Oh My Suffering Friend!

 

 My heart goes out to the suffering ones, people bent low and doubled over by the weight of the things heaped upon them. Souls doing all that they know how, to lay those burdens at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and yet the pressing down is hard, it is constant, it seems relentless and to earthly eyes there is no end in sight. I have a great love for the "hopeless" ones. They are family.

 Hope is an interesting word. We use it a lot. We may pray about things but more often than not we do so having a plan. We may pray about our finances, asking God to help us get out of debt, but we do so with a plan in mind of how we are going to use the funds we know are coming to make this hope come true. We pray for someone but as we are praying we are thinking about all the things we can do to help them out. We are forming a plan, we will try this program or that program, we will take them to this church or that one, we will make appointments with this doctor or that one, we will talk to this person or that one about getting them the help they need.........we are most always working to make our hopes come to pass.

 I am beginning to see and believe that real biblical hope is when there is no plan, there are no more resources to use, no more places to go, there is nothing, not one thing that you can do to bring your hope to pass. Every single thing you have done to try and make it come to pass has come to naught, or even worse it has made things harder. There is not one thing you can do to bring back what has been lost, to restore things to how you most want them to be..........To be in that place when all you can do is take in one more labored breath, wipe away one more set of tears, kneel once more at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and cry out Lord, have mercy. It's a terrible place to be in, and yet it is a safe place to be in, for when there are no human hands to help, there is no earthly way to change things, there is no place to run to for assistance, there is no money coming, there is no cure, there is no hope...we find hope in the knowledge that there is a Savior, there is One who knows, who sees, who hears our weak cries. And to be His child, to be in His hands, to await His mercy, to trust in His outcome is the safest and surest place in the entire universe to be...........to be without earthly hope is not an easy place to be but a sure and certain Hope is found there. His name is Jesus.

 I know you want things to be better, you want the ones you love to be okay, to know that they will have days of sunshine and peace and prosperity, that they will be happy, loved and accepted, that the bank account will have enough to pay the bills and fill the table and maybe once or twice enough for a little extra treat. To feel some relief from the relentless grief and sorrow that burdens your heart so! It doesn't seem like too much to ask for, it's what I want most too. I can't promise you that all this will come to pass here on this earth. I pray it will, I am sure enough to believe there will be moments when these things are so, but I just don't know if we will ever reach that place where we can sit and look around us and watch the ones we love just laugh and smile and dance in the sun and live happily ever after. Not here on this earth anyway.

 But the truth of the matter is we both know, this isn't our home, and we don't want it to ever be their home either. To call this world home is to say that everything here is the best it will ever get, and we both know that ain't so. Maybe our dancing comes later, and maybe the moments we have here from time to time are just practice for when the dance is forever. When we reach that place, when the last prayer is wept out into tear soaked fingers, when the time comes that our weak and shaky legs will not lift us up off the floor even one last time, when the moment comes that we pass from this place into the next........it will be there before Him that we will dance, that everlasting joy will spring forth, that our tears will be forever replaced with laughter, it will be there that we will find once and forever that elusive happiness that we have chased all our days. And it is there when we will see and know how He has used our sorrows, our oceans of tears and our weaknesses for His glory and for the good of us and the ones we love. And as we all, from every tribe and nation gather about Him, we will look around at the multitude of faces and we will see the ones we have agonized over..........and we will count it worth every moment of fear, every moment of loss, every step of suffering that we have come to this moment.

 We are not of this world, we are in it. As we run the race, may we take note of the many ways He bless us, the gifts of grace He grants and when we cannot see may we hold fast to what we have seen in the past. “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” And as we move forward, sometimes in what feels inch by inch, may we keep our eyes ever on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 He is enough. Hold on my friend, hold on.....we will hold on together! Rejoice for our hope is in Him and in Him alone! He is enough!

Romans 15:13 - Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Psalms 126:5 - They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

  In closing I just want you to know that you are beautiful! Your soul shines like the rising sun as it peaks over the Sandia Mountains! It is colored in beautiful shades of yellow, gold and orange with white beams bursting out into the sky!. I see Jesus in you, I see Him in your suffering and in your laughter.

 It's gonna be okay, we will reach that distant shore, and He is faithful, the ones we love so are going to reach it too! See with His eyes, it's so hard I know, Lord knows that I only catch a glimpse from time to time, but strive hard for those glimpses of grace. He is working, in all this mess in which we now stand He is not sleeping!

