“Epitome of Unassuming Grace”

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre (tomb), and seeth the stone rolled taken away from the sepulchre. 

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple (John), and came to the sepulchre.

So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the lines clothes lying, yet went him not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

And the napkin (face cloth), that was about 9around) his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together (folded) in a place by itself.

Then went in also, that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet, they knew (understood) not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 

Then the disciples went away again unto their own homes. 

But Mary stood without (outside) at the sepulchre weeping; and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre.

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been.

And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back (around), and saw Jesus standing there, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seeketh thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto to him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence (carried him away), tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Mary, She turned herself, and saith unto him Rabboni, which is to say, Master (Teacher).

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the first day of the week, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

And when he had so said, he shewed (showed) unto them his hands, and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 

Then Jesus said to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 

And he when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit (forgive) they are remitted (forgiven) unto them: and whose soever sins  ye retain, they are retained.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciple therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except (Unless) I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

And after eight days again his disciples were within (inside), and Thomas was with themthen came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet they believe. 

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciple, which are not written in this book.

But these are written, that ye might (will) believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might (will) have life through his name.” John 20:1-31

Even with the millions, billions of words in our human language that could be used to describe Jesus, there are still none that would ever completely describe His grace.

The grace that He extends to us as we try to find our way, as our human thinking tries so unsuccessfully to understand the absolute miraculous

I love so much about the accounts above, they all suffered the same doubts, as all humans would, when faced with his death, a death that most witnessed with their own eyes, and as we are told, they had not at this time, understood, exactly what had been foretold to them.

It has often been asked why He revealed himself to Mary first, and I love what I believe to be the answer, and I love it because it is just such a perfect example of who He is.

Mary needed him the most,

Jesus sees us from day one, our entire life, all the pain, sorrow, and sufferings that many go through, and often some more so than others.

And some do seem to be stronger, while others carry wounds that in order to be healed require a touch so gentle, that it can only come from the Master’s hand.

I also love the verse taht tells us Jesus wept, he wept because Mary and Marth were crying, they were crying because there brother Lazarus died, but Jesus knew that He was going to resurrect Lazarus from the dead, He was crying because it broke his heart to see his daughter weep.

He wanted to comfort Mary and dry all those tears by letting her know that He indeed lived.

Notice also when He appeared to the disciples, he knew that they would be confused and afraid, the first word he says is peace, and while they did not ask for “proof”, He invited them to feel his hands and side.

He wanted them to be reassured in his peace.

And even though we quite often hassle Thomas in our day by calling him “Doubting Thomas”, many would have felt the same, again, knowing that Jesus had been crucified.

But Jesus knew what Thomas had said, and even more so He knew what Thomas needed in order to believe.

And at no time are we told in scripture that Jesus questioned them as to How could they not believe what they had been told, or that he in any way chastised them or belittled them for being human, and having doubt.

Quite the opposite, as scripture says this: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men (humans) liberally, and upbraideth not (without reproach)and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

That means wisdom and understanding of anything, any are, any question.

And that is with the promise that God will in no way make us feel silly, or chided for our need to understand or the need to have our faith strengthened.

Jesus is beautiful and Holy  and there are so many stories in the Bible about just that, His grace toward us, so many examples of letting humans speak their minds, asking for something, while he all the while knows the desire of their heart that they are getting around to asking.

Because for some reason as humans we feel like we have to convince him of the reasoning why we are asking for whatever it is we are asking, but this is not what he asks of us, he just asks us to ask him and believe,

He is so gracious, just as the verses above that He will give us whatever it is that we need to believe, and to strengthen our faith or any other obstacle that need eliminated so that we are not hindered in our walk with him.

Have faith in that today and whatever you need, He has more than enough grace to give it.

Thank you for reading. Love & peace to you till next time! Mention of which, please join me over the next thirty days, as it was on my heart to do a short post, each day, on His teachings.

Starting with this one, so we’ll take a refresher on the Word, straight from The Word’s words!

Φλογιζω NBJ 2022/Rev. N. Brown Johnson

“Stoned…so you’ll be sure to miss it…”

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR:

Whom RESIST steadfast in the faith. KNOWING that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that ARE in the world.

BUT the God of all grace, WHO HATH CALLED YOU UNTO HIS ETERNAL GLORY BY JESUS CHRIST, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect (blameless before God) , stablish (establish), strengthen, settle you.

To him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever . Amen” 1 Peter 5:6-10

Familiar verse there again, but the word is the word and sometimes we NEED to hear it more than once. I want to expound on this passage just a little bit. Peter was giving his fellow companions instructions on how to survive in their terrible time, a time when the church was being persecuted and believers rejected, hated, and martyred.

