Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016!

The 2016 train is leaving the station...chugging its way on out of here.  I'm waving goodbye, thankful for all the memories of 2016, but even more eager for the 2017 train approaching the station!  What's ahead?  What will the new year bring?  For opportunities. new blessings, new mercies, new experiences...and above all, The Sovereign God to reign supreme, and cover us in His grace as we journey on through the new year!  Are you ready for what's ahead?  We can't know what that is, but since God does, I'm just going to take His hand and anticipate what He has in store for me!  

I haven't blogged much this year.  Back in the spring, while we were living in Crossville, TN, I was so lonely that I ended up signing up for FaceBook.  I had avoided it for so long, but finally caved in just to see what my friends were up to.  Then I discovered messenger.  Between the two, my days are filled with "friends".  So if you have been following my blog and aren't seeing much posted, please feel free to request me as a friend on FaceBook.  I don't post a lot there, but I do try to keep up with my friends, and make comments.  And on occasion, I post.  You will need to request Carol Martz Casarez as a friend, but if I don't know you, I won't accept you.  Sorry.  Just trying to keep my list limited.

We came back to Michigan the first of May and focused on our house.  We had friends from Florida and granddaughters that helped us revamp the layout of the kitchen, giving us more room in the living room.  They also helped paint our cabinets white, and our walls teal.  What a difference that made!!  Dave and Wanda Randolph and Fred and Bonnie Evans...friends who have made such a difference in our lives!  We are so grateful to them for their assistance on this project!

We also decided it was time to increase our family again, and we added two party mix shih tzus, born April 10, both females.  Named Carli and Balie, here are pictures when we first brought them home, and then a little older:

They are so playful, and we totally enjoy them.  Turned out that little Balie only grew to 5#, but sister Carli is now at 10#....looking twice the size of her sister!  Both are healthy, and the big girl knows how to rip and tear with her little sister, who usually instigates the activity.  They are still quite small in the picture above.  I haven't downloaded my camera pictures lately.  

The other summer highlight was that our two granddaughters were once again able to visit us for a couple of weeks.  This time Leia brought her pet rats:

Both girls helped with the kitchen project.  Dave and Wanda Randolph were on the front end of our projects, and Wanda helped both girls with painting the cabinets white.

While Leia was helping Grandpa with various projects, Aria became my sidekick in the kitchen.  Here's a cajun recipe with shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn.  Pretty as the girl holding the bowl!

We had a beautiful fall in Michigan...very mild temperatures.  Campfires until late in the season.  A good time to hang out with friends!  We got together with Paul's family for various events:

Paul has had work projects that has taken him out of the state and out of the country.  When he went to Dubai in October, I decided to take a vacation also.  I went to Bronson Hospital for five days.  God's timing was impeccable, as the night before Paul left, he had to call the ambulance to come get me...I was losing it fast.  Turns out I had sepsis...had no idea.  If he had left before this was caught, I probably would be a greeter at the Golden Gates.  Turns out Paul was able to get me registered at the hospital and make his flight....going on 36 hours with no sleep.  Sons Kevin (and Aria) and Corbin came to my rescue.  They came to take care of the dogs and be with me.  I was touched to know they would both step to the plate for me in my time of need!  

We just returned from a Christmas trip to St. Louis where we spent almost a week with family.  Corbin flew in from California (Susan had to stay behind to work).  We had a great time with Kevin and his family and Corbin.  We went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the St. Louis Art Museum...trying to be cultural!  Ate at various new restaurants.  Met Leia's boyfriend...and really like him!  He fits well in the family!  

