Throwback Thursday ~ Jesus Wept

Another new feature this week is Throwback Thursday. On Facebook, Throwback Thursday means posting old, nostalgic pictures. Here on the blog, I’ll be digging into the archives and re-sharing some older articles.

Originally published April 18, 2011:

Jesus Wept

It was hardly a day for tears.

It was a day that should have been the high point of His ministry.

As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen,  shouting:
         “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

After three years of hard work and harder prayer, miracles, and countless hours of teaching, the people were finally getting it.  They recognized that Jesus was the Messiah.  His people were giving Him the praise He was due.

Or were they?

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,

What’s this?  This isn’t part of the Palm Sunday pageant.  In every Bible, commentary, and Sunday School lesson, this scene is called “The Triumphal Entry”.  Why is Jesus over there crying?  What’s that He’s saying?

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
 “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,
 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Once again, Jesus sees through the outer display of behavior and lays the heart of the people bare.

They’re praising Him because He multiplied bread and fish.

Because He healed diseases.

Because they think their Messiah has come to set them free from Roman oppression.

They don’t get it after all.  And that’s why He’s weeping.

They don’t get that Jesus didn’t come to give us stuff.  They don’t get that the bondage of sin is far worse than enslavement to Rome.  They don’t get that taking up a cross and following Jesus will get them something far sweeter and deeper and more satisfying than all the miracles and riches and healings in the world.  It will get them Jesus.  And that’s what He wants to give them.

And as I watch my Savior’s heart break over His people so many years ago, I wonder– is He still weeping today?

Every Sunday, we, Jesus’ people, offer Him loud Hosannas.  We lift our palms in celebration of His goodness and blessings.  We sing out His praise.  We kneel before Him.

But is He weeping?

Does He see through our outward behavior to a heart that just wants worldly trinkets from Him?  Does He see a church that draws near to Him with its lips but whose heart is far from Him (Isaiah 29:13)?  A stiff-necked people who deigns to physically bow the knee but not crucify the will?

Are we the new Jerusalem?

Scriptures taken from Luke 19:37-44

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Wednesday’s Word ~ Habakkuk 2

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I’ve got a new feature for you: Wednesday’s Word. Each Wednesday, I’ll be featuring a Scripture meme, plus–since it’s important to read Scripture in context– the chapter the verse is found in. If you have a lovely picture (which you own the rights to) that you’d like to see featured as a Scripture meme on Wednesday’s Word, please e-mail it to me at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com. I’d love to share it (and credit you, of course).

Habakkuk 2

1 I will take my stand at my watchpost
    and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
    and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

And the Lord answered me:

“Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
    but the righteous shall live by his faith.

“Moreover, wine is a traitor,
    an arrogant man who is never at rest.
His greed is as wide as Sheol;
    like death he has never enough.
He gathers for himself all nations
    and collects as his own all peoples.”

Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say,

“Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—
    for how long?—
    and loads himself with pledges!”
Will not your debtors suddenly arise,
    and those awake who will make you tremble?
    Then you will be spoil for them.
Because you have plundered many nations,
    all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
    to cities and all who dwell in them.

“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
    to set his nest on high,
    to be safe from the reach of harm!
10 You have devised shame for your house
    by cutting off many peoples;
    you have forfeited your life.
11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
    and the beam from the woodwork respond.

12 “Woe to him who builds a town with blood
    and founds a city on iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts
    that peoples labor merely for fire,
    and nations weary themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled
    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

15 “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink—
    you pour out your wrath and make them drunk,
    in order to gaze at their nakedness!
16 You will have your fill of shame instead of glory.
    Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision!
The cup in the Lord‘s right hand
    will come around to you,
    and utter shame will come upon your glory!
17 The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
    as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
    to cities and all who dwell in them.

18 “What profit is an idol
    when its maker has shaped it,
    a metal image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in his own creation
    when he makes speechless idols!
19 Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake;
    to a silent stone, Arise!
Can this teach?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
    and there is no breath at all in it.
20 But the Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth keep silence before him.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 8-26-14

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Just a quick note to apologize to my subscribers for the last couple of e-mails you have received with 404 error messages. WordPress is in the process of switching over to a new posting platform, and apparently they haven’t yet taught the new platform the difference between “publish immediately” and “schedule”.  :0) Thanks for bearing with us.

