It Is Finished!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Oh what a week ahead! We have the last of Christ’s teachings at the Last Supper on Thursday, the terrible events of Good Friday that lead to our Saviour’s death, and then the ultimate joyous celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and our victory over death on Easter Sunday. To speak on one event and leave out the others just doesn’t seem right. So, I will make an exception to my Liturgical Devotion guidelines. This week I will focus on the Scripture for Good Friday. Then next Monday, I will rejoice with you with the Easter passages.

Well, let’s top up our coffees and head into the most grievous week in the history of the creation…

Readings for Apr. 10, 2020; Good Friday

Isaiah 52:13—53:12; Psalm 22 or 31; Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9; John 19:17-30

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30b

Have you ever strived for something so hard, where you gave it your all, and at the end of it, once you knew you were completed what you set your mind to, you simply collapsed? You’d given it your all through the whole process, and once finished, you were drained?

As a member of a dragon boat team, I usually feel like that, to some extent, following a 500 meter race. From the start of the race, my mind is set, and vision focussed on the finish line half a kilometer down the river. Then at the sound of the horn determination, drive, and adrenalin kick in and I give it my all, and for the next two and a half minutes I ‘empty the tank’ as we say. Finally, once over the finish line, my whole body is jello. It takes everything in me to casually paddle to the unloading dock.

Whether it is a sporting race, or competition, or (you name it), most of us can identify with taking ourselves to the brink of our existence, enduring beyond what we could normally endure in order to attain a goal on which we have set our minds, a goal that is self-satisfying and not necessarily important or beneficial to anyone else. And when it is complete, we proclaim, “It is finished! I did it!”

Well, Jesus too set his mind on a goal. A goal which meant he would endure not only exhaustion but ridicule and pain and suffering and death. It was a goal where he would not receive anything from it. He was not desiring to be self-satisfied. Oh no! His mind was set on a goal that would 100% benefit someone else. He set his mind on the goal of redeeming you and me, and all of humankind; to being the lamb without blemish or spot that was to be sacrificed once and for all in order that all humanity would be reunited with the Trinity for eternity; to conquer this earthly death and to have victory over sin, death and the power of the devil. There was nothing he ‘had’ to do for himself, but he did it all for us. The hatred from others, the lies, the ridicule, the thorns that lodged in his skull, the scourging spikes that ripped apart his body, and the piercing nails through his hands and feet that kept him hanging on a cross- he endured it all with the goal of his love for us. In fact, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Hebrews 2:2b) Joy? Really? Oh yes! Think about it: It pleased him to endure such pain because it meant his precious creation would be reunited with their Creator. His love is that strong. His love is that selfless. And it’s the love he has for you.

So, as you walk to this most holiest of weeks, take time to lay yourself at his altar, sins and all, and remember and give thanks for God’s love in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour of the world, and proclaim with him, “It is finished!”. Then together “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. . . .  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1. . .3)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Forgive me all my sins. Thank-you for enduring all you did in order to redeem me. Help me to live in thanksgiving to you in all I do, say, and think, and help me to not grow weary in doing so. In your name I pray. AMEN!

Paying It Forward

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Apr. 5, 2020; Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:19-29 or 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; John 12:12-43

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

Back in the ’90s, there was a stretch of time where it was difficult to make ends meet financially. I was home with our young children – in fact I believe I was pregnant with our youngest child at the time – trying to bring in some income as a home day care provider, and Rick was working hard as an auto mechanic with a dealership that kept reducing hours. Funds were slim. Expenses were plenty.

One particular evening, in the midst of this trying time, we received a knock at our door from a couple from our church. Looking back, they were probably the same age Rick and I are now- mid-fifties. After a few niceties, they proceeded to hand us an envelope with the words, “it may not be much, but we do hope it will help with a couple expenses.” Inside the envelope was a cheque for one hundred dollars. We were so thankful. I cannot express how deeply that gesture touched our hearts and the money helped with the bills that month. However, along with the cheque, came these words, “We do not want you to pay us the money back. However, down the road when things get better, we would like you to pay it forward, if you wish. Someone helped us out many years ago and asked us to pay it forward. So as we pay it forward to you, we only ask that you pay it forward to another in need.”

Well over the years, that $100 has been extended to others multiple times. That initial act of love shown to us decades ago continues to be fresh in our hearts, and with thankful hearts we continue to extend the same practical love to others in our life’s path. It is with this ‘practical love’ and the desire to pay it forward that I think of the above passage. As Christ hands us a cheque for salvation, with love and compassion, mercy and grace, we can cash that cheque for our own life eternal and reap his benefits. But then we need to continue to share those benefits with others. For just as Paul says to us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Therefore, may we live each day in the thankfulness for all that Christ has paid on our behalf and go pay it forward to all those we meet.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank-you for the sacrifice that you made on my behalf. Thank-you for continuing to extend your love, faithfulness, and forgiveness to me each and every day. Help me to pay such blessings forward. In your name alone I pray. AMEN!

