Why is Good Friday Good?

It was Easter week and I was fishing off the pier with our eight-year-old grandson. We untangled the lines, baited the hooks, then sat on the bench to wait for a catch.  I’m thinking to myself, “This is going to be a long morning.”

Then, “Isn’t this fun Grandma? I mean, even if we don’t catch anything, it’s just fun, isn’t it!”

“It sure is, Brad!  But the best part is being with you!  Tell me something. Do you know what day tomorrow is?”

“It’s Good Friday, Grandma. It’s the day we remember Jesus died on the cross.”

“That’s right!  But if it’s the day Jesus died, then why is it called GOOD?”

“It’s good Grandma, because Jesus died for our sins so that someday we can go to heaven. If He had never died for us, then we would still be in our sins—and we’d go to hell.”

“You are absolutely right, Brad.  I’m glad you know this. God has given you parents who love you enough to teach you the most important story in the history of the world.”

Just then I noticed a seagull walking toward our small bait bucket.

“Brad! Quick! Put the lid on the bucket! That seagull is after our bait!”

Brad scrambled to secure the lid. Whew!  That was close.

Then, “Grandma, the seagull is still walking toward the bait bucket.”

“It’s okay, Brad.  The lid is tight.”

“GRANDMA!  OUR BAIT!”

We watched in shocking disbelief as the seagull flew high in the sky carrying off our bucket of bait—in his beak!

  • Teach [God’s Words] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.             Deuteronomy 11:18-19
  • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.    2 Corinthians 5:21

 

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Leprosy – Jesus Does it Again!

Dr.  Abigail is a medical doctor serving as a missionary in a remote jungle in a developing country.  She recently spent a week in a village where the bush people rarely have an opportunity to see a doctor.

There were many people with leprosy but she only had a few drugs for leprosy at her disposal.  She began praying about what to do and how to ration the drugs. Should she use the drugs on a few patients—only the most severe? Or perhaps she should not start any new patients on treatment until more supply is available.

As she prayed asking for God’s direction, she remembered the story of the feeding of the 5000.  Jesus had taken five loaves and two fish and fed everyone! She felt the Lord leading her to do the same!

She announced to her assistants that they would trust God to provide. They would treat every leprosy patient until the drugs ran out.

They did just that—and they treated every last patient! By the end of the week, there was enough medication left over to treat six additional patients when the need arises!

  • “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.     Matthew 14: 17-21
  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.     Hebrews 13:8
  • Mark 2 put to music – Click here to listen:   
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Girl Meets Boy at 15

Alabama, a 15-year-old girl in Zimbabwe,  Africa, wrote the following letter via http://www.globalmediaoutreach.com/.

“Dear Kathleen, I want to know if this is a sin:  There is this white guy in my class. I admire him so much that each time I look at him,  I wish he felt the same way about me. I wonder if we are made for each other. I even had a dream about him. Is it wrong in front of God to feel something real for him? I keep asking myself if liking him so much is wrong. Please help me with an answer for this.”

“Dear Alabama, You are attracted to a guy. This is normal. These temptations will likely occur your entire life.  As long as there are good-looking, desirable guys around, there will be temptation. Yet as Christians, we have boundaries. We also have the Holy Spirit who provides us with wisdom and self-control.

“If this guy does feel the same way toward you as you do toward him, it could lead to trouble at your young age. As a Christian, you will want to wait until marriage before having any sexual contact with a guy. This is difficult, especially today when everyone seems to be having sex outside marriage, even on TV!  Many people today believe premarital sex is okay. It is not.

“Read Revelation 21: 8 and you can see what the Bible says about sexual immorality. The Bible has not changed. God has not changed. Someday after you marry, you may still see other guys you are attracted to. What will you do then?

“You will choose NOT to spend any more time with them than necessary. The more time you spend with someone you’re attracted to, the more difficult it will be not to sin.

“My suggestion for you is to give thanks to God that He has created you normally. Thank God that you can trust Him to put a godly man into your life someday, someone whom you will marry and together will serve God.”

