This blog was first posted on December 1, 2017. Over the next 6 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post. I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
The Star-Spangled Banner
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
This month I remembered 9/11 and as I remembered such a difficult time in our nation’s history, I started thinking about the national anthem. As the national anthem of the United States is making headlines over and over but not in the way, Francis Scott Key ever intended when he penned the words so many years ago on Sept. 13, 1814. As he witnessed the attack at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and then raising of the US flag to show their victory over British forces in the War of 1812. He penned these words after a night full of fighting and years later our country took these words as our national anthem. These words for me represent pride for my country and respect for the men and women who have fought and died to protect my rights and freedoms. As I ponder the Star-Spangled Banner and its words, I see a connection to Christ.
Connection to Christ
Christ who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed himself for me, so that I might live eternally with my Father in heaven. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18. This sacrifice reminds me to not just be proud to be a American but proud to be a Christian. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12. As a proud Christian, I must show myself as a humble servant not one who stand and looks down on others. I must live by example so that other may find Christ and have the same sense of pride in their relationship with him. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21.
So just as I show by living for Christ, I must stand as an American that others can see my pride in this country. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:32. It is sad to see so many in this country state so firmly their disgust for a country that was founded to protect their rights. Sometimes I even wonder where I am living and long for my eternal home. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:16. As long as I am here, I will choose love not hate. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.
Closing Verse: “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14.
Challenge: Stand up for Christ in your life! Live as an example for others of his sacrifice.
A Favorite Rendition:
Did you know? The song has 4 verses.
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Recently, I started looking back at some of my post and find this random 4 part series on the heart back in 2013. I was not writing regularly back then so decided to repost this series over the next few weeks with some edits. (First posted on March 13, 2013)
Open My Eyes to My Heart
Sometimes I sit in awe of the Lord and how he leads us and draws us near to him. Recently I have been praying and asking God to help me let go of some things which were causing me to become a person I did not want to be. It is funny sometimes how something you have always known just really comes to light and you have to accept it for what it is. I guess the finality of acceptance is something we as humans try to avoid. I know that I have in many areas of my life. As God recently opened my eyes to this ugly person I did not want to be, he sent me searching through scripture and everywhere I turned he introduced me to my heart. Not this heart that I can be proud of but the real heart inside of me. I will get to that. I feel lead to share where God is leading me on this in-depth discovery of the heart. I long for the new heart the scriptures speak of but to have that heart I must understand the heart as a whole.
Good vs Evil
The heart can be root of both Good and Evil, but more often the heart will lead us down the easiest road and usually that is not where we truly want to go. As I read various scriptures, I decided to turn to Strong’s Commentary for some guidance and here I found a plethora of verses that speak of what is seeded in the heart. I was lead to all this because I was not right and I quietly and silently began really listening to God. He began to show me so many things about myself as I read the scripture. Everything kept leading toward the heart and that caught my attention. Specifically I began a 6 day devotional study on Love & Marriage I found and guess what Day 1 was on – you guess it – the Heart. This first devotion is the initial cause of my digging. I felt God calling me to the scriptures for more. One of the verses shared in the study on day 1 was Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” I felt completely and utterly a failure because following my heart without God would always lead to wickedness because the heart is wicked. Who can know our heart? The simple answer is only God and he knows all our wickedness. So begins this journey to know my heart.
I have been visiting verses lately that speak of what is rooted in the heart. These verses can sometimes seem good but if you really look at what can come from the heart you see the wickedness. The first verse from Jesus in Matthew 5: 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So our sin before it is revealed has already been committed in our heart. But what of lust as I noticed a verse was listed that spoke specifically to this word found in Romans 1:24 “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.” So God pulled away and their hearts took over which lead back to Matthew 5:28. What of our desires? Romans 10:1 says “…my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” At first read, this sounds good but looking deeper I see that we have to have control of what our heart desires. Left alone we become the heart in Matthew 5 and Romans 1. As I sit speechless and pray that the Lord will help me find my new heart with him. I am almost afraid to continue on but the draw is powerful to read more. What more words did Jesus have to say about the heart?
