The Passion of Christ

The Passion of Christ

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness

Romans 3:23-25a NKJV

How will you be spending Good Friday this year? My desires today are:

  • to humble myself before Him;
  • to be still and know that He is God, my Saviour, and my Redeemer;
  • to meditate through Scripture on the depths of His sufferings;
  • to remember His sacrifice through taking communion;
  • to thank and worship Him for His gift of salvation;
  • to listen to what the Holy Spirit would speak to me.

On this holy day of Passion week, may we take time to prayerfully ponder the meaning of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Let’s remember the ways Jesus shed His precious blood and the benefits He purchased for each of us. It cost Him everything, but by His grace, it costs us nothing. How wonderful that salvation is a free gift!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

Christ shed His blood in seven places.

Let’s discuss the seven places Christ shed His blood (if you wish to read a medical explanation of how Jesus could be born with pure and sinless blood, click HERE).

The seven places where Jesus shed His blood fulfilled Old Testament Scripture in Leviticus 16. When the Jewish High Priest made atonement for the sins of the people once a year, he sprinkled blood seven times on the mercy seat, seven times in front of the mercy seat, and seven times on the horns of the altar. (Click HERE to read the full account in Leviticus 16:11-19 NKJV.)

The first place Jesus shed His blood happened during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NKJV). Just as in the Garden of Eden where Man lost his state of innocence through Adam’s sin, it was in this garden that Jesus’s blood began the redemption process for all mankind.

The second place occurred when Pilate ordered His scourging.

They flogged the back of Jesus with thirty-nine lashesjust under the legal limit of forty. “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26 NKJV). This blood paid for all our sicknesses and diseases: “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b NKJV).

The bruises he bore under His skin marked the third place He bled for us. 

“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’ (Matthew 26:67-68 NKJV). This blood was shed for our inherited weaknesses or iniquities, as Isaiah states. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5a NKJV).

The crown of long thorns the soldiers wove and pushed onto Jesus’s head was the fourth place He shed His holy blood. 

This blood gives us the mind of Christ, freeing our thoughts from the control of the enemy. (Click HERE to read this account in Matthew 27:27-31 NKJV.)

When the centurion drove the nails into Jesus’s hands and feet, these were the fifth and sixth places Christ bled for us. 

His blood-stained hands freed us to receive all that God has for us and to lift our hands in holy prayer (Click HERE to read 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV). His blood-stained feet gave us back dominion on the earth that we lost through Adam’s sin. Through His blood, we can claim righteousness and power over Satan wherever our feet touch the ground (Click HERE to read Luke 10:19 NKJV).

The blood and water that came out of His side was the seventh place He shed His blood for us. 

After Jesus had surrendered His spirit into God’s hands, the centurion speared His side. (Click HERE to read John 19:31-37 NKJV). The release of blood and water proved medically that Jesus’s heart had burst, making this blood the provision for the healing of our broken hearts.

Dear Lord, may we truly understand the depth of Your love for us. Thank you for suffering and dying in our place on this holy day. We worship You, precious Lamb of God. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

May the Lord touch you as we continue worshiping with “Oh The Blood” by Kari Jobe with Gateway Worship.

The Passion of Christ, copyright 2021 by Karen Jurgens

The Author of Love

Who is the author of love? On Valentine’s Day, the world may claim it’s Cupid. But as Christians, we know who is the real author is—Jesus Christ.

cupid

What are the characteristics of love?

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, most of us have someone special on our minds. The day lends a unique opportunity to express our appreciation in a way that demonstrates devotion to our loved ones.

What about exchanging valentines with Jesus?

valentines-day-1955238_1280

God gave us His valentine when He sent Jesus into the world.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 

John 3:16-17 NASB

Jesus signed his valentine in red from the Cross.

valentines-cross

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

Romans 5:8 NASB

How much does He love us?

15 Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.  

Isaiah 49:15-16 NASB

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV

Let’s rejoice in His love!

