He is Risen!

 

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

I trust your Easter weekend has been a wonderful experience, from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Hasn’t it been a mixture of emotions?

We witnessed the dread of Jesus’s coming to terms with His assignment in the Garden of Gethsemane where He shed drops of blood in fervent prayer.

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’ ~ Matthew 26:39, NASB.

On Good Friday, we turned our heads as Judas hanged himself and Peter denied Christ three times.

We agonized with Jesus as He was unjustly accused and sentenced to die by crucifixion.

We cringed in horror as they lashed His back thirty-nine times and slapped the crown of thorns on His head.

We wept as He carried His cross, assisted by Simon the Cyrene, up the hill to Golgotha where they drove nails into His hands and feet.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ ~ Luke 23:34.

We sat amazed when He forgave His tormentors as well as the thief crucified next to Him.

And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”  And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’ ~ Luke 23:42b-43.

We mourned with Mary, His mother, as she watched her Son suffer unto death.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household ~ John 19:25-28.

We waited on Saturday. But where was Jesus from Friday night to Sunday morning?

After death, Jesus descended into the bowels of the earth to Sheol. Sheol is a two-sided holding tank for the dead, with the righteous on one side and the wicked on the other, separated by a chasm. We know this from the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-30.

First, Jesus took away the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan. Then He preached the Good News to the damned, giving them the opportunity to escape from their prison of hell. Every person who has ever lived must make the choice to accept or reject Jesus as Saviour. Last, the righteous vacated Sheol to live in heaven.

I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades ~ Revelation 1:17b-18.

Good Friday seals the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our physical bodies through Jesus’s shed blood at Calvary.

The miracle of Jesus’s bodily resurrection on Sunday seals our eternity with Jesus Christ in heaven. We rejoice because His tomb is empty! Our Lord is risen, just as He said.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

What joy fills our souls as we rejoice in the goodness of our Saviour! To realize that He loved us that much–to come down from heaven to be the perfect sacrifice for us. We owed a debt we couldn’t pay, and He paid a debt He didn’t owe. He restored our broken relationship with God out of his abundant love for each one of us.

Salvation isn’t a dry, dead religion. It’s a living, personal relationship with the One True God.

May we carry Easter in our hearts all year long. May we be forever humbled and grateful, showing our sincere thanks to Jesus for providing us with the precious, priceless gift of salvation.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

 

The Last Passover

The Last Passover by Karen Jurgens

 While they were eating, He took some bread, and [j]after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is My body.’  And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God’ ~ Mark 14:22-25 NASB.

I’m eagerly anticipating the day we take communion with Jesus in heaven. Are you?

Wishing you a blessed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

 

Forgiven

Forgiven by Karen Jurgens

I’m sharing one of my former blog posts to commemorate the Easter season.

A crowd of men pushes and shoves me outside my house, tearing my clothes, slapping my head. Their deep voices swirl around me, angry and taunting. The dark tones rumble, thirsty for blood. My blood.

I try to wrap my half-dressed body with my shawl, preserving what little modesty I have left. The suddenness of being discovered in bed with my lover has left me in shock. No hope of escape. Their condemnation will have its cruel way.

My heart races, chugging and pounding against my rib cage, pleading to jump out of my chest and dash away.

Clouds of dust boil around my feet as the mob pushes me toward the temple. Many pairs of dusty sandals rush in unison, stomping like a judge wielding a gavel.

“Guilty!” The Scribes scream.

“Condemned!” The Pharisees spit.

Hope has spread its wings and flown. Their hatred settles on me, like a buzzard taking up permanent residence.

Swells of roaring deafen me. Their righteous indignation drowns me.

Rough hands cast me to the ground. My shoulder scrapes across uneven rocks, tearing my flesh. The jolt smacks my side and sends pain down my leg.

I reach out to stop the momentum, but a sandaled foot crushes my hand. I collapse from the pain, laying my head down, observing dirt mingle together with my blood.

My head has changed into a heavy melon. I cannot see my persecutors through the black veil of my mangled hair.

My heart wrings itself dry of tears. Hopelessness consumes me as I surrender to their hands. My guilt waits for the sharp sting of justice, ushering death. I brace myself for the pounding of the rocks. My body shakes with fear.

Seconds pass. Every muscle in my body is tensed.

Nothing.

Voices raise poignant questions through the air. “The Law of Moses says to stone her . . . what do you say?”

I inhale a weak breath through my mouth, pressed hard into the dirt.

