Author Archives: Pete

About Pete

I love the Lord. Each day, he gives me words of praise and encouragement, and asks me to share them with you I pray that they minister to you as you read them, share them, or ponder on them. Have a blessed day!

Focus

I can be a terrible listener.  My wife and kids will attest to that.  When I am watching a TV show and they try to talk to me, I won’t hear them.  Especially if it’s a really good movie.  I want to hear every word and see every action on the screen because I know that each word has its own importance.  I could easily mis a key element of the movie if I don’t concentrate fully.  Or maybe it’s a football game.  I want to see every play, every replay and hear what the commentators are saying.  I can’t be bothered with interruptions.  If they try to talk to me, they can’t get through unless they turn my head to listen.

I’m the same way when with a bunch of people.  If someone tries to talk to me, and does not get my attention first, I hear every conversation in the room and can’t distinguish one from the other.  It all becomes a muddled mess, In most instances in my life I can multi-task, but when it comes to words, I cannot get them from multiple sources at once. I have to focus my attention on one aspect at a time, whether it be the movie, or the football game, or the conversation that wants to include me.  Once I focus my attention, I do fine.

Many times, when we think of focus, we get a visual picture of what that is.  We focus a camera to get the best shot, or a telescope to see further into space.  Without that focus in our visual image, it comes out all blurry and we can’t define the better points of what we are looking at.  The picture is not what we really want because we want to see that smile or those beautiful eyes, or that gorgeous sunset.  If it’s not in focus, what good is it?  The focus has to be to the right depth in order to get the picture we want.  If we focus too much on the background, our image is blurry.  The same is true if we focus on one feature and not the whole picture.  Our focus has to be completely on the image we want to see clearly.

Focus also means the center of interest or activity.  It is what we spend the most time thinking about in our daily lives, whether it be the next lesson in our school work, or a detailed job we need to get done for work.  Recently I have been focused on getting the weeds out of my garden in preparation for next year’s garden.  Every day I do a little more to make sure those pesky weeds won’t shed their seeds into the soil and give me a bumper crop.  If I don’t focus on that goal, I won’t get the job done.  It is tedious and won’t show results for a whole year.  Why bother??

In my spiritual walk, focus is just as important.  What exactly do I focus on one day to the next.  I know that I am a sinner saved by grace, and every once in a while, that sin creeps back into my life and sets me back.  I repent and ask God for forgiveness only to have it rear its ugly head again.  I often don’t think to ask myself why it came back up.  I just repent again and God, in His mercy, forgives me and I go on.  This seems to be a recurring cycle that I don’t have the power to control.

Or do I?  I heard a message the other day that talked about focus and realized what my problem was.  After I sin, and after I repent to God, and after He forgives me, I have a tough time putting out of my mind that sin that I committed.  I know I am forgiven, but I just think about how much I disappointed God and how disappointed I am in myself.  I think about how much I want to give it up and never do it again.  I think about why I got into that mess in the first place.  In other words, I think about my sin – I focus on my sin.  When I am focused on my sin, it is bound to come back again.  It is bound to overtake me again.  It is inevitable because that is where my focus is.

Instead, I need to change my focus. I need to put that sin behind me and put it out of my mind.  In Philippians 3:13, Paul says he forgets those things that are behind and reaches to the things which are ahead, and he presses toward the mark of the High Calling of Jesus Christ.  God says he separates are sin from us as far as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103:12).  It is not God that keeps our sin alive!  When God cleanses our sin, He cleanses us as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).  He cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  How does sin remain if God takes it away?  We keep it alive by focusing on it, even if that focus is to try and get rid of it,

My focus needs to go to something else.  Paul said “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” in Philippians 3:14. He focuses on Jesus!  That is how you overcome sin!  Not by avoiding the sin, which puts the focus on your sin.  NO.  We defeat sin by turning our focus to Jesus.  We are victorious when we forget the sin, forget that we have sinned, forget that sin ever had us in it’s grasp.  It is what is before us that matters.  It is where God is calling us to that makes the difference.  There are so many admonitions to this in the Bible that I can’t begin to scratch the surface here.   I think of Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:6-8, Proverbs 3:5-6, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 23, Psalm 91.  I think of the words of Jesus when He says “In this world you will have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Or the words of James in James 1:2-4.  “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

You can leave that sin behind.  You can clear up the muddled voices that speak inside your head and confuse you.  You can go toward God instead.  Change your focus and you will be an overcomer.