9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 

1 John 4:9 NKJV

I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

Psalm 145:1-3a NKJV

On Valentine’s Day, how will you celebrate your love for Jesus?

The Author of Love by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All rights reserved

The Birth of Hope

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 NKJV

Christmas Day may be almost a week behind us, but its message of hope to the world still rings strong and true. Let’s enjoy a former post that brings HOPE to the forefront as we ring in 2021.

Do you think Mary dreamed God-given dreams? Perhaps even becoming the Mother of God? From their study of the scriptures, every girl knew of the promise that Messiah would one day be born of a virgin. So, can you imagine her shock when Gabriel appeared, unfolding God’s purpose for her life? Chosen above every other woman, Mary listened as the angel told her she would carry the Promised One, Messiah, in her womb. She even discussed with this heavenly messenger the biological technicality of how this pregnancy were possible, seeing as how she was a virgin. All she had to do was trust God and the Holy Spirit would deposit this immaculate conception inside her—a marvelous mystery of Scripture fulfilled.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel ~ Isaiah 7:14 NASB.

Like Mary’s physical womb, God fills up our spiritual wombs with godly hope and dreams. We must guard them carefully to avoid spiritual abortion. Our enemy, described as a roaring lion, is secretly lurking to devour us and steal our deepest desires.

But sometimes God may give us a dream and then call us to move. And it may seem to make absolutely no sense.

God moved Mary in the last days of her pregnancy due to a census registration in the land. Instead of staying home in her warm bed surrounded by family and friends, Joseph placed her on the back of a donkey and led her to Bethlehem.

Why did God do that to her at a time so close to her delivery date?

When they arrived, Mary was in hard labor. Although imperative that Joseph find a place for her immediately, even that was tenuous. No room at the inn for a mother-to-be. But a smelly stable full of animals and straw was available. I imagine that Mary was grateful for any place she could lie down and give birth to Jesus, even if it meant being surrounded by a chorus of moos, baas, and neighs of animals witnessing this great event.

The blessing of the birth taking place in Bethlehem is also a fulfillment of Scripture.

‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity’ ~ Micah 5:2 NASB.

It’s easy to understand from a human perspective how a stable in Bethlehem would be God’s perfect plan. In Nazareth, Mary’s reputation was tarnished by this out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Which of those prejudiced townsfolk would have understood that this was the Savior of the World? This great event had to take place where Mary and Joseph were strangers, as well as apart from crowds registering for the census.

The angels appeared in the skies that night to the shepherds in the fields, who came running to witness the miracle told to them. Could that announcement have been possible in Nazareth? With all the gossip during those nine months, perhaps no one would have believed that Messiah, instead of an illigitimate baby, had been born.

God always brings glory to Himself, and that is what He did the night of Jesus’s birth. He glorified His name through the birth of His Son, who was born both fully God and fully man. The sinless One was born to die thirty-three years later for the sins of every person. The time to worship Him is now as we celebrate His divine entrance into the world.

No matter what trials you face in this life, Jesus brings ultimate hope. Like Mary, may you conceive and carry God-given dreams, and may this Christmas season birth in you the hope of heaven.

The Birth of Hope by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2020

The Christmas Star

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; ”

(Luke 21:25a NKJV)

Did you hear that the Christmas star is reappearing on December 21st?  Saturn and Jupiter will once again come together in the night sky and form what is also called the Bethlehem Star. This sign in the heavens hasn’t been witnessed exactly like this since the 13th century. (Read more HERE.)

But what about the star’s appearance in the first century?

 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’”

Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV

The birth of Christ occurred during an era of political unrest and upheaval, much like our day.

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”

Matthew 2:3-4 NKJV

The chief priests and scribes knew the prophecy well. They told the magi,

“In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel’” (Matthew 2:5-6 NKJV).

Herod’s heart was black with envy and murder. He pinned down the magi about the exact time the star had first appeared. Then he instructed them to report back to him regarding the Child’s whereabouts, pretending that he also wished to worship Him.