 Dance when you can, sing as much as possible!  Rejoice in the sunrise, give thanks in its setting, behold the flowers and inhale their scent, listen to the sounds of children playing, read His word, pray like there is no tomorrow, even if the only prayer you can summon is "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy." Thanksgiving is so often in the very small things, the often unseen things. Preaching gospel to myself and to you!

I love you my friend!

It’s hard to stand on shifting sand
It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night
You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help
You can’t love if you don't love yourself

There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now

I am strong all because of you
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move
Oh I am changed, yesterday is gone
I am safe from this moment on

There’s no fear when the night comes ’round
I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
Its like the world is silent though I know it isnt true
Its like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room

So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now
I’m in better hands now




Save Now!

 

Save Now!

 

  I was chatting with a friend this morning, someone who like me loves someone with PTSD. Our conversation led me to think about how often I have desired for the Lord to save now, to not wait, to not tarry even one more minute, how often we all do this, we who follow Christ.

  We may be fully and completely convinced of His sure ability to save, we may have complete faith in Him, and yet we desperately want Him to come RIGHT NOW, to remove this pain RIGHT NOW, to save RIGHT NOW! It is terribly difficult to walk through pain and sorrow, to watch the ones you love so very much suffer. It is, and remains the most awful thing I have ever felt. I would rather suffer my personal sorrows one hundred thousand times over; than to watch the ones I love most suffer theirs.

  As my friend and I chatted, I begin to think about the day the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.  The crowds were so exuberant. They had seen Him heal the sick, seen the blind given sight, seen the lame get up and walk, seen the demon possessed set free, and even seen the dead walk out of their tombs! The people were convinced, they needed no more proof. This was their long awaited Messiah! The kingdom of God was at hand! Their King was entering the gates of the city, seated on a donkey, as so many kings before Him had ridden in. Hosanna! Hosanna! Save now!

  I thought about those people, the ones who had stood at the gates, waving their palm branches and throwing down their cloaks and crying “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna! The word means “save now” or “Please save! I believe they were convinced that He was the One and they were convinced that things were going to change now! Their King had come…….,Yet  how devastated they must have been and how utterly confused when the very next day, they watched Him stumble through the streets carrying a cross, His back beaten bloody, Him so weak that another had to be pulled from the crowd to carry His cross…….save now! Save now! Seems such a foolish cry at this point, for He does not even attempt to save Himself.

 And yet all this had to come to pass, it had to go down in the bloody and tragic way that it did. He had to die in order to pay the price for sin, and He had to die in order to rise alive, and defeat death. But at the time, they certainly couldn’t see it. How downcast and afraid they must have been. How disappointed.

 And yet, if we look back upon that day, as we do today, and we see the majesty of it all, how God did so very much more than what they asked Him to do on that day so long ago, when the King of glory rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. They wanted an earthly king, they wanted an end to the Roman oppression, they wanted their bodies healed, their bellies to be full, but He was busy bringing eternal life to His people, He was busy crushing the head of the serpent and buying passage to glory for a multitude of souls. He was busy with the work of defeating sin and death once and for all. They just couldn’t see it.

 

  I too have tasted their disappointment. I have cried out with all that is within me, SAVE NOW! I was convinced without a shred of doubt that He was able to save, that He was my only hope, my faith in Him was sure……but He tarried. He did not come on my timetable, He did not save immediately. I too was devastated.  I too cried out for the pain to stop, for the healing to come, and I too wept at the foot of the cross thinking that all that I so longed for, was not coming.

  And yet as I look back, over some six years of the most intense struggles of my life, I see His hand at work. I see how He was doing so much more than what I had asked and longed for. He was saving, and He was building, and He was working. He still is! While I pleaded for the salvation of my loved ones, for their pain to stop, for their healing to come, He was bringing about a change in me, and a change in them, and the salvation and restoration of many, and He was using all that pain, all that hurt, to reach others, and to change lives.

  Hard times will come. Sometimes I wish that the positive movement, the name it and claim it people were right, that just having enough faith will see you heaped with monetary blessing and worldly happiness and that there will never be a single day of pain, or sickness, or mental anguish. But they are wrong. Hard times will come. Trusting God is not easy when they do come. Watching someone you love dealing with a depth of pain almost beyond comprehension is not easy. Laying them down on the altar of God is not easy. Believing that He has it all in His hands and that He intends good for you and yours is not easy. The hard times HURT. Losing people hurts, seeing them make grievous mistakes hurts, making grievous mistakes yourself hurts, being utterly helpless while everything around you is crumbling into pieces hurts.

