From mourning to joy
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
JOHN 20:17-18, NIV
Have you experienced a moment when your sadness or grief turned into joy?
After Maundy Thursday, the disciples' lives will be filled with sadness and grief as Jesus is crucified on Good Friday. Nevertheless, John 20:17-18 is part of the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Mary Magdalene had been mourning the death of Jesus, but suddenly she was filled with joy when she saw Him alive. This is a powerful reminder that joy awaits us on the other side, even when we may be in the depths of sorrow.
As we read the story of Mary Magdalene, we see that she was devoted to Jesus and loved Him deeply. When she went to the tomb on that first Easter morning, she was filled with grief and despair at the thought of His death. Her sorrow became devastating when she arrived at the tomb, discovered the empty tomb, and thought someone had taken Jesus' body.
But when she encountered the risen Christ, everything changed. Jesus told her to go and share the news of His resurrection with the disciples, and Mary joyfully obeyed. In an instant, her mourning turned to joy, and she became a witness to the good news of the gospel.
This is a powerful testimony that even in our darkest moments, God is present and working for our good. Just as Mary Magdalene's mourning turned into joy, God can transform our pain into purpose and our sorrow into joy.
Imagine a seed that has been planted in the ground. It may seem like nothing is happening for a time, and the soil remains dark and barren. But underneath the surface, the seed grows, and something new takes shape. In the same way, when we are in sadness or mourning, it may seem as though nothing is changing. But God is at work, and just like a seed growing into a beautiful plant, our sorrow can turn into joy.
Recently, I lost my brother, Chris, to illness. I was devastated and couldn't imagine life without him. However, as I leaned on God's strength to get through each day, I saw glimpses of joy and the hope it brings. In moments of prayer and reflection, I remembered the promise of eternal life and our hope in Christ. Slowly but surely, my mourning turned into joy as I experienced God's peace and comfort. I also shared my testimony of God's goodness with others, bringing them hope.
Remember that joy is possible when experiencing sadness or grief. God is with you and is at work, even if you can't see it yet. Lean into your faith and trust that God will bring you safely through to the other side. And if you're already experiencing joy, share it with others as Mary Magdalene did. Be a witness to the power of God to transform our pain into purpose and our sorrow into joy.
Prayer: Dear God, I thank you for the gift of joy and the hope it brings. Help me to always remember that even in my darkest moments, you are present and working for good. Help me to trust in your plan and to have faith that you will bring me safely through to the other side. Fill me with your love and peace, and help me witness the power of your transformation in my life. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s Challenge: Reflect on a moment when your sadness or grief turned into joy. Think about how God was present in your life during that difficult time and how God worked to transform your pain into purpose and your sorrow into joy. Share your story of joy and hope with someone who might be going through a similar experience. By sharing your testimony, you can help others see the joy and hope it brings on the other side of their pain. Remember, just like Mary Magdalene, we can be witnesses to God's transformative power in our lives.
Danny C. Murphy
Thank you for your prayers and support during this difficult time of bereavement. Knowing I have people who care for and support me means a lot.
Losing my mother, father, and now my first sibling, Chris, in such a short time frame has been one of the most challenging realities I have ever gone through. My brother, Chris, was a fantastic person of faith who brought much joy and laughter into the lives of everyone he met. He will be deeply missed.
Your kind words, thoughts, gifts, cards, and calls have comforted me in this time of grief. It is comforting to know that there are people who care and understand what I am going through.
I solicit your continued prayers as Judy and I make preparation to drive to Orlando, Florida for my brother's Celebration of Life Service on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
Thank you again for your condolences and your support. It means the world to me.
Danny C. Murphy
The devastation caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Turkey-Syria is heartbreaking, leaving millions with nothing but clothes on their backs. The scale of destruction is overwhelming, and the need is immense. Amidst such devastation, it isn't easy to find hope and optimism.
At times like these, we must unite in solidarity and stand for fellow members of the human family in Turkey-Syria. I am encouraging you to support the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program, which is already actively providing the region with emergency aid and short-term recovery. All donations to DR999999-ST Earthquake will benefit the citizens of Turkey-Syria.
Through our generous donations as members of Trinity Presbytery, we can provide earthquake victims with the support they need to rebuild their homes and restore their shattered lives. Your contributions can mean life-saving assistance for those affected.