This star led the three magi on until it rested above the place sheltering the holy family.  

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV

God supplied the material and spiritual needs for His Son’s thirty-three years on earth. The gold represented His kingship; frankincense for His high priesthood; and myrrh for His suffering and burial.

“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

Matthew 2:12 NKJV

This Christmas season is unlike any the world has experienced. Ever. The political upheaval and worldwide plague we are suffering have led us down a dark path. But on December 21st, great hope will appear in the night’s sky. Look up! We will witness the same star that will lead us, like the magi, to our Lord and Saviour.  May we fall on our knees and worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, as we enter into His holy presence. May we give Him our gifts–our whole hearts–and rejoice in the true meaning of this Christmas season.

Let’s commemorate this amazing event together with of my favorite carols, We Three Kings. Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., wrote the lyrics and music in 1857. It was published in Carols, Hymns, and Songs in 1863. Below are the lyrics along with a youtube video from King’s College, Cambridge.

We Three Kings (lyrics)

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Let’s follow the Christmas star, which points the way to peace, hope, and salvation. Wishing you a blessed Christmas season!

Lyricsforchristmas.com

The Christmas Star copyright 2020 by Karen Jurgens

Finding Jesus in Hanukkah

The Hanukkah celebration isn’t just for Jews. If we look closely, we’ll find Jesus Christ, both the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, at its very core.

First, some history…

The significance of Hanukkah is embedded in a miracle. The second Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem following the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Seleucid Empire. The Jews expelled these pagans, after which the Jews purified the Temple. During this Feast of Dedication, eight menorah candles were lighted, one for each day. The flames required sacred olive oil, but there was only enough oil to last one day. In spite of the impossible circumstances, the flames miraculously burned all eight days.

Today, Jews celebrate this minor religious holiday not only to remember this miracle but also to commemorate the victory God gave to Jewish freedom fighters, the Maccabees, in 139 B.C.

Jesus celebrated Hanukkah…

The gospel of John gives us the only account of Jesus during Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication. In John 10, we find Jesus walking in the Temple along Solomon’s porch.

Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly’ ~ John 10:24 NKJV.

This group of unbelievers (much like a lynching mob) didn’t want the truth—they had already decided Jesus was a blasphemer, and they only wanted His words to legally condemn Him. But Jesus responded with a clever answer.

Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one’ ~ John 10:25-30.

Then the Jews took up stones to kill Jesus, claiming their right to do so since He had made Himself equal with God, a sin in Jewish law punishable by death. But Jesus proved His deity another way.

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him ~ John 10:37-38.

This mob refused to believe Jesus’s miraculous works, which proved His supernatural identity. Instead of waiting for them to cast their stones, Jesus slipped away and withdrew to the region of the Jordan.

But isn’t it ironic that just as the Maccabees had driven unbelievers out of the Jewish Temple, now unbelievers were driving out the Son of God from that very Temple?

Jesus’s true identity…

Jesus claimed to be the light of the world.

He [John] was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world ~ John 1:8-9.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life’ ~ John 8:12.

‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world ~ John 9:5.

What does Jesus, the light of the world, have in common with this Festival of Lights, beginning at sundown on December 10, 2020, and concluding on December 18th?

The symbol of lights comes from the lighted menorah candles, which burn for eight days and nights. As Hanukkah’s candles light Jewish homes, so Jesus lights the lives of believers.

God created our spirits with a God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. When we’re born again, the war against unbelief is won, expelled from our hearts. Then our spirit’s “temple” is purified by the blood of the Lamb shed at the cross. The Holy Spirit fills our spiritual “menorah” with His sacred oil and ignites our hearts with the flame of belief. We shine with the eternal light of Jesus living within us, as a lighted lamp for the world to see.

The lamp of the body…

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light’ ~ Matthew 6:22.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ ~ Matthew 5:14-16.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light ~ Ephesians 5:8.