And so here we are...a couple of hours from 2017.  I'm ready!  What I don't know, God does.  And I can trust God, for sure!  He has never failed me, never let me down, never let me drown, never left me alone.  FaceBook assigned this verse to me:  I cling to you and you hold me with your strong hand.  (Psalm 63:8)  That pretty much tells my story from 2016, and going into 2017.  May your new year be full of God's Love and Blessings!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Journey 2016 - Journey to the Cross - 3/20/16

I just realized this morning as I was making a post on Theological Thinking, I had never posted the final segment of Journey 2016 from our pastor's sermons back in Crossville, TN, leading up to Easter.  So sorry!  So this post is a little out of order, but it goes with the posts from March 2016.  Please be sure to read my next post from today "Theological Thinking".

Mark 14:43-50New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.
46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”
50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away.

In just a few short hours Jesus went through six trials, beginning at 2 am:
  • Trial before Annas
  • Trial before Caiaphas
  • Trial before the Sanhedrin, in the Temple
  • Trial before Pilate
  • Trial before Herod
  • Trial before Pilate, 6 am
During this time...
  • Peter denied Jesus
  • Judas hung himself
  • Barabas was released
After the last trial, these are the events that led up to the death of Jesus:
  • Jesus was scourged.  Scourging was to cause as much pain as could possibly be inflicted on a person.
  • A crown of thorns was placed on His head.
  • Jesus was robed in a purple robe and was mocked by the soldiers.
  • Jesus was spit upon and struck with a staff again and again.
  • He was turned over to be crucified, and made to carry his cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha in disgrace before the people.
  • Jesus was nailed to the cross.
  • The soldiers gambled for his clothes
  • From the third hour (9 am) through the 9th hour (3 pm), Jesus hung on the cross, losing his ability to breathe.
  • At noon, God covered the sun and it became dark so the people could no longer look upon His Son, and the temple veil was torn in two, top to bottom.
  • At 3 pm Jesus spoke His final words:  "It Is Finished!"

Jesus is Lord!!  He was sacrificed on Calvary for our redemption.  He did it once and for all!  Never again did there need to be a Passover lamb sacrificed.  Jesus was the Perfect Lamb who was sacrificed for our sins.  Jesus is Our Lord, if we believe in Him and accept the price He paid for our salvation.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:18(NLT)

We have a choice to make.  What will we do with Jesus?  Do we accept Him as our Savior and have eternal life, or do we join the throngs of people who believe it is all foolishness and are headed to destruction...eternal death?

Theological Thinking

We have been attending a revival this week at Sturgis Church of the Nazarene, Sturgis, Michigan.  The preaching evangelist is Dr. Nelson Perdue, and the song evangelist is Dr. Gary Bond and his wife, Beth.  The services have been inspirational and theologically challenging.  You don't hear much about revivals any more...people are too busy with life to be concerned about spiritual matters.  

Dr. Perdue always gives me something to think about...he goes deeper than most evangelists...desiring that we all understand the work of God's holiness in our lives.  One night this week he gave me three mind challenges.  I will put them forth to you...see if you can answer before reading Perdue's answer.

1.  There are three recorded incidents in the Bible where satan audibly spoke.  Can you name them?

2.  What is the difference between the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness?

3.  In the Lord's Prayer, where is the message of holiness?

I went to visit some of our Senior Elders here on the campground to ask them these three questions.  I knew they all had sharp minds and a love for God's Word, having been preachers.  I knew they would enjoy some food for thought...and they all know Dr. Perdue and highly respect his passion for holiness.  After asking them the three questions, and getting their responses, I then shared what Dr. Perdue had enlightened my mind with.

1.  There are three recorded incidents in the Bible where satan audibly spoke.  First of all was in the Garden of Eden when he approached Eve as a serpent and tempted her to eat of the fruit of the tree that was in the center of the garden...the one God had told Adam and Eve to not partake of.  Second incident was when satan and God were discussing Job and God gave satan permission to test Job (Job 1:6-12).  The third incident was when satan tempted Jesus after Jesus had spent 40 days in the wilderness.