Then I wrote out this prayer for Alabama: “Lord God, I lift up my friend Alabama before Your throne of grace. You know her heart yearns to do right. She wants to please You with her life. Please give her great wisdom. Give her Your self-control to do the right thing. Give her Your patience to wait for the right godly young man to marry someday. Meanwhile, help her draw closer to You. Help her get involved in a Christian youth group or small group Bible study where people can pray and be accountable to one another. I thank You, in advance, for what You are going to do in Alabama’s life. I pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.”

“Alabama, I have a two websites you might find helpful: www.everystudent.com  and
http://www.412teens.org/qna  / Check them out and let me know what you think.             ~ Kathleen”

Alabama wrote back: “OK, I understand. I will pray to God to help me overcome this temptation and do the right thing. I like the websites you sent. They’re cool.”

  • But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.     Revelation 21:8
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Muslim Goes to Mecca

While traveling in Southeast Asia I was seated on a plane next to Miriam, a woman dressed in full Muslim apparel. Only her face and hands were exposed. She told me she was on her way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia!

I was curious to learn more. She explained that every Muslim must make a pilgrimage to Mecca one time during their life, if they are financially able. She told me she had saved and sacrificed for years to make this momentous trip. Her clothes and her bags were new. She was traveling with 100 happy and excited Muslims. They expected to be gone 40 days during which they would walk around the “Holy Kaaba” seven times and visit many holy places.

Then she asked me an interesting question. “You are from the United States.  Are you a Christian or a Catholic?”

I said, “I was raised Roman Catholic but at the age of 27 I began studying the Bible for the first time. I then surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am no longer Catholic. However, Catholics do consider themselves Christian because their faith is centered on Jesus Christ.”

She said, “Please, can you explain to me the difference?”
I said, “Bible believing Christians have their faith based on the Bible alone.
The Roman Catholic Church has a three-fold foundation: The Bible, the authority of the Pope and bishops and the sacred traditions of the church.*

I went on to tell her how Christ had changed my life after I had surrendered my life to Him. I knew all my sins were forgiven. I knew I was now going to heaven. I knew God’s Holy Spirit was now indwelling me because I immediately began experiencing the fruit of the Holy Spirit: the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. My life was so changed that even my husband and friends noticed a difference. That was many years ago and the peace and joy have remained even until now.

She continued to ask questions until our plane landed. I told her I had some information in my purse I’d like to give her. It will explain the Christian life in her native language! She was eager and happy to receive it!  I felt we had bonded during that trip. When we said goodbye we hugged and she let me take a photo of her. What a precious experience!

“Lord God, guide and lead dear Miriam into Your truth. She is seeking Your ways. Please open her eyes and draw her to Jesus. I pray in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.”

  •  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”      John 6:68
  • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.     John 14:6

[* from Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995, page 34]

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Children Quarreling

My preschoolers would sometimes get into quarrels and spats.

Typically, I’d say, “Okay! I think we need to talk to Jesus about this.”  I’d gather them together and go to prayer.

Afterward, I’d require the guilty person do two things:
1.  Apologize to the person he/she hurt.
2.  Ask forgiveness from the person he/she hurt.
The offended person needed to learn to say, “I forgive you.”
I did the same thing whether they were playing alone or had their friends over.

I believe this in important in training children. Most people today will apologize, but will not ask for forgiveness. It has become unfamiliar in our culture. Yet I wanted my children to be comfortable doing this because God wants us to be a forgiving people. He wants us to learn to seek forgiveness. It’s the healthy thing to do.

I had been working on memorizing 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Whatever the problem, I wanted to focus on bringing my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. I wanted my children to learn to do the same.

  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.    Proverbs 22:6
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I Can’t Forgive My Parents!

