IT TOOK COURAGE

Lee’s on a roll!  Here’s another good one!  Keep ’em coming brother…we love it! -anita

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It Took Courage

 As I’ve been reviewing John’s account of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, two men stood out to me. Men not of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

 Both of these men had high ranking in society during the time of Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion. Nicodemus is a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, and is mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John. Joseph, according to Mark in verse 15:43, was “a prominent member of the Council (the Sanhedrin).” Matthew noted that Joseph was wealthy.

 Interestingly, the gospel of Mark explains that Joseph “gathered up courage” (NAS) and went in to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus. Obviously, given that Joseph moved in circles which very much wanted Jesus dead, he risked great disapproval and even hostility from that group for being associated with Jesus. One commentator I read noted that Joseph even risked “ceremonial defilement in handling a dead body,” a task typically left to lesser members of that society.

Nicodemus came to join Joseph bringing with him a large quantity of expensive myrrh and aloes to place on Jesus’ body. Myrrh was quite costly and was used primarily as a fragrance in perfume but also to hide the odor of decomposing flesh after death. One commentator said, “Joseph and Nicodemus’ act of love and respect for the body of Jesus was for them dangerous, costly, and without personal gain.” Clearly, for these men to even gain access to Jesus’ body required them to take His body down from the Cross in a very visible and public place, before all to see.

It apparently was Roman custom to allow those crucified as seditious criminals to remain on their cross for vultures to consume. Jewish custom, however, dictated that one crucified must be taken down before night fall and buried or it would curse the land [Deut 21:22-23].  To help keep peace, the Romans allowed Jewish custom to be followed and thus, agreed to the desire to remove Jesus’ body from the Cross. As a side note, it was custom for the Jews to bury criminals in a common grave outside the city.

 What I find most compelling is that our Lord was buried properly, with expensive spices, in a garden in a rich man’s new grave to satisfy prophecy [Isaiah 53:9].  Jesus as a man lived a life of complete poverty, never owning more than the clothes on His back, yet, due to the actions of these two men, Jesus’ body was treated as one of high estate. As another commentator put it in an article I just read: “Though Jesus had suffered much humiliation, the honor shown in His burial marks the beginning of a shift to a more exalted state for our Lord.” One justly deserved for One who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

-Lee Pierce

JESUS PAID A RANSOM, BUT TO WHOM?

Jesus Paid a Ransom, But to Whom?

 “The Son of Man came … to give His life as a ransom for many.” [Mt 20:28] I’ve been reading once again of the crucifixion of our Lord and His work of atonement. I guess I always dread reading this portion of Scripture because I always feel so badly that Jesus had to suffer so much when He was entitled to glory and great honor as the Son of God and a member of the Holy Trinity. It hurts me to see the shame, suffering, hurt and persecution He had to endure to complete the task of atonement.

 As I paged through this “old, old story” (from the old hymn Tell Me the Old, Old Story”), I began to think about the idea of ransom. In the Matthew passage (Mt 20:20-28) Jesus is quite clear in His understanding that He was being given a cup that only He could drink and was paying a ransom for His people. I suppose I had never thought too much about this ransom idea and maybe even had considered that the ransom was being paid to Satan to free believers from Satan’s clutches.

 Upon doing some research on this ransom idea, it seems the view that Satan was being paid off is an idea held by many in the church over the years. But in reading through material from one of my favorite sources, Dr. R.C. Sproul, the contention is made that payment of a Satanic ransom does not square with Bible teaching. Per Sproul: this idea does not agree with Scripture’s view of Christ’s work as “a victory over Satan.” He quotes 1 Jn 3:8b which states that Jesus “appeared…that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Dr. Sproul further notes that, for Satan to receive the ransom, Satan would actually be the victor in Christ’s death, and we all know that Satan has been defeated. If that’s not so, then we don’t have salvation! Further, Sproul states that, “… the devil is himself a rebel and has no right to demand a ransom for our redemption.”