2.  The difference between the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is that satan tempted Adam and Eve to become like God by eating the fruit.  If they would do so, their eyes would be open and they would become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil. (Genesis 3:5).  When satan tempted Jesus, he asked Jesus to give up his Godhood and stay a man by bowing down to satan and doing as satan asked...turn the stone into bread, cast himself down off the highest point of the Temple, and at the peak of a very high mountain to kneel down and worship satan and be given the nations of the world.  (Matthew 4:1-11).  Dr. Perdue gave Dr. Dennis Kinlaw the credit for this comparison.

3.  In the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), when we pray to be delivered from evil, we are asking God to remove the bent toward evil that we are born with so that the Holy Spirit can take up residence in our hearts and sin can be defeated through the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in our hearts.  That's more powerful than I will take the time to explain here.  It certainly expanded my mind to see this passage in such a light.  Wow...God, remove that in me which causes me to sin.  Give me power over sin, over evil, by giving me your Holy Spirit!  May I be made more and more like you!  Amen!  

Now....for those of you looking for preaching  material...there you go!  I just wanted to take some time and record (blog) these new challenges I received this week from the holiness preaching of Dr. Nelson Perdue.  I have been enriched!!!  May I ever be growing in my knowledge of God's Word!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Charlotte, North Carolina

Notes from my Charlotte Tour, April 2016

While I was in Charlotte with Paul as he attended some classes for his job, I decided to take a city tour and get to know the history of Charlotte, and get a glimpse at the city layout.  It was a three hour tour and I enjoyed every moment of it.  I was writing notes all along the way, and probably missed sights because of that, but I was intrigued with the history and wanted to be able to recall some of it.  I will not promise the accuracy of my notes.  Whenever I am in Charlotte again, I for sure will take another tour.  Charlotte is a very pretty city with a fascinating story.

City of Charlotte:  Queen Charlotte was a German princess who married King George III when she was 17.  They had 17 children.  The city of Charlotte was named Queen City after her.  In 1768 it was changed from Queen City to Charlotte.  Charlotte declared its independence from England a year before the rest of the country.  Charlotte declared independence on May 20, 1775, and the rest of the country on July 4, 1776.  Captain Jack, responsible for Charlotte’s independence, was the hero of Charlotte.  The city now has a population of 820,000, with over a million residents in the county. 

Charlotte was not involved in the fighting of the Civil War.  The last meeting of the Confederate leaders was held in Charlotte at the St. Peters Episcopal Church.  Charlotte was the capital of the South at the end of the war for three weeks. 

Buildings:  The Bank of America is the largest bank in the USA, and is headquartered in Charlotte.  Charlotte is the largest banking city next to New York City.  The Bank of America building with the spires at the top is the tallest building in Uptown.  The spires represent Charlotte as the Queen City.  The banks bought out the retail stores in Uptown 25 years ago.  Many banks are headquartered here.  Duke Energy headquarters also located here, is the largest energy company in the United States.  Duke Energy is the tall building with a triangle top. The Westin Hotel in Uptown is the largest hotel in the area.    The Vue, another uptown building, is the tallest condo building, with condos for lease.  Carolina Medical Center is the largest business in town, not the banks.  The other medical facility in the area is the Presbyterian Medical Center.  The oldest church is a Presbyterian church built in 1821.

Colleges:  College Street used to have two colleges on it, but both have moved.  Queens College, built in 1857, originally a women’s college, was moved to Queens Street.  It became a coed college forty years ago. There are other colleges in Charlotte:  Johnson and Wales, a culinary/hospitality college located at the Gateway Center, one entrance to Uptown; University of North Carolina; and Central Piedmont Community College, which has five campuses and public schools.  It is the largest college in North Carolina.