Able To

I find it is often the case that God’s timing simply amazes me. I can go through life ignoring this fact and counting everything to chance, or I can acknowledge that God has his hand on every minute detail of my life.  Many times, I simply miss the connection between God’s providence and my current situation.  I don’t see His hand in it and therefor I conclude that my life is just rolling along like a ball in a slot machine, bouncing with wild abandon.  I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that God would bring me to the ups and downs that fill my life in order to show me my weakness and draw me to His will.  I think to myself that this sequence of events is just a coincidence – surely God could not have brought them about, or been in control through it all.  But then I look back and see how carefully He brought them together to help me understand that I need Him more than I know.

This truth became so evident for me over the past two months. On June 22 I received a phone call from a lady named Anna.  She explained to me that she was a counselor working with a company called Able To.  This company had contracted with my Medicare Advantage provider to bring their program, free of charge, to a select group of its members.  I had been randomly selected out of the thousands who are on this plan.  The program consisted of eight weeks working with both a counselor and a coach to help me look into myself and understand more about why I do the things I do and make the decisions I make.  These sessions would each be 45 minutes long, and the counseling session would always precede the coaching session.  I took very little time to determine I wanted to embark on this journey with them and we set up a schedule.  I would talk with Anna every Tuesday morning for the counseling session and Iesha every Thursday for the coaching session.  Anna did an assessment of my current situation and the results were positive, which I figured, but showed a level of anxiety that I was surprised at.  We would start the following week, June 29.

The first week was goal setting.  What goals did I have for this program, and for my life in general? Well, I am all for goal setting, so I set a bunch of them.  Lose 10 pounds during the eight-week program, walk 12,500 steps a day, read an hour a day, turn off all electronics an hour before bed, eat healthier meals, get 7 hours sleep a night, adjust my schedule to be more like my wife’s.  All good goals.  We also discussed things that trigger different moods in my life.  What caused me to get upset when I did?  Why did I get discouraged over certain things?  Was I feeling depressed or anxious over situations in my life?  I am a very positive person and could not get a sense of these particular emotions, but the discussion was interesting.  The coaching session reinforced these things but also led me through some breathing exercises that would help relax me if any anxious moments arose.  I cam out of those first two sessions knowing I was going to enjoy this program and headed out to reach my goals.

All went well for the first two weeks.  I was losing the weight (5 pounds in two weeks), I was walking over 15,000 steps a day, sleeping better, turning things off and generally rolling along.  But then July 12th came along.  I woke up that Tuesday with no drive, no vigor, which is so unlike me. I just didn’t want to do anything – I was tired.  I could not identify anything wrong as far as physical symptoms except just a slight fever, I talked to Anna about it, and my wife was very sympathetic.  Speaking of my wife, she learned that her workplace was moving 39 miles away in Mid-July, and she was not going to commute.  At this time, we were also in discussions at out church about closing the doors due to lack of attendance and finances.  There was a lot going on in our lives.  But this tiredness persisted Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, when I finally went to the doctor.  She found nothing wrong and I went home to face a weekend when I continued to feel the same.  The coaching session with Iesha contained more breathing and calming therapies.

Early Monday morning I woke up with pain in my chest that I just knew was pneumonia.  I told my wife I needed to go to the emergency room where they confirmed my suspicions and put me in the hospital.  I’ve had pneumonia 4 times before this so knew what it was when it came.  When I talked with Anna Tuesday morning, the realization came to me that I had been way to aggressive in my goals.  I told her I was the type that liked to impress others, and that pride was a big problem in my life.  I had stretched myself too thin in order to reach my goals and impress her with my enthusiasm.  Now I was feeling a little down and blue.  We discussed the moods and triggers that brought them on and I felt good about the discussion.  She thanked me for my candor.  I was out of the hospital the next day and told to take it easy.  There went my goals – out the window.

The program continued as I slowed myself down and did what the doctor said.  A few sessions on meditation were very helpful.  One particular one was a joy to me.  It was called guided meditation. The aim was to take my mind to a place where I had learned to relax and enjoy life.  This was simple for me.  I knew immediately where that place was.  It’ the Old Stone Church in West Boylston, Mass. (Look it up online).  To me, this is about the most beautiful place in the world, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.  This was my calm place – a place I could take myself to anytime and be at peace.

