Cost 

Authored by Lou Geense
 
Read: Mark 14:3-9.
Vs. 3 – While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Reflect:
When the woman broke the jar of expensive perfume the judgement on her actions began immediately. Surely the money spent on the jar of perfume for Jesus could have helped people in need. Would this not have been better spent on helping the poor? But Jesus was the one whom the woman was called to bless at that time. She followed God’s leading in her that day. Jesus acknowledged it was an appropriate action as well.
 
Have you or your family ever received a generous gift? Our family has on a number of occasions. The hard part for me was to accept them graciously. My own sense of pride often got in the way of acceptance. In the end however, those gifts came in times of financial need for us, and they were more appreciated than I could ever say. The people giving us those gifts felt led to give and didn’t do it out of guilt or duty. They did it because they loved our family and knew that God had blessed them to be a blessing to others.
 
We know that the cost of ­discipleship—following Jesus—involves relying on God and following his calling in our lives. The people who blessed our family were doing just that. The woman in today’s story gave extravagantly to Jesus with no thought about her own needs or agenda. She simply did what she was called to do.
 
Sometimes we are called to do things that may seem different or out of place, however if we truly understand that we are being called to do so, just do it. That may cost us a bit of pride, but the outcome will be a blessing to others and a building block in our faith.
 
The call to be generous and bless others is to trust Jesus and to live with a generous spirit. It is always rewarding.
 
Pray:
Father, allow us to hear your call and to follow wherever you may lead, no matter the cost. Amen.

He Has Risen, Just As He Said

Authored by Martha Dodd
 
Read:  Matthew 28: 1-20
The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.  Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’  Vs 5-10
 

Reflect:
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is one of the most highly attested events in history.  The evidence of the empty tomb, the many eyewitness reports from both individuals and groups, some as large as 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:3-7), the transformed lives of Jesus’ followers and the rapid growth of the church – all point to the truth of the resurrection.

It is one thing to know in our heads that the Jesus rose from the dead, but how does this change our lives? 
 
As one person has noted, people commonly accept as historical fact that human beings walked on the moon just over 50 years ago.    And yet, this knowledge has made little or no impact on how people lead their daily lives.
 
So, if we believe that Jesus’ resurrection from the grave actually happened, what does this mean for how we live our lives?   In what ways has Jesus’ resurrection shone light, quelled fears or directed hope into your life and circumstances…in years past or in this past year, or today?
 
The angel told the women at the tomb that first Easter morning that Jesus had risen, “just as he said.” As they waited in the dark, between Friday and Sunday, did they remember Jesus’ words?   What truth has Jesus given you to hold on to in the dark?   The women discovered it was only in the presence of the risen Jesus, that their fears were silenced. And like them, it is only as we first ‘come and see’ and encounter our risen Lord Jesus as we abide in Him, that we then have something to ‘go and tell’ others. 

Pray:
Lord, thank you that Jesus shared in our humanity so that by His death, He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  And thank you that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, You have given us new birth into a living hope. 
 
Please enable me to know and experience the power of Christ’s resurrection in my thoughts, words, and actions.  Thank you that You will always be with me to the very end of the age, helping me to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have.  (Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 Peter 1:3; Philippians 3:10, Matthew 28:20, 1 Peter 3:15)
 
1 Corinthians 15: 55-58
‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Rich Man – Poor Man 

Authored by Lou Geense
 
Read: Luke 16:19-31.
Vs. 19-21 – “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
 

Reflect:
Of all the indignities that I saw while serving in Relief and Development for our denomination was to see the extremely poor not just being marginalised but to be ignored by the leaders in their own country. I remember seeing beggars pushed off the side of a street and out of sight by police. Moments later a caravan of luxury cars drove by as the country president returned to his office nearby. This parable that Jesus told came to m y mind as I watched the beggars slowly make their way back to the side of the streets.
 
Jesus had sympathy for the poor and often rebuked rich people who were selfish and did nothing for the poor. In Jesus’ parable, the poor man Lazarus who died was carried by angels to Abraham’s side in heaven, and the rich man was sent to hell, where he was in torment.
 
The rich man had lived for his own pleasure and had ignored the message of Moses and the Prophets. Lazarus had had no comfort in life, but in death he received the blessings of life with God in heaven.
 
Many of the hymns of the American black slaves in the southern states were messages of hope and ultimate vindication by Almighty God for the injustices they endured as slaves. One of their spiritual songs speaks of God as the “Rock of my soul” in “the bosom of Abraham”— an expression referring to “Abraham’s side.”
In Jesus’ parable, the rich man’s sin was not that he was rich; it was that he refused to care for a person in need. His stony heart ignored the call to share food with the hungry and to provide shelter and clothing for people in need (Isaiah 58:7).
I pray that I will never be so blind that I do not see the pain and suffering of others. The truth is that the majority of us who live in Canada live in an affluence that we seldom recognize.