Historic Area:  There is a cemetery from the 1700’s in the 4th ward park.  It was restored in the 1970’s.  The house at 412 Poplar is the oldest house, built in 1850, and is valued at $500,000.  The streets are narrow and the houses very close.  4th ward is the area of the oldest houses in Charlotte.    Elmwood Cemetery, 1853, is where the people who built the city of Charlotte are buried.  Randolph Scott, movie star, is buried here, as well as William Belk, founder of the Belk stores.  Confederate soldiers are also buried here. Church Street contains the French Quarter and has a few of the original buildings left.  Fourth Street is where the city and county government buildings are.  There were tunnels built under the street between the courthouse and the jail so prisoners could be transferred privately.  Tryon Street is named in honor of Governor Tryon, the Governor of North Carolina who was appointed by a king. 

Malls:  There are four malls in the Charlotte area.  On the north side is the Mills Outlet with over 200 stores.  On the south side is Carolina Place with over 150 stores.  James K. Polk, our 11th president was born near this area.  Also South Park Mall is located on the south side of Charlotte.  Not sure where the fourth mall is.

People:  Mr. Belk started his department store over 100 years ago, and today it is in more than 300 locations.  It is like a Macy’s.  The Belk Store at South Park is the most upscale of all the Belk stores.  Bojangles also came out of Charlotte and now has over 600 locations.  It is a chicken fast food chain with Cajun flavor.  Family Dollar Store started in Charlotte 50 years ago, and there are now over 8,000 stores. 

John Myers owned the cotton fields that were turned into an upscale community called Myers Park, starting in 1915, containing 1,000 acres.  Myers hired John Noland to plan the community lay out.  Queens Street runs through Myers Park.  Queens University relocated here from downtown.  The medians now seen in Myers Park are where the street cars once ran.  President Andrew Jackson was the first house built in Myers Park in 1915, on Hermitage Road. He had grown up in Stateline on the North Carolina, South Carolina border, but he eventually moved to Tennessee and owed The Hermitage in Nashville. 

Mr. Duke of Duke Energy built a home in Myers Park in 1915 that was 32,000 square feet.  It was called Duke Mansion.  Doris Duke, his daughter, inherited it when her dad died when she was 12 years old. A movie was made of her life.  The mansion is now used as a conference center and a bed and breakfast.  Mr. Duke had the First Baptist Church built to worship in.

Restaurants:  There used to be 40 cotton mills in Charlotte, and they have all been redeveloped.  Atherton Mill – Sola Salons is located at the corner of East Tremont and South Streets.  You can still see the old mill smoke stacks.  Air conditioning was invented and installed in this area of restaurants.  Grace Covenant Church, located here, is where Billy Graham attended church in his youth.  East Street finds all the homes converted to restaurants.  Every house on East Street is now commercial…no one lives in the houses.  Brixx Woodfire Pizza is the most popular pizza place in Charlotte.  Prices Chicken Coop is the most popular chicken restaurant in Charlotte. 

Sports:  The Hornets Basketball Arena is owned by Michael Jordan.  It is where Obama gave his acceptance speech for the highest office of the land in 2012.  The Democratic Convention was held on Trade Street in the Time Warner Cable Arena.  The Hornets moved to New Orleans, and changed their name to the Pelicans.  Then in 2015 Charlotte got the Hornets’ name back, and they are in the new coliseum, the Time Warner Cable Arena. 
The owner of Hardees fast food restaurant chain sold the franchise to Carl’s Jr. in California.   The proceeds were used to build the Bank of America Stadium in Uptown Charlotte.  It is where the Carolina Panthers play, and is a minor league baseball park, but the largest in the United States.  

Nascar Hall of Fame, across the street from the Convention Center, is the most popular attraction in the area.  The world’s largest white water park is located near the airport. 

Transportation:  Street cars were the mode of city transportation in the 1890’s to the 1940’s.  They are making a comeback in Uptown Charlotte…rails are being laid in streets.  The street cars are green and yellow and are free.  They currently only cover two miles, but will be expanded to cover ten miles.  About 8-9 years ago there was a trend to move back to Uptown, so high rises were built.  New apartments are being built along the rail system.  The city is also building a Greenway with parks and statues for walking, biking, other forms of exercising.  Amtrak is taking over the Uptown bus station on Trade Street.  The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is located just a few miles from Uptown.  It has easy access to all parts of the country. 