He encouraged them to look past the sufferings and injustices of this world and place their trust in Jesus knowing and resting in the assurance that he would, when the time was perfectly right, according to His perfect will uphold them and present them above their enemies,a s He will prepare that feasting table for you in their very presence. He warned them also, as that same warning has been for every single believers since Peter penned it, even to us NOW that we are to be SOBER, serious minded CONCERNING our salvation, our walk with the Lord, and SERIOUS in KNOWING and respecting the fraility of our own human condition, that we can if not constantly monitoring our own hearts and intentions, can be destroyed by the enemy while our attentions that should be focused on God and things concerning the kingdom, are instead focused on things of this world.

And we are told to RESIST the devil by standing in the faith of God and have comfort in the fact that none of us are ever alone, and if you must fight against a temptation, or a mindset, that you should know and have assurance in the knowledge that you are not alone and that your brothers and sisters in Christ have many fought that same battle that you fight. And we are given the promise that holding onto to that faith and that reassurance that God himself, who has CALLED us to himself, to be his children, his heirs, and citizens of his holy kingdom, will indeed help us by settling all the turmoil, internal and eternal, strengthen us through the building of that faith in him, and he will give you peace in all things.

So by this point, you may be asking yourself, Well, there now woman, what’s up with that title?

So glad that you asked!

Anyone who was not raised on church music or has any lyrical association with all thing nineteen seventies would recognize that as a play on an old standard, absolutely no copyright infringement intended, well now that I have written my dutiful disclaimer, I shall tell you.

Most know that I am located in the states and live in the South, not terribly South but south enough to be “accented” with the Bell lingo, quite a conversation point at time, and while I do try to hit across the globe when I write, painfully aware of what my international brothers and sisters suffer, this post is aimed at my own countrymen.

While watching the news I had to sit back in wonder as it was reported the new “changes” that would be taking place in my state, just as all the “changes” that will be taking place in the nation as a whole, as while the details of new way to fight Corona, and all about how people who were “hurting” from the economy and all the woes Corona has brought would not be forgotten, along with mentions of other most mediocre legislations that would come,of course, for the betterment of us all and one point just astounded me, the legalization of marijuana for “RECREATIONAL” use.

Yeah those are six words that should NEVER be linked together in a single sentence.

Especially considering that the area I live in is one of the highest in opioid addiction,overdoses not only through opioid but other substances, not to mention alcohol abuse, meth, and the poverty, and absolute destruction of families and lives that go along with those trappings.

So when I heard those words delivered with what appeared sheer glee, as the state will reap the rewards of that “harvest with a niffy tax, I could not help but wonder what are our lives even worth to our “leaders’, I can answer that for you also, NOT MUCH.

Just enough to endanger those who are not on guard against the dangers of ANY drug use or those who are already battling hell against addiction because that is a battle, and a hard fought battle that never really ends, those who have recovered from alcohol or drug addiction must ALWAYS fight against that lure to try to pull them back into that pit of destruction and despair.

So for the powers that be to decide that during the pandemic, while people ARE feeling isolated and alone, which by the way, isolation is one of the biggest threats to a recovering person, that the time has come to make it pot perfectly legal, and not just legal for medical use, but adding the word “recreational”.

Think about the very meaning of”Recreational” : “relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.” and think about “Recreational drug use” :”relating to or denoting drugs taken on an occasional basis for enjoyment.”

KNOWING full well that it does induce effects, why else do we call it “Being fried”, pot is not just some sort of “Herbal supplement”. it has very real effects and those effects are addictive.

So in my thinking, I’m like, okay, we have people who are hurting and we are in a pandemic and economy crash, we already have people dying everyday from overdoses, so sure, why NOT give the one more obstacle to overcome and why NOT make it so easy to obtain and so PERFECTLY legal, so that they will have no problem whatsoever obtaining it or run the risk of getting caught with and being charged with possession.

Why NOT even let be said that it is solely for the purpose of their enjoyment, to use ta their discretion.

It is simply this, they do NOT care if you become addicted, they DO NOT CARE if it ruins you, your family, your life.

They only care that it will further their agendas of popularity and revenue increase and people this is just the iceberg tipping, and Satan has always used entrapment as one of the biggest tricks in his bag of many.

The enemy has always played the game of making it easy, putting all those temptations laid out nicely before you to choose as you will but never telling you the price you will pay in the long run, when your life, your health, and nine times out of ten, your family is destroyed and then, the damage is so great that God and God alone is the only one capable of cleaning up the mess that addictions leave of a life.

So on we go on with these new changes, and believe me there will be many more coming, please, for the love of God, do not make the mistake of truly believing that because it IS legal, and because everyone else is doing it, that you should also.

