The last few weeks I’ve been taking a break from my usual level of activity on social media and concentrating more on my relationship with God. After designating a time of day for my Bible reading and prayer time I’ve tried to be consistent. At first it was easy during the week because I chose to spend the time after my husband was off to work in reading scripture then prayer. It was harder on the weekends when he was not working and I slept in. But lately it’s been getting easier. Though my weekend time is later than during the week because I don’t rise as early. Still, I have my coffee with my husband then tell him it’s my time to be with God and for the most part he lets me alone.
Bible Gateway has several options for Bible reading plans on their website. I’ve chosen one that has two different sections of both the Old and New Testaments for each daily read. I just can’t stop at one day though and I’m well into the February readings. I began on January first and knew the first day that I would not take a year to read through the Bible again. I get into the various parts and have to read the next section. It’s like reading a good story, or several stories. Right now Joseph’s father and brothers have settled in Egypt during the famine years. Job’s friends are telling him he must have some hidden sin, Jesus was just crucified and buried in a tomb (from Mark’s account), and Paul is on his way to Jerusalem to deliver gifts for the poor from the believers in Macedonia and Achaia and, in his letter to the Roman believers, telling them he plans to stop by on his way to Spain once he’s completed his trip to Jerusalem. (I’ve gone even further since I began this post a couple days ago.)
This morning the whole discussion on how could Jesus have been in the tomb three days and three nights if he were crucified on Friday was made clear to me. See, he was crucified on Thursday morning and Joseph took his body because that evening, Thursday at sundown until sundown Friday was the day of preparation for the Passover which began on Friday evening and lasted through Saturday evening. He was in the tomb Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night and arose on Sunday, the third day just as He had said. I’ve heard much debate and argument over the years about the passages and how it was not possible that he was three days and nights in the grave if he were buried on the Friday before the Passover. People having these discussions were apparently not taking into consideration that a day for the Jews began at sundown. So the understanding given to me was that it was the evening already and the preparation day. They couldn’t wait because not only did they have to bury Jesus they also had to prepare for the Sabbath that would begin at sundown Friday. I knew there had to be a simple and reasonable explanation without arguing.
Mark 15:42-46 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
The Burial of Jesus
42 When it was already evening, because it was preparation day (that is, the day before the Sabbath), 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether He had already died. 45 When he found out from the centurion, he gave the corpse to Joseph. 46 After he bought some fine linen, he took Him down and wrapped Him in the linen. Then he placed Him in a tomb cut out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
So, though I had heard another explanation years ago that also placed Jesus’ crucifixtion on Thursday, it was more convoluted than the simple answer that was given to me through understanding these verses I’ve read many times before. God works that way, as I read through His word I gain greater understanding and things I did not know after a hundred times of reading suddenly becomes clear on the 101st reading because I was ready to understand this time through. Spiritual growth.
As I read scripture I find passages that though they seem clear I feel that I don’t understand the depth of them. I may have an intellectual understanding but I find that it is not truly a heartfelt understanding. When I realize that, my heart aches for the Word to dwell in me. One that I’ve been struggling with recently is the passage on love where it says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I began with wondering what the difference is between bears and endures. In my mind that seemed redundant. Off to the Strong’s Concordance to find out what words were used and how they are different. Later while reading Jesus’ words that if we believe then anything we ask in His name will be given to us. I began to see that though I believe in Jesus and in His death, burial and resurrection, I only had an intellectual understanding of His words in that passage on belief. Tearfully I began to pray for God to give me a greater measure of faith that in my heart I can truly believe all things. That is all things of God. I want to be like Abraham when He believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. I understood that old testament script 25 years ago when God made that passage clear to me. But for some reason in my heart it never took root like it should have. How many prayers have been long in being answered because I did not have the faith to believe God from the depths of my heart to receive that which I had asked of Him. How soon could someone have been healed, how soon could I be healed if only I had that level of belief. I think I have been counting on the persistent of my prayers instead of the grace of God through my complete faith and belief that what I ask He will give. I was convinced that it was a problem with my heart, that I was somehow asking with a wrong motive in my heart. It’s a heart problem alright, a failure to believe in my heart and not just my mind that God will grant me what I ask. I’ve never been one to ask for material things like a shopping list. I know that is not what Jesus was really talking about.
Jesus told us how to pray and recently I’ve been modeling my prayers after the instructions Jesus gave his disciples, the apostles, when they asked Him how they should pray. (Matthew 6:9-13) I worship and praise God first and foremost, thanking Him for His many blessings. Then I ask for His will to be done. I’m a bit more specific than just ‘on the earth’ I ask His will be done in my life, in my family, in my nation as well the earth. Then I petition for the needs of those I am praying for specifically. I start with my own need for a better understanding of scripture, to have increased faith to believe in the depths of my heart. I move on to all the individuals and ministries and nation that are in my prayer list. Moving on I ask God that He not hold my sins against me or my family. Repentance is the key there. Finally I end by thanking and praising Him for the answers. There are times when I just don’t have the words to fully express myself and in those moments the Holy Spirit will make utterances for me as I envision in my mind those for whom I am praying.
I know that narrative was probably a little boring, but, I thank God He is not bored with me talking to Him or giving Him praise. He loves me and wants me to commune with Him as often as I can. The more frequently the better for my soul.
All this is bringing me even closer to God, teaching me things that I had never understood, strengthening my faith. I guess you’d say as a child of God I’m going through a growth spurt. I hope it lasts the rest of my life. It is my desire to grow daily in truth and in spirit. I want to be ready, just in case God sends His Son back while I still inhabit this mortal body. I want to have extra oil for my lamp. If I shed this mortal body before His return then I want to be ready at the resurrection and when he looks upon me I yearn to hear, “Well done.”
Will you start on a journey of spiritual growth with me? If you do not know the God of Creation and His Son Jesus Christ who is God manifested in human flesh then I invite you to meet Him. Jesus was sent by the Father to become a man so He would be as we are, mortal and tempted, though He was without sin himself. Jesus willingly laid down his life and was crucified as the blood sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, He was buried and stayed three days and nights i the tomb. Then He arose again to new life on the third day to conquer sin and death which keeps us in chains. Accept Jesus as your personal savior that you too can be assured of eternal life in paradise.
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