Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I noticed a message on my cell phone asking the question, “What’s so good about Good Friday?”

That’s a great question!

We live on this side of the resurrection so we know “the rest of the story”. The disciples didn’t. When they witnessed the brutality of the crucifixion and watched Jesus die then put Him in the tomb; they thought it was over. It was not a good Friday. It wasn’t a good day.

All the hopes and expectations they had in Jesus had been nailed to the cross and buried in the tomb. They couldn’t begin to imagine how life would go on. How could they have been so misguided? Pain. Heartbreak. Self-doubt. Self-Condemnation. Especially for Peter who had sworn that he didn’t even know Jesus, his best friend. How could he have done that?

Well, we ask those questions because we have the benefit of knowing Sunday was on it’s way!

But if we can put ourselves in their place…what would we have thought? It would have been a horrible Friday. The worst.

They didn’t know the Resurrection was around the corner. Yes, Jesus had told them. They were slow to believe. We would have been, too. We still are.

What has Jesus told you that you have not yet believed? Make this your Good Friday!

Good Friday is good because we know Jesus’ death open the way for us to know God personally. He died to wash away our sins. Totally. We can begin again! That’s good news for a hurting world. There is hope!

Yes. It’s a Good Friday!

Last week, in my post, I said there were only 4 references to the finger of God. But I failed to mention the one that got me thinking about it in the first place!!

I was reading Psalm 8 and came to verse 3, it says, “When I consider Thy heavens and the work of Thy fingers…”

I stopped to think about that: “The work of Thy fingers”. The heavens – all the planets, all the galaxies – ours is just one among billions – were fashioned by God’s own fingers! That is mind-blowing! What kind of fingers can create stars and planets? Not to mention galaxies!

Then consider that you and I are handmade by God, too. The same fingers that formed the universe made a decision before any of it was created, to make you! God Himself chose to make you and put you in your family at this time is history. And when He made you, He gave you a purpose.

Do you know what your God-given purpose is? If not, ask Him to show you you – to reveal it to you in a way you can understand. Then ask Him to help you fulfill that purpose.

 

Often we hear someone use the expression, “It’s in God’s hands.” concerning a certain situation they are facing. Or they may say, “It was the hand of God.” after a terrible accident was avoided. Or, a preacher may say, “The hand of God was heavy on me.” We understand what we mean when we say those things.

Jonathan Edwards, a powerful preacher in the 16th Century in New England had a very famous sermon entitled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

And certainly the Bible talks about God’s right hand. Moses in his song said, “Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O Lord, smashes the enemy.” (Exodus 15:6 NLT)  God’s hand shielded Moses from the overpowering of God’s glory as God passed by Moses. Moses could see God’s back but not His face.

The Psalmist recounts that it was God’s right hand and His arm and the light of His presence that led the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt. His hand is a source of judgment and blessing. The prophet Daniel told of a time when he fell into a deep sleep, “then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.” (Daniel 10:10 NASB) Jesus is seated, now, at God’s right hand. It is a place of honor.

There are many references to God’s powerful right hand.

Certainly Jesus’ hands healed the sick, touched the leper, held the children on His lap, lifted the cup and bread at the Last Supper, and were pierced in the cruel crucifixion.

But there are only 4 references to God’s finger. In Exodus as Pharaoh’s magicians tried to duplicate the plague of gnats to that God sent on Egypt and they couldn’t do it they said, “This is the finger of God.”

But the other 3 references are quite interesting and are the Gospel. The first mention of the finger of God is in Deuteronomy 9:10. Moses wrote, “And the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God…” The law was written by God’s own finger. Laws that the Hebrew children broke over and over and over again. Just like we do. We are guilty.

Then again, God’s fingers wrote on great King Belshazzar’s palace wall, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” which means, “You have been weighed in the balances and found deficient.” Judgment for sin. We are all under judgment. Deficient before a holy God. No hope. Yet…there is another instance where God’s finger wrote…in the dust.

In John’s Gospel, chapter 8, a woman is brought and tossed in front of Jesus. She had been caught in the act of adultery. Guilty. The law of Moses said she had to be stoned. The religious leaders were trying to trick Jesus. Quietly, He bent down in the dust and began writing something. Maybe the names of the men in the crowd who had been with is woman themselves. Maybe the Law.

When He finally spoke He said, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Grace!

Law. Judgement. Grace.

Our only hope is in Jesus.

 

Watching a relay race is always exciting – especially as the runners get ready for the handoff…the first runner has done his best, put all his energy an effort into it, he has practiced for this moment. There were long days of training. Aching muscles. Injuries too numerous to count. The coach’s words. So much sweat. So much aching. So much training. Now it comes to just a few seconds. The second runner sees his teammate heading down the stretch, he remembers what he is to do, his body tenses, he is full of adrenalin, he’s been well-trained for this moment, he partners with his teammate’s pace and then his teammate passes the baton to him. It’s his turn now to carry the baton for the next leg of the race.

I was in New England this past weekend for the Vision New England “Go Conference”. I was blessed by each event – from the music, to the teaching, to the interaction with other conferees… It was a great weekend!

A lot has been said about the younger generation. “Generation X”, “The Me Generation”,”Snow flakes”… And I have certainly seen some “flakes” – young people who seem to have no direction in life, who have an entitlement attitude, who are sloppy in manners and discipline. They are easily influenced by the media and their peers. But I remind myself that the story of their lives is not yet finished.

God has a plan! This weekend I saw sharp, committed, intelligent, articulate, fun, attractive young leaders and I am excited about the future.

It was exciting to see the younger generation taking leadership. I was so impressed with their dedication, transparency, love for Jesus and commitment to the Gospel. We have a great group of young leaders at the grassroots level who are charged and ready! I saw the beginning of the fulfillment of what the prophet said in 3:28, “I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters with prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

I know I saw only a small number but I believe they are indicative of what’s happening all over the world. God is pouring His Spirit out on young leaders willing to step out courageously to carry the Name of Jesus to the dying and broken world. The Gospel in in good hands.

The devil will do His best to ensnare them. We have already seen some of our younger leaders fall in spectacular ways…let them serve as warnings not discouragement. As part of the “older” generation (Boy! that’s hard to say!) my job is to pray for these young leaders, encourage them and share with them my journey of faith with transparency and grace.

Let’s run the race with them and then hand the baton off. It’s in good hands.