Dr. Billy Graham:
The Billy Graham Parkway takes you to the headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Billy Graham Library.  His childhood home was relocated to the library grounds and can be toured.  His burial site is also there, along with his two partners in ministry, George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows and their wives and of course Ruth Graham.  The Billy Graham Library is so well done and definitely deserves a couple of hours of your time to visit.  Here are some pictures from the Billy Graham Library:

 This childhood home of Billy Graham was moved here to the site of the library from just a few miles away where it was built by his father.  The markers shown above are placed where the home used to be...his birthplace.

This cow welcomes you to the library and tells you what Billy Frank was like as a boy when he milked her.

These are the grave sites of Billy and Ruth Graham.  The tombstone on the left is Ruth's, who passed away in 2007.  Billy, of course, is still living at this post.

Below are three pictures of George Beverly Shea's grave site:

 George grew up on a farm in Canada and loved to hear the dinner bell ring, calling them in from the fields to lunch.  He had a fascination with dinner bells and wanted one placed at his grave...a symbol of being called home to the greatest feast of them all after his labors on this earth were complete.

Charlotte, North Carolina, is one very nice city, a city with southern charm and hospitality, historic sites, and modern amenities.  A great vacation destination!  I look forward to my next visit!

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Spring Break - Myrtle Beach

In March we had scheduled a spring break week at Myrtle Beach with our granddaughters.  It did not work for them to join us, but Paul and I decided to go anyway, as we really do enjoy Myrtle Beach in the off season.  We've never been there when the summer crowd is there, when I'm sure it's bumper to bumper traffic.  We drove through the northeast corner of the Smokey Mountains, down through Asheville, NC, and out to the eastern seaboard.

Broadway at the Beach is a large shopping, eating, and entertainment complex.  A fun place to walk around.  Sometimes a hubby has to wait while the wife shops.  That's the Mystery House  on left, and a restaurant to the right.  We also enjoyed the Barefoot Landing complex, as well as the Tanger Outlet Mall.  But our favorite place to be was at our ocean side resort.

I loved getting up for the sunrise and walking along the ocean.  I was never alone...there were always birds to keep me company if not other people or dog walkers.  It was such a pleasure to hear the ocean waves roll in.

Our resort condo was on the 12th floor of the Marriott's OceanWatch resort.  We had a room looking directly out to the ocean, overlooking one of the pools on the complex.  I would sit out on the balcony in the mornings to have my devotional time, and listen to the sound of the ocean.  God our Creator has given us a beautiful world in which to worship Him!  Pause and do just that as you watch this video:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Back in Michigan!

Just a quick update post to say we are back home in Michigan after our winter get away to Crossville, TN.  Glad to be back home, but will be happier when it warms up to stay!  I plan to blog about our week in Charlotte, NC...later.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Journey 2016 - Journey Beyond the Tomb - 3/27/16

Five Facts About Jesus:

1.  Jesus died on the cross.  They did not have to break the legs of Jesus, for He was already dead.  When He said, "It is finished!" He committed His spirit to His Father.

It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.  (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.)  These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and “They will look on the one they pierced.”  (John 19:31-37NLT)

2.  Jesus' body was laid in the tomb.  Sabbath began at 6 pm on Friday.  All the preparation for the Passover had to be done before 6 pm.

Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.  Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before.  And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.   (John 19:38-42NLT)

3.  Jesus laid in the tomb for three days.  He was placed in the tomb before 6 pm on Friday, was there all day on Saturday, and was raised on Sunday, the first day of the week.  In Jewish tradition, any part of a day equated to a whole day.

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.   (Luke 24:1-2NLT)

4.  False theories cannot explain away the resurrection.  

5.  Christ did arise from the dead.  He appeared to many witnesses.  Christianity is the strongest religion ever.  We serve a risen Savior!