  But God is faithful. If you can just hold on to that, cling to it with everything in you, and pray like you never prayed before. You will see, like the people who shouted Hosanna, and saw their King crucified, their hopes crushed, and yet lived to see Him rise from the dead, and start His church, and they turned the world upside down, He will turn your world upside down too! He will be victorious in your life, He will and has heard your prayers, He hears your cries of SAVE NOW LORD, but He is working, He is working to do so much more than you could imagine.

  I eagerly await the end of our story, for we have not reached it yet, but I am excited to see what He will do. I see Him moving! I see His hand in so very many things, I have seen people, so many people, blessed by the things that have come out of our struggles, and I can only see a little bit of what He is doing, and He isn’t done yet. It’s gonna be awesome for He is an awesome God.

  So if its hard right now, if it feels like it’s never going to let up, if you, like me are watching things crumble and are helpless to stop it, pray, pray and believe, and in your unbelief ask Him to help you. Fall on your face before Him when you cannot go another step, and then get up and get out there and tell others about Him, share your struggles, share your triumphs, ask for prayer, and pray, pray, pray. The King is coming! He saves! He is faithful!


Paradise Lost.....Paradise Regained

 As I wonder about the halls of this huge hospital, constantly reminded at every turn of the suffering that saturates the walls and floors and brick of this enormous building I think of my sister Eve whom I read about in my devotions today. Eve, the only woman who ever walked with God in the garden of perfection, the only woman who was in perfect face to face communion with the Creator.

 As I stand in the tiny hospital chapel, my hand upon the blue notebook filled with the cries of a multitude of people calling out for mercy, calling out for a miracle I was struck by the sharp contrast between what was and what is now.  What was it like to walk in His physical presence? To hear Him call out your name as you wandered about the delightful beauty of a new and perfect creation. I can only imagine.

  As we wade through the suffering of this world our eyes looking forward to the day of deliverance perhaps strength for the journey can be found in considering how terribly difficult it must have been for our sister Eve. To walk out of the garden, head down, tears flowing, the feel of death upon her skin from the raw hides that covered her nakedness. Hides fresh from the bodies of creatures she once frolicked with, perhaps even taking lazy naps with her head upon the flank of the magnificent creature whose skin she now wears. To realize what she has lost, to have witnessed that first death, the death of something innocent slain because of her shortcomings. To wonder how and when death would come to her.

 My sister Eve knows what it is like to stand in the very physical presence of God, to walk with Him, laugh with Him, delight in Him and then to be removed from that presence and cast out. And yet she endured. She endured and she believed in the promise that from her line would come a Savior, one who would crush the serpent that had deceived her. A Savior that would redeem her shame, restore her loss and set her free from the bondage she had willingly chosen.

 History has ever condemned my sister Eve, and yet I do not.. After all, I am certain that had I stood in her place I too would have reached for that fruit, I too would have tasted, and I would have handed some to you. She lost something that I have only dreamed of experiencing and yet she endured that loss and became the mother of all living. She endured.

    So as we walk through this world and all its suffering and need, let us set our sight upon His promises. Promises yet to come, promises of a time when tears are wiped away and sorrows are no more, promises of a time when we who belong to Him will see Him face to face.  Press on towards the goal. Be His hands, His feet, His voice, His heart. Shed the light of His love and sing of His promises. Share the good news of redemption. Endure.

 So I stand here, my hand upon the book filled with the cries of broken people calling out for deliverance and hope and I think of Eve and of Paradise lost. I stand and read the words in Your book of life, I read of your promises of Paradise regained. I stand here and the tears flow as You speak words of life into my soul. I lift up the prayers in the book, Lord hear their cries. I add my prayer to theirs and I leave the tiny chapel with a sure hope in my heart.




http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-gospel/

http://byfaithonline.com/a-reformed-presentation-of-the-gospel/

Resist Resentment----------Loose my soul

Soul, in times of hurt and disappointment, times when people let you down, remember that Jesus was misunderstood, misrepresented, mistreated, deserted, denied, spit upon, stripped, beaten and crucified----for you. Remember that hurts can intensify, especially near the end of life. Just at the time you long to have dear ones close, you may feel alone, deserted. But Jesus will stand near you. Remember that things are not always as they seem. Give people and situations the benefit of the doubt. Deserters too, are fighting internal battles, just like you are. Resist resentment, and be kind. Guard your heart. When life closes in, what will you believe about God...?