The Ice Bucket Missions Challenge- Have you taken the challenge yet?The Ice Bucket Missions Challenge- Have you taken the challenge yet?

How I Learned to Speak in Tongues and Then Never Do It Again- An interesting article from someone who has been through the Charismatic experience and decided to leave it behind. Part 2 is here.

Disney Princess Proposals- Well, this guy had a unique idea for his Disney pictures.

6 Truths to Remember When a Christian Leader Screws Up Royally- Might want to bookmark this excellent article. Sadly, this happens way too often.

Slippery Squirrel- Don’t watch this at work. You’ll laugh so loudly your boss will want to come in and look overy your shoulder.

How the Bible and Homework Can Help Your Child- “Use his required reading time to grow him in his knowledge of God, and pray that his time produces spiritual fruit.”

Christian Yoga: An Oxymoron?- “Just as there is no Christian Ouija board and no Christian astrology, so there is no Christian Yoga that is either truly Yoga or truly Christian.”

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Ice Bucket Missions Challenge

Have you taken the ice bucket challenge? If so, I’m calling you out!

I’m challenging all my readers who have participated in the ice bucket challenge to make a matching donation to the missions organization of your choice. Need some suggestions? Some of my favorites are:

International Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention)

Gospel for Asia

Trans World Radio

The Gideons International

Wycliffe Bible Translators

Don’t forget to share this around to challenge your church, your friends, and your small group to give to missions!

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Blog Swap ~ ABC’s of Marriage Bridal Shower Game

blog swap

 

I’m so excited about our very first blog swap today! Blog swaps give me the opportunity to share other great bloggers with you, plus offer you fresh content that’s a great supplement to our regular fare here. If you’d like to do a swap, click on the link above for more information.

 

Today, we’re swapping with Kelly of Raising Samuels. She’s got an awesome freebie for you, a fun game for your next bridal shower!

bridalshower

 

I am proud to offer my first ever freebie!…It is a word unscramble that covers various fun phrases related to marriage using the letters of the alphabet!  You get the unscramble list, answer key, instructions how to play and the fun phrases to go with each corresponding letter of the alphabet!
 

 Click here to continue reading, and don’t forget to subscribe and follow Raising Samuels on social media!

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Idolatry: No Turning Back ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 8-24-14

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These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 34 ~ Aug. 17-23
Jeremiah 35-50, Psalm 74, 79, 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36, Habakkuk
Idolatry: No Turning Back

Background:
Israel is gone, carried off into captivity by Assyria. Judah has managed to hang on a little longer, due in part to Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s godliness, but, now, Nebuchadnezzar has beseiged and overthrown the last of Judah’s fortified cities, slaughtered the king and the nobles, and carried nearly all the citizens off to a 70 year exile in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar left a small remnant of the poorest of the poor to continue living in Judah to work the land, and set up Gedaliah as governor over them. Gedaliah was subsequently assasinated by the Ammonites, and the remnant decided -against God’s clear instruction through Jeremiah- to go to Egypt, and to force Jeremiah to go with them. This is where we now find them in chapter 44.

Jeremiah 44

God takes sin seriously.
As usual, Israel’s (here, Judah’s) main sin was idolatry, a clear violation of the first and second Commandments. That’s not something God just sweeps under the rug as an “oopsie”. In verse 3, He calls it evil. Verse 4, “this abomination that I hate.” In verse 6, God reminds them of His wrath and anger poured out becaue of idolatry. And think back over the scope of Israel’s history: the plagues, the pestilence, the snakes, the natural disasters, being conquered by enemies, and so on.

The vehemence with which God responds to idolatry shows us that He doesn’t take it, or any other sin, lightly. If there’s one major takeaway from the Old Testament, it’s that sin has a price tag, and somebody’s got to pay it.

Why does God respond so harshly to sin?  (1 John 4:8)
1. Because God is love (1 John). When we read that the penalty for sin is an eternity in Hell, we really have no idea what we’re talking about. We know Hell is bad, but that’s about the extent of it. God can see Hell. He knows precisely what it’s like, and He loves us so much that He doesn’t want a single person to go there. So much, in fact, that He was willing to go to the farthest extreme of sending His Son to provide us the way out of Hell and into Heaven.

