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Three Little Words

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THREE LITTLE WORDS
Copyright 2001
Mike Cunningham
Easter Sunday April 20, 2014

The man’s high continued uninterrupted into the fourth day. It was impossible for him to adequately describe what he had been experiencing. Words like serenity and euphoria were grossly inadequate. A crystal clear clarity of mind added to the feeling of well-being. The man never imagined such an altered state was possible. But it obviously was, and he along with the other folks at the reunion, was enjoying every second of it.

Amazingly, the wonderful feeling intensified moment-by-moment and continued like a rocket soaring into the heavens. Never in his wildest dreams could he have thought such an experience was possible. “People would die just for a taste of it,” he thought. Now in the fourth day, he had every reason to believe it would continue forever. And so, it was with a sense of joyous anticipation that he looked forward to the rest of his life.

Then he suddenly heard three little words spoken by a familiar voice. He was startled started to crash. Fear gripped the man. It was as though he had been riding the crest of a giant wave and was being propelled in a direction he would give anything to avoid. The scene that greeted his bewildered eyes was one of complete amazement. It was so incredibly unexpected, that it would take a while for him to even begin to understand what was happening. Second by second the euphoria receded until it became a distant memory. And, all because of those three little words!

The two women had just experienced the greatest disappointment of their lives. The weight of their loss was so huge that they felt crushed. Furthermore, their sorrow was compounded by the belief that all they had experienced didn’t have to happen. But it did, and now their lives had been changed forever.

Events of the past several days had taken its toll on the two women. They were exhausted. Each of them felt as though they had been on a roller coaster. For example, one moment they were in the depths of helplessness and the next their spirits were full of hope. Then, in a split second, they also came crashing down. Their hope was shattered as the spirit of helplessness descended upon them with a vengeance.

But then, they also heard the three little words that were immediately followed by a scene that could only be described as being incredibly awesome. Their spirits soared with a speed impossible to calculate. Their grief was immediately replaced by indescribable joy. They could never have imagined what they had just witnessed. Like the young man, the women knew their lives would never be the same. All because a familiar voice had uttered those three little words.

Most of the people in the crowd were there because they wanted to comfort and console the two women on that memorable day. These folks didn’t say much. Just being present spoke volumes. But their minds were filled with thoughts of trying to figure out the significance of recent events leading up to the reason for their presence. They empathized with the two women. And then, quiet unexpeditely, their thoughts were interrupted by the utterance of those three little words. What followed next was something they never dreamed of as they left their homes that dismal morning to visit the two women. Their lives were now also changed forever. Although they didn’t realize it, their eternal destiny had just become unalterably fixed. But at that moment in time, how could anyone expect them to understand the full implication of those three little words?

Two days previously a small group of men had just gotten the sad news. Their hearts went out to the two women who were close friends of theirs. The unexpected turn of events occurring in the woman’s lives shook each of the men. They began the two-day trip to the women’s home with mixed emotions. Although they would be happy to see them again, the men dreaded the thought of entering into the women’s sorrow.

Like the women, each of these men knew that things could have been different. From personal experience they thought that what had occurred didn’t have to. It could have been avoided. The men were as confused as the women. They were truly sorry for them and could only imagine how painful their loss must have been.

This was the state of mind of the men when they arrived at the women’s home. What happened next was something completely unexpected. They were as unprepared for it as anyone. And when they finally heard the three little words and saw with their own eyes what had happened as a result, they were astonished. In a fraction of a second their spirits soared to a height they too never dreamed possible. Like the rest of the participants in the unfolding drama, their lives were also changed forever, and all because of those three little words.

There were others present on that memorable day. It seems that wherever people gather gossips are always around. These miserable busybodies are a sad fact of life. There may not have been many of them but the few that were there played a significant role that was destined to change the course of human history. As soon as the gossips heard the three little words and saw what followed, their despicable imaginations went wild. They were filled with glee and couldn’t wait to share these tasty morsels as they relished the thought of what they were about to do. Their lives were also changed that day, and, without divine intervention, the busybodies had doomed themselves to the torment of an eternity separated from God. And, all because of their response to those three little words!

Multitudes of angels, both good and evil, were also present on that day. Unseen by the people, each of them watched silently as those incredible events took place. When they heard the three little words, the good angels gave a thundering applause and sang praises to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Next the good angels caused God’s children to recall certain passages of Scripture that had been stored up in their hearts like treasured possessions. Things were slowly beginning to make sense.