Final Thoughts…

God provides several prototypes of the miraculous advent of Messiah in the Old Testament. Jewish believers will understand how Jesus shines through the eight candles of the Hanukkah miracle, but now it’s time that Christians also discover this truth. Judaism and Christianity fit together like a hand in a glove.

As we come into this season of Christmas, let’s remember that the light of God came into the world through the birth of His Son, Jesus. May we rejoice, as did the shepherds that Holy Night, in the salvation message the angels brought to earth, announcing that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14.

May our eternal spiritual menorahs burn brightly. May all the world see the light of Jesus, our Messiah, shine through our lives. 

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2020: Finding Jesus in Hanukkah by Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

True Thankfulness

What does true thankfulness look like? Let’s delve into the Scriptures for a picture of this deep emotion, that it may inspire us as we thank God for our blessings this year.

“’I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.'”

John 11:25-26 NASB

Have you ever been disappointed if your prayer wasn’t answered in your timing?

We can surmise that Mary and Martha felt intense disappointment when Jesus came too late to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Each sister had a unique emotional reaction to Jesus’s arrival, although each greeted Him with the same words: “‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11: 20-21 NASB). I imagine that in the four days since Lazarus’s death, they had often repeated this wish as they grieved.

The sister of reason and responsibility

As soon as Martha heard that the Lord was approaching, she didn’t wait for Him to call her. She ran to Him first. No tears, no scolding for tarrying. Instead, she professed her deep faith in the Messiah.  “Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You’” (John 11:22 NASB).

 They conversed about the concept of resurrection in relation to her deceased brother, and Jesus announced that Lazarus would live again. Martha acknowledged that Lazarus would be raised at the resurrection, but Jesus took the opportunity to clarify His true identity.

“’I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.’ She replied, ‘Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.’”

John 11:25-27 NASB

The sister of deep love and emotion

Mary, on the other hand, had chosen not to accompany Martha to the outskirts of town to meet Jesus. Perhaps her heart was too torn with grief.  But when her sister raced back and whispered secretly that Jesus was calling for her, Mary ran to Him.

“So when Mary came to the place where Jesus was, she saw Him and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.”

John 11:32-33 NASB

Next, we see Jesus weeping, and we observe the reaction of the crowd to His display of emotion. Not only did they marvel at the Lord’s deep love for Lazarus, but they also wondered. Why hadn’t He come sooner to save this man’s life?

Can’t we imagine the crowd’s shock when Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away? Even Martha cautioned Him about a four-day stench. Jesus, however, commanded: “’Lazarus, come out!’” (John 11:43 NASB).

Although the story ends with the miracle of Lazarus in his graveclothes hobbling to the entrance of the tomb, we aren’t privy to the rest of the story. But we can imagine everyone on their knees, believing in and worshiping the Messiah who had just proved His identity as the resurrection and the life.

The last visit

The next time we find Jesus in Bethany was shortly before His crucifixion. Martha again served the meal as Mary sat at the feet of the Lord.

 “Mary then took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

John 12:3 NASB

Her sacrifice of lavishing a year’s wage upon Jesus was an act of deepest gratitude for resurrecting her brother.

How does this story relate to us?

What a valuable lesson! No, Jesus isn’t ignoring our prayers, even when all appears lost. He arrives at the right time and performs a miracle of resurrection in a way we couldn’t have imagined.

Some of us may be rational like Martha and question God. The Lord will reason with us about our disappointments and help us to understand. He is the resurrection and the life every day, not just on Resurrection Day. Like Martha, may we serve Him with a gift of deep gratitude.

Others may be emotional like Mary and weep at Jesus’s feet. The Lord is kind and compassionate, and He weeps with us. He shares our deepest grief out of His perfect love. Like Mary, may we fall at Jesus’s feet and lavish Him with a sacrificial gift of worship.

Since we are all born in original sin, our spirits are like that dead body stinking in the grave. But Jesus doesn’t turn away from us in our spiritual rottenness. Instead, He calls us to come forth into His marvelous light of salvation, making our spirits alive.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

Are you truly thankful this year? As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables, let’s express deep gratefulness to Jesus, especially for His free gift of salvation and grace.