 God our Father, however, has every right to demand a ransom to release us from the “state of condemnation” brought about by Adam’s sin [Rom 5:12]. A pure, just and holy God cannot permit even one sin to abide before Him. While, by Jesus’ atonement, we are secondarily freed from slavery to sin and death, we are primarily saved from the wrath of God Himself. As Sproul puts it: “We are saved from God, by God, for God.” In short, Jesus Himself was the ransom paid to His Father to rescue each one of us.

 Dr. Sproul, during the course of his teaching career, was always fond of saying that, for any of us to commit even one little sin, amounts to “cosmic treason” before a perfect and holy God. I suspect that you, like me, have many more than one sin for which Jesus had to atone. Thank God Himself, we have a Savior!

-Lee Pierce

MC CROSKY’S POND

I was thinking a lot about my dad today, and remembered the following story he used to use as an illustration in his sermons. Braden Mc Crosky and my dad were great friends! Take a look… -anita
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The Gathering Journal

I blogged this back in 2015 when we first started The Gathering Devotional blog site.  I thought about it again this morning as the sun shined bright through the window, revealing all the dust on my furniture!  Yikes!  Time to grab the duster….  LOL 🙂

Seriously though…Let’s all ask God to reveal the things in us that need to be changed… cleaned up, and then allow Him to do that for us! -anita

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“Search me O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me…”  Psalms 139: 23 & 24

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It had become a ritual for Braden to walk the small parcel of land left to him by his father.  It was almost as important to him as his morning devotions.

In the middle of the property, was a small pond.  On hot days, he would stoop down…

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YOU EVER FEEL LIKE JOB??

We are going through it!  My ten-year old son brought home a bad cold back in October.  He recovered pretty quickly.  However, my husband and I caught it, and it has almost killed us!

I know age has a lot to do with recuperating…but this stuff is ridiculous!   My husband is still struggling with a sinus infection, which this morning has his face swollen.  I have been coughing for over eight weeks straight…day and night.  The cough drop companies are getting rich off of me!  I’ve taken antibiotics, prescribed cough medicine, yet nothing works!

Yesterday at work, my back began to bother me.  First I was stiff, then I could hardly move.  Last night was sleepless in Denver!  I am in pain at this point.  Can’t even go to work today.  My husband has to help me in and out of a chair and bed.  It hurts when I sit.  It hurts when I walk.  It hurts when I lay down.  …It hurts!

But, I will continue to praise God.  I asked Him this morning…”What do you want me to learn from all of this?”  I haven’t had an answer yet…but I will.

We have been doing a lot in ministry lately that is making a difference in lives.  I’m sure the devil isn’t very happy with us…and I say, “GOODY!”  It is my main goal to wreak havoc in his kingdom!  if that means I must suffer his wrath for a short time…so be it.  I’m not giving up on my quest to build the Kingdom of God!  I won’t stop!

I do admit to feeling a bit like Job though.  But I know in the end, the blessings I will receive from God will be so abundant that all of this trouble will fade away!  God will get us through all of these attacks!  And no matter what we suffer here…we WILL receive a crown of Righteousness in the end!  The devil can’t touch that!

My point in sharing all of these woes?  To encourage you if you find yourself going through some ugly times!  Stay strong in the Lord!  Stand in the Power of HIS might!  You’re almost at the end…just hang in there!  And…if you turn around…you’ll see me and my husband…we’re in the same boat!

Anita

“WOULD YOU BE MINE?”

“The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

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I woke up this morning and thought of the above verse.  When I rolled over and saw the glorious sun shinning through the window, I remembered a little song I heard years ago as well….

The song from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood began to play over and over in my head.  Where did that come from???  Take a look at the words:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, 
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?
-From Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Then I heard God say, “Every morning I make the sun come up in all of its splendor, casting its beautiful colors across the sky…the birds begin to sing My message to a lost and dying world.  I want YOU to be My neighbor…My friend…My child!”   Then He changed the words a bit and I heard…“Would you be Mine?  You CAN be Mine!  PLEASE!  Won’t you be My child?” 