Mark 11:23 reads in the words of Jesus, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” This verse sounds so awesome, but to have this faith. It is so easy to say yes Lord I have this much faith when really my heart doubts. Jesus says in John 14:1 ” Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” I must not let trouble and doubt fill my heart just the Lord so my faith can overcome the wickedness my heart desires. These words are similar to those from Isaiah 35: 4 “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with a vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” With such words from our Lord why do I let me heart be my guide?
Time to meditate on these words from scripture. Putting this puzzle together is encouraging but also brings me to my knees in need of prayer. Before seeking more it is time for prayer. Time to start seeking my new heart.
Closing Verse: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Challenge: My prayer is that God will be my guide and work in my heart. May he also be yours.
What Is My Security Blanket?
Harley and I flew again this week and as I did my usual preparations for the flight, I watched Harley crawl into the safety of her crate with her blanket. “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4. Something about watching her at the airport and on the plane in the safety of her “special place” sent me to thinking about my own security blankets. Security blankets can be a great thing to have, but sometimes I feel I can’t let go of my blankets. I am going to bet we all have some. You know those things or “that thing” you just can’t let go of in life. You think it is your safety net and what you need to keep your life complete. But then you sit around and dream all those big dreams, so at moments like this I ask myself why am I not living some of those dreams. Why don’t I trust that if God is putting the dream in my heart that maybe he just might open the doors and pave the path for those dreams. Why am I holding on so tight to my security blankets? Obviously, I am longing to feel secure but finding that security in the wrong places, when the only place I need to look is in His Word and to His Son. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.
What Should Be My Security Blanket?
I know that my humanness has me holding on so tight to what I know, to what is easy, yet my heart is willing to dream and walk with God. “My humanness” makes things messy while God makes them simple. The only real security blanket I need has already been provided to me. ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God gave me His Son. He sacrificed him to protect me from myself. He promises he has me secure, so that I can let go of my security blankets and dream, and live, and service him even more. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.
Closing Verse: “But made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7.
Challenge: Let go of your security blankets and serve the Lord.
Searching the Ripples…
As I walk along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas among people hurrying through life, I find flickers of peace as I watch the water move through the city. As the light flickers off the ripples, I find some inner peace among all this busyness of life. I want to shout to those who are missing the peace from the water because of this fast pace of life they are distracted by as they move through life. How many are just missing the calm waters each day of their lives?
Proverbs 18:4, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”
Christ’s Living Water
Recently, my husband shared an article from earthables, Science Reveals How a Visit to the Beach Actually Changes Your Brain, As I was reading this article, my mind began wondering what God’s purpose for water in our lives might have been. What symbol or meaning should water provide in our lives when we are surrounded by its peace? As I searched scripture, I was not surprised by the common thread of living water. Jesus is our living water and he provides peace, grace, and salvation in our lives. Each time I am near water, I am reminded of God’s love through his provision of living water for us by his son, Jesus Christ. Water is a symbol of peace in our lives just as Christ’s sacrifice provides for our eternal lives. The Samaritan woman at the well found peace in her life from the living water of Jesus in John 4: 13-15, ‘Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”’. Like the woman at the well, we must turn to Christ’s living water to find peace and quench our thirst. Summer is a great time to find some water, recharge and refocus on Christ in our lives and the full meaning of his sacrifice for our weary souls.
Yes, Summer is finally here, so why is it that I am missing the peacefulness of the water. I am longing for some relaxation by the ocean. I feel like I have not stopped to enjoy the summer days yet, and I need the peace that I find near the water. Walking along the Riverwalk in San Antonio reminded me of this deep need to reflect and reconnect with my inner being and my relationship with Christ. The verse in 1 John 5:8 is a great summer motto, “The Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” I need to reconnect all three again to find his peaceful agreement in my life.
Summer is my time to renew myself from the dry and coldness that Winter brought into my life. I was David in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water,” but I seek the water that Christ gave to the Samaritan woman at the well. I seek his water to replenish my relationship with him. Each time this summer that I find myself near the water by relaxing on the boat, walking along a river, or sticking my toes in the sand on the beach, I will remember the sacrifice that Christ made to provide that living water that nourishes my soul.