2. Believers are God’s walking billboard to the world. When we share the gospel and walk in godliness, we can attract people to a saving relationship with Christ. But when we sin unrepentantly, and/or in what the world would consider to be a “big” way (adultery, embezzlement, drunkenness, etc.) we can turn people off to God. God wants to prevent us from doing that because He loves and wants to save those people just as much as he loves and wanted to save us.

3. Sin hurts people in the here and now. God doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want us to be victimized by other people’s sin and He doesn’t want us to hurt other people.

God pursues His people relentlessly, but not endlessly. (Romans 1:18-32, 2 Corinthians 6:2)
Take a look at verses 4-5:

“Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods.” 

Again, think back over all the ways and times God has tried to bring His people back to Himself. Hundreds of years, dozens of prophets, painful circumstances. Time after time as Israel rebelled against Him, God mercifully and patiently offered them opportunities to turn back to Him. He didn’t throw them away or give up on them. And here, even though He is about to destroy this remnant, it is not God who has thrown in the towel. It is the people who have relentlessly demanded His wrath. God could not have been more clear to His people in this chapter about what would happen to them if they continued to rebel, and still they said, “we will not listen to you, but we will do everything we have vowed” (16-17). So he gave them what they wanted- the freedom to reject Him forever.

God is the same way today. He pursues people relentlessly, but not endlessly. Romans 1 makes this clear. Three times in this passage, he says, “God gave them up…” culminating in verse 28:

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

This is why there is such a danger in people putting off salvation, thinking they can get around to it on their death bed. If people reject God long enough, He will eventually give them what they want and stop pursuing them. The Bible says (2 Cor.) today is the day of salvation.

The goal of God’s pursuit and discipline is restoration. (Jeremiah 42:9-12, 2 Corinthians 5:20)
Even here at the end of God’s patience, God’s desire is still to restore His people to a right relationship with Him. Just two chapters ago, He told the people that if they would only obey Him and stay in Judah instead of going to Egypt, He would have mercy on them. The same loving Lord who says in 2 Corinthians, “be reconciled to God,” has always desired that His people walk in right relationship with Him, and He uses whatever means and measures He has to in order to turn His people back to Himself. 

Women have the power to influence our families, communities, and nation for evil or for godliness. (1 Peter 3:1-2) 
The worship of “the queen of Heaven” (Ishtar, an Assyrian/Babylonian goddess, the wife of Baal or Molech) started with the women of Judah (15,19). They then influenced their husbands to participate in, or at least approve of, this idolatry. The women, and the husbands they had corrupted, stood in Jeremiah’s face and said, “We will not listen to you. We will keep on with our idolatry.”  

Why? Because the women had the false notion that the reason they lately “lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine” (18) was becase they had stopped sacrificing to her. (Of course, the truth was that they were experiencing these things at the hand of God because they had been sacrificing to her.(23))

Several months ago, when we studied biblical womanhood, we discussed the line from My Big, Fat Greek Wedding where the mother tells her daughter, “The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn him any way she wants.” First Peter puts it this way:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

Every day, we have opportunities to be like the women of Judah and turn our families and our communities away from Christ and towards idolatry. Let’s not be like those women, but, instead, women who, by our godly character, our respectful and pure conduct, and our submission to our husbands, turn the world upside down for Christ.

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Jonah- Lesson 12: The End

Michelle Lesley:

Well, we’ve come to the last lesson in our rerun of the Jonah Bible study. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Originally posted on Michelle Lesley:

Jonah 4:4-11

I’m a person who doesn’t like loose ends.  I like everything tied up in a nice neat little package with a bow on top, so much so that, in my mind, my favorite book, Gone With the Wind, doesn’t end with Scarlett wondering whether or not she’ll get Rhett back.  I’ve mentally re-written the ending.  He comes to his senses before he gets to the end of the driveway and takes her back.  And also, they both repent of being such scallywags and get saved.  Because that’s how it is supposed to end.

I have a feeling Jonah was the kind of guy who needed closure, too.  All God told Jonah to do was to go to Nineveh and preach the message He gave him.  Jonah didn’t have to hang around and wait for the results.  But aggravated as he was, Jonah felt the need to see things…

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