Leb Blog

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

God Has A Way of Working It Out

Romans 9:21 (NIV)

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

This is one of those verses that make me tremble and also stand in awe at the same time. For weeks now I have been thinking about the Sovereignty of God; why does God do things different that how I perceive them in my own head. Well for starters the Word of God says that I am the created of God and the he is the Creator. He is Holy and we chose disobedience in the Garden. But God…why do you do things that way?

God is not surprised by my questions; but I am definitely intrigued by his explanations or better said the outcome of situations that cause me to stand in awe and bow in reverence because there is something so deep; the riches of God’s glory that as an adult I still don’t fully understand. Why did he bring Jacob into the land of Canaan only to have him go to Egypt to survive; they had no food, why make them go to the land and them have them leave.

Why was Joseph sold, he did no wrong. The Bible says that which was meant for harm him, God used for good; to save lives, even the lives of his own family who sold him.

Why did the blessing that was “supposed” to belong to Esau go to Jacob? In four generations God gave the blessing to the younger brother when tradition said it belonged to the older. Isaac instead of Ishmael, Jacob instead of Esau, Judah instead of Reuben and Ephraim instead of Manasseh.

Go a little ahead and we see Solomon the son of the woman that David had an adulterous relationship with; I know the first son died, but why would you use this woman to carry Solomon, the man that would build the temple?

God does impart wisdom and revelation and we can follow history and see that indeed God knows best; and yet sometimes it still baffles the mind. Oh to have that kind of wisdom and insight, to know how to make correct decisions; to do as God says and not how I feel; to move through this life hearing from God and doing as he directs. I yearn to please the Potter; this clay desires to be molded and shaped in a way that pleases God. I can be all that God wants me to be, but I have to lean, bend, submit to the Potter’s wheel. He indeed has sent his Spirit; the Spirit that teaches me and guides me.

God wants us dependent on him for our own good. In the midst of our suffering and trials God is trying to make something more beautiful out of us and our circumstances; something that will bring honor to the Potter.

Moses could see the Promise Land but not enter; ouch….so much work; dealing with people who did not honor God constantly---but Moses….neither did you.

Why sickness and disease; why financial trials that cause us to cry at night. Why take my mom so quickly; why overlook me Lord I am the firstborn; why do you seem so distance Lord; why did this marriage that was to honor you fail; why does depression linger; why, why , why. The questions of men. We have more questions than time on this earth.

I choose to stand in Awe of the Potter; marvel at the outcome of his Sovereignty. There is one question that puts all these other questions in the shadow for me; why mercy and why grace. Why did you choose to die; why would you willingly go to the cross when those that you created cheered you to your death? Why in the midst of all this does Love pour out of you, for me? Why do you give me what I don’t deserve and hold back your wrath from me that I do deserve? Mercy & Grace…..I’ll stand in awe of You!

His desire is that none would perish but know Him, be redeemed and experience a full life; a life in the Potter’s hand.

God has a way of working it out, everything that you are worried about…so don’t be discouraged and don’t ever doubt, God has a way of working it out. (Lyrics God has a way) To God be the glory!

God bless you!~Liz
www.lizrod.com

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Seven Last Words of Christ | Reflection (Full presentation)

Seven Last Words of Christ
The Witnesses from the Crowd
(Written by Liz Rodrigues and brought to life in Dramatic Presentation @
the Orange County Gospel Fellowship 2013)


Everyone remembers last words.  When a friend or a love one dies we often, replay, analyze, scrutinize and study ever phrase; at times even trying to gain comfort from those words; even as life evades those we love. 
We are trying to receive something for ourselves; grab a hold of their love for us one more time.  If somehow we have captured their voice, we replay and listen to it over and over again; paying attention to every syllable. Every letter is treasured; oh and let their fragrance be detected in a room and joy springs up in our hearts.
It’s no different on the day our Lord was crucified.  Emmanuel, God in the flesh; and what did we do?  We celebrated his coming into Jerusalem shouting hosanna, hosanna in the highest.  The crowd watched; stood by in awe, some in wonder and amazement, several in repentance, others in self righteousness could not see their God. Some were partakers in his death, and yet he died for them all; for the one who cleaned his brow and the ones who pierced it. For God so love the world that he died, died for them ALL! That’s the love of God! 

