Day 215 The Disciples experience the Risen Christ Luke 24:36-49

Guided reflection:

I love it that Jesus showed up to his disciples and allowed them to acknowledge their doubt and to see his hands and his feet and his side.  He shared with them how it all fit together from the OT prophesies to his resurrection.   He promised that His spirit would be on them… and then took them out to Bethany – outside of town – and blessed them and ascended into heaven.  What joy!  What energy – and the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead was now theirs!  And ours!  WOW!

Guided prayer:

“Open my eyes…empower my spirit with your spirit… and help me see your power instead of my helpless state!  You want to use ME!  Here I am, fill me and use me.  Amen” 

Day 214 The Road To Emmaus Luke 24:13-35

Guided reflection:

WOW!  Can you imagine what it must have been like to be lost in the words of Jesus as he made all the stories and prophecies make sense of the turmoil of their current headlines?  Just think, they had the risen Christ to themselves for all those miles.  It must have felt like a short trip that day… they wanted more, begged him to stay.  He did and then their eyes were opened.  Talk about an epiphany!  The lights came on in their minds and they knew they had walked on holy ground.  Today we have a spiritual weekend, 72 hours, where men or women spend time “walking on holy ground” as the scriptures make sense and you experience God’s love in a personal manner.  If you have not experienced you own Emmaus Walk, please talk someone who has so you might have your own special time with God!

Guided prayer:

“This story gives me hope.  There are times when things do not make sense and I need some insight and wisdom… and along the way, Jesus will come and help me see love, even in the middle of scary times.  Open my eyes that I might see, glimpses of truth you have for me!  Amen” 

Day 213 Jesus Gives the Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20

Guided reflection:

Jesus hands over the reins of God’s love story to his disciples… and thus to us.  He had walked and talked with them; he had preached and taught; he had shared his highest moments and his darkest hours with them… now, the point of all of that is to go and make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe what Jesus taught.  This passage is the very reason I did this Bible Study for you – so that you could learn the stories of Jesus so you can grow as a disciple of Jesus.  This is still our mission statement… so therefore, since that has not changed, then neither has the “lo I am with you always” part!  We are not alone.  We have a charge to keep.  Let’s get busy!

Guided Prayer:

“Lord, you give the great commission to heal the sick and preach the word.  Lest the church neglect its mission and the gospel go unheard, help us witness to your purpose with renewed integrity.  With the Spirit’s gifts empower us for the work d of ministry. Amen”

Day 212 Bribing the soldiers Matthew 28:11-15

Guided reflection:

Aha!  The Soldiers did see something…. And it sounds just like a modern day movie filled with intrigue!  The soldiers were bought off to keep their mouths shut about what really happened and all agreed to tell the same story.  The soldiers were promised that their backs would be covered.   And some still believe their story.  Well, to be honest, their story is easier to grasp than the miracle story… but thank God we serve a miracle working God!  The resurrection story is THE story for us as Christians.  If we truly believe, then how is it that it is hard to believe that God is still a God of miracles?

Guided prayer:

“O God, our world is still the same – people force others to take bribes or force themto deny reality… when will we get it?  Help us to open our eyes to truth and may that truth set us free.  Right now I pray for those who are victimized by others who use power games to get what they want.  Help me to never join their ranks!  Amen!”

Day 211 The Empty Tomb Matt 28:1-10; Mark 16: 1-8; Luke 24:1-11

Guided reflection:

Aren’t you excited to get to this passage?  This is it!  This is what sets us apart from any other religion… we believe in a RISEN SAVIOR!!!!   Not just a nice teacher… not just a story of a hero… but a risen Savior… whose life, death, and resurrection had YOU at its center!   Mark tells the details: Mary Magdalene had just had the worst night of her life and now she had to do that one thing she never dreamed possible… and they took his body!  Can’t they just leave well enough alone?  She asks the gardener where they have laid his body… and she gets the surprise of her life!  IT IS JESUS!  HE IS ALIVE!!!!   Why is it we seek the living among the dead?   Notice that Jesus immediately asks them two things – to not be afraid… and to go and tell the others.  Again, try to put yourself into the story… feel the loss and then the hope and then the thrill… and wonder of it all!

Guided prayer:

“O God, I love this part of the Story!    It is such an emotional rollercoaster to go from being smug about being part of the “in crowd”… to being horrified that Jesus is actually dying as a criminal… to the horror of the details… to the despair of the dark night… to the glory of the new morning that brought resurrection.  For ME, yet!   I know that my life is made up of all those emotions and experiences, but thank you for the hope of the resurrection that means I need not even fear death!  That this is not the end of the story – there is hope even beyond the grave!  WOW!  Thank you!  Amen! 