Dear Father, we thank you out of a grateful heart for all Your blessings in 2020. We bring you our unanswered prayers and lay them at the foot of the cross. We believe in a God of resurrection power who can bring life to what appears to be dead. Most of all, we praise You for Your free gift of salvation and pray that many would believe in You today. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2020: True Thankfulness: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Walking on the Water

This year has shaken the world to its core. I’m more than ready to return to normal life. How about you? Has your life changed? Regardless of what you may have lost, there is a lighthouse of hope and faith shining in the distance. We may be uncertain about our future, but we can be certain of WHO holds our future. Jesus. He will always be our answer to whatever we face along life’s road.

Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’

Matthew 14: 28-29a NASB

Has Jesus ever extended His hand, called you, and said, Come?”  In this topsy-turvy boat of 2020, we yearn to grasp the comforting, outstretched hand of our Savior, but there’s a catch.

Walk on the water?

Jesus had sent his disciples ahead of him to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During that windy night, the Lord appeared in the distance, walking on the water. The disciples initially cried out, thinking they had seen a ghost.

“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid’”

Matthew 14:27 NASB

Peter’s boldness tested the veracity of the Lord’s identity. After Jesus called to him, he stepped out of the rocking boat and kept his eyes on Jesus. Miraculously, the water supported his weight. He took one step, then another. Just when he might have grown a bit confident, the wind kicked up, causing a distraction.

“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” 

Matthew 14:30 NASB

When we take our eyes of faith off the Lord, fear causes us to sink into a sea of doubt.

Twenty-twenty has been a year of immense change.

In some ways, our lives may never be the same. Regardless, we mustn’t be fearful of the windy, unfamiliar days on which we now tread. Jesus will always keep us safe. We can trust Him with all our hearts.

“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

Matthew 14:31 NASB

How did the story end? Here is the best part.

“When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind stopped. And the rest of the disciples who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’”

Matthew 14:32-33 NASB

As Jesus calms the storms in our lives, our hearts will burst with gratitude. We will fall on our knees and worship Him. Like the disciples, we have proof of His identity—He is indeed the Son of God.

Jesus is extending His hand and saying, Come!” Are you ready to step out of your boat and walk on the water?

Dear Jesus, when we’re in a storm, may our eyes stay focused on You. Give us courageous faith to walk on the water to Your outstretched hand. We praise You for keeping us safe in Your loving arms. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Copyright 2020: Walking on the Water: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Trusting God Through Devastating Circumstances

I scrolled through social media posts and fell to my knees.

“The fires are getting closer and we have been ordered to evacuate. We don’t know what to take with us or if our house will even be here when we can return. Please pray!”

“Our business has been ransacked and our building is on fire. We’ve lost everything. Please pray!”

“We’re at the hospital after we were attacked at a restaurant. My husband may not survive his injuries. Please pray!”

These messages of despair–just a few of many others– bring tears to my eyes, and I pray for God’s merciful hand of protection and deliverance for each one.

National Upheavals

When have there ever been such upheavals in our land? The United States has been blessed not to have fought a war on our soil until September 11, 2001. But today we have an internal war raging unlike anything since the Civil War. It is still hard to make sense of this conflict, although many theories abound.

In addition to our present circumstances, Friday marked the nineteenth anniversary of 9-11. We need to pause and remember what our nation suffered on that fateful day so it will never be repeated. Despite the horrors, we see its heroes—the police and firefighters who rescued so many trapped in burning buildings before the towers collapsed in a nightmarish heap of steel and dust. Those who lived to tell their story will be forever in debt to those brave people who sacrificed everything to save innocent lives. And let’s not forget the brave souls on flight 93 who sacrificed their lives. We will forever remember those who lost their lives that tragic day.

Where is God?

Through the current rioting, plagues, floods, and fires, where is comfort? Hope? Answers? Where is God?

