Wednesday, March 13, 2024


Interesting QUOTES... 
Our old history ends with the Cross; our new history begins with the resurrection. 

Watchman Nee

The New Testament writers speak as if Christ's achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the 'first fruits,' the pioneer of life,' He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.
C.S. Lewis

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.
Charles Colson 

Devotional Thoughts .. ---  BARABBAS 

Barabbas ...  we all know the details of his part in the crucifiction story, but he is quickly passed over with little further thought given  him.   I have been thinking about him and would like to take a bit of literary license with his story.  I think I have some credibility in doing so because in James 5:7 we are told that Elijah was , "of like nature or passions" as us.  That means that given the same circumstances we respond with our emotions and actions with predictability,  because we are all of the same flesh -  'human'.  

So taking the scant details we are given about Barabbas in Matt. 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:18-24, John 18:40 I put myself in his place to try to flesh him out as a fellow human being. 

"My name is Barabbas. 
I was well-known , but infamous rather than famous.  I was an angry, violent man who charted my own way of dealing with life.  I hated the Romans, hated them with a passion.  I hated their arrogance and their domination over us Jews.  What right did they have....  NONE as far as I was concerned.  

I lived by my own standard of right and wrong.  If I needed something, I took it, not caring from whom.   So I was known as a 'robber' by my own people.   

I rebelled against authority, in particular, the Roman authority and was vocal about it, thereby gaining some support from men who thought like me.  Joining with me, they agreed to my plan. We cared little about our own well-being, just wanting to inflict some pain on the Romans, and find a way to vent our churning anger. 

We planned  our insurrection plan, and carried it out !  It was at least partly successful, we murdered men guilty of nothing more than being Roman, but that was enough reason for us. 

The part that didn't go so well was that we were caught and arrested - thrown into prison, bound with chains.  I knew my life was over, crucifiction my sentence, I tried not to care!   I  waited for the inevitable along with the fellows chained with me. 

One day, I heard the footsteps of the guard approaching our cell.  The door clanged open and I fully expected my time had come.   The guard bent to unchain me and then his words startled me, no = they shocked me. "You  are free to go."  

What?  There was no mercy for me - I knew I had long ago crossed that line!  So what was the guard saying?   I was free?  How?  Why?   I must be dreaming. 

But, the guard roughly pushed me out of the cell and turned back to relock the cell door.  He didn't even look at me.  Really?  I was free to go?  I didn't believe it until I found myself outside, breathing fresh air!  

I stopped the first person I met and asked what was going on.  Why would I have been released from a Roman prison?   Demanding answers I finally found someone who could answer my questions.   A man named Jesus was on trial, and Pilot , trying to play his cards in Jesus' favor, used  the tradition of setting a prisoner free that day.  He offered the people a choice,  Jesus or me !  Well, even I knew that I should have been the last criminal to be offered freedom.   But me instead of Jesus?  I had heard of him,  people spoke of him as a great prophet, some even suggesting he was the long-expected messiah ...  and now they wanted him dead so badly they were willing to have me freed?  me? a robber, murderer, rebellious rabble-rouser?  How was that possible?  Had the people gone mad?

My feelings were conflicted, I hardly knew what to think ... much less what to do.  I wandered aimlessly...  but then hearing the crowds was curious to know what was going on.   I quickly became aware that  a crucifixion was about to take place -- three men.   A chill shivered up and down my spine with the realization I was to have been one of those men.   I recognized one of the men as Jesus, the one who was taking my place.  

I stood at a distance watching the horrifying events unfold.  I witnessed the suffering inflicted on the men on the crosses.   My eyes were fixed on Jesus - literally my saviour!  I was grateful for my undeserved, unexpected freedom but I could not justify, much less understand,  the reason for it. What was I going to do for the rest of my life? "

To my regret, we are not given any details about what Barabbas did after he was set free.  Did he hear of Jesus' resurrection?  Did he listen to the gospel story and come to faith in Jesus?  

We will have to wait for eternity to find out.   But truly,  Barabbas is representative of each one of us.   We all stand at the cross looking at the One who took our place there.  Our sin laid on Him, when He Himself had no guilt at all.  I am offered freedom, only because "God so loved!!"  

At this time of year, as we again focus on Jesus' sacrifice -- His death -- and His resurrection, we can be so thankful that in Him  we have forgiveness and  life eternal .   