I ran into this quote just the other day, “Happiness is not something you get, but something you DO,” by Marlene Cox. As I thought about the quote, I noted how it connected to our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”. My husband has been quoting this for years in our home to both myself and our daughters. A simple reminder that we are in charge of own happiness. Sometimes choosing happiness means serving the Lord and doing his will. His will leads to my salvation. Isaiah 12:2 reads, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
For some reason this past school year has been a challenge, and I am not sure I can put my finger on the reason. Over the course of this year, I have learned to lean on the words of our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”. I have to keep reminding myself that I have to choose happiness in my life because it will not choose me. As this year has been a struggle, I have found myself turning more and more to the Lord. As I write these words, I realize maybe God is trying to get my attention. Maybe he is focusing me more on Him and His Word. I seem to be looking at life different from the past, and I don’t mean this as a “bad thing” just as a “different thing”. So in moving through such a different time in my life, what has God taught me?
I must find my happiness in the Lord. Psalm 100:2 reads, “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” The Lord has clearly shown me that I will never find happiness in my work and those around me. As scripture in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I know that as I dig deeper into his word that I will find a clearer path to walk. People will never put me and my work as high as the Lord will. Each day as I have struggled through a morning or a day, the Lord has reminded me that he determines my path and my worth. I just have to do his work each day and he will bless me. And I have been blessed to have the chance to see my life’s work and its impact and now to look forward at what my future may hold. I tried to follow the path the Lord has prepared for me. I pray I have, and do, and will continue to serve him and be an example of his loving grace. I am reminded of Acts 2:28 and for some reason it gives me peace, “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” One day I will stand in the presence of the Lord and my prayer is that I will hear him say the words of Matthew 25:21, ” His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’”.
I have to close with how God is really working in my heart this week. I have not been feeling well or sleeping well and that leads to being a negative person. I can remind myself that I have to choose happiness, but God decided to just slap me across the face. First on my drive to work the KLove morning team was discussing the difference in happiness and joy. Just thinking about the two made me realize “Happiness is a Choice = Joy”. Things may not always be going the way we want, but Joy is always in our hearts because we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. After arriving at work, my daily inspirational calendar read, “What are three things that are making you happy RIGHT NOW?” Here are my three at that time:
1. Loving God
2. Gracious Husband
3. Hot Black Coffee
I can’t lie that is what I wrote down. I am a blessed woman. I choose Happiness! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”Philippians 4:4
Closing Verse: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” Psalm 30:11
Challenge: When you are having one of those days that get you down = Choose Happiness. Better yet, write down your three things that are making you happy at that moment. God will show you his grace.
The past week in our house there has been a focus on the Dove House and their annual fundraiser. My husband and I became involved 3 years ago with the Dove House and each year we feel our hearts pulled more and more to become involved with this organization. This year I spent the week really looking over myself again and the decision I made or really didn’t make many years ago. Many people know that my husband was a victim of a sexual predator. When he was in the 4th grade, his teacher earned his trust and that of his parents and changed his life forever. He wasn’t his only victim there were many others, little did we know how many till it all came out. As he grappled with realizing the truth of what happened as he matured and believing that no one would believe him, as the teacher had earned so much trust from his parents and the community, he hid this secret away.
One day while we were dating and soon to be married a door opened where he had the opportunity and chose to give me some insight into this part of his past. Just a little piece of what had happened to him. I chose to listen, question little, and to also never bring it up again. Did I do the right thing? Even with this decision I know God answers prayers, because I have spent our entire marriage not just praying for our marriage, or just for him, but praying for God to heal him. Deep down I always knew that he was suffering and prayed for God to heal this pain. Over those 22 years of pain, I was blessed to watch a slow healing process that prepared him for the time when he would really heal and get the opportunity to tell his story, face his abuser, and feel the relief of a conviction. This alone does not end his healing or my prayers, but God has answered my prayers in helping him find healing. As always I pray knowing that God answers prayers his way as Isaiah 55:8 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” This verse brings me comfort that God was working in my decision.