The prophet Habakkuk shows us the answer. He takes us into his time of terror and destruction about 2,500 years ago when he also cried out to God:

How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 NKJV

How does this apply to us?

What applies to our lives from the study of the Babylonians’ (a.k.a. Chaldeans’) ancient invasion of Judah? When Habakkuk cried out to God to save the temple and God’s people, how did God respond?

Instead of stopping the overthrow of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, God assured Habakkuk that He, God, was in total control, and the Babylonians would be accountable for their evil actions. The prophet realized that God’s knowledge and wisdom was far above Man’s when God said, “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you (Habakkuk 1:5 NKJV).

But the prophet continued to question God, much like we do.

How can a holy God look on evil and allow the wicked to swallow up the righteous? Why doesn’t God stop this injustice?

God had an answer that we must hear, for it is as relevant today as it was in 588 B.C.

Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay. “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:2-4 NASB

Timing, patience, and faith

We must understand that God has a much bigger plan than we can imagine, and it has its own timetable. We must wait patiently for the answer to arrive, which is neither early nor late. God’s timing is perfect.

And most importantly…we, the just, must live by our faith, and, at the same time, understand that the lawless ones cannot due to the evil in their souls.

The rest of the book describes God’s greatness, strength, and goodness, which encourages Habakkuk. He prays an emotional prayer, asking God to show mercy through His coming wrath.

Can we praise God through our pain? Our suffering? Our fears? Habakkuk began with frantic desperation but ended with confident trust. His prayer inspires us to praise God, live in faith, and trust Him to guide us along narrow, rocky paths. Here are his words:

I heard and my inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
For the people to arise who will invade us.
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Like Habakkuk, are you willing to trust God through devastating circumstances?

Dear Lord, help us who are suffering through these painful days. Even when we can’t understand why, we know you have a good plan to save us. Deliver us from evil, plagues, and natural disasters, and let us place all our trust in You. You are a good, good Father. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Copyright 2020: Trusting God Through Devastating Circumstances: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved

Is This the End of the Church Age?

Just as the disciples witnessed the beginning of the Church Age, are we witnessing its end?

Nothing about 2020 has been ordinary. This New Year’s cup has gushed over with one surprise after another. First, the Covid-19 Pandemic has gripped most of the world inside its tight fist.  Then civil unrest around our country and the world has produced rampant lawlessness. Many lives have been turned upside down by fear of the future as jobs and businesses disappear overnight. The swiftness of these events occurring almost simultaneously have left us stunned, asking, “What’s next?” Could this be the end of our civilization and culture as we know it?

What did the disciples live through?

The disciples lived through frightening upheavals after Jesus’s arrest, torture, and crucifixion. Peter had sworn only hours before that he would never forsake the Lord, even if he had to die with Him. As Jesus had predicted, Peter denied Him three times out of his fear of man.

While the distraught disciples took refuge together, Judas hanged himself over the regret of his denial of Jesus. Only John stood with the Lord and the women at the foot of the cross where they witnessed His death.

Although Jesus had told his disciples several times that the Son of Man would be crucified, they still acted in surprise. And even though Jesus had explained that He would be resurrected to life on the third day, it took time for them to believe it—especially doubting Thomas.

 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

John 20:24-26 NKJV

Nothing turned out the way the disciples had planned a few days earlier when Jesus had ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem. Following His death, they sorrowed in deep depression as evidenced by the two men who had walked to Emmaus and encountered Jesus unaware.

And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

Luke 24:17 NKJV

2020 hasn’t turned out as we planned.

So we find ourselves in unexpected turmoil and sadness today, questioning God about what is going on. Separation from friends and loved ones, closed churches, masked faces, and the rise of lawlessness—nothing has turned out the way we had planned in 2020. Like the disciples, we are sorrowing in depression over what we have lost.

