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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Easter Story I Completely Forgot

Photo: Free Bible Images

Have you ever known a Bible story, studied it many times, and then, “pop!” you see something you never saw before? That happened to me in our Easter Sunday service.

I know it’s after Easter, the kids have eaten all the candy, and the colored plastic eggs and plastic grass have been bundled away again in your holiday box. But, this is just too good not to share.

In our church, we were reading the accounts of Christ’s resurrection from all four Gospels. We read of Mary Magdalene, the women who went to the tomb with spices, Peter and fast-running John, and the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the way to Emmaus.

And then, I saw something new! I’m so excited, I have to share it. 

Read with me Matthew 28:1-10. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Let’s take a little pause, here. So far, this is the story we’re familiar with. I always chuckle about the big, tough Roman soldiers shaking in fear. This must have been an incredible scene, since there was a powerful earthquake while the angel was moving the stone!

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

So very awesome! God let these women know that Jesus had risen. They were the first on the scene, and the angel told them exactly what had happened. He is not here: for he is risen! 

So, the women left—quickly, running—to tell the good news. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

They came to a screeching halt. 


And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

This is what I’d forgotten. These women actually saw Jesus. Not only that, but they had the opportunity to worship the risen Christ! Can you even imagine it?

I believe that sometimes we get a twisted view of biblical gender equality. We forget that the Son of God first revealed His resurrected Self to women and trusted the greatest message on earth to them, first.

Mary Magdalene thought he was the gardener. When Jesus said her name, she knew Him and responded “Rabboni.” (John 20:14-16)

In our storythe women were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James,, and other women that were with them (Luke 24:10). We’re not sure who the other women were, but the fact is that there were at least five women in our wonderful scene. They saw Jesus! They were on their way to tell the disciples, and Jesus met them in the way! Isn’t that wonderful!

What was their response? Worship. Humble, prostrating worship.

What are the lessons for us from this new, old story?
  1. Jesus wanted these women to see Him. He knew they already believed the resurrection, but He wanted to reveal Himself to them bodily.
  2. Our response to seeing Jesus—spiritually speaking, until we get to heaven—should be worship. Grabbing His feet worship.
  3. After that, we’re to share the good news of the gospel—Jesus’ death for our sins, burial, and resurrection.

Thank God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thank God for forgiveness of sins! Thank God for salvation! Thank God we serve a risen Savior!

This is the message of Easter!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Singleness: Can It Really Be God's Best?

What if God’s best for me doesn’t mean marriage?

What am I supposed to do?

I think I need to be married, but it’s just not happening.

Can singleness actually be best?

I’m not sure where it all started, but there definitely was a feeling years ago that most people would get married and start families. It was expected. It was the norm. (Most people did marry, and most do today, so the idea wasn’t far off.) As a result, there was undue pressure on single women who hadn’t yet found “the one” to go out and search for Mr. Right. After all, if he didn’t find her, wasn’t she supposed to do something about it?

Today, close to half of the population in the United States is single, and in places like Japan, the statistics are much higher.

Instead of going into the whys and the cultural shifts, let’s go back to our questions. We’ll take them one by one.

What if God’s best for me doesn’t mean marriage? 
If a Christian is walking in God’s will each day, the Lord directs his steps. (See Proverbs 3:5-6.) God’s best for that Christian might mean marriage, but it might not. Even in Bible times, we see lots of singles serving God—happily, I might add. If God’s best plan is singleness, it’s fine. If God’s best plan is marriage, it’s equally fine. You don’t see in the Bible that one is better than the other. They are the two plans that God lays out for human beings, both valid, and both blessed.

What am I supposed to do? 
Well, you’re supposed to be close to the Lord and worship Him. You’re supposed to serve Him. Look at this verse about married and unmarried women: There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:34). Do you see the difference? The unmarried woman serves God. The married woman is actually serving God when she takes care of her husband. So, if you’re single, serve God.

I think I need to be married, but it’s just not happening. 
Almost every woman desires romance, marriage, love, and a family. But, if you’re single, it’s not a need for you at this point in your life. How do I know? The Bible says, But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). (By the way, Paul was single and in prison when he wrote this.) Just a few verses before, the Apostle Paul shares, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (4:11). If you’re single today, and God hasn’t brought you a man, it’s okay. It’s His will for you, now. It might change in the future—I have friends who’ve married in their forties, fifties, and one in her seventies—but if it’s not God’s will, it’s perfectly okay to be single.