Now as I look back, I have to ask myself did I do the right thing? Did I make the right choice? Should I have prodded for more back when he first confided in me? Although the answer is yes every time I ask myself, I am thankful that God is in control and in his timing was able to provide my husband with the healing even so many years later in his life. His blessings in our lives reminds me that I am not in control and that he is as Romans 8:28 states, ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and for this I am thankful. I believe that the Lord has been fighting for him all these years even while he was silent.
His silence struck me again this past week while listening to the radio when I heard the song “Still“. The singer, Hillary Scott, spoke about how she wrote this song about the verse Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” As I was driving to work, tears just welled up in my eyes, I immediately thought of how my husband had been silent, but then was reminded that the Lord had been fighting for him all these years. He had prepared him for this time. The Lord has been fighting for me as well in my silence. God is Good!
Although, God has blessed us through this healing process by putting great friends around us, new friends who have suffered and understand his pain, and the great people of the Dove House, my heart tells me that I should have done more. I feel it every time I have to tell his story and then my role and feel the guilt for not helping him sooner. I feel the guilt that I know my husband has carried all these years for not speaking up sooner to protect other future victims. I feel it when I think about the demons that have tormented him for so many years. I feel it when I look in his eyes and see a new man now that has been freed of this terrible secret. God gave him a voice at the time appointed, and he would want me to tell you that as he went through this process of court, jury selection, and sharing his story with strangers; he has been struck and moved by how many victims of child sexual abuse have been silently hurting. He shares his story now empowered by God to bring darkness to light and let others know they are not alone.
Our blessing now from God is that forgiveness is real. The promise of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” is God’s provision through the sacrifice of his Son that causes us to realize that we not only have to forgive easily each other but those who hurt us. It seems so hard, but it is so fulfilling to release the pain and hurt to God and let him be the final judge.
Moving forward we support the Dove House because they do the work that is so desperately needed in our community and so many communities. They support children as they move through the court system and finally recovery. They make it safe to tell the truth and stop the abuse. They save children. I read this verse this week and it reminded me of the Dove House, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13. The Dove House watches over, stands firm and is strong for those who aren’t. May God continue to bless their work as they help others heal.
My constant prayer now is that God continues to heal those affected by child sexual abuse and, as my husband reminds me, there are many layers of victims even those that don’t think they are victims. Family and others in the community today still do not believe that his abuser was guilty and he continues to have their trust. May God show us the best way to use the truth to help others now that this secret is finally free, and that we will learn to be still while God is fighting.
Closing Verse: Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Challenge: Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Be constant in prayer for God is always fighting and working for your good.
Funny how God works on you sometimes, preparing you for the future that is to come. I can look back now and see God at work for months in my life of my family. I am the person who thinks I have it all worked out for everyone and then God comes along and turns my world upside down. I have worked on this post before only to be moved to write something else, but now I am here again writing as God has spoken and now I am finally listening. I have been mentally making plans for the future for one of my daughters. I really believed that I had it all worked out for her. I mean the Lord showed me closed doors and everything. Although, I knew the passion in her heart and what she wanted, and I did pray for the right doors to open that would show her the way. Yet, I never expected that her persistence and prayers would be answered as they have been and my world rocked. I am listening now God. I know that I have not been. Now, I can see how I did not stop to listen to your answers Lord because I was sure of mine. I turn my ears back to you and to scripture. James 1:1 reminds me, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”.
These are powerful words that we forget in our daily lives especially – “quick to hear”. As I strive to be a better listener to the students I work with, the adults who are my colleagues, and the world around me, I have to be reminded that it is most important to listen to God and hear him when he speaks even if those words are coming from the mouth of my own child. Scripture is a keen reminder to me of how God’s people have chosen not to listen to him. So many of these times his people failed to listen and suffered the consequences of failure to be “quick to hear”. Did I fail his test? Was he or is he testing me? “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” are words from Deuteronomy 13:3. These words are a solemn reminder to me that I have to trust the Lord with all my heart and soul.