It’s your choice my friend.  Softly and tenderly, Jesus is whispering your name.  He’s singing over you right now, and inviting you to be His.  Come to Him.  Call on Him!  Become a part of Heaven’s neighborhood.  You’ll never regret it!

-Anita

THANKS!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving day yesterday!  Our’s was a blessed time with family…some we hadn’t seen in years, and with friends.  The blessings of God are abundant in our everyday lives if we will just look for them!

I want to share a poem with you, my readers, that I wrote in November of 2009.  The following things are just a few of God’s blessings in my life.  Take inventory…I’m sure you’ll find many blessings as well!  When you recount them all…don’t forget to thank Him!

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I woke up this morning, and it was Thanksgiving Day.

I wanted to give special thanks, but pondered what to say.

Then I thought of all the things God gives me every day

The things I take for granted…the “Thanks!” I never say.

See, I’m awakened everyday by a whisper in my ear;

“Wake up you sleepy head!  Wake up my child so dear!”

As I stretch and yawn in the early morning light,

I say “Good morning Father!  Thank You for the sleep last night!”

He smiles and urges me to look upon the dawn,

As He speaks to the dark of night and says,  “Go now…be gone!”

I see the sky…it’s changing as it turns from orange to gold;

Then the sun comes up and warms my face…it’s a marvel to behold!

And then, my bird, though caged he be breaks out in tones so sweet and long,

And sings his praise to One, unseen…a great and glorious song!

The cat sits in the window, his eyes to heaven raised,

And purrs his “Thanks!” to God above…that’s how he gives his praise.

I hear my husband next to me, his breathing soft and low.

He means the world to me…though I don’t often tell him so!

He’s the one I lean upon in this world of constant strife;

I’m so glad God chose me to be his helpmate, and his wife!

I check my sleeping children, still lying in their beds,

And I see faint halos glowing above their little heads.

They’re just small angels given to me, to help me through each day;

When life gets tough and things are hard, they brighten up my way!

My house, though small, is filled with love…it’s full of friends and laughter!

I thank You God, for my beautiful life, of now…and here…and happily ever after!

-Anita Mondragon 11/2009

 

BEFORE…and AFTER November 20, 2015

On this Thanksgiving Day…I want to thank Jesus for restoring my life! I was once ready for the trash heap…but HE cleaned me up…made me new! Thank You for dying for me Jesus! Thank you for restoring me!

The Gathering Journal

We just finished re-storing an old antique table that our kids gave us.  They know my love for re-storing old things, so instead of throwing it out, they asked if I wanted it.  I jumped at the chance, seeing the beauty and craftsmanship in the tired, weathered piece.  It was a mess when we got it!  Dust, cobwebs, spiders, veneer peeling off in spots; dry, colorless…downright ugly and ready for the trash…in most eyes, that is.  But I saw what it once was, and what it could be again with a little TLC.

Mike and I went to work on it.  We first cleaned it all up with mild soap and water…then, we began to sand it.  The old varnish that was left had to come off.  At first, we had to use very gritty sandpaper, but as we neared the end of this process, the sandpaper we used was…

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Here’s one from Lee! -anita

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EVANGELICALS: ARE THEY CONFUSED?

 

Every couple of years, Ligonier Ministries conducts a survey (you can see the study results at Thestateoftheology.com) to assess what the general public believes about the issues of theology. This study was conducted again this year, and, as always, there were reasons for concern as well as reasons for being encouraged as the results were analyzed.

 

Across the U.S., 20 per cent of the population professes evangelical beliefs—this includes key tenets of the faith such that salvation comes only from Christ’s death on the cross and that the Bible is their highest authority for truth. Yet, conversely in this study, 52 percent of professing evangelicals agreed with the statement, “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature,” which contradicts the Bible’s clear teaching that all sin and there is no one good except God [Mt 19:17 and Rom 3:23].

 

Other disturbing responses were these: 51 percent of the evangelicals agreed that God accepts worship of all religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Further, 78 per cent agreed that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.” These responses, of course, contradict biblical teaching that the only way to God is through His Son and that Jesus is God eternal, one member of the Holy Trinity.