Day 210 Guarding the Tomb Matthew 27:62-66

Guided reflection:

Even on the Sabbath, the conniving minds of the temple folks wanted to make sure no one would trick people.  They knew that Jesus had predicted his own resurrection.  They did not believe Him, but thought his disciples might try to make it look like a resurrection, so they requested the tomb be sealed.  To this day, many believe that is what happened.   I wonder what went through that guards mind as he guarded that tomb.  What happened in the night?  What did he see?  What was he thinking?  Did he even know he was walking on holy ground?

Guided Prayer:

“Sometimes I try to figure things out and make up my own stories of what happened.  I finally have to give in and just trust your heart.  Help me to believe in miracles… help my unbelief.  Help me to know that you are more powerful than any force trying to resist you.  That gives me peace – thank you!  I stand on tiptoe, breathless… because I know what comes next!!! 

Amen!” 

Day 209 Burial of Jesus Matt 27: 57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23: 50-56

Guided reflection:

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross told us that grief has stages:  Shock, denial, anger, despair, and then renewal.  Consider all the stages the disciples went through – the shock of it all, they even denied Jesus and could not believe it was happening… by the time we get to this time in the story, I would imagine they are feeling like robots… just going through the motions of what needs to be done.  Clothes need to be selected; burial spices need to be prepared; the body will need to be washed.  The women probably did not need to speak the words, their nods and their broken hearts knew what needed to be done.  But it was the Sabbath so all needed to rest first, then, early on Sunday, they would meet and do what was necessary.   But oh, the waiting hours must have been filled with despair… trying to make sense of it all.

Guided prayer:

O God, I do not like the waiting times.  I have too much time to think and try to figure things out.  In the dark of the night I feel despair all around me….but I do what needs to be done.  When those dark nights come in my life, be my strength, be my guide, be my hope.  Amen” 

Day 208 The Death on the Cross Matt 27:45-56; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49

Guided reflection:

I have stood by the bed of a dying one many times, and if it has been a long, painful death, there is a point when I know the end is coming and all of the sudden I am glad… his/her struggle is almost over.  That is how I feel when I get to this portion of the story… it is almost over… but first, we have to hear the words “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”   If Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine, he would need to enter into the whole of human experience.  Have you ever asked “My God, where are you?  Have you forsaken me?”   Hold on, dear child, joy comes in the morning, weeping only lasts for the night.   There has to be a death before there can be a resurrection! It is a spiritual cycle – after you surrender, you give up, you let go… then comes the answer.  Does it feel like Friday in your life?  This is not the whole of your story either… Sunday, resurrection is coming!  Hold on!!!  Reflect over your life – when has new life come after a dying time?

Guided Prayer:

“Thank you, God that after dying times comes the resurrection.   Thank you that Jesus was able to surrender his spirit to you..   Even in Jesus’ death, people were able to see that Jesus was your Son.  Thank you for the times you have been with me when I thought you had forsaken me.  The next time life throws me a time that feels like it is over, help me hold on and remember that it is out of brokenness that you create new life… that out of deaths come resurrections!  Amen!” 

Day 207 The Crucifixion Matt 27:33-44; Mark 15:22-32; Luke 23: 44-43

Guided reflection:

This is the most horrific scripture …the basis for “THE PASSION” movie a few years back.  To read this I have to keep reminding myself this is not the whole story.  People were confused about who this man was… why didn’t he just whip up some miracle and save himself?   Once again, stay in the story; be there at the cross; be one of the criminals… what are you thinking… feeling?   They didn’t know!!!   “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing”

Guided Prayer:

“O God, why?  Why choose this route?  Why does your story of love have to have such violence and horror?  Your Word says this was for my sins….forgive me…I do not know what I am doing either!  Amen” 

Day 206 the Road to the Golgotha Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26-32

Guided reflection:

In today’s passages, Matt and Mark only mention Simon, who was forced to carry the cross for Jesus, but Luke, the compassionate physician, notices how it affects everyone – the women wailed and lamented him.  Jesus even speaks to the women of that generation and changes their focus from himself to cry for their lost generation.  On these next few days, for your reflection, place yourself in the scenes… what are you thinking?  With whom do you identify?

Guided prayer:

            Use the words to an old hymn Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free?

 No, there’s a cross for everyone one, and there’s a cross for me.”