On that day there were many in the crowd.  Please allow me creative liberty to explore the hearts of the witnesses on that day.  Be Inspired! family & friends, The Seven Last Words of Christ.
Listen carefully and the noises of Jerusalem on that day could be heard.  Examine it with your heart and you can hear the sounds of grace and mercy calling out your name.
It’s the sandals of the Lord walking as he reaches the Mount of Olives.  Surrounded by the disciples, he asks them to pray, as he does the same to his Father in Heaven. It’s not the tongues of men you hear, but the sound of exhausted men sleeping. It’s the cry of the Redeemer calling out to the Father and the sound of angels wings and they arrive to minister to the son.   It’s the echo of the kiss that betrays the Master; the sword that’s swung as flesh falls to the ground. It’s the ache of being disowned; innocent blood.  The sound of remorse; a crow testifying and tears dripping down the face of the one who said, he was willing to die.
Ease drop and turn your ear to the Holy City.  It’s the whipping and the piercing of the flesh; the blood splattering to the ground.  Watch him and look carefully for the one crucified will speak to your heart.  We chant vulgarities and “crucify him”.  He gently speaks forgiveness, allowing the work of redemption to commence.
It’s a crowd of spectators; laughing and taunting; some afraid, several broken and in anguish; others seem unaffected or were they?  Some go along with the plan and others try and stop it. The voice of Pilate, finding no basis for a charge. The ridicule and laughter of Herod and his soldiers. Turn your ear again and the chief priests and the teachers of the law are vehemently accusing him.    The sounds of the day, the day our Lord died for you! Listen.
Listen—the coins in the hand in Judas; the coins tainted with blood. It’s the casting of lots rolling on the ground; all for a few pieces of clothing; the hissing from the serpent lurking in broad daylight for a victory that never was; the rumble of an earthquake, the ripping of the curtain and the culmination of the redemptive plan.
It’s a tearing and a ripping; a split and a piercing into the heart of man.  Some will run; try and mend it; put it up again; hide the sin deep in the crevasses of the heart.   

 But as light shines in the hearts of men and expose the darkness that has kept us apart from God; some embrace the mercy and grace that’s flooding their hearts.  It’s a choice. It’s a gift.


This curtain has separated us; it has hid our sins from ourselves; God has always seen us for who we are—it’s the True Light that gives light to every man; He has come into the world!


The Seven Witnesses


Word #1 Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing. Luke 23:34
Barabbas

During the Passover it was customary for the Romans to release a prisoner.  I’m not a nice guy.  What were the chances that I would ever see light again?  I am Barabbas.  I hear my name being chanted.  I don’t know why my name is being called.  Can it be that my time has come?  I’m not afraid to die; I take life when I want too.  I am a killer

The crowds are moving, so I go along.  It’s him, the one who took my place.  They are hanging him on a tree, nailing him to a cross.  Through the crowds I can hear him speak.  Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.  What?  Sure they do.  You are going to die.  They have you.  They know very well what the outcome will be.  Father, what father?  Who is he talking to?  He looks up and he looks down gazing at the crowd.  Does he see me?  I am Barabbas.  Does he know what my name means; Son of the father; is he angry because he’s dying instead of me.  I know who I am, I’m a killer.  No one likes me; my life lost its purpose a long time ago.  Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.  Somehow I think he’s talking to me.  I knew exactly what I was doing.  I chose freedom when it was given to me….yet somehow I still feel like I’m in prison.


Word #2 I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise. Luke 23:43
Criminal on the cross

I’m nailed to a cross; the heat of the sun is beating on me. The pain is unbearable.  The spikes through my hands have ripped my tendons and sinews; my skin is ripped, my bones are crush and blood is dripping from my body.  I take breaths and they seem to be getting more and more shallow.

Yes, I am screaming with every bit of energy I have left; yelling at the top of my bruised lungs.  Does God only hear the righteous? What do I have to lose?  It’s an ongoing monolog. Get us down from here.  I thought you were the Son of God. All those miracles you did.  Do you have one more—now would be a good time!  I don’t have much breath in me left.  Do you see what’s happening here?