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.  (1 Corinthians 15:20NLT)

This concludes the sermon series "Journey 2016" by Rev. Greg Keller, Crossville First Church of the Nazarene, Crossville, TN.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Journey 2016 - Journey to Gethsemane - 3/13/16

Text:  Matthew 26:42
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”

1.  Jesus' Prayer in the Garden

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.

Jesus was in agony.  His sweat was like drops of blood.  Jesus was human and suffered as much as we would have.  He said, "Father, if there is any other way...."  But in order for us to be saved from our sins, it was impossible.  He prayed God's will be done.  No one ever suffered like Jesus did.

2.  Jesus' Cup

His cup was of suffering, sin, abandonment.  He was despised and rejected by men.  Isaiah 53:3:

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

God, who is holy, could not look on sin on the cross.  He turned His back of Jesus.

3.  Jesus' Commitment

Jesus trusted the Father.  “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”  Jesus was 100% in line with the Father's plan.

What a sober and touching sermon Rev. Kellar preached this Sunday.  We head to the cross on Palm Sunday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Journey 2016 - Journey to the Upper Room 3-6-2016

Text:  John 13:1(NLT)

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.

One of the last things Jesus did before his death was to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples in the Upper Room.  The Lord's Supper, the celebration of Passover in the Upper Room, is a Christian celebration.  A time to stop and reflect on what Jesus has said to his disciples, and also says to us.

Luke 22:7-13:
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”
"Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.
He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

1.  Preparation for Passover
The slaughter of the sacrificial lamb occurred at the Temple for the forgiveness of sins.  Then the meat was taken to be roasted for the Passover meal.  There is much symbolism in the Passover meal:
  • Lamb - symbolic of the blood on the door posts of the Israelites so the death angel would pass over them as they ate their final meal before fleeing Egypt.
  • Unleavened Bread - they did not take time for bread to rise with leaven, for they would need to be ready to flee in haste.
  • Bowl of Salt Water - represents the tears shed in Egypt over their hard labor.
  • Bitter Herbs - reminder of the bitterness of their days in slavery.
2.  Participants with Jesus in the Lord's Supper
  • the twelve disciples were there, a group of many diversities:
  1. two sets of brothers - Simon and Andrew; James and John
  2. eleven were from Galilee...all except Judas Iscariot, who was born in a small town in Southern Judea
  3. five were fishermen
  4. one was a tax collector
  5. one was a zealot
  6. three were considered the inner circle of Jesus:  Peter, James, and John
  • Jesus loved them all, just as he loves us all as we are.  His prevailing love filled the Upper Room.
  • Jesus washed their feet.
  • Jesus came them a new command:  So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
3.  Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure
  • “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3)  Jesus pours his heart out to them as he prepares them for his departure.
  • “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  Jesus was assuring his disciples he would not leave them alone.
  • “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  (John 15:1-5)  
  • “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  (John 15:18-21)  Jesus reminded the disciples in this world they would have difficulties, but they needed to remain in him, to abide in him and they would overcome.
  • Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:31-33)  Jesus knew the disciples would all desert him when it came down to him facing the trial and the cross.  But he wanted them to know they could still have forgiveness and peace as long as they trusted in him.
  • After speaking with the disciples so intimately about what was ahead for them, he prayed his final prayer for the disciples.  John 17:6-26:  

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
"My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.  During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
"Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.  I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.  Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.  And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.  Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

The prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples, was also prayed for us...for all of his followers.  “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  

Next week we will Journey to Gethsemane.  Be in prayer as you approach Easter, stopping to take time to reflect on the greatest Sacrifice ever made for us.  Jesus loves us that much!  What can we do in return for the price paid for our sins?  I choose to live simply and finish well, to be able to hear the words of the Father, "Well, done, my good and faithful servant!"  One day...not too far off...I will be in the presence of the One who gave his all for me!  And I will be with him eternally!!  Praise his holy name!!