But just as the disciples joyfully realized that all wasn’t lost after Jesus had appeared to them, so should we. They found Jesus, who gave them newfound hope and victory through the power of His death and resurrection. Every word Jesus had spoken to them had come true. Then they understood, and Jesus took the next forty days to prepare and commission them to be the foundation of the Church Age. The Age of Grace entered the world with free salvation of eternal life for whoever would receive it.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

The curtain of this age is closing.

This Church Age of God’s grace has endured for two thousand years, but I believe the curtain is starting to close. We are entering the final phase before the Tribulation begins, and it is perfectly normal that we are shaking in our shoes as we wonder what to expect. We are so like the disciples, aren’t we?

But just as the disciples had Jesus to prepare them for what to expect, so do we. God has spoken to us in His Word, telling us what these last days will be like and not to fear.

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32 NKJV

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV

 Read the words of Jesus as He explains the end of the age HERE. (Matthew 24: 3-44.)

We mustn’t waste time wringing our hands in anxiety and finding a place to hide until this evil time passes over us. We may feel lost like the men on the road to Emmaus, but Jesus will join us on our journey. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit in Acts Chapter 2 to give His disciples the power to witness to the world about Christ and His wonderful plan of salvation. Jesus is also giving us a new anointing, stronger than before, to live and witness in these last days before the Rapture.

As the disciples received this fresh anointing after they had gathered and prayed in the Upper Room, so we will also receive our fresh anointing as we gather to pray for revival.

We will receive a new anointing for these last days.

This is the hour to receive our fresh end-time anointing, just as in Acts Chapter 2. We are to use it to witness to the lost and invite everyone to enter the ark of salvation.

It’s also time for us to repent, wash our sins in the blood of the Lamb, and put on our white wedding clothes. We must get ready for our Groom to come to get us and take us to His home in heaven.

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:2-3 NKJV

Let’s rejoice that we are alive and participating in the end of this age. What a privilege to make ourselves ready to meet our King Jesus in the air! The time is short. Are you getting ready?

 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 NKJV

As the world grows darker, the church grows brighter. As the world grows more evil, the church is growing stronger in righteousness and courage. Allow your faith to grow and sustain you during these transitional days. We may be mourning our past, but it doesn’t begin to compare to our future in heaven. Look up! The trump of God will soon be calling us home.

Are you ready to meet Jesus? If you’re not sure, you can be sure today. Please pray this prayer with me.

Dear Lord, I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I confess my sins and ask you to wash them away in the blood of the Lamb. I receive You into my life to be my Savior and Lord. I thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to be my Teacher and Comforter. Thank you, Lord, for saving me and writing my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And I rejoice that I will live forever with You in Your kingdom. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Final Grains of Sand

sands in hourglass

First published in 2015, I want to again share my thoughts with you this Father’s Day. This year marks the twenty-fifth year of my dad’s passing, and I miss him so very much. But I look forward to heaven where we’ll all be reunited with our loved ones forever.

During my regular run in a nearby park, I slowed to a walk in the midst of the growing afternoon heat, mopping away the perspiration dripping down my face. Close behind me, a father and his little girl held hands as they went along. Proximity provided me an ear to their conversation.

“I love you, Daddy, on Father’s Day.” Her excited voice bubbled up to him.

“I love you, sweetheart, every day!” His tone promised forever, unconditional love.

The exchange was precious, and a smile spread across my face, reminding me of my own father. The only thing I have of him now are my sweet memories since he went to heaven twenty years ago. How I yearn to have him on earth again, to walk hand in hand and tell him that I love him. Even though that’s not possible, I still have the rich legacy he left behind.

His love of sports…

Growing up, he shared his love of baseball with me. In summer, he taught me how to play softball by practicing batting and playing catch in the backyard after dinner. He took my mother and me to practically every Reds game, beginning at the old Crosley Field and continuing years later at Riverfront Stadium. We had great seats in the section where visiting VIPs would watch Opening Day, the Playoffs, or the World Series, and I have lots of famous signatures on my scorecard books tucked away for permanent safe-keeping.