Do you hear them? The insults come from many tongues; from me, from the other thief.  I can see he’s is angry too.  We are hanging on a cross just like Jesus!  Can’t you hear us?  Does God answer prayer? 
Then it happened.  This criminal—because that’s what he is.  No different than me!  He begins to dialogue with the “King of the Jews”.  I shout out to him, “Have you not been listening”? I’ve been talking to Jesus this entire miserable time.  He begins to tell me to be quiet.  I’ve been trying to get us to live and he’s telling me to hush.  What has caused this fool to converse with Jesus; just moments before he was spewing insults at him?

His heart; something happened—I don’t know when it occurred since we have not been able to escape the cross.  How did he encounter God?  I’m mean really, I don’t recall him leaving the cross and entering the temple.  Jesus is fixing his gaze on this man.  He is giving him his attention; inclining his ear to him.  I shout, “Jesus he’s no good”!  No better than me!

I heard it.  He asked him; Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.  What Kingdom; if he was a King would he be hanging on a cross?
Jesus answers him: I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.


Word #3: Woman, behold you son.  John 19:26
Mary, the mother of Jesus:

My son, Jesus.  I was not prepared when the angle of the Lord came to me. I was startled! More like scared.  He said, Greetings you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.  He said “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.

I asked him, how will this be since I am a virgin.  He said “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.   It happened just like he said. 

Have you ever lost someone; every last moment so precious; clinging to their every word?  He said, Women, behold your son.  Yes, John, the one he loves; we both are in pain.  The agony is more that I can describe. Oh my precious Jesus!



Word #4: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Mark 15:34
John, the Beloved Disciple

I’m just a fisherman from Galilee. The Teacher saw me and asked me to follow him, and I did. My eyes have seen things that I never saw before.

Perplexing thoughts flood my mind now. The last day I ate with my Lord he talked about betrayal.  Could God betray him?  I know I feel like I have.

I should have fought for him.  All the love he has for me and I did not try and defend him. They took him and my hands never helped him.  He asked me to pray and I fell asleep. 
Help me God!

I watched him, Jesus my Lord.  He has been stripped of everything. 

He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Yet, I’m not the one being persecuted.  It’s Him and I feel so helpless.  Could God forsake him? I’ve seen him raise the dead; yes Lazarus was dead and he called him to awake as if he was just in a deep slumber. 
Water has become wine, multitudes have been fed with just a few loaves of bread; blind eyes have been opened.  I even saw him walk on water.

He has spoken to me, sometimes in parables and other times very plainly. He said he would protect me, like a shepherd protects the sheep. I keep remembering what he said, “ The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”  Has it been his choice to go to the cross?  He’s touched many and breath has been returned to them, yet he seems to be dying right before my eyes.  Who will raise him up again? He said in a little while you will see me no more and then after a while you will see me again.  What does that mean?  I’m scared. In a little while, all I see is him dying.


Word #5: I thirst. John 19:28
The Soldier that gave  him a drink

I’m not sure what to make of that day.  I have orders and I am to follow them.  There is sign clearly posted for everyone to see; it points to the identity of this man, Jesus, King of the Jews.  I’m not a Jew but is he a King? I’m a Roman soldier; I do what I am told. 

We are many; Roman soldiers upholding the law; and yes we are mocking him as well.

This day is not like any other day; darkness hovers over us, we proceed with the orders given us.  The end is drawing near and I hear him call out my God, my God why have you forsaken me?  While foul remarks continue to be hurled at him; I’m not innocent, I too took my turn; He said he was thirsty so I quickly ran and gave him a drink. 

There was some hesitation that I felt.  See I remembered his arrest.  That night when we arrived as the kiss identified him; He was asked if he was Jesus, he replied, I AM.  All I recall was falling backwards to the ground. His identity, his presence, his voice alone, well it sent us all to the ground.  There was no one with him except his scared disciples.

I quickly got a reed, put the sponge on the end, dipped it and offered him a drink. 

I try to examine my heart; I think I was afraid?  There was fear; the inside of me trembled,  I mean, I know I’m a soldier, I’m supposed to be brave, but… what if I get close to his bruised face and….well I don’t know what will happen.   

It was like a breeze that swept through my body.  The sponge touched his lips and something touched me.  This time I retreated on my own.  I felt dirty.
How odd, how strange to comprehend; it caused me to think; a rejected king? Could I believe this message? What if it’s true?



