27 April 2017

25 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 20

Jesus died on Friday. On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and other women went to Jesus’ tomb to finish preparing His body for burial. They likely didn’t know that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had prepared Jesus’ body so well.

When she arrived, Mary saw that the stone was moved from the tomb and Jesus’ body was gone. Her first thought was that Jesus’ body was stolen. She ran and told the disciples.

If someone had stolen Jesus’ body, they would not have unwrapped His body and left the grave clothes behind in the tomb, lain as if a body had been there.

When the disciples heard Mary’s report, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John reached the tomb first and looked inside. Peter ran inside the tomb. John was reserved, and Peter was reactive. Both were reflective; they examined the empty tomb and its contents. John looked and believed. John and Peter left the tomb. Then Mary returned.

Mary was crying and looked in the tomb. She saw two angels, one where Jesus’ head was lying and one where Jesus’ feet were lying. The angels asked why she was crying. She said it was because someone took Jesus away. Then she turned and looked at another man. It was Jesus, though she didn’t recognize Him. He also asked her why she was crying. Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. She asked Him where Jesus’ body was. Jesus spoke her name, and she immediately recognized Him. Jesus’ voice broke through Mary’s tears and sorrow.

Jesus told her not to cling to Him because He had a limited amount of time on earth. He told her to go to the disciples and tell them that He was on earth for only a little while longer. He still needed to prepare them for the work He had called them to do. Mary obeyed.

On Sunday evening, the disciples (minus Thomas) were gathered together in a locked room. Suddenly Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed.

Jesus told the disciples He was sending them out for a purpose. We will discuss their commission next week.

Finally, He breathed on them the power of the Holy Spirit. They wouldn’t receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost (40 days later). But they needed the power and protection of the Holy Spirit now. Jesus gave them the authority to speak the truth of the Good News. He gave them the authority to tell repentant sinners that their sins are forgiven.

Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Later they told him what happened. Thomas said he needed to see Jesus’ nail marks and pierced side before he could believe that Jesus had resurrected.

One week later, the disciples were gathered together again in a locked room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus suddenly appeared among them. He told Thomas to put his finger in His nail-scarred hands and to put his hand in His pierced side. He commanded Thomas to stop doubting and believe. Through His omnipotence, Jesus used the same words Thomas used to encourage his belief!

Thomas believed and proclaimed Jesus as “my Lord and my God.” Jesus blessed Thomas for his belief upon seeing Jesus. Then He gave a blessing to those who believe without seeing. That is me! Is that you? Are you blessed because you haven’t seen Him but have believed in Him?

Things to Think About
  • The Lord provides evidence to cause us to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. The evidence for John was the unoccupied grave clothes. The evidence for Mary was hearing Jesus speak her name. Which evidence did God use to lead you to believe in Jesus’ resurrection?
  • Jesus sent Mary to tell the disciples about His resurrection. Jesus also calls each believer to tell others about His death and resurrection.
  • Jesus sent the disciples to tell others about the forgiveness of sins. Jesus also calls each believer to tell others about the forgiveness of sins available only through Him.

This Week’s Memory Verse
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 NIV

20 April 2017

18 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 19:31-42

Jesus died much sooner than typical crucifixion victims. That’s because He gave up His life Himself. The gospel writers carefully described Jesus’ physical death, which led to His physical resurrection. The writers confirmed that Jesus died, discrediting the rumor that He didn’t really die.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies left on the crosses overnight (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). They were zealous to keep the Sabbath but were willing to kill an innocent man. They were zealous to keep the minutia of the law while at the same time killing the Man who both authored and fulfilled the Law. They were scrupulously concerned that the land not be defiled but were unconcerned about their own defilement for murdering the Son of God.

The Jewish leaders asked that the legs of those being crucified be broken so they would die quickly. By breaking the legs, the crucified person could not push himself up to breathe. The soldiers broke the legs of the men crucified next to Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw He was already dead.

Instead of breaking Jesus’ legs, one soldier pierced Jesus’ side to be sure He was dead. Blood and water flowed out of Jesus’ body. The water was from the pericardium surrounding the heart, and the blood was from the heart itself. Jesus really died.

Scriptures were fulfilled when Jesus’ bones were unbroken (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalm 34:12) and when Jesus’ side was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). The soldiers didn’t do what they were supposed to do (break His legs) and did do what they weren’t supposed to do (pierce His side). Both actions fulfilled God’s Word.