Can singleness actually be best?
Yes, of course. Not one Scripture says, “Thou shalt marry.” The Bible gives instructions for singles, especially that they’re to stay away from fornication and to keep themselves pure for the Lord.* The Bible likewise instructs people about marriage. The fact is that singleness is best for many people. There are many advantages to being single. One is that you have more freedom to serve the Lord. A woman doesn't have to have a man in order to be blessed!

Many single women—especially young women—think they have to go on the hunt for a husband. This isn’t a biblical concept. In fact, in the Bible, the only women that went after men were bad or promiscuous women. Not one godly biblical woman went after a man! (I wrote on this subject here, if you’d like to read more.)

To sum up, if you’re single now and walking with the Lord, you're quite okay. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. What a wonderful calling!

May God bless you!


* 1 Corinthians 7:34; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why Easter is the Most Important Holiday on the Christian Calendar

Photo: Free Bible Images

I believe Easter is the most important Christian holiday.

Why not Christmas? I love Christmas! It’s the observation of Jesus coming to earth, becoming a baby, living among us. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Without Jesus’ birth, we’d never have salvation. So yes, Christmas is vital to God’s plan.

Why not Good Friday? I’m not sure the crucifixion was on Friday, but Good Friday celebrates Jesus’ death on the cross—in the place of sinners. The Bible says that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). So the only way we could be saved was if a Perfect Sacrifice (Jesus) suffered to pay the price for our sins. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus did this because He loved us. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (the means of appeasing) for our sins (1 John 4:10). So yes, Good Friday is of vital importance to the gospel.

But, to me, Easter is the most important day. Here’s why:

If Jesus had remained dead, there would be no hope for eternity.
  • And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust (Acts 24:15).
  • And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:17-22).
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Jesus, by His very nature, is Life. 
  • He told Martha, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).
  • And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (Jesus 6:35).
  • Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).
  • He also said, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). Eternal life is all about knowing Jesus.

When believers give witness that they’ve been born again through faith in Jesus, at their baptism, the image of the resurrection is clear: 
  • Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:3-11). Water baptism—by immersion—symbolizes a Christian’s identifying himself with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. He goes under the water and is raised out of the water. It’s an object lesson about what has happened in his heart. It speaks of the assurance of eternal life.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the culmination of the gospel.
  • The Apostle Paul describes the gospel this way: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The resurrection is evidence that Jesus has victory over death.
  • When the women went to the tomb with spices, they found the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body missing. They saw two angels, who said, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again (Luke 24 :5b-7).
  • You can read all of this chapter for the context. It’s about Jesus’ death and resurrection. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

                    Christ the Lord is Risen Today
                    by Charles Wesley, 1739

                    Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
                    Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
                    Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
                    Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
                    Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
                    Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
                    Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
                    Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
                    Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
                    Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
                    Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
                    Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Best Christian Books for Women Survey Results

I asked my Christian women friends if they would share one book besides the Bible that had greatly impacted their life. It needed to be a book they’d consider a “must read” for Christian women. (A few “cheated” and named two books, but we’ll forgive them!)

Here are the results of my survey:

The books most mentioned:
  1. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose was the runaway favorite.
  2. Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss was in second place.
  3. With two recommendations each: A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George, Hind’s Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard, By Searching by Isobel Kuhn, and the fiction book Not My Will by Francena Arnold.

Each of these was mentioned once (in alphabetical order of authors):
  • Daily Light by Samuel Bagster
  • Changed Into His Image, a Bible study by Jim Berg
  • The Silver Cord by Amy Carmichael
  • Womanly Dominion by Mark Chanski
  • Spiritual Leadership by Paul Chappell
  • It’s a Wonderful Life by Terrie Chappell
  • What Do I Know About My God? by Mardi Collier
  • Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman and James Reimann
  • A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  • Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  • A Chance to Die, biography of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
  • These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George
  • Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard
  • Just a Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels
  • Green Leaf in Drought Time by Isobel Kuhn
  • The Search for Significance by Robert McGee
  • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martian
  • The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
  • Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper
  • More Love to Thee by Elizabeth Prentis
  • Redeeming Love fiction by Francine Rivers
  • Off Script by Cary Schmidt
  • In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
  • The Place by Shirley Starr
  • Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas
  • Biography of C. T. Studd, author unknown
  • Missionary biographies in general

What a wonderful list! I know you’ll want to read Evidence Not Seen and add quite a few of these titles to your bookshelf or e-reader. Enjoy being challenged by great Christian books!


Disclaimer: This is a list of my friends’ favorites, not a blanket endorsement. Many are great books; quite a few are Christian classics. I’ve read twenty-two of them. (Now, to read some of the others!) I didn't take part in the survey, since I'd find it totally impossible to narrow it down to one!