We are responsible for our own lives and the choices we ourselves make and we are warned against “Spiritual wickedness in high places” and a true leader will do what is in the best interest for the health and safety of those they are alleged to be in service to, not to legastite laws that will in fact become a burden to be born on the backs of those who partake of those new “freedoms”.

People often refuse to follow Christ and detest the Gospel based on their beliefs that they are “hindered”, prevented from doing things that they desire to do, but in reality, God gives us his words and his commandment to PROTECT us from those things that while they may be pleasurable, for  a season, they will lead to our destruction.

Remember these words? Hebrews 11: 24,25: “By faith, Moses, when he was come to years (reached adulthood), refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;  Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (short time);

We often forget when we think of those from Bible times, they WERE human, with the same feelings, emotions, and temptations of us all, and Moses could have been the ruler of ALL of Egypt and at that time Egypt was one of the greatest powers on earth, if not the greatest.

Moses had it all laid at his feet, to do with whatsoever he chose, but what he chose was to WALK AWAY from that sinful nation that had in fact ENSLAVED his people and went on to hear the voice of the Lord CALLING him to lead those same people out of that terrible bondage with the mighty hand of God.

We make those choices and so many today are in bonadage an with new snares and trap set daily to ensnare them even farther, and why? What could be a possible motive?

Dependance, my dear friends, dependance, just as the story when Moses was leading the Hebrews, and they begin to complain that he was leading the out to die in the desert and then they actually complained,complained about the food that GOD HIMSELF WAS FEEDING THEM and complained of missing the foods that they had when they were enslaved?

Numbers 11:4-8:” And the mixt multitude that was AMONG them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel ALSO wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this MANNA, before our eyes. 

And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.

And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.”

Had they so easily forgotten being worked mercilessly, dawn to night, had they forgotten being beaten, had they forgotten the sight of the backs and bodies of their loved ones marred by striped raw flesh from those beatings?

Had they forgotten the heartache and helplessness of being able to come to the defense of others as they witness those atrocities?

Had they forgotten that they were under the absolute control of Egyptians to do with what they would, including, thinking back to the degree to slaughter all the Hebrew baby boys, a decree that without the intervention of God would have annihilated Moses at birth.

How they had forgotten all these things at the simple thought of cucumbers, fish, and melons that had been eaten, without a doubt, in haste and fear, as they would need to hurry to continue their toil, an absurd thought, a ludicrous trade,a whispering of Satan, convincing them just how “good” they had it in Egypt!

Notice how this complaint actually got started with the “mixt multitude” those who had came out of Egypt with the Hebrews, not necessarily Hebrews, think of the weeds that the enemy plants along side the “wheat” that has been planted by the Lord. Basically these people start to murmur and complain, soon God’s children hear and then they start to cry and complain ALSO.

Why? Because it is so easy to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing  and the enemy knows that and that’s what he is banking on, that we will rather run with the crowd that risk rejection by that crowd.

So they forgot all about the food God was giving them, the sheer MIRACLE of eating food from heaven itself, food that actually tasted of FRESH OIL,fresh oil symbolically fresh oil, that they needed to become new, in their new freedom.

But they chose to listen to the crowd and forgot God’s goodness and they forgot the terrors of Egypt, and if we forget where we have been, and if we forget just how awful and bad that place was, and if we forget how we had prayed to NEVER have to be in that place again, we will

Another secret here:

Psalm 9:17: ” The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Comparing apples and oranges, you can see how easily Satan tried to twist the minds of the freed Hebrews, to turn them against God’s call and against Moses, trying to lure them back into captivity with the mere promises of leeks and garlic, HOW MUCH MORE CAN HE LEAD PEOPLE BACK INTO BONGAGE OR WORSE BONDAGE WITH THE PROMISE OF DRUGS?

Do you see what the design is now? If every desire is attainable, if every ounce of the flesh is catered to, Where is your eternal salvation in this? Where is your quality of life?

That life will lead you into bondage and into dependance on the very powers that offer you that “luxury of living” and that is the ultimate goal.

Realize today that if you are in Christ, or even if you are not in Christ, but realize that you do not want enslaved to a substance that WILL control and DESTROY you, don’t fall for it, you are not being offered freedom you are being offered bonaged in a pretty package and if we play with fire we will be burned.

The enemy wants you to be “stoned” so that you will completely “miss it”, that you will miss the gentle sound of conviction God speaks to your heart, that you will completely miss the call he has on your life, and that you will miss the hope, peace, and joy that you could have as you trade it for his broken promises  and in effect trade your promises of eternal life for eternal destruction if you do not escape his clutches in time.

Love and peace to you till next time, keep on praying and keep on believing that your tomorrow can be so much better than your today!

Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Reverend Nina Brown Johnson