Word #6:  It is finished. John 19:30
The Women with the Issue of Blood

I’ve always been in the shadows, unable to be part of everyday life.  People avoid me. My relatives escape my presence.  I’ve lived in shame and ridicule.  I heard of him and sought to find him.  It’s with those words; “It is finish”, that have caused me to remember again.   He’s dying.  They taken him and placed his body on this cross. I see it, red like crimson; drops of blood flowing down his body. 

It drips along his ripped flesh.  I can see it flow into his torn side. With every gasping breathe the blood streams to the ground.
It was not long ago when I, the outcast, in desperation, moved among the crowds that followed him.  Here I am again in the crowd.

No one would touch me.  No one could come near.

It was finished!  Healing, it was mine. The blood it just -- stopped.  Twelve years of agony.  Doctors could not help me.  And now it just stopped. I have a sense of wholeness but I was afraid. 

He knew; he knew it was me.  I have defiled the Master.  He called out for me.  He was aware, Jesus knew.  He turned around in the crowd and asked “Who touched me?”  The disciples couldn’t answer him, there were so many followers.  His eyes are searching to and fro.  It’s me Lord; I could not hide any longer.  I fell at his feet as I trembled, told him the truth, I worshipped at his feet.  He called me daughter.  He said my faith had made me whole. He told me to go in peace and suffer no more. He saw my affliction and the anguish of my soul.

Jesus is hanging on a cross.

Why should he suffer?  What wrong has he done? 

It seems like every ounce of blood has fallen to the ground.   His is not like mine.
I was contaminated, yet when I touched him he did not retreat.  Somehow I did not make him unclean.  He said virtue had flowed from him.

It’s heart wrenching to watch.  But I can’t stop my eyes from looking at his face.
Perhaps it’s strange, but the flow seems precious.  There’s a sweet presence here. 
I just don’t fully understand this all; I find myself worshiping at his feet again.


Word #7:  Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46|
Jarius, The Synagogue Ruler

The day I saw him, I threw myself at his feet.  I worshiped him too.  What else does one; a ruler and I have no power to heal my daughter?  I saw him in the synagogue; (Mark 1) we were amazed; he spoke like one who had authority not like a teacher of the law.  The man possessed with evil spirits entered the synagogue and he called him by name, Jesus of Nazareth.  He question Jesus and asked him if he was the Holy One of God.  It happened so quickly; Jesus spoke and a loud shriek was heard; it still echoes in my soul.  In a moment; just with a spoken word, this man was free.  We were all amazed.  A new teaching and he, Jesus, has authority.

So when my daughter was dying I ran to his feet. The crowd was massive but somehow I reached him.   I humbled myself before him.  I pleaded with him, I had no shame.  I’ve seen what he can do.  He speaks with authority; even evil spirits obey.  I begged, my little girl is dying, come please, put your hands on her and she will live.  He begins to walk; it’s just a matter of time and she will be well.  And then she, the woman that touched his garment, interrupted us. 

The healing that my little girl needed; she took it.  She was made whole even as the news that my twelve year old daughter had died.  I cried; my head hung in shame.  A synagogue ruler, and I have no authority; I can’t even get the teacher to my home in time to save my little girl.

The words of the messengers, don’t bother the teacher, your daughter is dead.
He ignored the messengers.  He looked at my distraught face and said, “Don’t be afraid, just believe” He allowed no one to follow except for a few of his disciples.  I could barely walk.  As I arrived the wailing and crying just confirmed what I already knew.  She was gone! He questioned my family and my friends.  Why are you crying?  She is not dead but just asleep. 

How does one go from crying to laughing?  But that’s exactly what they did, they laughed in his face.  Again he pushed the crowed away and entered my daughter’s room where she laid, cold and dead.  He was not afraid to be defiled. He touched her and began to speak.  It’s that authority again; I recognize it.  So I watched him; Jesus, the One with the power to heal.  He told my daughter, “little girl get up”.  To my wonder, though she was dead, she awoke and breath came back to her.    He must be the Holy One of God! Who else can do miracles?

I remember my daughter’s words: Daddy why does Jesus have to die?  Did he not make me live?


Listen, for the testimonies that still come today.  Jesus continues to transform lives.
I am not who we used to be.
It is finish!  


Rejoice, He lives conquering death for you and for me!

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.
 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.  -Isaiah 43:10-12

Where are you in the crowd of witnesses?  He still speaks and calls out today just like on the day he laid his life down for all mankind.