About a month ago this quote from Kyle Chandler showed up on my daily calendar, I am not sure why at the time I took a picture of the quote, but as God rocked my world this last week my thoughts went back to this quote. Not for me but for the persistence of my daughter to get what she wanted for her future. Now that I have been forced to listen to God and allow my daughter to walk her own path and not the one path that I was choosing for her, I turn to God in constant prayer that will cause me to listen more intently to his words as he prepares not just her future but also mine. It is important to me now that I have had my world rocked to stop and see the plans that God is laying for my family and that includes me. I pray that the Lord hears my prayers as Psalm 61:1 states, ” Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;”, and I constantly humble myself as Romans 12:12 reads, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” I humble myself and pray and listen so that my prayers might be heard as John 9:31 reminds me, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” I am listening now Lord in order to do your will.
Closing Verse: ‘But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,’ Acts 4:19
Challenge: Are you listening to God or making your own way? My challenge to you is to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” and find comfort in God’s plan.
“He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6)
Looking back over the Lent Season and more specifically Holy Week, I am reflecting on my relationship with Jesus. This time of year is a like the new year, I realize that I need to tend to my relationship with Christ in order to grow stronger like the mustard seed in Jesus’s parable found in Luke 13:19, “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”. How did I tend my garden during Holy Week.
Holy Week began with Palm Sunday the reminder that Christ humbly entered into a week of suffering both knowing and understanding what the end would bring. Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble King but left crucified on a cross. How should we as Christians reflect on this week and apply it to our lives? Palm Sunday was a day I spent in reflection of the beauty around me, my family, and the life that God has blessed me with. I was reminded of Christ as my King and Savior. Also, sadly on this past Palm Sunday I was reminded of the violence that so many Christians suffer around the world just as Christ suffered to bring us to salvation. The violence around the world and especially Palm Sunday must cause God to grieve for his people and his people must wonder what the future will bring as we move through Holy Week during such a volatile time in our world. Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is peaceful and bring peace to our lives even in the midst of chaos. As Holy Week begins my focus for the week even in my busy life is the walk with Jesus through this week. I read his entry to Jerusalem and paused at Mark 11: 7-8, “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.” Palm Sunday for me was a day of reflection with little distraction from tending my garden.
Each day since Palm Sunday, I tried to understand Christ’s walk to the cross, and the lessons he taught the disciples and left for me during these last days. He was preparing them for what they were going to witness in order to share the Gospel moving forward after the crucifixion, and he was preparing his people for a future with a resurrected Savior.
Monday, as I worked, I remembered that on this day Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem to find practices that where not for a house of the Lord. Jesus drove out those who bought and sold in the Temple by overturning the tables. He spoke in Matthew 21: 13, ‘He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Jesus did not show anger according to the disciples, yet spoke the truth of what he saw happening in the Temple. He protected God’s house. As I worked this day, I remembered Jesus and this frustration and walked through the day with Jesus as my focus. Hold your tongue, speak truth, show love is my focus for this Monday of Holy Week.
The next day, Tuesday, Jesus was met the Temple leaders who tried to question his authority. Christ spoke and taught this day in parables as he spoke to the leaders and prepared his disciples for his coming death and resurrection. As I read the lessons Jesus taught on this Tuesday before his death, I search for the lessons these parables can teach me today. One parable is the parable of the Two Son’s (Matthew 21: 28-32) which illustrates Jesus rejection by his own people. The lesson that Jesus has taught me today is to be careful and remember to humble myself before God and ask for forgiveness of my sins. I tell students that their character is what they do when no one is looking, but I must remember that God is always watching and Jesus has reminded me of that today while reading the parables he taught on this Tuesday before his death.
On Wednesday, Judas conspires to betray of Jesus, yet in the evening Judas rebuked Christ for allowing Mary to wash his feet. I try to get inside of Judas’s mind. What was he thinking? Did he love Jesus? Was the money worth this betrayal? Was he considering backing out? I have never heard the term “Spy Wednesday”, but as I researched some of this Wednesday of Holy Week, I found this reference to this day. Matthew 26: 14-16 clearly speaks of Judas’s betrayal, ” Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” This makes Wednesday a strange day to walk through. Knowing what Christ knew about his future, about Judas, yet continuing to love through the pain he must have been bearing this week. I find myself in prayer and thankful for the sacrifice Jesus has made for me.