Grief VS Faith? No, Grief & Faith!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well! Despite the chaos and uncertainty that Covid 19 has brought to the world at large, I pray you are able to find beauty, joy, and the blessings.

Let’s top up our coffees and be thankful for our time together.

Readings for Mar 29, 2020; Fifth Sunday in Lent      

Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:1-53

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

These words of Jesus are part of a conversation he was having with Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus. Oh how Martha grieved.

I remember when my mom died. I remember standing beside her open casket just moments before the casket was to be closed and taken to the front of the procession line and the family was to file in behind it at the start of her funeral service. I knew that once that casket was closed, I’d never see my mom face-to-face again. Although her body lay lifeless, I could not sever myself from her. The pain of grief encompassed me: heart, body, mind, and soul.

Did I believe the words of Christ above, as if spoken to me directly: “Jesus said to [Brenda],” I am the resurrection and the life. Do you, [Brenda], believe this?” Oh yes, I believed it. I do believe it. I never stopped believing it. But, there were times when I felt guilty of feeling grief and saddness. I knew better. I knew where my mom was. I knew she was no longer in pain and misery from the cancer. I knew all that. So, in the midst of it, I questioned my faith because of my grief. If I really believed in Christ’s salvation, and knew Mom believed it too with all her heart, what was my problem? Get over it, already!

Well, it’s in the words and actions of Jesus surrounding Lazarus’ death, where “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35) that brought me great comfort. For if the one who is life eternal, the resurrection and the life, himself, wept for his deceased friend, then I can weep too. His tears did not nullify him as being the Son of God and my Saviour. His tears which expressed his deep compassion for the grieving family of his deceased beloved, are the same tears of compassion he shed when he saw my pain. I found comfort in knowing that Christ was not angry at me or questioning me, but instead, he had compassion on me and wept for me. In the same way, find comfort in knowing that Christ loves you and has compassion on you in your pain and grief. Do not try to deny your grief or toughen up or get over it because you feel like that’s what you should do. But take your grief, your sadness and your pain to the Lord, and in the midst of it proclaim as Martha did, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”(John 11:27) Then, let him heal you in his time, in your time. Finally, go and be compassionate to those who are working through their grief. Be patient and compassionate, weeping with them, and praying for them. Christ will carry them through their painful season, as he does with each and every one of us, if we let him.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe you are the resurrection and the life, and that by believing I have life eternal. Thank-you for your great love and compassion for me. Hold me close to you when storms come and I must say an earthly good-bye to loved ones. Help us all through our pain of loss and grief, to an unexplainable peace and joy. In your name I pray. AMEN!

Impromptu Service for March 22, 2020

For anyone whose heart is MISSING WORSHIP SERVICE, please find a little impromptu service and hymn below. Before you get started, you will need a daily devotion or past sermon and your Bible. I have posted the lyrics to a hymn but you may sing any praise song/hymns of your choice. Finally, my font is small so please expand as you need. God bless!❤️

Dear Friends…

Praying this post finds you and your family well. Are you home and self-quarantining? Have time on your hands? Uncertain about the coming days? Instead of boredom or anxiousness, why not start a journey of your own, where hope, love, and grace abound? Download your own Journey Through The Bible e-book($4.99) at Friesenpress Bookstore, https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000099180409/Brenda-Ryan-Journey-Through-The-Bible.

If you don’t have a Bible, go to your App Store and download a free Bible app. If you need help, send me a message.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8a) In fact, Jesus promises, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

God bless you during these days! ❤️

Shine Bright

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Mar 22, 2020; Fourth Sunday in Lent   

Isaiah 42:14-21; Psalm 142; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8

I have a light in my front window that I like to think of as an eternal flame. It’s a light to show the light of Christ in my home and a beacon to those who seek refuge. Except from Good Friday until early Easter Sunday, the light is always shining. Or so I like to think.

You see, the light is battery operated. So, from the moment I put new batteries in, the brightness of the light gets dimmer, and dimmer, and dimmer, until the batteries are dead and I must put new batteries in. Then its light shines bright once again, and the whole thing starts over. However, there are also the times when we go away or are busy, and do not notice the batteries are dead and the light is out. Sometimes it can be days before I notice the blackened light and finally put in new batteries. Life just goes on and unless I stop to pay attention to the lightless light, it remains void of its purpose and meaning.

Did you notice in the reading today how we are likened to that of the Lord’s light? Just like my light, we are the actual item that holds and dispels his brilliant rays. We weren’t just once in darkness; we were darkness. From inside out we – our beings- were void of light. But now, because of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are the light that beams brightly, a beacon to guide souls to a place of safety, peace, and refuge.