I visited a sick, elderly friend. She told me the two people she did not look forward to seeing in heaven were her parents! They were abusive and unloving.  “I hated them when they were alive.” Such strong language! I asked if she knew how they were raised.  She didn’t.  I suggested that perhaps they both grew up in difficult circumstances and then raised their children the only way they knew.  “Jesus once said we must forgive others, if we want God to forgive us.” She held firm—she would not forgive them.                                                                                     I asked, “How long do you think heaven will last?”                                                                       “Forever.”                                                                                                                                     “And how long do you think this life will last?”                                                                               “Not much longer now.”                                                                                                            “Then your parents must be very important to you.”                                                            “No they’re not!”                                                                                                                                “I think they are.  If you are willing to give up eternal life in heaven because of them, they are VERY important to you.”                                                                                                       She teared up,  “What can I do?” “Jesus loves you.  He died for you and wants you to be with Him in heaven someday.  He knows all the hurts and heartaches of your past. He knows how difficult this is for you.  Ask Him to help you forgive.  He will.  Once you forgive your parents you will then experience God’s peace, joy and love.”

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How Far Can We Go and Not Sin?

John from Kentucky sent an email via Global Media Outreach. [www.globalmediaoutreach.com]

His question: “My girlfriend and I are Christians and we want to wait until marriage for sex.  How far can we go and not sin?  We are both 16.”

“Dear John,  Wrong question! You should not be asking how far into temptation you can go before it becomes sin. Your question should be “How can we avoid temptation?”

If you and your girlfriend are true followers of Jesus, then this is a good time to mature in your walk with Christ. One way to avoid temptation is to avoid spending much time together alone. Group activities are best. It would be good for you to be involved in a church youth group and Bible study. Youth group activities are fun and spiritually healthy.”

John wrote back, “Our church does not have a youth group.”
I wrote, “Go to a church that does.”
“My mom won’t let me go to a different church.”
“Ask your pastor if he can start a youth group in your church.”

John wrote a few days later: “Pray for me. I have an appointment with the pastor on Monday.”
“That’s good news! I’ll pray! Let me know what happens.”

John wrote after the meeting: “Hey! The pastor said we can have a youth group and a Bible study! I’m stoked!”

Two weeks later John wrote, “I’m helping the pastor lead the Bible study. I love what I’m doing.”

A few weeks later John wrote again, “The youth group Bible study is going great and I’m learning a lot. Guess what! Our church is gonna start a youth orchestra. I’m gonna play violin!”

“That’s wonderful, John!  I’m glad to hear it.  How’s your girlfriend?”

John: “I don’t know.  She goes to a different church.  I don’t see her anymore.”

Whew!

“Thank You Lord, for directing our conversations.  Please keep John close to You and guide him in all his ways.”

  • And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.     Matthew 6:13
  • Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.     Matthew 7:13-14

 

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Alcohol Destroyed Her

I watched my friend Lesley slowly become an alcoholic.  Years passed, and her life and her abilities declined.

I remember asking,  “Lesley, do you ever think about spiritual things?”

I was impressed with her knowledge of God and the Bible.  She admitted that deep inside she believed Jesus was the answer to her challenges, but she was not ready to give her life to Him.

Lesley’s alcoholism eventually resulted in liver disease and esophageal varices (varicose veins). One day we learned that her varices hemorrhaged during the night.  She had almost died and was in ICU.  I prayed all the way to the hospital that God would protect our time and that she would now be ready.

She was awake and smiling when I walked in.   “Lesley, we heard that last night we almost lost you!  But look at you now! Do you think that perhaps God did not want you to die yet? Perhaps He wants to give you another chance to come to Him.”

She said, “I was thinking the same thing.”

I said, “I brought you this little booklet, Would You Like To Know God Personally?            [by Bill Bright: http://crupressgreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/The-Big-Six-Questions.pdf ]  I thought perhaps we could read it together.”

She said,  “I’m tired.  Just leave it on my table.  I promise you I’ll read it first thing when I get home.”