 

One encouraging aspect of the study findings concerns Millennials (people age 18 to 34) who will make up a significant portion of the overall population in coming years. This sector was more biblically sound in many cases than other age ranges studied: 64 per cent of Millennials agreed that there will be a time when the Lord Jesus returns to judge every person who ever lived. Also, this same group was more pro-life than the general populace: 57 per cent agreed that abortion is a sin. Conversely, however, this group (51%) said that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today.

 

Relativistic thinking, so prevalent in our world, certainly can be found in the study results:Religious belief is a matter of personal opinion; it is not about objective truth, according to 60% of the evangelical respondents. This flies in the face of biblical teaching; Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is the truth.

 

So, what do we make of these survey results? Similar to study results from years past, this study shows that the church has lots of work to do, both in the general populace as well as within the sub-group of professing evangelicals. Most people either have little knowledge of biblical truths or hold conflicting views on key topics. It’s fairly amazing that evangelicals could, on the one hand, say that we are righteous before God only because of one’s faith in Jesus Christ (91%), yet hold that Jesus is the greatest being ever created by God (78%).

 

Biblical knowledge comes from reading the Bible, of course, but also from thinking deeply about what is read there. And, also from consulting extra-biblical resources for help in understanding difficult passages of Scripture. In our busy world, many people seemingly don’t take the time to read these words from our great God. If the God of all creation were sitting at my kitchen table and telling me how to conduct my life (both for my benefit and for His glory), I would want to be listening intently and taking notes. Reading/studying the Bible is the way to do just that

-Lee Pierce

DO YOU IMPART WISDOM? OR PASS JUDGMENT?

This is primarily for us older ladies…hopefully mature in the ways of the Lord.

The older I get, the more I realize that I make snap judgments on folks when we first meet.   I think most older folks do this without knowing.  Then when it is brought to our attention, we say we are just eccentric.

I find myself doing this a lot lately.  I do it…and I must admit, I really hate this flaw I have!

The other day, my mind was “evaluating” someone in a harsh way and I heard God say, “Do you recall the verses in Titus 2:3-5?  Let Me refresh your memory….  They say, ‘… teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.’  That is what I want from you…to be a teacher…not a judge!”

That was quite a reprimand!  But yes…I had it coming!

I have lived my life and am now in my 60’s.  So why can’t I make allowances for younger folks that have no experience?  Why do I berate their actions, and make little room for forgiveness and understanding?   It’s very unfair of me to have this attitude, for when I was that age, I made the same mistakes and wanted folks to forgive me!  Yet, I can’t seem to find it in my heart to forgive them.  Lord, forgive me!

I have purposed in my heart to try to do better.  I want God to use me as a teacher…I no longer want to be a judge!

Today, God gave me an opportunity to give advice to a young person.  When we parted, she said, “I really appreciate your wisdom!”  I said with a chuckle…”No, I’m not wise…just experienced!  Your story and mine are very similar!”

Remember ladies…we are to be teachers and good examples to the younger women.  If we remember where and what we came from…we will be much kinder, and infinitely more helpful!

Anita

IT WORKS! TRY IT!

My great grand-daughter was in the hospital this past week with Kawasaki disease.  She had a severe rash all over her little body, swollen hands and feet..it was awful!  It was effecting her heart and liver….

But God….  He intervened!  Why?  Because there were many prayers going up to Him.  The Bible says in James 5:16, “… pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Now, I’m not trying to make it sound like those of us that prayed are perfect…but since we all have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, we ARE righteous before God Almighty.  When He hears us pray, and ask that His will be done in the name of His Son Jesus, He hears and answers for Jesus’ sake, and ours because we have trusted in His ONLY begotten Son!

Do you have an insurmountable problem?  If you KNOW Jesus as your Savior, you can make your petitions known unto God the Father, and He will hear, and answer your prayers!

Prayer works!  Try it!

Anita