“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). John 20:15-16 NLT
This third Mary, who we meet on our journey to Easter, is Mary Magdalene. Of her background we know only that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (Lk 8:2). Speculation beyond that runs rampant among the Hollywood crowd, but what the Bible does make clear is that this woman, followed Jesus. She along with a few other women ministered to the daily needs of Jesus and His disciples. Mary Magdalene also stood by His mother Mary at the cross. Like us, she was helpless get the religious authorities to accept Jesus or to alleviate His suffering on the cross, but on Easter morning, she along with other women came with spices to prepare the body according to their traditions. This was not only a demonstration of love and respect for the dead, but also a part of the grieving process. But it was not to be. The tomb lay open and empty! As they saw it, someone must have come as a final act of disrespect to hide the body. Little did they yet know the full and amazing truth of Easter. Yes, angels had met them, and told them that He was risen. Peter and John had even come and gone. But after they have all gone home, Mary stands alone and weeping outside the door of the grave. She does not understand what this all means. Are you there this morning? Have you read the story of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but have a hard time connecting to how that touches your life? Just like Mary, many of us have come looking for Jesus, but our hope comes not from gaining more information about His whereabouts. Hope and joy come from discovering that Jesus has come looking for us! He is looking for those who are looking for Him. The joy of Easter comes not from an explanation of the fact. Joy and faith come from the sound of His voice calling our name!
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15: 11 ESV
Many of the Amish who were praying this were on their way to farm work, cooking or carpentry asking for godly joyfulness in the middle of their everyday lives. For us, giving mercy might be just helping a neighbor mow his lawn, planting an extra row of tomatoes in our garden to give away or making up a plate of food for a friend. Jesus didn’t say we had to do miracles, in order to love others. In fact, just before He gives this command, had been washing their feet. The key to being joyful begins not by amazing them with miracles, but by serving them, just as Jesus did. So, as you begin your day, ask God to make you His tool of mercy by joyfully practicing the calling that He has given you. You will discover that there is no better way to love others than the smallest act of service done with the joy of Jesus Christ!
"Make us tools for your mercy and let us joyfully go forth and practice our calling. Amen
Considering that many of the Amish who were praying this were on their way to farm work, cooking or carpentry we get the picture of experiencing godly joyfulness in the middle of our most everyday things of life. They ask to be God’s tool of mercy as they begin to simply do ordinary acts of service. For us to give mercy might be no more complicated than helping a neighbor mow his lawn, planting an extra row of tomatoes in our garden to give away or making up a plate of food for a friend. Jesus didn’t mean we had to do miracles, in order to love others. After all, just before Jesus gives this command, He showed them His love, not by some amazing miracle but by washing their feet. The key to our being joyful begins as we love others, not by amazing them with miracles, but by serving them, just as Jesus did. So, as you begin your day, ask God to make you His tool of mercy by joyfully practicing the calling that He has given you. You will discover that there is no better way to love others than the smallest act of service done with the joy of Jesus Christ!
Milk Eggs and Worry in the New Year by Peter Caligiuri
That is why I say to you, don’t worry about living—wondering what you are going to eat or drink, or what you are going to wear. Surely life is more important than food, and the body more important than the clothes you wear. Look at the birds in the sky. They never sow nor reap nor store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:25- 26 Phillips
I must confess that we New Englanders brag a lot about how tough we are when it comes to winter. We laugh uproariously at stories of school districts in the South shutting down because of a couple of inches of snow. But no matter how many New England snowstorms we have lived through, often our conversation at home when it starts falling, begins with the words, “Honey, can you run to the store to pick up milk and eggs?” Somehow, despite knowing that hens will keep on laying and cows will continue to give milk, we go into panic mode. No matter how tough we seem to others, Jesus knows us all the way to the core of our fearful hearts. He sees that no matter how many times He has provided daily bread and protected us through long cold nights that at the first sign of a storm we act as if God won’t take care of us this time. But if as Jesus tells us we watch the birds, we’ll see that none of them stay up late at night looking for bird seed, bugs, or worms. They simply fold their wings, tuck their heads then and drift off to sleep. It seems lately as if we are facing a record number of storms including presidential politics, hurricanes and a pandemic that just doesn’t want to quit. But what will count in the year ahead is not what problems we are face, but who we face them with. Our same God who is an expert on feeding the birds loves us more and knows exactly how to care for His children.
Let’s be honest, some of us will be snoring when the ball drops in Times Square this New Year’s Eve. After all, despite all the hoopla, nothing really changes, and January first is just another day. I had huge expectations when I was a young boy. I remember getting dressed up for the big New Year’s celebration at my aunt’s house. As I got ready, I was nervously anticipating what would happen at the stroke of twelve. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I felt that it would be life changing. When the moment arrived, there were shouts of “Happy New Year” with hugs and kisses all around. Aside from all the fresh-baked treats, the noisemakers were my favorite part. It was my once-a-year opportunity to make a terrible racket without getting into trouble. When the confetti settled, it was quite a letdown when I realized that nothing significant had actually happened. Suddenly it all felt so hollow and after that year, I never got very excited about New Year’s Eve. Then fifteen years later, as a new believer, I experienced a very different way to welcome the New Year. I probably ate a bit too much at my church’s potluck dinner that night, but I can’t say that I regret it. As we cleared the tables, midnight was quickly approaching. We each found a place in the sanctuary to kneel and pray. We hardly noticed as midnight came and went without fanfare, but in God’s presence, I was not left feeling hollow. That year, I knew in my heart that something significant had happened and that when we prayed, God listened, and was ready to work in marvelous ways. So my prayer for you is that you give your New Year to God, and then watch Him get involved and give you a Blessed New Year!
The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. James 5:16 AMP
A Little Sunshine News
The beginning of a New Year is the best time to look back and be thankful for the year we have passed through. Sunshine News has grown over this past year by the addition of Pastor Janice Burnett and Rob Keller as regular contributors. Our little publication which began as a single page devotional given out to a single facility has grown to be available in 8-9 Senior Communities in Florida and Western New York. If you would like to write for Sunshine Newsletter, we would love to hear from you in 2022! We are looking for devotionals, news, humor, poetry or inspirational quotes. Most of all please pray for our team’s outreach to facilities that have been sometimes locked down, often stressed out and daily struggling through two years of Covid-19. We begin believing that God is so amazingly good that He sent Jesus for everyone who is willing to receive Him as Lord and Savior. He remembers those who are forgotten and specializes in restoring the weakest of hearts. Thank you and God bless you in the New Year ahead!
God specializes in giving people a fresh start! Rick Warren
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