Pray:
Our heavenly Father, instill in me your heart of compassion and lead me to do some good with the earthly treasures you have given me. In the name of the One who has compassion on us, Amen.

He Has Risen!

GOOD FRIDAY
 
Authored by Lou Geense
  
Read: Luke 24:1-12.
Vs. 5-6 – “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!

Reflect:
Can you imagine being one of the disciples that came to the tomb prepared to place perfumes on the body of Jesus only to find he was not in the tomb. I have to admit that my pragmatic side would begin to look for logical conclusions. Furthermore, as much as I want to be a person of faith, I would most likely have been standing with Thomas John 20:26-28.
 
It is clear from the record of resurrection morning that confusion ruled the hearts and minds of the disciples. Mary believed the body had been stolen, the other disciples still had not understood that Jesus must rise from the dead. It is Jesus and the angels that bring clarity, calm and peace to the disciple’s hearts. The angels caused the women to draw on their memory and remember Jesus’ words that he would be crucified and on the third day rise again (vs. 7-8). In John’s account Jesus calls Mary by name and in her distraught state she recognizes Jesus (Jn. 20:16).
 
In the midst of confusion and chaos Jesus reigns with truth and certainty, even today. In the midst of our present chaos and confusion Jesus is still the one to whom we should run for clarity, certainty and hope.
 
The resurrection of Jesus is the most awe-inspiring event in the history of the world. It’s not just that Jesus came back from the dead; Elisha had raised a dead boy to life, and Jesus himself had raised several people. The unique thing about Jesus’ resurrection is that it is permanent—Jesus is still alive! Jesus overcame death forever! That means he reigns forever!
 
Because of Jesus, death no ­longer has the finality it once had. Jesus demonstrated his power over death so that we can have real hope that he will conquer our death as well. Like Jesus, many of his followers will die. But, because of Jesus, all who follow him will one day be raised back to life. Resurrection Sunday will one day be resurrection day for all who believe! Amen!
 
Pray:
Lord Jesus thank you for your truth, your clarity and your sure and very real hope. We praise you for your sacrifice on our behalf. Father thank you for your plan of salvation. Thank you for the truth & promise of your resurrection. Halleluiah and Amen!

Resurrection

Authored by Mary Lucas
 
Read:  Matthew 28: 1-7
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’”
 

Reflect:
In 1963 a young girl by the name of Addie Mae Collins was killed when the church she was in was bombed in a terrorist attack.   In 1998, the Collins family requested that Addie Mae’s body be exhumed and moved to another cemetery. But her body was not in the spot where it was presumed to be – the body was missing. There were lots of suggestions about what happened to the body of Addie Mae but no one suggested she had been resurrected to walk the earth again. Why? Because by itself, an empty grave does not a resurrection make.
 
The empty tomb by itself is not evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.  The question is if, after he died, did he appear to anyone?  Dead people normally don’t do that! Jesus appeared to many people after his death.
 
I heard that if all the individuals whom Jesus appeared to after he died were cross examined for 15 minutes each it would take from breakfast Monday until dinner on Friday to get through them all. After listening to 129 straight hours of eyewitness testimony I think no one could walk away unconvinced of the resurrection!  Some of these individuals were the disciples who were hiding in fear one day and then boldly proclaiming Jesus as risen.  Eleven of the twelve disciples were eventually martyred for their faith.  No one would be willing to die for a lie!  They had truly seen Jesus alive and knew for certain that he was the Son of God!
 
But why is the resurrection so important?  This became real to me several years ago.  Patti H. was a good family friend and very special to me because she looked after my twin sons in the hospital after they were born.  She was a lovely Christian woman, married to Sandy (another wonderful person) and they had four children. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a young age.  I prayed that God would heal her and I believed He would.  I couldn’t understand why He would take such a wonderful person early in her life.  In 2015 Patti died just before Christmas.  I remember being angry with God.  “Why didn’t You heal her?” I asked.  “Why?”  It was then that I heard God’s voice say to me “I did heal her”.  I then realized that He had answered my prayer.  She was fully healed.  Because of the resurrection!
 
As Christians, we no longer have to fear death, because we have an incredible hope – the hope that one day we will be with God forever. It’s not a “hope so” hope, it’s a “know so” hope.  If Jesus was raised, Pattie will be raised.  And I will be someday too.  Then I will see them both. 
 
In John 11: 25-26 Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”