IMG_1826 (4)

Although I still have his valuable collection of autographed baseballs and bats, my most precious possession is my memory of sitting next to him at the games, sharing a bag of fresh roasted peanuts while pestering him with all my annoying questions–whether foul tips count as balls or strikes, and who the players were—all which he patiently answered. Whether quoting RBI or home run averages, he lit up and was at his happiest when discussing the sport he loved most.IMG_1824IMG_1480

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Around the house, cutting the grass was one of his favorite jobs. Anyone who knew him would remember that because his lawn was always perfect. When I was a kid, our lawn’s size was an acre, and I used to sit on the front steps for hours and watch him mow. After he finished, we would sit together for a while and admire the fruit of his labor. Afterward, he would invite me to go with him to a nearby fast-food restaurant, Henry’s, for a celebratory orange soda. Each week during grass season we followed the same routine, and that memory of sharing those times with him is still a comfort today.

Another one of Daddy’s loves was water. Our family enjoyed boating on the Ohio River every summer, and I have fond memories of our outings. He loved to water ski, and it was his encouragement that helped me learn to slalom.

Skelton_dood_it_1942My dad was also a big tease with a great sense of humor. I can remember his laughter at comedy shows back in the ’60s like Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Carol Burnette. But he also played jokes on his own family. When I was about five or so, he convinced me that if I could sprinkle salt on a bunny’s tail, then I could catch it. That entire summer I ran around the backyard with a salt shaker but never could catch a single rabbit. I didn’t learn the truth until school began that fall, and I thought that he must have had a good laugh watching me zigzag around the lawn with that salt shaker. Just like with skiing and softball, he always encouraged me to keep trying.

His godly character…

He also passed on important lessons of character through his own example, for which I am eternally grateful. I learned about developing a strong work ethic as I witnessed him work tirelessly to provide well for his family. He is a true example of how to capture and attain the American Dream.

He taught me to be honest and never lie (the few times I tried, I always got caught).

I learned to be obedient to his rules and respectful to others in authority (he only had to take me over his knee once, never twice).

He always instructed me, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.” (I’m always working on that one.)

His example of keeping everything clean, neat, and in its place made a huge impression on me. Order and peace reigned in our home and, to this day, is an important priority. He always said, “Everything has a place, so put everything in it.”

IMG_1829 (2)Most of all, his love of Jesus Christ and public profession of his Christian faith spoke volumes to me, teaching me to always be an active church member, study the Word of God, and tithe the first ten percent of my income to the church. His courage and fearlessness to stand up and speak up for what’s right have been my bedrock over the years. Even though he is not physically here, the Christian convictions that he modeled live within me as my rich heritage.

Those dreaded words: It’s cancer…

In November 1994, a time arrived when he could no longer play his role as protector, and our roles reversed. On a day when he had routine prostate surgery, the doctor gave my mother the bad news. She wrote a note on the back of a dry cleaning receipt she found in her purse and handed it to me when I walked into his hospital recovery room. It’s bladder cancer. The doctor says it’s hopeless. At that point, my mother and I became his caregivers until his death on June 13, 1995—just a few days shy of Father’s Day.

Amid the sadness of that time, two specific occasions are picture-framed in my memory’s gallery. The first was after he was diagnosed with cancer and my mother had just told him the bad news. I entered their bedroom where he was standing and hugged him, saying, “I love you, Daddy.” We both shed tears. The last grains of sand in his life’s hourglass were swiftly slipping away.

The second was after he had been admitted to a nursing care facility for Hospice patients. His memory would come and go as he slipped into dementia, due to big doses of experimental chemo. One afternoon when he was lucid, I was guiding his wheelchair through the outdoor gardens where we stopped to admire beautiful flowers. I took that opportunity to thank him for being such a wonderful father and told him how much I loved and appreciated him. That was one of the final days that he recognized me, and I am eternally thankful to God that I was given a window to tell him one last time. Such a priceless gift.

So, as I look into the sky this Father’s Day, I breathe out these words toward heaven. “I love you, Daddy. On Father’s Day and every day.”

depression dove