My Father, my Example, my Advocate, loose my soul to see You and delight in You even in life’s bitterest times. Remind me “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”. ....Stir me to faith. Turn my eyes outward to You in worship and to others in kindness. Guard me from soul-fouling sourness. Instead, may I know You in sweet connection, in ways impossible apart from sharing in Your suffering and comfort.

The above was taken from a book I am reading, one that has been a great blessing. Pursue the Intentional Life, by Jean Fleming. Today’s reading was about suffering, and the choice to either grow sweet....or grow bitter in the suffering.

We were not created to suffer, we are called to suffer.”  

“A brooding, runaway mind hollows out a man.” Oh how we tend to brood upon things, to feel sorry for ourselves in the trials we must endure, to look to our neighbors and envy their happiness, to wish we had someone else’s lot in life, to think “why me”? Resentments build up, we begin to feel wronged, mistreated, and before we know it we are brooding on how unfair things are.....and our hearts and minds become hollow and ugly.

 If you trust in Christ and are one of His, there truly is nothing in life to fear. If you are in the midst of trouble, if you are oppressed on all sides and it seems the enemy of your soul is laughing and mocking, “Where is your God?” take heart and remember. Nothing can touch you; nothing can touch your life that He does not allow.  The enemy of your soul, who laughs and speaks out “I won that round”, won nothing at all, for God will use all things for His glory and for our good, even defeat. Every trial, every sorrow, every wound, turned around and used for His glory. Truly we are victorious at all times in Christ. We need to cling to that knowledge, and we need to preach it to each other and to ourselves.

 Soul, hold fast to truth, dwell upon it, meditate on it, lift up praise, even in the hard times, remember His promises, and rest in them. Forgive others, forgive yourself, persevere in the faith and remember always that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

 

 

Renascence (the revival of something that has been dormant)

  Much has been written about the poem Renascence, written in 1912, by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Many say it speaks of personal death, some say it speaks of the death of a child, and some say it speaks of the death of a soul and its rebirth. I would be in the latter category. To me it speaks of an injured soul, a wounded soul coming back to life, seeing things from a different perspective, being reborn, stepping from darkness where death is sought and desired, back into light where life is beautiful and precious.

 The poem is beautiful and haunting. I try to read a little bit of poetry here and there, and it was interesting that this was the poem that came up for my reading today. On the way to work this morning I was thinking about all the sorrow in the world, all the suffering, thinking about how things will be when God one day makes all things right, thinking of His grace poured out upon a suffering world, and how my Lord must feel when He looks down upon us in the midst of suffering. He was always most compassionant of the downtrodden ones, when He walked this earth so long ago. He Himself is well aquainted with suffering. All of this was on my mind this morning.

 And then this afternoon, I opened up my book to this poem. It seemed to fit so well with all that was stirring in my soul today.

 The poem is long, but it is so very well worth your time in reading it. I read it aloud, to myself, for some reason sometimes words sink in all the more for me when I read them aloud.

Renascence

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line 
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from; 
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.

Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.

But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And -- sure enough! -- I see the top! 
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.

I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.

I saw and heard, and knew at last
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
But could not, -- nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out. -- Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of soul.

All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight 
Of every brooded wrong, the hate
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.

And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire, --
Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each, -- then mourned for all!

A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
And every scream tore through my throat.

No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.

Ah, awful weight! Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird,
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die.

Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth beneath
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the crushing weight,
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under ground did lie,
And sank no more, -- there is no weight
Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
That all about me swirled the dust.

Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the brow
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly dead.
And all at once, and over all
The pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
To one who's six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
A grave is such a quiet place.

The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new home.
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain,
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver line,
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done,
And then the broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
Until the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round drop
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.

How can I bear it; buried here,
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over me,
That I shall never, never see
Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad magics through,
Close-sepulchred away from you!
O God, I cried, give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
In one big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!

I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the far-off rush
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the vibrant string
Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash!
Before the wild wind's whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
And plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black wave
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.

I know not how such things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as never clings
To aught save happy living things;
A sound as of some joyous elf
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and over everything,
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain's cool finger-tips
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my sealed sight,
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.

Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;

Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e'er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!

Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

Further information on Edna St Vincent Millay can be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/edna-st-vincent-millay 

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

 Ever wonder what happened to the men who followed Christ? Did they live lives of monetary prosperity? Live in mansions? Church history tells us that they all met their deaths because they followed Christ, with the exception of John, who survived being thrown into boiling oil and lived out his days in exile upon the island of Patmos.