The evil angels were furious by what they had just witnessed and they cursed God vehemently. Hell bent, they sprung into action by exerting tremendous influence on the hearts and minds of the busybodies, who gleefully reported the incident to some jealous men.

Obviously, none of these events came as a surprise to the One who knows the beginning to the end. To Him, everything was moving along with clockwork precision according to the plan He had conceived before the foundation of the world. His whole objective that day was not just to bring glory to the Lamb. No, it was also to bestow a tremendous blessing upon each of His adopted children who were present (John 11:4).

It might be asked: “How could just three little words have such a huge impact on everyone that heard them? What was it about those words that had the power to change lives, and why did people respond so differently? How was it possible for some people to doom themselves to Hell by their response? What words could anyone possibly say that would have such a profound effect? Not only that, but who said them? What kind of a person could say just three little words that had such a awesome influence on people?”

A young carpenter was also there on that memorable day. This man on previous occasions had said some incredible things about Himself. Things such as, because of God’s amazing love, every one that believes in the carpenter will live forever (John 3:16). He also insisted that the only way to Heaven was through Himself (John 14:6). Anyone hearing these assertions was compelled to form an opinion of Him. The carpenter was either stark raving mad or a unique human being. For example, a few moments before speaking those three little words He made an equally incredible claim saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25).” A short time later He broke down and cried. And then, after He composed Himself, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world spoke those unforgettable three little words, saying in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out! (John 11:43).”

Lazarus was bewildered as his spirit immediately left Heaven (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; 2Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21; Rev. 7:15-17; 20:4) and re-entered his dead body and the feeling of euphoria quickly dissipated. Then, unaided, he walked out of the tomb. His hands and feet were still wrapped with strips of linen, and the customary cloth was still around his face (John 11:44). His sisters, Martha and Mary, along with Jesus’ disciples, were filled with indescribable joy as they watched in amazement. Their faith, which had just been tested to the max, took a giant leap forward. The unbelieving Jews in the crowd had seen enough. They were finally convinced that Jesus was indeed the longed for Messiah, the promised deliverer of Israel. God’s holy angles rejoiced with gladness that they were privileged to witness what they alone knew was to become the beginning of the end. Satan and his demons went ballistic and immediately set upon destroying Jesus by influencing the busybodies who quickly reported the incident to certain religious leaders.

Although they didn’t personally witness these events, these insecure men were furious when the busybodies told them what had happened. To these men, the three little words and what followed was the most disturbing news possible. Unless something was done, their power, wealth and influence would vanish. Everything they had worked so hard to preserve would be irretrievably lost. Strategizing a course of action, one of them emerged with what he believed was a brilliant solution to their dilemma. Of course, he had no way of knowing that his plan, when executed, would have a life and death effect on every human being from that day forward because of his or her freely chosen response to those three little words.

These men got together and secretly conspired to murder the One who had spoken those three little words. Accompanied by Roman soldiers, they had Him arrested, and, after questioning Him, turned Jesus over to the civil authorities for a phony trial. Then Herod, Pontius Pilot, and the religious leaders did exactly what God’s power and will had decided beforehand should happen. (Acts 4:27-28). On the blackest of all Fridays in human history, of their own free will, they crucified the Prince of Peace.

As He hung on an old wooden cross in excruciating agony, Jesus once again spoke three little words, this time saying, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When He had received the drink, Jesus said, (what was to be His last recorded three little words) “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit (John 19:28-30). As promised, Jesus had freely sacrificed His own life by accepting God’s righteous punishment for the sins of all human beings who were willing to accept His love.

To Jesus’ powerless heartbroken loved ones who were crying profusely at the foot of the cross however, those final three little words said it all. It is finished. It’s all over. Jesus was dead. And with His death, their hopes and dreams died also. How could their life now have any meaning? What was there to look forward to? His terrified apostles were convinced that they would be next. It was only a matter of time before each of them would be caught and executed. How could they go on? Their spirits started to sink into a dark hole of despair. But, three days later, an amazing thing happened. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb and discovered that He wasn’t there. Instead, an angel of the Lord greeted them with three little words followed by two more. “He’s not here, He is risen (Luke 24:6).”

The two women were ecstatic and could hardly wait to share the good news with the apostles. Later, Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst saying, “peace be with you.” Can you imagine how folks, including Lazarus, reacted when they saw Jesus alive and well? Can’t you just see them running excitedly all over the place shouting a series of three little words? He’s not dead! It’s not over! He is risen! Jesus is alive!