On July 24th, out church closed its doors.  We had been going to this church for 25 years and had many friends there who lived up to an hour and a half away.  This not only hurt us emotionally, but financially, as I had been preaching every Sunday since the first of the year.  We did not know where we would go after this, but decided we would take some time to decide and enjoy the campground, where we are the hosts.  This also hurt us emotionally as. we were not asked to become the pastors of the church, but instead they chose to give up trying.  Having the counselor and coach in place right now was very helpful as I had someone to talk to about all these things.

On August 9th I woke up with a nasty cough, fever and runny nose.  On top of that my breathing was very shallow and it was hard to catch my breath.  I made an appointment with my doctor and when I got to her office, she immediately sent me to the ER.  My blood pressure and heart rate were both high.  I had never experienced symptoms like this before.  It was pretty clear I would be admitted to the hospital. and I was. I had what is called a COPD flare-up.  Several years ago, I was told I had marginal COPD, but I had never had any kind of issue with it.  This was nasty and took 4 days in the hopital to get regulated.  At the same time, my mom went into the hospital with a twisted bowel. At 96, she decided to have the surgery to fix that problem, but she now had a much lower quality of life and would have to go to a nursing home.  Talking to Iesha that Thursday morning from my hospital bed was soothing as I talked out what I was feeling.

Friday brought release from the hospital and my entire family to my house.  All three daughters, 6 grandchildren and a boyfriend came to spend the weekend.  It was a joyous time although I had to wear a mask most of the weekend and could not do a lot of activity.  We only get together about once a year, and I was so glad I got out of the hospital in time to enjoy it.  They left on Sunday, except for my oldest daughter, who stayed until Tuesday morning.  We always liked to walk and talk, but I was limited to ½ and ½ mile stretches.  But we sure enjoyed having them all and got a great family picture.

Tuesday morning when I talked to Anna, I finally realized how amazing it was that their counseling came along at this time.  Our spiritual life had been attacked with the closing of our church.   Our finances had been attacked as we lost $800 a week in income between my wife and I.  My physical life had been attacked with two stints in the hospital and new restrictions on activity.  Emotional tolls had been taken as well.  These emotional tolls were exacerbated by my mom passing away on August 22nd.  Although her passing was expected in a way, it still put a hole in my heart.  I would soon learn that she had left some inheritance that would help us greatly in our financial position.

God has a way of bringing things into our lives when we most need them.  This Able To program was one of those things.  All the events that happened during that time I had the program available is just incredible.  Tow hospital stays, loss of a substantial amount of income, church closing, mom passing all in an eight week stretch.  These were two of the most difficult months of my life, ranking right up there with my cancer treatments.  In fact, they were in many ways harder than going through cancer.  But God, in all His wisdom, brought Anna and Iesha into my life when I needed them the most. He knew what was coming – He always does!  In the final assessment of the program, it turned out my anxiety level was down from where it had been in the beginning.  Imagine that!  With all that had happened, I was less anxious about life.  God surely had His hand on me!

I love the writings of Fenelon. If you have never read His work, I highly recommend it.  In one of His books, “The Seeking Heart”, He makes a statement that we all should take heed to.  He says “See only God”.  In these simple words, He shows us what is the best way to have victory and joy at every turn in life.  When we see God working in everything that comes into our lives, we will always feel victorious.  It reminds me of my favorite passage of scripture.  Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct your path.”  In all your ways, in everything that comes along, know that God is there and He is bringing you closer to Himself.  Acknowledge this at all times and you will find yourself in His arms even in the hardest of times.

If you’d like to learn more about Able To, visit their web site at www.ableto.com.  If you’d like to know more about God, well, you know where to look.

Are You A Meat Eater?

Hebrews 5:10-14

 

10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Am I dull of hearing?  Has the preaching in my church, or the radio sermons I hear, or just reading my bible daily become like wrote practice that I just do and don’t glean anything from it.  The voice just goes on and on with nothing important to be said to me because I already heard it or read it.  In fact, I think I could give that preacher a pointer or two.  They missed this scripture or that and those would add so much to their message!  Why would they leave that out?  This is boring!  I’m not going to listen to a sermon where I know the outcome.  Dull – boring!

If I really sit back and think about my reaction to messages I hear, this statement is not far from the truth.  I have always had a quest for knowledge, and in my younger years as a Christian, I read the Bible like a person with a voracious appetite.  Three years in a row I read the Bible cover to cover., I underlined, did word studies and topical studies with my Thompson Chain Bible and my Strong’s Concordance.  I wanted to know all I could know so I was ready if I ever had to apply those scriptures to my everyday life.  This activity was all well and good, to a point.  It became a routine.  Just another thing I did each day.  After those first three years, I did the yearly reading again a couple times.  I had become dull of hearing in a way, because the reading was not as exciting as it once had been.