I placed it on the table,  but I could not leave it there.   ”Lesley, I know you’re tired.  Why don’t you close your eyes and rest while I read it to you.”  She agreed!  When I came to the prayer at the end and began slowly reading it, she began repeating it after me!  When I finished I said, “You repeated the prayer aloud.  Did you mean it?”

“Yes.”

I said, “You did?  Then you are now a child of God!”

“I am?  You mean I’m a Christian?  That’s all there is to it?”

I said, “If you are willing to turn away from your sins and surrender your life to Jesus, then YES!  How do you feel?”

With tears in her eyes she said, “Good. I have a wonderful peace inside.”

Then with excitement in her voice she said, “Hey! We need to share this booklet with Ralph!  He needs God in his life, too!”

The next day we received a phone call that Lesley had hemorrhaged again and died.             She was forty-five.

“Dear God, thank You for preventing me from leaving that booklet on the table.                      Thank You!  Thank You! Thank You!”

  • The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.    2 Peter 3:9                                                                                                                                      
  • Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.    Psalm 116:15
  • I Love the Lord - Click here to listen:  
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I Read Your Letter Over & Over

I had been married four years when I attended my first Bible study and then gave my life to Jesus Christ. He entered my life and changed it completely. I became a new person! I still remember that first week when everyday I would see my life with new eyes. My desires changed. My life’s purpose changed. Moreover, God filled me with a new love, peace and joy that I’d never before known.

At the end of the year I received a Christmas letter from one of my closest friends from nursing school.  I wrote back sharing how Christ had changed my life. I even sent her a booklet by Bill Bright called, Would You Like to Know Christ Personally?  [http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/classics/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally/index.htm]  She did not respond to my booklet or my good news.

I did not hear back from her until the following Christmas. Again I responded with a Christmas letter sharing new things God had taught me during the past year.  I also sent her a recorded message.

I didn’t hear back from her until the following Christmas. Again I responded the same. This went on for ten years!  One day she called.  She was coming to town and coming over.  She said, “We need to talk.”

I was thrilled to see her! Then she said, “You know all those letters and tapes and booklets about God you sent me over the years? They were not wasted. I read your letters over and over—the booklets too! I listened to your tapes repeatedly. I want you to know that they were instrumental in my decision to surrender my life to Jesus Christ. He has changed my life and I am forever grateful.” We hugged and cried and prayed together.

Even though she lives in another part of the world, we’ve become closer than ever.  After all, we are now true sisters in the Lord. Moreover, her husband has since come to Christ as well. How good is our God! I will forever praise Him.

  •  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.     Matthew 5:16
  •  Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.     James 5:20

 

 

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It’s in the Bible? It MUST Be True!

When I was 15  I saw a truck parked on the street with a large Bible verse written across the side:  “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  1 Timothy 2:5.”

I read that verse and I thought about it—and I thought about it for years!  Wasn’t that a Bible verse?  It MUST be true!

Yet in our church we didn’t study the Bible. Why not?  Shouldn’t we know God’s Word? We prayed to mediators more than we prayed to God!  I began to question the religion of my heritage.

That verse continued to haunt me until I attended my first Bible study as a young adult.  It was then I learned that not only was Jesus Christ the only mediator,  I learned there was no place I had to go after death to pay for my sins! When Jesus went to the cross He paid for ALL my sins!  No further payment or purification was necessary!

I couldn’t believe my ears!  I had needlessly lived in fear of the pain and suffering I would someday endure in order to be cleansed from my sins after my death.  Suddenly I wanted to jump up and down and shout the good news!  I just could not understand why other people with this same information were not sharing the good news themselves!    This was GREAT News!

Then I read in Luke 23, the story of the thieves being crucified next to Jesus.  One of them hurled insults at Jesus, while the other thief rebuked that man for not fearing God.  “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43

Was that criminal worthy of paradise?  Had he joined a church? Been baptized?  On the contrary, he was notorious for his evil deeds!  Yet Jesus promised him paradise!

It was his faith that saved him!  Moreover, the thief didn’t need a mediator.  He went directly to Jesus!

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