The fact that Christ rose from the dead, changed the attitude of Jesus’ followers, and through them impacted the entire world. It was almost as though they had become different persons. Instead of cringing in fear, they now boldly proclaimed the Good News of Christ’s resurrection from the dead after satisfying God’s justice by giving His life as a ransom for many. In murdering Jesus, those jealous men actually killed man’s greatest enemy, death. Because He lives, they knew that come what may, they could face all of their tomorrows. They were filled with the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Their transformed lives captured the attention of everyone, and the Lord was pleased, and He added to their number daily. The early church grew by leaps and bounds. Their testimony of a string of just three little words, “He’s not dead!” “Christ is risen!” “Jesus is alive!” and “God loves sinners, coupled with their tremendous enthusiasm and love for poor lost sinners, turned the world upside down.

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4). These three little word sentences were each inspired by the Holy Spirit and preserved for a couple of thousand years as a means of God blessing human beings such as you and me. However, as wonderful as they are, they are not the most significant as far as you and I are concerned. In fact, we can search the New Testament from beginning to end and we won’t find the most important three little words that Jesus ever spoke. These words are as much a matter of life and death to each of you men and women, girls and boys as were those spoken to Lazarus a long ago. Your eternal destiny is contingent upon your response to those three little words, but how can you find out what they are if they’re not recorded in the Bible?

Take a moment and bow your head and visualize Jesus standing in front of the door of YOUR HEART. Look closely at the One about whom the prophet Isaiah wrote thousands of years ago saying, “there were many who were appalled at him–his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness (Isaiah 52:14).”

Imagine Jesus standing before you with open arms at this very moment. Look closely at His outstretched hands and notice the grotesque scars. Let your thoughts wander back to the scene at Calvary on the blackest of all Friday’s. Gaze at His Crown of Thorns! Imagine His precious blood splattering on the wooden cross as fierce Roman soldiers hammered huge spikes into them. Think of the excruciating agony that He felt as He took YOUR PLACE on Good Friday.

Visualize Jesus standing before you now. Look into His bloodshot eyes. Look at His tender smile and watch His lips. It may seem as though they’re not moving, but if you draw closer and listen very carefully you will hear Him softly whisper those three little words, I LOVE YOU!”

Friday Morning Special 04/19/2014

GOD LOVES SINNERS SUCH AS YOU AND ME
By Pastor Mike Cunningham

On this Good Friday, I encourage each of you folks to make the time and seriously ponder the following.

Isaiah 52:13-15 (TLB)
13 See, my Servant shall prosper; he shall be highly exalted.
14 Yet many shall be amazed when they see him—yes, even far-off foreign nations and their kings; they shall stand dumbfounded, speechless in his presence. For they shall see and understand what they had not been told before.
15 They shall see my Servant beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there. So shall he cleanse many nations.

Isaiah 53:1-7 (MSG)
1 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this?
2 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.
3 He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
4 But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.
5 But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
6 We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
7 He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.

John 3:16-21 (TLB)
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.
18 “There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God.
19 Their sentence is based on this fact: that the Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
20 They hated the heavenly Light because they wanted to sin in the darkness. They stayed away from that Light for fear their sins would be exposed and they would be punished.
21 But those doing right come gladly to the Light to let everyone see that they are doing what God wants them to.”

1 Peter 2:21-25 (MSG)
21 This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
22 He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss.
23 They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.
24 He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing.
25 You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

As I looked at my image in the mirror on this Good Friday morning, I asked myself this question, “Do I really love Jesus as much as I should and as much as I could?” I’m ashamed to admit that the answer was no.

Prayer: I’m sorry, Jesus! Please forgive me, and, regardless of what you may cause me to suffer in your furnace of affliction, help me to resist and overcome every temptation to sin against you by not loving you with all of my mind, and all of my heart, and all of my strength, and, regardless of how unlikeable some of them may be, help me to love each of my neighbors as much as I do myself. I’m asking this in your name. Amen.

2014/04/16 – Devotional

FAITH THAT BLESSES

By Joni Earecksen Tada

So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
Galatians 3:9

Over the last few months my backyard bird feeder hasn’t been much to look at. No visitors except a few hardy sparrows. In fact, the other day I spent many long moments by the window, feeling a little blue, hoping to see a few birds.