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” This voice is full of authority.

Silence.

Where are the stones that should be crushing my head? Are they planning something more painful? What are they doing? My entire body throbs.

Stones pummel, one after another, to the ground.

I cringe and gasp for my last breath.

Still, nothing touches me.

The ground vibrates with sandaled footsteps. I hear a creak of leather coming closer and can discern the outline of a man’s foot.

I raise my heavy head enough to peer at him through my hair. My eyes focus. Surprise jolts through me as I look into His face.

I know this man.

Liquid love oozes from his understanding eyes. Compassion flows from his smile. Holiness bathes his being, making me even more ashamed of myself. How can he look on me—an adulteress? I am not worthy of his attention.

“Woman, where are they?”

I push up a little, looking around for the first time. I’m outside the temple, and the men have disappeared. Only He is before me.

“Did no one condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” I answer, still not comprehending what has happened.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.”

He pulls me to my feet. The touch of His hand electrifies my entire body. All pain dissolves, and I am bathed in total peace. My flesh that was bloody and torn is now whole. I feel reborn.

He turns and walks inside the temple. I watch him with a clean heart, washed and dressed in the newness of gratitude and hope. Yes, I will sin no more. I am overcome with amazement that I am alive and not dead.

I begin to step toward home when I see something on the ground. It looks like someone wrote a word in the dirt. I pause to read it.

FORGIVEN.

Fresh tears run down my face. “Messiah!”

I will never be the same.

John 8:1-11

Forgiven by Karen Jurgens

For Such a Time as This

For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens

God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing.

International secret societies may laugh at us common folks. Their ultra-rich members think they’re the ones who clandestinely hide an evil secret—that they control the world’s future, driving it headlong into the coming one-world government.

However, as Christians, we’ve read the end of the Book. Revelation comforts us that Jesus will return, destroying the anti-Christ’s seven-year one-world system at the Battle of Armageddon. Then Jesus will set up His kingdom without end—the Judeo-Christian Kingdom of God.

What about today? God made no mistake about our existence at this time in history. You and I are destined to be here now.

So it was with Hadassah, a beautiful Jewish girl who attained royalty in Persia during the 5th-century BC. She had no idea she had been chosen by God to deliver her Jewish people from annihilation until she was in the thick of a life-and-death battle. Her story began when her cousin, Mordecai, sent word about what wicked Haman, a close adviser to the King, had plotted.

 And Mordecai told [Hathach] all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people ~  Esther 4:6-8 NKJV.

What could Esther do to defend the Jews from Haman’s evil plan?  Mordecai had directed her not to breathe a word about her ethnic background. Her husband, King Ahasuerus, had no idea she was a Jew.

Esther communicated with frantic messages back and forth to Mordecai, who was clothed in sackcloth and ashes. In response to her questions, her cousin replied with deep wisdom—words we quote even today:

‘For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ ~ Esther 4:14 NKJV.

Esther threw herself into her destiny, willing to sacrifice her life for the Jews if necessary—and she broke a law that could have done just that.

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’ ~ Esther 4:15-16 NKJV.

God anointed Esther with great favor in the king’s sight, and he promised to grant her petition up to half his kingdom. In response, Esther extended an invitation for the king and Haman to attend a banquet on the following two days.

Then Queen Esther replied, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;  for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated.’  … Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!’ ~ Esther 7:3-4, 5-6a NASB.

After the King understood that his top political adviser had devised the plan to annihilate the Jews, he commanded Haman to be hanged on the gallows—ironically, the one on which Haman had constructed to hang Mordecai.

In response to their deliverance, the Jews celebrated, feasting and sending food to one another. This feast is called Purim, named for the lot Haman cast for the day he would annihilate the Jews.

It’s clear that Queen Esther was promoted to the palace to serve God’s purpose, which came to pass through her humility and obedience.

But Esther’s story has recently been repeated in our modern times.

On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United States Congress. He pled his case for protecting Israel from her enemies, today’s Persia. Like Queen Esther, Netanyahu is a Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin. Like her, he pled before the mightiest nation of the world on the afternoon before a very auspicious day: Purim. Coincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.

God answered Netanyahu by placing a pro-Israel President into the Oval Office in 2017. This is a man who not only honors and defends Israel and her rights of existence but also defends the rights of Christians to worship in freedom. Coincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.

God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing. You and I were born for such a time as this.

What is God asking you to do for His kingdom in these days?