The magnitude of destruction created by this earthquake is truly mind-boggling, resulting in more than 41,000 deaths as of February 15, 2023, and many more struggling to start anew. It is in our power to help them to do so. I urge you to donate with a generous heart and help give the people of Turkey-Syria the resources they need to restore hope and recover their shattered lives.
Pray to God about what you should give and then donate to DR999999-ST Earthquake.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and compassion.
Danny C. Murphy
Valentine's Day is Tuesday, February 14, 2023. This is a special day for expressing and celebrating love. It is a day to remind us of the importance of love in our lives and show our loved ones how much we care. But when it comes to love, nothing comes close to the perfection and beauty of Christian love.
Christian love takes its cues from Jesus Christ, who exemplified and taught a type of love that surpassed mere sentimentalism. His love was full of grace and mercy and extended to all of humankind, not just those closest to Him.
One of the best examples of Christian love is the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In this parable, Jesus taught us that true love was an unconditional, sacrificial kind of love that would go out of its way to help and bless those in need, regardless of their social standing.
Valentine’s Day can also be a day to celebrate Christian love. On Valentine's Day, we have the chance to spread love and Christian kindness far and wide. To show compassion to those we love and to offer mercy to those who need it most is a beautiful way to honor the special holiday. Our relationships with God are also strengthened as we honor God through acts of thoughtfulness and devotion. Let us use this day to celebrate by offering kindness to all, being generous to the needy, bestowing mercy upon the undeserving, and remembering a love that goes beyond earthly bonds, the unconditional love God offers us every day.
Danny C. Murphy
The New Year is a time of hope and anticipation, where we set resolutions and goals. But so often, we don't take the time to pause and reflect on what's important. With all the hustle and bustle of modern life, we can easily forget to turn our minds and hearts to God. A meaningful way to start the year can be to focus on Philippians 3:12-14, a powerful scripture passage that encourages us to become more like Christ.
The apostle Paul exhorts the Philippians by reminding them that the path to true freedom lies in forgetting the things behind us, pressing forward, and striving to grow in our relationship with Christ. "Not that I have already obtained all this," Paul writes, "or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
What an incredible reminder that our goal in life is to press on, strive forward, and become more like Christ each day! This can be a challenging resolution, but with God's strength, we can make it our focus in the new year and all the years to come. Every day, we can turn to God in prayer and thank God for God's grace, strength, and loving-kindness.
Let's make 2023 a year of growth and focus on our relationship with Christ!
Danny C. Murphy
We look forward to seeing you and a team from your church on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at 10 AM, as we endeavor to minimize the negative impact of disasters through preparation.
Against the odds
"And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king
granted my requests." - Nehemiah 2:8 NIV
Have you ever felt impregnated with a dream but noticed that the odds were stacked against you ever giving birth to your dream?
When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed by fire, he felt a strong desire to help. Nehemiah knew the broken walls meant that the people of Israel were unprotected and in great trouble. His love for God and compassion for God's people fueled Nehemiah's dream to rebuild the wall. But, the odds were stacked against him.
Nehemiah was a lowly cupbearer living a thousand miles from Jerusalem. He had no influence, resources, or funding to start the project. However, Nehemiah pursued his dream anyway. Nehemiah petitioned the king and asked for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. He also asked for protection during his travels, and for all of the supplies and money, he would need for the project. The king granted Nehemiah's request.
Has God given you a dream that seems impossible? Do you feel called to help others in a big way, but you don't know how you'll do it? Instead of letting your circumstances or lack of resources keep you stuck, do as Nehemiah did and declare, "The gracious hand of God is on my life." Trust that God's favor will help you defy even the most impossible odds.
How Do You See God?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8
At a recent eye exam, John learned his vision had worsened and he needed a new pair of prescription glasses. His optometrist’s office called a week later to tell him that the glasses were ready.
When John first tried on the glasses, the world around him looked blurry. But he figured since he hadn’t updated his prescription in a few years that he simply needed to get use to the new lenses.
But the blurriness didn’t go away. Now, John felt dizzy and bumped into things. He even had trouble parking his car one night and hit a mailbox, leaving a long scratch on his car door. That’s when his wife urged him to make another appointment with his optometrist.
At the second appointment, John’s doctor checked the prescription. He quickly realized that someone on staff had accidentally switched John’s lenses with another patient’s glasses. This was the cause of John’s accident and his visual problems.
It wasn’t that the world around John had changed. Rather, the problem was John couldn’t see clearly.
This can happen to us, too. An illness, job loss, or tragedy can make you think that God has changed or moved, which can alter the way you see God. But, remember, while your circumstances might shift, God never changes and never abandons God's children.