But my quest for knowledge did not cease.  I still did word studies, topical studies and other things that made the scripture seem more palatable.  The King James can be hard to read, and I was pretty full, or so I thought.  I wasn’t sure there was much more for me.  The problem was that I thought I knew it all and had a tough time when people tried to tell me about the scripture.   I already knew it!  This brought me to a point where I stopped digesting the word and making it a part of my life, deep down inside myself.  I started to just drink it like water or milk, just enough to get me by, but certainly not enough to sustain me.  And that’s when I started to get into trouble.

I started chasing after sin.  It was not enough to have sin come calling at my door – I chased after it in places I should not have gone.  I looked at things, read things and did things I had no business doing as a Christian.  I was a worship leader, lay minister, deacon, and Sunday School teacher.  I should not have fallen to the tempter like I did, but here I was, steeped in private sin, doing things in the dark I should not being doing.  This went on for years until one day my daughter found out and told my wife.  Consultation with my Pastor brought many tears and a period of remorse set in, but the problem came back harder then before.  The second time I was caught it cost me my job of 20 years.

But I had a wise Pastor, and he put down the law on me.  He told me I needed to go to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky or I would never set foot in his church again.  So, I went.  The place as all about Bible study, and so I got back into my old habit of word studies and topical studies.  When my counselor found out I was doing that, he got after me.  I had enough homework to do, and he did not want me to do anything outside of that.  He said something I will never forget.  He said I had way to much head knowledge and it had not made it into my heart.  No more studying of any kind outside the structured study they gave me.  I learned at that time that all the studying I had done previously was in vain unless it became the way I lived.  Unless it became meat to my body instead of just milk or water.  The meat that I needed was already inside, I had just not chewed it slowly and digested it properly, and it was going out in the draught.  It wasn’t as profitable for me as it should be.

This is exactly what Paul is talking about here.  The Hebrews were so familiar with the Bible and the story of Jesus, that they simply glossed it over and did not make it a priority in their lives.  They needed to listen more closely and allow the Holy Spirit to make it real to them.  They needed it to come into their bodies and go through the blood stream just like nutrients do.  When we eat meat, our body has top break it down to its basic elements for us to gain any good nutrition from it.  We have to do the same with God’s word.  I am not talking about taking anything out of context, but merely to read the word more slowly and apply it to our lives as we go.  That is why I do these studies in short pieces of scripture – because I want to absorb what God is saying to me.  Don’t read them fast.

A other way to do this is to write out the scriptures in your own words.  If you really want to have a good time with this concept, go to Psalm 119.  Write out what each verse means to you in your own words.  I know, it’s 176 verses long.  But you will find treasure in there that you never knew existed in that Psalm.  I did this experiment a few years back, and right now our men’s group is going through that study.  This tactic can really be used with any scripture, but Psalm 119 is often skipped over because of its length, and I think you will find this an excellent growth experience. I pray that you are at a place where you are eating the meat of the word, and not just drinking at the fountain.  There is so much more to this Christian walk than simply being dormant.

Obeying to Perfection

Hebrews 5:7-9

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

The Garden must have been a gruesome ordeal for Jesus.  All His life, He had done what His Father had wanted Him to do.  He said so on numerous occasions.  His mission was to show us the father and He did so with compassion and grace.  For three years, he healed every sick, lame, blind, dumb and deaf person that came to Him.  Constantly “He healed them all” appears in the word.  He taught us great lessons that have and will endure the test of time.  He was loved and followed by thousands everywhere He went.  He got away to pray several times on His own, and this strengthened Him for ministry.

But now He was really alone.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, early in the morning (it is guessed around 1 am) He went there to pray, knowing the fate that lay ahead of Him.  He knew that Isaiah said he would be like a sheep taken to the slaughter and that He would be wounded and would take stripes.  He knew that they would mock Him, gamble for His garments and nail Him to a cross.  He knew this road awaited Him.  He desperately wanted His closes friends, Peter, James and John, to pray with Him during this troubling time.  But they could not stay awake.  They slept each time he woke them up.  He was alone.  Terribly alone in prayer.

It was a simple prayer.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”  But it was a big battle for Jesus.  All his life He had done the fathers will, never questioning.  But now, he really wanted this cup to pass from Him.  He really, in His flesh, did not want to go through the agony that lay ahead.  He knew he must, but he asked the father if there was any other way, to make it happen.  But there was no other way.  The father’s will would prevail.  He would do whatever He needed to do.  He would be obedient through the suffering.