 

For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens

Purim 2018 will begin at sundown on Wednesday, February 28 and concludes at nightfall on Thursday, March 1.

How to Become Queen

 

How to Become Queen by Karen Jurgens

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised ~ Proverbs 31:30 NASB.

How did a common Jewish girl end up in a palace, married to a king? During this month of romance and love, let’s see what it took for Esther to get that kind of promotion.

Hadassah, better known as Esther, didn’t have a privileged upbringing. After the death of her parents, her Uncle Mordecai took and raised her as his own. Her fairytale story began during King Ahasuerus’s banquet to celebrate his three-year reign.

 And he [King Ahasuerus] displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, 180 days. When these days were completed, the king gave a banquet lasting seven days for all the people who were present at the citadel in Susa, from the greatest to the least, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace ~ Esther 1:4-5 NASB.

On the seventh day of the final banquet, King Ahasuerus commanded that Queen Vashti come before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful ~ Esther 1:11 NASB.

But Vashti refused to heed the summons.

Not wanting to give the married women in the land an excuse to mimic Vashti’s impertinence, the king agreed it was wise to replace this disobedient queen. He invited all the virgins in his kingdom to a year-long beauty pageant. After a beautification regimen of twelve months using cosmetics, spices, and oil of myrrh, each girl would spend one night with the king. Whoever pleased him the most would wear the queen’s crown.

How to Become Queen by Karen Jurgens

Although Scripture describes Esther as fair of form and face, her character played a strong part in sweeping her to the summit of royalty.

First, Esther was obedient to follow instructions. Uncle Mordecai told her to keep her ethnic background a secret and not reveal her Jewish heritage. We can infer that she was humble, with a heart to serve others, so not a surprise that she also found great favor with the king’s eunuch.

Esther was taken to the king’s palace into the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. Now the young lady pleased him and found favor with him. So he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and food, gave her seven choice maids from the king’s palace and transferred her and her maids to the best place in the harem ~ Esther 2:8b-9 NASB.

Second, Esther heeded wise advice. Each virgin had the option of taking along anything she desired from the harem for her special night with King Ahasuerus. Esther, however, listened and heeded wise counsel instead of following her own desires.

Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her ~ Esther 2:15 NASB.

Third, Esther’s character yielded the fruit of great favor.

The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his princes and his servants; he also made a holiday for the provinces and gave gifts according to the king’s bounty ~ Esther 2:17-18 NASB.

The vanity and pride of Queen Vashti stole her title and position.

The obedience and humility of orphaned Hadassah promoted her to the king’s palace to become the new queen in Vashti’s place.

How to Become Queen by Karen Jurgens

 

What does this story have in common with the Church? We, the Saints, will soon become the Bride of Christ. On that day when we are in heaven and He places crowns on our heads, we, along with the twenty-four elders, will fall down and worship, casting our crowns at His feet.

How to Become Queen by Karen Jurgens

 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created’ ~ Revelation 4:9-11 NASB.

May we, like Queen Esther, be found faithful in heeding God’s wisdom, found in His Word. May we live our lives in obedience and humility. May we be granted favor with God and man as we beautify and anoint ourselves to meet Our Bridegroom—washing with the pure water of the Word and donning clean, white wedding clothes to meet Jesus, our Messiah, in the air.

Maranatha!

How to Become Queen by Karen Jurgens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Me to You With Love

From Me to You With Love by Karen Jurgens

As the month of January concludes, the winter season will soon usher us into February.

What a great month!

Not only is it short, but its centerpiece is Valentine’s Day, the day of expressing love to those who mean the world to us.

It’s a day to enjoy exquisite chocolates, fragrant flowers, and cards with verses that touch hearts and bring tears of joy.

It’s a day full of red and pink hearts, iced cupcakes, and tiny gifts tied up with bows.

It’s a day of white tablecloths, candlelight, and sharing dinner with that special someone.

So, in honor of our February celebration of love, I’d like to express my gratitude to you by gifting you with my novella. Click “Buy on Amazon” under the meme for your free ebook (available from January 27-30).

Curl up by a toasty fire with an afghan and a mug of hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s day.  Lose yourself in Carlie’s senior year of college where she finally decides to put God to the test. Can a girl really find her perfect fit if she turns the matchmaking over to God?

Can Carlie’s faith also challenge today’s single women searching for a godly husband? Find out how 2 Corinthians 6:14 is still relevant in today’s culture.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (ESV)