James

James, the Apostle of the Lord, was the second recorded martyr after Christ’s death (Stephen was the first). His death is recorded in Acts 12:2 where it is told that Herod Agrippa killed him with a sword. Clemens Alexandrinus and Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History II.2) both tell how the executioner witnessed the courage and un-recanting spirit of James and was then convinced of Christ resurrection and was executed along with James.

Date of Martyrdom: 44-45 A.D.

Peter

Although, just before the crucifixion, Peter denied three times that he even knew Christ, after the resurrection he did not do so again. Peter, just as Jesus told him in John 21:18-19, was crucified by Roman executioners because he could not deny his master again. According to Eusebius, he thought himself unworthy to be crucified as his Master, and, therefore, he asked to be crucified “head downward.”

Date of Martyrdom: ca. 64 A.D.

Andrew

Andrew, who introduced his brother Peter to Christ, went to join Peter with Christ in eternity six years after Peter’s death. After preaching Christ’s resurrection to the Scythians and Thracians, he too was crucified for his faith. As Hippolytus tells us, Andrew was hanged on an olive tree at Patrae, a town in Achaia.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Thomas

Thomas is known as “doubting Thomas” because of his reluctance to believe the other Apostles’ witness of the resurrection. After they told him that Christ was alive, he stated “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). After this, Christ did appear to him and Thomas believed unto death. Thomas sealed his testimony as he was thrust through with pine spears, tormented with red-hot plates, and burned alive.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Philip

Philip was corrected by Christ when he asked Christ to “show us the Father, then this will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Christ responded, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘?” (John 14:9). Philip later saw the glory of Christ after the resurrection and undoubtedly reflected with amazement on Christ’s response to his request. Philip evangelized in Phrygia where hostile Jews had him tortured and then crucified.

Date of Martyrdom: 54 A.D.

Matthew

Matthew, the tax collector, so desperately wanted the Jews to accept Christ. He wrote The Gospel According to Matthew about ten years before his death. Because of this, one can see, contained within his Gospel, the faith for which he spilled his blood. Matthew surely remembered his resurrected Savior’s words, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20), when he professed the resurrected Christ unto his death by beheading at Nad-Davar.

Date of Martyrdom: 60-70 A.D.

Nathanael (Bartholomew)

Nathanael, whose name means “gift of God” was truly given as a gift to the Church through his martyrdom. Nathanael was the first to profess, early in Christ’s ministry, that Christ was the Son of God (John 1:49). He later paid for this profession through a hideous death. Unwilling to recant of his proclamation of a risen Christ, he was flayed and then crucified.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

James the Lesser

James was appointed to be the head of the Jerusalem church for many years after Christ’s death. In this, he undoubtedly came in contact with many hostile Jews (the same ones who killed Christ and stated “His [Christ's] blood be on us and our children” (Matt. 27:25). In order to make James deny Christ’s resurrection, these men positioned him at the top of the Temple for all to see and hear. James, unwilling to deny what he knew to be true, was cast down from the Temple and finally beaten to death with a fuller’s club to the head.

Date of Martyrdom: 63 A.D.

Simon the Zealot

Simon was a Jewish zealot who strived to set his people free from Roman oppression. After he saw with his own eyes that Christ had been resurrected, he became a zealot of the Gospel. Historians tell of the many different places that Simon proclaimed the good news of Christ’s resurrection: Egypt, Cyrene, Africa, Mauritania, Britain, Lybia, and Persia. His rest finally came when he verified his testimony and went to be with Christ, being crucified by a governor in Syria.

Date of Martyrdom: 74 A.D.

Judas Thaddeus

Judas questioned the Lord: “Judas said to him (not Iscariot), Lord, how is it that you will show yourself to us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22). After he witnessed Christ’s resurrection, Judas then knew the answer to his question. Preaching the risen Christ to those in Mesopotamia in the midst of pagan priests, Judas was beaten to death with sticks, showing to the world that Christ was indeed Lord and God.

Date of Martyrdom: 72 A.D.

Matthias

Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot (the betrayer of Christ who hanged himself) as the twelfth Apostle of Christ (Acts 1:26). It is believed by most that Matthias was one of the seventy that Christ sent out during his earthly ministry (Luke 10:1). This qualifies him to be an apostle. Matthias, of which the least is known, is said by Eusebius to have preached in Ethiopia. He was later stoned while hanging upon a cross.

Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

John


John is the only one of the twelve Apostles to have died a natural death. Although he did not die a martyr’s death, he did live a martyr’s life. He was exiled to the Island of Patmos under the Emperor Domitian for his proclamation of the risen Christ. It was there that he wrote the last book in the Bible, Revelation. Some traditions tell us that he was thrown into boiling oil before the Latin Gate, where he was not killed but undoubtedly scarred for the rest of his life.

Date of Martyrdom: 95 A.D.


Paul

Paul, himself a persecutor of the Christian faith (Galatians 1:13), was brought to repentance on his way to Damascus by an appearance of the risen Christ. Ironically, Paul was heading for Damascus to arrest those who held to Christ’s resurrection. Paul was the greatest skeptic there was until he saw the truth of the resurrection. He then devoted his life to the proclamation of the living Christ. Writing to the Corinthians, defending his ministry, Paul tells of his sufferings for the name of Christ: “In labors more abundant, in beatings above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in storms on the water, in danger of robbers, in danger by mine own countrymen, in danger by the heathen, in danger in the city, in danger in the wilderness, in the sea, among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness “(2 Cor. 11:23-27). Finally, Paul met his death at the hands of the Roman Emperor Nero when he was beheaded in Rome.

Date of Martyrdom: ca. 67 A.D.

 

Information taken from article found at this address:http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/what-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-how-their-deaths-evidence-easter/

 

 

 















Darkness into Grace

 " God, all the world is an opportunity to behold more of your transfiguring darkness into grace. I won't ever get over it. I'm beholden to it all my life, now and forever. I want to accept all You give and learn to see into the darkness as You do, as a place to fill with Your light. Help me Father. Help me to see in the dark." One Thousand Gifts Devotional.

And I will lead the blind
    in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16

  If there is one thing I have learned over the course of the past few years, hard years, painful years, it is that God is faithful, even in the darkness.

  In all things and no matter the circumstances we must remember that nothing, not one thing that happens to us is a surprise to God. He knows these things, He has allowed these things, dark as they may seem to you, senseless to you, unfair to you, He has allowed them. This might seem like something a harsh and unloving God would do, but in those thoughts we must remember all that He has told us, about who He is, about what His purpose is.

He is:

All Powerful

He is everywhere present.

 He is all knowing.

He is sovereign.

He is holy.

He is absolute truth.

He is righteous.

He is just.

He is love.

He is merciful.

He is faithful.

He never changes.

  All that He does, all that He allows, all that He brings about in our lives will and does serve His purposes, and His purposes are always for our benefit. Always.

  His grace is always available, a full measure, all that you need, for each day. Open your eyes. Ask Him to show you all the ways he blesses You, ask Him to show you how to see Him at work in what you perceive to be total darkness. From every single thing comes grace and blessing.

  I learned long ago that sometimes word pictures assist us in understanding something. I have always thought of my children and my great love for them in defining how God allows bad things, hurtful things, to occur in our lives. I look back to when one of my boys was very sick. I took him to the doctor, and they informed me that he would have to receive two shots, they would inject them into his legs, and that the shots were extremely painful. They informed me that they would burn like fire. I helped to hold him down while they injected him. I will never forget his eyes, they burned into me, eyes that screamed betrayal, how could I, his mother, the one who always defended, always comforted, always gave anything and everything on his behalf, allow this to be done? He was too young to understand why, too young to know that the reason I held him down, the reason I allowed them to hurt him, was because of my love for him, my desire to save him, to preserve his life. It was not for harm, although in his eyes great harm was done.

 Now I am an imperfect created being, and I have made, do make and will continue to make mistakes. My word picture therefore is inadequate in it's representation of God, but it at least helps to form a picture that might aid somewhat in our understanding of why bad things happen. Just like my son, laying on that table, screaming his outrage and his pain at the top of his lungs, did not understand, did not have all the pieces to the puzzle, could not comprehend at that time that what was taking place was for good in the end, sometimes we also cannot see. There will be times of great sorrow where we will live to actually see with our own eyes the reasons, and the good that came from them, there will be other times where we may not see it, we may have to wait until we stand before Him, and He shows us all that He did, all that He brought about, all that He prevented, by allowing the pain in our lives. What He asks us to do right now is to trust Him. His love for His children makes my love for my own children pale in comparison, for He is God, perfect in His love, while I am human and created and always imperfect in mine.

  May God, today and in days to come, help us to see in the darkness, to open our eyes fully, to open our clenched fists completely and receive the abundant grace that He freely gives.

GRACE: unmerited, undeserved favor.

 

More information on the attributes of God:

http://www.josh.org/video-2/attributes-of-god/