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Why Have You Forsaken Me? // Praise & Shine

We have just finished Easter, the most important time for Christians. And as I reflect on the final moments of Jesus on the cross, his final words come to mind. My God my God, why have you forsaken me?

We understand that Jesus did not believe that the Father had forsaken him. We also understand that Jesus knew why he was on the cross. Yet these words confuse us.

Consider the true nature of Jesus. At all times he is one hundred percent God, but also one hundred percent man. At this moment we see Jesus’ full humanity on display. In his pain, in his difficulty, in his agony, he cried out to the father.

There are a few lessons we can take away from the final moments on the cross. First, it is okay for us to cry out and question God. Here we see Jesus, the God of the universe who created everything, our Lord and savior expressing his frustration, his confusion, and his struggle to try to understand and make sense of what the Father was doing at this moment in his Humanity.

We know that God is good. We know that God works together all things for the good for all those who love Him according to his purpose. But in our Humanity, we still don’t understand what God is doing. In our Humanity, we might be confused and frustrated or maybe even angry. But it is in these moments that we must remember that God is inviting us to cast all our cares on him because he loved us.

The second thing we can learn is even though we cry out to God, He may never give us an answer to why. Jesus reached out to the Father, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” and in response there was silence. There are times in our lives when we cry out to God, “Why are you allowing this to happen to me?” And as we continue to cry out to God, why why why, we must accept the fact that there will be times in our lives when even though we may ask the question why, God may never answer. Ask yourself, if God were to answer your question why, would it make you feel any better? Would it take away the pain?

We have to be careful not to confuse silence with absence. Sometimes we assume that because God has not answered our prayers, he must not care about us. Or that he does not hear us. Just because He is silent doesn’t mean He is absent from our lives. In reality, God is doing things behind the scenes that you and I have no idea about. There are so many times in my life when I would cry out to God and I didn’t understand God’s plan but when I look back, I can see all that God was orchestrating behind the scenes.

The final lesson we can learn is that Jesus understands our pain. He understands what it’s like to be betrayed. He understands what it’s like to be denied. He understands what it’s like to be humiliated. He understands what it’s like to be tempted. He understands all the difficulties and all the pains that you and I are dealing with because he went through them too.

The next time you are dealing with difficulties I encourage you to remember that it is okay to cry out to God, to express your heart to God, to give all your pain and burdens, and cast your cares upon Him. But accept the fact that God may not ever explain why He is doing whatever He is doing, and because God may be silent that doesn’t mean that He is absent in your life because the Bible says that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Easter // Praise & Shine

What does Easter mean to you? Is it just another Government holiday? A day off work? Or maybe a money grab for candy companies? To Christians, Easter is the most important time. More important than even Christmas! Yes, Christmas is important but it doesn’t save us from our sins.

Jesus’ birth only appears in two of the gospels, his ascension, in another two and Acts. But do you know what is mentioned in every single gospel? Not Jesus’ birth, not even Jesus’ teachings, but Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Easter is so important because our Christianity revolves around the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without that resurrection, Christianity would be meaningless because our sins would not be forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ. If it wasn’t for Easter we would have to continue living like the Jews of the old testament, offering up animal sacrifices to the Lord for our sins.

Easter is just as important today as it was nearly 2000 years ago because it represents how Jesus saved us from our sins by dying and rising again after three days. Conquering death so that we may live for eternity with our Heavenly Father. For all of humanity, not just the Jews, but also the Gentiles that their sins may be redeemed if they believe in Him.

So let’s celebrate Easter like it’s the most important time of the year. Because it is. What it represents is life. It is the center of our faith.

Happy Easter

Word of God // Praise & Shine

Did you know that the Bible is a collection of books from dozens of authors over hundreds of years? Even with all of this diversity, there is one common theme: God’s relationship with us. As Christians, we often look to the Bible for guidance and encouragement in our walk with Christ. It deals with timeless questions such as who we are, where we came from, why we’re here, where we’re going and how we should live. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies being printed in over 250 languages.

The Bible is the living, breathing word of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we read, “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thought of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.

If you desire to know the true nature of our creator, the Bible is the book for you. I encourage you to read the Bible and read it often. It is the best way to grow a more meaningful and deeper relationship with God. It is after all the best-selling book of all time.

Big C // Praise & Shine

It is easy to get caught up in all the differences from one church to another and from one denomination to another. The church is not four walls and a roof, but rather the body of believers.  

Regardless of what denomination you may call yourself, if you call yourself a Christian you worship Christ and believe these fundamental truths: 

  • Christ is truly human and truly God
  • Christ was born of the Vergin Mary
  • Christ died for our sins
  • Christ rose from the dead
  • Christ ascended into heaven and will return to judge the living and the dead

As long as you believe in these essentials, this is what’s important. Different denominations can disagree on other matters, and there’s vast diversity among them. But the fact that they can all agree on these essentials indicates their importance to all Christians. 

All this diversity is what we should expect from a religion that spans the whole world and has lasted over two thousand years. 

John Wesley said, “We may not all believe alike, but we can all love alike.” We may disagree on important matters like Christian baptism. However, we can still find the foundation for our fellowship with one another and treat one another with genuine respect—as members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:1–14:40).

We must put our differences aside and work together to reach a lost and hurting world so that heaven may be more filled. 

Contentment // Praise Shine

Contentment is not automatic, nor is it a natural attitude. Rather, it is a learned skill. So how can we find joy in any circumstances?

Paul expresses thanks to the Philippian believers with a reminder that he was not thankful because he was in need, rather he was showing them that he was humble and content. Paul could exist with or without earthly needs being met beyond basic essentials. In addition to living humbly, Paul focuses on the concept of contentment, regardless of his circumstances.

“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12.

Paul’s variety of ministry experiences offered him times of plenty, as well as times of need. This allowed Paul to learn how to find joy, regardless of his circumstances.

Writing from Roman imprisonment, he was at a time of great need. Even so, Paul expresses joy and contentment. It’s important to recall that his imprisonment was not brief. He had been continually held for two years in Rome, in addition to multiple years in Palestine. Contentment was essential for Paul to find joy in his circumstances.

God desires us to be content and not worry in any circumstances. You are precious and valuable to our creator.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

Try to find joy and peace in even the toughest times.
I pray this prayer on you from Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gratious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”