Yes, we have those seasons in life where we have let ourselves be removed from our power source, thinking we don’t have time to go to church or read his word, and we think we don’t need to go be recharged. And then, without notice, we are void of any light. We are drained, and from within we are dark. In those times, do not become prey to the ways of darkness, but let the Holy Spirit draw you back to the source of our light. Take a moment to pray, to be in God’s most precious word, let your senses take in glorious songs of praise, or most importantly, take time to attend Worship service. Pay attention! Take time to get recharged so that your light will once again shine brightly. For not only has Christ shown us the way to the brightness of life eternal, we have become his lights in this world to draw all people to him and to know his love and grace, his forgiveness and peace. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Prayer: Dear Lord, enliven me to be your light, to shine brightly your fruits of the Spirit. Forgive me for those times when I think I can do it on my own. Please recharge me through your word. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

Alone in a storm?

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Mar 15, 2020; Third Sunday in Lent     

Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95:1-9; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-26

“Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:7b

How many times have you asked that question: Is the Lord among us or not? How many times have you been faced with trials and burdens, seemingly responsible for carrying a terribly heavy load upon your fragile shoulders alone? A season in life where it seems like an impossible situation from which to escape, and where you can see no presence of God? To some degree or another, we’ve all been there. I will not claim to know or understand the depth of pain, anxiety, worry, or (fill in with the word that best fits your state) that you are going through, but I can assure you God has not left you.

No, God has never left you. He has promised that he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6b) He is there for you, desiring you to earnestly call on him, to seek his grace and guidance, even in the midst of the impossible. And he will answer. He desires you to place him as the priority relationship in your life, not just when times are bad, but afterwards when this terribly tough season is over, or especially when you feel this terrible season has endured too long. May I encourage you not to give into the temptation to deny God’s faithfulness and put him to the test, as the Israelites did.

No, God is not a good luck charm or a genie in a bottle to call on just when we need him. Oh don’t get me wrong, our amazing God, in his grace, will certainly be there and answer you when you call during these times, and he will leave you to your freewill when life is once again rosy. However, his ultimate desire is that you see and seek him, give thanks and worship him, especially after you’ve endured the storm; to give him yourself even in the peaceful, calm days. For it is here when you flourish and grow, and when the love, peace and grace of Christ flows from you to those around you, so that when others ask, “Is the Lord among us or not?” You can respond with a resounding, “Yes, He most certainly is!”

Prayer: Dear Jesus, some days are so difficult. It is hard to endure, and at time I feel so alone carrying these heavy burdens. Lord, please forgive me for testing you, for turning from you, for questioning you. Please give me the patient endurance to weather the storms. Give me a willing spirit to walk where you lead, at all times, in the storms and the calm, until the day I pass from the storm of death into your eternal presence. In Your name I pray. AMEN!

Look! Be cured!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Mar 8, 2020; Second Sunday in Lent    

Genesis 12:1-9; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-8,13-17; John 3:1-17

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.   John 3:14

In today’s reading we are reminded of the time, while on their exodus journey, when the Israelites were surrounded by venomous snakes, as a result of their unfaithfulness. The whole nation was being bitten, and the people, young and old, were dying. But God, in his mercy, provided a healing cure. He sent Moses to hold high a snake on a stick. All the people had to do was turn and look at the lifted snake, and they were released from their deadly circumstances. How simple was that: in the face of death, only needing to turn your face to the lifted up snake, and receive life? Simple! Unnatural, yes. Unreasonable, yes. Unscientific, yes. Unexplainable, yes. But Simple!

Yet, how many remained in their own self-pity, their own self-centredness and refused to trust in God’s instructions, in his remedy for healing? Even though people were being healed around them, were some people still determined not to follow God’s life giving words? I would bet there were. How grievous! If people died, it wasn’t because of God’s unfaithfulness, but because those people chose to be deaf to God’s saving words of love and healing, and let the poison run its course through their bodies resulting in death.

In the same way, from the moment Eve took that bite of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, humankind has been poisoned with the deadly venom called sin. Satan bit us all, each and every one of us. Yet, God himself, once again, has provided the remedy to heal us and free us from its deadly curse. All we need to do is listen and heed his words. We only need to turn to the cross and trust in Jesus who was held high on our behalf. That’s it! Yes, the means to obtaining the remedy is easy. It’s simple. Again it may be unnatural, unreasonable, unscientific, and even unexplainable. But it’s simple. “The Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life… Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already” (John 3:15-16, 18), because the venom of sin is already in them, killing them. So I plead with you, to look at the one who hung on the cross for you and endured the death that the poison of sin would have had on our bodies, our souls, and receive full cleansing.

Dear Lord, help me to hold fast to the simple truth of your salvation and cleansing in Christ. “For God so loved (state your full name here), that he gave his one and only Son, that [by believing] in him [I] shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 paraphrased) In His name alone, I pray. AMEN!

Readers’ Reviews and Q&As Now Available

Good day friends! I have just added two new pages to my website. Readers’ Reviews and Reading Journey Through The Bible? Have a question or a POI to share? Both pages can be found in the MENU. Just click menu at the top of the homepage.

There are a few submissions already. Feel free to check them out. If you have any comments, or questions yourself, please feel free to share. There is a comment field at the bottom of each page.

Thank-you to everyone who has contacted me to share their thoughts about Journey Through The Bible or ask their questions. I am enjoying walking with you through your journey. God bless you all!

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