Suddenly the bird feeder was abuzz with new and different friends. Finches flew out of nowhere, a mockingbird showed up, a couple of red-breasted robins hopped by to join the party, and two doves perched on a nearby fence to wait their turn for the birdseed.

I sat there wide-eyed and with the biggest smile. Without thinking, I exclaimed, “Thank you, Lord, for the birds!” It struck me that the entire backyard party was organized by the Lord Himself. Just when I needed a lift, He brought by an array of brightly colored, happy birds. Doves and robins don’t drop in by chance–if the Lord notices when a sparrow falls, then surely He directs their flight paths.

It’s simply a matter of faith–faith to observe God’s hand in absolutely everything that happens. Faith to believe that the flashing wings of a blue jay fluttering across the yard is a gift orchestrated personally by the Lord.

What a way to live! Those who are able to see God’s sovereign hand in great or small things are full of joy. Look around you today and have faith to see His gifts. You will be blessed.

Lord, today I want to see Your hand in everything that happens. Give me faith to believe that every gift is from You. Help me to recognize the wonderful ways You minister to me today. Give me eyes of faith, and I shall be blessed.

www.joniandfriends.org

He’s Joe, and I’m Moe

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HE’S JOE AND I’M MOE
Mike Cunningham
Palm Sunday
April 13, 2014

As Matt was walking up the steps leading to the front door of the house where his Christian great-granddaughter lived with her unsaved husband he spotted the men coming towards him. They were the ones who were in the restaurant the previous morning where Matt and a few other missionaries to the Land of the Living Dead were having breakfast. The two well-dressed men were quickly walking down the street waiving their hands and motioning for Matt to stop.
Read more

Friday Morning Special 04/11/2014

NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT
By Claire Colvin
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.’” Matthew 28:18

Matthew 28:18-19 is a very familiar passage. It’s the one about going and making disciples. Recently I heard a sermon on the twelve words Jesus says before he gives the Great Commission and it is still resonating with me.

If we read that passage in the New Living Translation it says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” (In some translations it says “power” instead of “authority”). When my pastor was preaching he pointed out that if ALL authority has been given to God then Satan has zero authority.

I’ve always thought that Satan has less power than God, but still some power. But as this verse explains, Satan doesn’t have any power. He has none. ZERO. He can’t have any authority because it was all given to Jesus.

Satan doesn’t have any authority, the only thing he has is lies. But we need to be careful because those lies can be very powerful. They come in a variety of ways.

• He attacks our identity: My work doesn’t matter. I’m a screw up
• He attacks our abilities: I could never do that
. He attacks our attitude: I don’t have to forgive her, do you know what she did to me? He even lies about the way we see God: God has forgotten me. God could never forgive that.

It doesn’t matter that the lies aren’t true because when we listen to them we live as if they are true. We give them power. We make choices based on false information.
My pastor went on to say something that has really stuck we me. He said, “You can’t fight thoughts with thoughts. You have to fight thoughts with words.” When Satan is whispering lies into our heads we need to fight back with words, and words of scripture are particularly effective. Instead of listening to the lie and agreeing with it in your heart, speak the truth of scripture. Focus your heart and mind on what God says and you’ll see the lie for the garbage that it is.

For each of us there is one lie in particular that Satan always hits us with when we’re down. It’s important to identify that lie so you can guard against it. What is the lie that Satan tells you? You’ll probably find that it’s related to your deepest insecurity or your darkest secret. Satan doesn’t mess around; he goes for the jugular.

Think about it over the next few days. What is the worst lie Satan tells you and which Scripture can you speak against it? Write that verse out and keep it close by so you’ll have it when you need it. That way you’ll be ready to fight back the next time Satan comes whispering.

Satan doesn’t have ANY power, not even a little bit. Isn’t that wonderful news? Lies are all he has. But when we speak the truth in the face of those false whispers, not even his lies can hurt us.

Father, Teach me to guard my heart. Help me to learn the difference between your quiet voice of conviction and Satan’s lies that tell me I am unlovable, or a failure, or not enough. Give me the courage to speak Your truth in the face of these baseless lies. Remind me that my worth, my value, my redemption and my eternity are in Your hands and Satan cannot touch that, not with all the lies in the world. I am so glad that all authority, all power was given to You. Help me to remember that he doesn’t have any. Not even a little bit. Amen

Questions: What is the lie that Satan tells you? What are the lies that you have believed in the past? Which verses combat those lies?

Website: Two Thoughts For Today