I can’t help but think of another Garden experience so prominent in the Bible.  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are in the garden and they are faced with the same dilemma.  Should they obey God or listen to their flesh.  The enemy made giving in to the flesh real tempting to them.  But they knew what God had told them – they should not eat of that fruit.  It was the only thing they were told not to do.   They had to make a decision, and they made the opposite decision that Jesus made.   They decided to listen to the flesh instead of listening to God. Because of that decision sin entered the world.  Sin was passed on from Adam to all me through His seed.  It was a real bad decision.

But Jesus made the right decision.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”.  What a different world we would live in if Adam and Eve had made that decision.  Because of Jesus decision, he suffered unbelievable torture and pain, all for us.  But he was also perfected, and became salvation to all who will believe in Him.  He affected the lives of every person who every lived by making that one decision.  I’m so glad he chose obedience in the midst of the most difficult trial a man has every faced.  He saved us all!

What a different world we would live in if we would make that decision every time.  To do the will of the Father above our own will.  To obey no matter what the outcome might be.  Those of you who read my writing all the time know that I live by a verse and do my best to abide by that verse all the time, in good and bad. It is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”  This verse has saved me from worry, sorry, storms, trials, troubles and all manner of things the enemy has put in my way.  It has also saved me during times when I have been the master of my own disasters.  I know that no matter what comes my way, no matter what trouble or storm, I can trust in Him.  I don’t try to understand why I made that dumb decision, or why this test has come to me, I just trust Him.  I acknowledge that he is working in my life even when I can’t see Him working.  I acknowledge He is there, somewhere, working on a better plan for me – His plan. I can praise Him in the midst of the storm because he will show me the way out of that storm.  In fact, I would not be surprised if this verse was in Jesus mind that night. James 1:2-4 tells us that we are made perfect by the troubles and temptations that come our way.  These verses have also become central to my philosophy.  Paul says that for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.  We must look at our troubles that way as well.  He works all things for our God – always.  Romans 8:26 tells us that we must know this.  When we know this, we will see our obedience to Him through our suffering will perfect us in the end.  And he will be exalted which is just as it should be.

Through the Cross

The following is a sermon I preached three years ago on Palm Sunday. it came to mind this morning as I was walking and praying. I trust it will bless you this Easter!

In the 5th century BC, the Greeks started some games at Mount Olympus.  An olive branch was twisted as a crown, and onlookers waved palms for the victor.  Palm branches were a symbol of victory. Olympic medals still have palms on them today!

There was excitement in the city.  Jesus was coming.  They had heard of his miracles, of people healed, of demons cast out, of his run-ins with the Pharisees.  The discussion about the coin with Caesars image on it and whether we should pay taxes or not.  The story of the Good Samaritan and the prodigal son.  Lazarus had been raised from the dead just days prior.  And now he was coming to Jerusalem!

He was really coming.  He was the King, the Messiah, in their minds.  They believed he was coming as a victor to bring His kingdom to reality.  They saw victory over the Romans coming to pass so they gave Him a victor’s welcome.  They waved the palm branches and laid them down at His feet in victory.  They even laid their overcoats down in homage to Him.  They praised the one who came riding in on a donkey, just as the prophecies said He would. Of course, the religious leaders were aghast!  They derided Him for accepting the praise of the people.  But He told them the rocks would cry out if the people did not.  They were incredulous, I am sure

Then he walked into the temple and saw the money changers there, cheating the people and lying to them.   They would take a lamb from one family, saying it was not clean enough, and they would sell that same family a lamb that had been taken from another family, supposedly because it was not clean enough.  There weights were not accurate and they cheated the people one after another.  Jesus came in, and as He had done before, he started dumping the tables over, causing a huge commotion in the entry of the temple.  Once again, the religious leaders were furious and said this man has got to go.

The next two days he spent time in Jerusalem, teaching the people with stories about ten virgins and ten talents.  He pronounced woes on the Pharisees in a tone none had seen from Him before.  He told of the end times, and what they would be seeing at the end of the age.  He talked about the value of a widow’s mite, and His feet were anointed with very costly oil by Mary. He told Peter he would betray Him three times.  A lot happened on those two days that we rarely read about.