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave Jesus’ body to Joseph. Nicodemus assisted Joseph. He brought 75 pounds of spices to prepare Jesus’ body. This amount was appropriate for a king. Nicodemus honored Jesus as the King of kings.

Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices and linen. When they touched Jesus’ dead body, they defiled themselves according to Jewish law. They could not participate in the earthly Passover, but they had found the true Passover Lamb.

In the place where Jesus was crucified was a garden with a tomb that had never been used. Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus there.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus’ death was not an accident; it was a divine appointment. He willingly gave His life for us. Death didn’t surprise Him because He controlled it (John 10:17-18).
  • The Cross proves God’s power to accomplish His plan for His people.
  • Through Jesus’ death, we become reconciled to God. Apart from Christ, we face nothing but condemnation (Colossians 1:19-20).
  • How have you acknowledged that Jesus died on your behalf and took your punishment for your sins?
  • How does your life reflect your belief that Jesus completed your salvation on the Cross?
  • Believers participate in Jesus’ burial by choosing to bury their old ways of life. Our old ways of life are sin.
  • Do you believe Jesus died a substitutionary death for you?

This Week’s Memory Verse
These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” John 19:36-37 NIV

13 April 2017

12 April 2017

Avery’s friend birthday party

Two years ago, Avery hosted her first friend birthday party. She had a great time, so this crazy mama offered to have another friend party this year.

I gave her several theme options, and she chose Pancakes and Pajamas. She loved the idea of eating breakfast foods in the middle of the day while wearing pajamas!

Avery invited four girls from church and three girls from school. She has chosen some wonderful friends! We love all of them!

We started off the party with making edible necklaces out of Fruit Loops. That was a bit of a bust because I used yarn instead of a sturdier material. The Fruit Loops didn’t thread onto the yarn very well. Lesson learned.

Then we enjoyed the breakfast buffet. I went all out with a pancakes/waffle station complete with three fruits, whipped cream, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and syrup. We also had fruit and yogurt parfaits, cereal, and bacon along with milk and orange juice. I was shocked that the girls didn’t eat very much. They preferred to eat the pancake toppings without the pancakes! So we still have a freezer full of pancakes.

After brunch, we played a fun candy game and then Truth or Dare. That one was quite entertaining!

Then Avery opened her presents.

Besides wearing their pajamas, Avery asked the girls to bring their favorite stuffed friends. They loved taking pictures together! The ring pops that look like pacifiers are thanks to a last-minute purchase by Daddy.

If someone can explain to me the fascination with dabbing, I’d really appreciate it.

Finally, the girls spent a lot of time playing in Avery’s room. This wasn’t so much a party as it was a huge playdate! And that was fine with me because Avery and all of her guests were happy at the end of the day.

I couldn’t have done this party without Aunt Karen’s assistance and Daddy’s work on the pancakes, waffles, and bacon!

11 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 19:18-30

Last week we saw that Jesus was beaten, flogged, and sentenced to die by crucifixion. He was forced to carry the crossbar of His cross on the mile-long walk to Golgotha (or Calvary). This place was outside the city of Jerusalem. It was a public place on a main road full of people coming to Jerusalem for Passover.

Traditionally a sign was posted on the cross, indicating the criminal’s charge. Pilate ordered Jesus’ sign to read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The sign was written in Aramaic (the language of religion, the language of the Jews), Latin (the language of law, the language of the Romans), and Greek (the language of philosophy, the language of the foreigners in Jerusalem). These languages allowed all people to read the sign declaring Jesus as the King and Savior of the entire world.

An unseen sign also was posted on the cross; a list of your sins – past, present, and future.

The soldiers who crucified Jesus took His clothes. They divided them into four pieces (outer garment, sandals, turban, girdle). The undergarment remained in one piece; the soldiers cast lots for the undergarment. Jesus willingly was disrobed so we could be clothed in His righteousness. God looks at believers and sees Jesus’ purity and righteousness instead of our sins.

The people passing by mocked Jesus and hurled insults at Him. In the midst of this chaos, Jesus was focused on His followers. Jesus instructed the apostle John to care for His mother, Mary. John obeyed and took care of Mary after Jesus’ death. Five people were at the cross, identifying themselves as Jesus’ followers – Mary, Jesus’ mother; Mary, the wife of Clopas; Mary Magdalene; the disciple John; John’s mother, Salome, who also was John’s mother.

Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” The soldiers offered Him wine vinegar on a hyssop stalk. The wine vinegar was a cheap wine that the soldiers drank. Hyssop symbolizes cleansing (Exodus 12, Psalm 51).

After Jesus took the drink, He triumphantly says, “It is finished.” Then He willingly gave up His spirit. “It is finished” is translated “paid in full.” Jesus’ death paid for all of your sins. He accomplished the work God gave Him to do.

Jesus’ death was not an accident. Jesus was committed to completing the work God gave Him to do. He accomplished everything God set out for Him to do.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus is King.
  • Is Jesus your King? Do you live like He is your King?
  • Throughout the pain, humiliation, and ridicule of His crucifixion, Jesus loved and cared for the people dearest to Him.
  • Do you love others as Jesus loves them?
  • Jesus sees, knows, and cares for those He loves.
  • Jesus was aware of everything that happened during His crucifixion. Nothing took Him by surprise.
  • Jesus completed the work of redemption.
  • Have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb?

This Week’s Memory Verse
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV

06 April 2017

05 April 2017

2017 brackets: Championship update and trophy presentation

Another bracket challenge is in the books.

Grandma was so excited that she won. I reluctantly relinquished the trophy to her yesterday. Avery simply acted like a goofball during the trophy presentation.

Avery is improving every year. We're not surprised that Damon is dead last this year. Though I'm sure Daddy will do such a good job passing along his basketball knowledge to Damon that he will win the trophy soon enough!

Here are the final rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

0-1 in Championship Game
43-20 overall
700 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
44-19 overall
660 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
38-25 overall
640 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
38-25 overall
600 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
38-25 overall
560 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
35-28 overall
540 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
33-30 overall
510 total points

0-1 in Championship Game
17-46 overall
200 total points

Until next year!

04 April 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 18:28-19:17

Welcome back from spring break! Before our short break, we saw Jesus in several illegal Jewish trials. The Jewish leaders were made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. They were staunch enemies, but they united to condemn Christ to death.

They had the authority in their own law to stone Jesus to death. But they wanted to crucify Him and could not carry out capital punishment because they were under Roman rule. The Roman governor had to approve the request to crucify Jesus.

The Jewish leaders took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. The Jewish leaders were scheming and manipulating Pilate to get their way. Pilate asked the Jewish leaders for their charge against Jesus. Pilate told them to judge Jesus by their own laws. The Jewish leaders said they wanted to crucify Jesus and had no right to do so.

What was Jesus’ crime? Luke 23 tells us the three charges against Jesus – He led the nation of Israel astray, He was opposed to paying tribute to Caesar, He claimed to be the Jewish Messiah and King. The first two charges were lies; the third charge was true.

Pilate summoned Jesus and questioned Him. Jesus continued to reveal the truth about Himself to Pilate. Jesus told Pilate that He was a King and was born to testify about God. Jesus gave Pilate many opportunities to see and accept the truth about God. But Pilate rejected Him.

Pilate found no reason to sentence Jesus to death. Pilate offered to release Jesus. The crowd called for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. Barabbas was a thief and a murderer who led an uprising against Roman rule.

Pilate had Jesus flogged. What is flogging? A leather whip with knots and shards of glass or metal was used to hit the back of the criminal. Soldiers created a crown of thorns and put it on Jesus’ head. Soldiers mocked Jesus by putting a royal purple robe on Jesus and saying, “Hail, king of the Jews.”

Then Pilate brought Jesus before the crowd and announced that he could find no charge against Jesus. The crowd called for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Eventually Pilate handed Jesus over to the crowd to be crucified.

All of this happened to fulfill Scripture. More on that next week!

Things to Think About
  • Jesus withstood six illegal, unfair trials – three Jewish trials and three Roman trials.
  • The only way to overcome sin’s effects is to accept Jesus as your Savior, the One who died and took the punishment for your sins.

This Week’s Memory Verse
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37 NIV

02 April 2017

2017 brackets: Final Four update

A Final Four update really isn't necessary since Grandma has wrapped up the trophy and everyone went 0-2 in this round. But to stick with tradition, here's our update anyway!

Here are the latest rankings (in order of ESPN points standing):

0-2 in Final Four
43-19 overall

0-2 in Final Four
44-18 overall

0-2 in Final Four
38-24 overall

0-2 in Final Four
38-24 overall

0-2 in Final Four
38-24 overall

0-2 in Final Four
35-27 overall

0-2 in Final Four
33-29 overall

0-2 in Final Four
17-45 overall