God asked Jesus'  "Who shall I set free?  You or ----------  (
fill your name in the blank) ?
 and Jesus answered... " Set ______________ free, I am willing to take their place!"  

Saturday, March 9, 2024

My Amaryllis 


I was gifted an amaryllis bulb for Christmas and I had so many Christmas flowers that I decided to wait to plant it.   I finally planted it a few weeks ago, and I took this photo today.  It has 4 huge flowers on the tall stem and more coming up on the second stock.  
I was telling my sister how I loved my amaryllis and she listened and then commented...:"I hear a devotional coming up !!"   Well, I never turn down a challenge .. and I am a firm believer in God having a lesson or message in everything He does .... soooo....  you, my friends, are the recipients of my amaryllis lesson !!  

Before I planted my bulb I did some research on how-to, what-not-to , to try to ensure my success.  One comment I read on one of the sites gave me great hope !  It said .. "Amaryllis' are easy to grow no matter what colour your thumb is !!"    Well, my thumb is all colours but green so I loved this comment !  
It made me think ....  I am  so encouraged that God doesn't 'grow me' because of anything I have,  or because of who I am.  He just grows me because HE IS and because He wants to.  
I love the verse in Psalm 115:3 -- "God does what He pleases!"   Did you ever think of that ?  God does what He does because it PLEASES Him ?  And it pleases Him to grow you and me into His likeness...  and He uses His own righteousness to do it .. All we have to do is be willing, ready and open to receive what He has for us. II Cor. 3:18,"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." Amazing, isn't it ? 

I looked at the ugly bulb before I planted it.  I really would have just tossed it out if I thought that was all there was to it!  But the box said that it would grow into a beautiful blooming plant.  Okay ...  I was willing to give it a chance.  
Aren't we like that bulb?  Plain, ugly, useless... (okay, I'm speaking for myself!)  and yet God looks at us and sees the beauty in us that He can bring out.  He knows exactly how and where to plant us and nurtures us to bring  us to be transformed into something lovely!  

It is a mystery to me how those beautiful blooms can be hidden in that ugly bulb.  How does it know how to get out and just grow and unfold in such glory!  Isn't that a miracle ?  Since I cannot explain that, yet accept the truth of it , then why should I doubt when God says He sees beauty in me and you and that He will 'cause us to bloom' !!   
Paul in Ephesians 3 speaks of the mystery of God's plan of salvation... how it all unfolds God's mystery, to reveal that "the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel'.  I believe the 'mystery of the amaryllis' and I believe the mystery of Christ - God's perfect salvation, planned from the foundation of the earth.  Ephesians 1:4  "even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love."

I learned something amazing about the amaryllis' bulbs.  If the bulb is waxed it can be placed in a decorative pot, or simply hung from the ceiling and it will grow and bloom without you paying any attention to it, you need not even water it !!  
Wow...  the lesson in that is really profound, isn't it ?  If there are no missionaries, if there are no churches, if there are no Bibles, God can find the most isolated person and find a way to reveal Himself to them and open their hearts to 'grow' in Him.  We have all heard the stories of Jesus appearing to Muslims in the Middle East in dreams and visions because that is the only way they will hear of Him !  Only a God of love can care so much that He will do all He can to reach every single person!  No one will ever stand before Him on judgement day and say they never knew of Him !     

It was almost scary watching my amaryllis grow  - up to 2": a day.  It stands almost 2 feet tall! Easy to see what it is teaching us here, isn't it?  God did not save us to be 'hidden'.  He wants us to stand tall, where we can be seen by those who need to be saved.  In Matt. 5:14 and 16, Jesus says "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden ...... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

I have been reading how to take care of the amaryllis bulb so it will bloom again year after year!. It has to have a period of dormancy or rest after a blooming season, before it will once begin to sprout forth new growth. .  We too go through periods where we feel  tired,  burned out, we need to 'rest' or maybe encounter a period where God seems far away, or a time that tests our faith. Even though these times may be difficult we know that 'spring' is coming and we will be renewed in strength! 
"But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength, They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." -
Isaiah 40:31.... see also II Cor. 4:16-18 

My amaryllis is red, but there are at least 500 varieties and colours. Easy to draw the analogy here that we too are each unique - our own 'variety' and our own 'colour'.  Yet all are precious in His sight !  

I hope you enjoyed my ramble inspired by my amaryllis.  To God be the glory for His wonderful creation so full of His love-notes tucked into it for those who seek to  find them !