But then Thursday came.  He sent His disciples into the city to prepare for the Passover, telling them to take someone’s donkey and tell them the Master had need of it.  The disciples went and prepared the feast, and as soon as they were all there, Jesus washed their feet.  The Master washing His followers’ feet – quite a sign of servanthood.  He told them one of them would betray Him, and sent Judas away on His mission.  He told them the bread was His broken body, and the cup was His blood spilled for them.  They were trying to figure out what he was talking about.  I am sure the atmosphere was solemn and sobering.  Not a typical Passover fest, which were usually joyous and celebratory.

Around midnight, they took a walk to the Garden of Gethsemane.  He told them he was going to prepare a place for them, that he was giving them His peace and would send the comforter to teach them.  He told them he was the vine and they were the branches, and they were to be fruitful.  He said the Holy Spirit would convict people of sin, righteousness and judgment.  He told them to pray in His name, and he pronounced a blessing on the disciples, all during that short walk.  Those words can be talked about forever.

When they got to the Garden, He took Peter, James and John a little further in and asked them to pray with Him as he went aside.  But they fell asleep, not once, not twice, but three times.  He told His Father that he was ready to do the Fathers will, and not His own.  He would face the cross.  Judas came and betrayed Him with a kiss and the soldiers took Him away in the middle of the night.  A mock court awaited Him. It didn’t take long for them to convict Him as peter was outside betraying Him.  Pilate listened to the case and washed His hands of the whole thing after the crowd cried crucify Him.  He was beaten, bruised, spit on, scourged, given a crown of thorns and made to carry His cross.  He fell under the weight, weakened by the loss of blood.  A man helped Him carry the cross the rest of the way.  They laid Him on it and put the nails through His hands and feet.  Then they raised the cross and dropped it in the hole with a thud.  The pain in His body must have been immense, the sight of Him almost grotesque. 

Then He asked the Father to forgive them, for they did not know what they were doing.  He put John in His place to care for His mother.  He asked for a drink and got vinegar.  Then he cried it is finished and His life left Him at three in the afternoon.  He gave it up, they did not take it.  All of a sudden there was an earthquake.  The veil of the temple ripped from top to bottom.  People came up out of their graves and walked in the streets of Jerusalem.  It was an incredible series of events.  They took His body down and laid it in a borrowed tomb, wrapped in a cloth.  They out a huge stone at the entry of the tomb, sealed it with a Roman seal and placed a guard at the door so no one would steal the body.

Saturday was quiet.  The people mourned His death.  They seemed hopeless because they had such high hopes.  Now He was gone, and their dreams of a Messiah were gone with them.  The disciples were in hiding, afraid of the Romans, who thought they might steal the body so they could claim he rose again as He said He would.  I can’t imagine the tears that were shed that day.

Then Sunday came.  Mary came to the tomb to anoint the body, but when she got there the Roman guard was asleep and the stone was rolled away!  She went into the tomb and Jesus was gone.  She wondered where he was, and Jesus appeared to her, telling her He had risen just like He said He would.  Se ran to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves.  They were amazed, and suddenly Jesus came into the room and talked with them.  The victory had been won.

You see, the cross was necessary.  Jesus had to win the victory by going through the cross.  And we win the victory by going through the cross as well.  We don’t ant to stay on the front side of the cross, and see the agone and defeat that is there.  We need to get to the back side of the cross and see the victory that Christ won for us.

On the front of the cross is agony on the back of the cross is peace

On the front of the cross is sorrow on the back of the cross is joy

On  the front of the cross is weakness on the back of the cross is strength

On the front of the cross is doubt on the back of the cross is faith

On the front of the cross is pain on the back of the cross is healing

On the front of the cross is deceit on the back of the cross is honesty

On the front of the cross are lies on the back of the cross is truth

On the front of the cross is bondage on the back of the cross is freedom

On the front of the cross is darkness on the back of the cross is light

On the back of the cross we are lost on the back of the cross we find the way

On the front of the cross is sin on the back of the cross is forgiveness

On the front of the cross we are stained with sin

on the back of the cross we are white as snow

On the front of the cross is defeat on the back of the cross is victory

On the front of the cross is death on the back of the cross is eternal life

If we stay on the front of the cross, hell will be our destination

When we go through the cross, and come to the back, our destination is heaven

All is only achieved if we go through the cross.  Have you seen Him on the front of the cross, blood stained, nailed, in agony? Have you accepted Him as your sacrifice for your sin? If you have, then come through the Cross for victory.  Come to the back of the cross and realize all God has for you.