Maundy Thursday has arrived and Jesus is preparing for his Last Supper and the final directions for his disciples. He breaks bread and washes their feet showing his servant example to prepare the way for their ministry. John 13:5 shares Christ service to this disciples, “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” He poured out his love on his disciples knowing the outcome he faced within hours. This Thursday I find myself focussing on God’ beauty around me. The world he has created for me, yet his greatest gift he sacrificed for me. I don’t stop and focus on Christ enough and show his love to others. I fail to wash the feet of those around me as the example Jesus left for me.
Good Friday or “Black” Friday is here. Why is it Good because Jesus suffered the unthinkable death and descended into hell to wash us clean. He suffered so that we might not. Jesus brought the “Good” back to his chosen. He chose to suffer so that we would not have to even though we are more deserving of this death. I am humbled at his gracious love for me. I can not get enough of the beauty around me and the handiwork of God. As I watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, I know he painted a beautiful picture for me that I did not deserve. I am extremely humbled by his mercy. So many years ago this Friday ended as described in Matthew 27:51, ” And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”
The darkness of Saturday has fallen as Jesus death is real. His final words still ring in their ears and as I read them this morning they linger in my thoughts all day. ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’ John 19:30. It is hard today to really imagine the pain those close to Christ must have endured this day and the separation that Christ endured for us from his Father. But the pain for his mother is something I can not imagine. What she must have suffered watching him die on a cross before her eyes? Even though Mary knew he was special and in God’s hands, the pain must have been crushing for her. Saturday must have been a dark day for Mary as she grieved the loss of her first son. This Holy Sabbath for the Jews must have seemed empty for many. I know I feel the emptiness of this day, but long for the Glory Easter morning will bring. A sense of renewal once again is coming.
Easter morning is here and I wake to a sense of peace and rest. I walk through the day thinking of his sacrifice and glory. I am indeed saved because Matthew 28:6 tells me, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
Closing Verse: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Challenge: Have you stopped to humble yourself before the Cross? The cross which bore your savior so many years ago. Even though Holy Week has passed don’t forget to stop and tend your garden.
Please share if lead…
If you were following the NCAA tournament you could not have missed the redemption tour message from the Carolina Tarheel Basketball Team. After the final game with the Redemption tour was complete, I started thinking about what the word redemption means. What did it really mean to those twelve young men playing basketball. Redemption is defined in two ways the action of regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt and the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. Both apply to this years National Champions, but how does it apply to our lives?
During the Lent season, many Christians have turned their hearts toward Jesus and his sacrifice and humiliation to provide “the way” to our Father and everlasting life. Hebrews 9:12 defines Christ’s redemption of us, ” he entered once and for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” As I focus on discipline and sacrifice during Lent, I compare my life to the redemption tour. I reflect on the ups and downs of my life -both the joy and sin. I see my failures and the hurt this causes those I love and most importantly Christ, yet in the end I know my debt is paid and I have been saved by Christ and one day I will live with him in heaven.
One part of the redemption definition focuses on being saved from sin. This Easter season we remember the sacrifice that God made by providing his only son, Jesus, as a living sacrifice in order that our sin might be washed clean. 1 John 4:19, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” With Christ partitioning for me before the throne, my sins are not forgotten but heaped upon Christ in order that I might be presented as a bride in her white gown. Much like the team that has made numerous mistakes and their coach graciously and humbly accepted as his fault in order to put forth a complete team the next time they hit the court. This sacrifice brought them to glory and a National Championship. I long for my championship and my home in heaven with Christ.
The redemption definition also includes regaining or gaining possession of something or clearing a debt. Christ as clearly paid our debt with his blood, his redemption for us. We are reminded in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” By paying this debt he has allowed me to gain possession of a heavenly home with him one day, my championship. As the Tarheels watched the clock tick down to zero, they could feel their redemption for all that had been lost in the last championship game, but this loss had now been regained. Just as we were once lost we now are found in Christ, our shepherd, so that we might gain his glory through his redemption for us. This gift is defined in Romans 3:24, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”.
Closing Verse: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7
Challenge: Have you stopped to discipline yourself and reflect on the sacrifice of Christ this Lent season. As Holy Week comes to an end turn your focus to Christ’s gift of salvation through the cross.
Please share if so lead.