Danny C. Murphy
Have you wanted to support emergency relief for those fleeing violence in Ukraine? If so, here's how.
You can support emergency relief for those fleeing violence in Ukraine by contributing to the Disaster Relief - International Refugee Programs (DR000156) of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war that began in 2014. It is the largest conventional military attack on Europe since World War II.
After Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity in February 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and Russian-backed separatists seized parts of south-eastern Ukraine and started the war in Donbas. In 2021, Russia began a major military buildup along its border with Ukraine, sparking an international crisis. During this period, Russian President Vladimir Putin espoused Russian irredentist views, questioned Ukraine's right to statehood, accused NATO of threatening Russia's security, and demanded that Ukraine be banned from joining the alliance. Putin also groundlessly accused Ukraine of committing genocide against its Russian speakers.
The United States and others accused Russia of planning an attack or invasion of Ukraine, which Russian officials repeatedly denied as late as February 23, 2022, one day before Putin announced a "special military operation" to “demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine. Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit parts of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, followed shortly thereafter by a large-scale ground invasion from multiple directions.
This has created a massive evacuation and a humanitarian crisis for the people of Ukraine. However, you can support emergency relief for those fleeing violence in Ukraine by contributing to the Disaster Relief - International Refugee Programs (DR000156) of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Danny C. Murphy
Be careful what you believe because that is what you will experience. Your belief system is a mechanism which is uniquely yours. It is powered by your desire and controlled by your thoughts and actions. In other words, your success is measured by the strength of your belief.
What is it that you desire?
Often people do not have a clue what it is they want; they just know what they do not want.
Now is a good time to evaluate your goals and determine the end result you want to achieve. Put your goals in writing and place them where you can see them throughout the day. Read them frequently to keep them fresh on your mind. As you do so, consider the following characteristics with respect to your goals.
1. Be inquisitive. Research and learn as much as you can on how you can achieve your goal. Use all possible resources such as books, audiobooks, podcasts, courses and people. Yes, people. Talk to as many people as possible who are already successful in what you want to achieve. Ask, ask and ask some more about what they did to reach success. Do not limit your contacts to only the people you already know. Introduce yourself by phone, mail, email, or Zoom. Explain your purpose for contacting them and ask for a tip. The worst thing that can happen is that they ignore you. The best thing that can happen is that they become your mentor and offer support and encouragement. Chances are you will receive at least one great tip from many of the people you contact. This method is the least expensive and most rewarding.
2. Be unique. Next, take the ideas you learn, embellish them and come up with your own creative process. Think of how you can approach your goal in a way that no one else has. Dare to be different. Don't be afraid to take risks. Use your imagination. What do you have to lose? Write out a list showing the worst things that could happen and then list all of the best possible outcomes. Always maintain your concentration on your desired result.
3. Be willing to fail and keep on trying until you succeed. When you were a child and saw your older siblings or friends riding a bike (without training wheels), you didn’t look at their scraped knees and elbows and say, “Whoa, I could get hurt doing that.” Instead, you begged to try it for yourself. With a great deal of practice and often pain, you gradually learned how to maintain your balance. When you fell, you would get back on and try again with even greater determination. From your very first effort, you believed in your mind that if you got back on, you would eventually learn to ride. I bet you even knew in your mind you would be the best in the neighborhood, in your school, in the state, in the world!
4. Be positive. If you see obstacles before you, then you will also only see problems. If you have hesitations that your plan will not work, then it will not work. As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right." If you are influenced by the power of negative people, then you will never be any better than they are. Believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving with God's help. When your desire to succeed is stronger than the pain, fear or frustration of failing, there is no turning back. I challenge you to view your goals just like you did when you were a child before you learned about self-doubt and negative criticism.
Since today is the first day of Black History Month, it is important to note that people of African descent in this country survived the horrors of the peculiar institution of slavery because they had a strong belief in freedom and equality.
Remember, Jesus said, “All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23, ESV). Therefore, make a commitment that you will not let anything or anyone, including yourself stand in your way of reaching your goals.
Danny C. Murphy
Rev. Dr. Danny Murphy, SR.
The ultimate aim of Trinity Presbytery is to equip and empower our member congregations to become communities of faith, hope, love, witness and service, so that those who do not know Jesus might come to know, love and serve him and so that those who do know Jesus might come to love him more intimately and serve him more faithfully.