and prosperous New Year; and anticipate an even greater audience as we continue to “publish words of power tailored for the heart.”

I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog; I pray that you have a “favortastic” New Year. May you be encouraged, enlightened and empowered by the content shared on Majestic Publishing and Writing Ministry site.

Unchanging God

The historical journey of the Israelites continues to provide spiritual insight and knowledge about the character and ways of God.  It fascinates me to read how God brought to pass His covenant promise made with Abram so long ago (Genesis 12:1-3).  It’s a constant reminder that “time” as we know it is very different from God’s timing. Whatever it takes and however long it takes, God’s purposes always prevail; His promises are never broken.  (Remember the “rainbow” covenant? 

Think about this. After a half century as captives, a small proportion of the Israelites returned to their former home. They’d lost their own sense of identity. But they had the resources necessary to rise again…to be God’s people in God’s land.  Most important, they had God.  They could find strength in worshipping their God.  He had made them great before; he could make them great again, and provide a new leader in David’s line. A sorrowful people could start over on the old foundations—foundations that depended on an unchanging God and His unchanging choice of them.

Everyday I am awaken is an opportunity to start over…His unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.  The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope (Lamentations 3:22-24). The same old foundation and historical journey of the Israelites is just as solid now as it was then.  He is my unchanging God and His unchanging choice of me and you (if you belong to Him) gives the strength and hope we need for powerful living.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I am still giving thanks to the Lord because He is good; His love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34).