How will they know?

Day 2 of 40 days to Resurrection Day

Today’s suggestion:

Wear a symbol of your faith during the 40 days.

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At first glance, I think this is going to be easy.  I have a couple of cross necklaces, several bracelets with Christian messages, and a pair of cross earrings.  I even have a scarf with “I love Jesus” printed on it.

No problem.  I can wear any or all of them during the next 40 days.  I’ve done it before, worn my cross necklace during the Lenten season as a daily reminder.

But then I go deeper.

Anyone can wear a piece of jewelry with a cross attached.  But is that evidence of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior?    Not necessarily.  No more than wearing a baseball cap makes one a ball player.

If I am a Christ follower, it should show in more than just my clothing and my jewelry.  It must be integrated into my actions, my words, and my attitudes.  This has been reinforced to me during the What Love Is Bible study.  John says the proof of my love for God shows up when I keep His commands and love my brothers and sisters.

Hear Paul’s admonition to the Colossians:

“. . .  put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another . . .  Above all, put on love. . .  (emphasis mine)

Now there’s a fashion statement.

What would it look like if I put on Christ?  More than a silver cross on a chain, I’m sure.  Challenging to say the least.

The only way to live out my true faith is to die to myself and live my life through Christ Jesus; looking to the things above rather than the things of this earth; seeking to do His will, not mine.

Unpopular as it is, it’s called crucifying my flesh and my desires to do God’s will.  The reason?  Because Jesus did it for me.

This – Christ in me – this is my symbol of faith and this is my destiny.  May it sparkle and shine and be noticed and point to the One and only Son of God.

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Come join me on my journey to Resurrection Day, won’t you?

Your comments and thoughts are most welcome here.

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Revised and re-posted from March 2014

The journey begins

Day 1 of 40 Days to Resurrection Day

Today’s suggestion:  

Ask God to reveal Truth to you during these days of preparation.

Plan on spending time with Him, not just doing things for Him.

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I’ve been a busy girl most of my life.  Sometimes, often, I’ve been too busy.

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I may have been more of a Martha than a Mary at times.  Yet when I think of it, Jesus loved them both and enjoyed visiting in their home at Bethany.  He surely valued the traits in both women, saw their strengths while being aware of their weaknesses.

The story in Luke 10 is all too familiar to me. Martha is busily making preparations because isn’t that what you do when company comes?  Feeding her guests and making them comfortable would certainly seem a priority.  Meanwhile, Mary is sitting at Jesus feet listening to what He has to say.  Impatiently Martha actually accuses the Lord of not caring about her and all the work she has to do.  And she gives a command to Jesus, “Tell her [Mary] to help me.”

Wow.  The audacity of Martha.  Does she hear herself speaking words of accusation and bossy-ness?  I hate to admit it, but I think I have been Martha at times.

Jesus’ reply is classic and so relevant to me today.  “Only one thing is necessary.  Mary has made the right choice.”

It would do us well to find out, what is the One Thing?

Time with Jesus.  Listening to Him.  Stopping the anxious thoughts and multi-tasking that always, always looms ahead.

Just.Be.With.Jesus.

Hard to do, isn’t it?  The “being” part.  It’s not something I put on my to-do-list or check off with accomplishment each day.  I wonder why it is so hard for us to come away and spend time with Him, just be in His presence, listen to His words from the Word and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord?

Could it be that the enemy of our souls knows too well that this One Thing will keep us on track in our Christian walk, this One Thing will set our priorities straight?  This One Thing can help us start the day with a clearer perspective of who we are and Who He is.

As we begin our 40-day journey, keep this truth in mind:  Jesus wants you more than He wants what you can do for Him.  It can be a shocking realization.

Of course there is work to be done in the kingdom.  The fields are ripe for harvest and the workers are few.  But how can we do the work when our hearts are empty of Him?  How can we be sure we are doing the One Thing that is most important on His list if we haven’t talked to Him and stilled ourselves long enough to listened?

Relationships are built on time spent together.  The more time, the stronger the bond.  The more time, the more I know you.  The more time, the fonder I grow.  The more time, and I realize I cannot live without you in my life.

Spend time with Jesus during the next 40 days.  Make it first on your things-to-do-today.

Here are just a few suggestions to keep us focused.

  • Get up earlier, as hard as this is. Make it the best 30 to 60 minutes of your day.  Have your coffee, tea or favorite morning beverage ready.  Sit in a comfortable chair and open your Bible to feast on His words to you.  Know for certain that Jesus wants to speak personally to you.
  • Set an alarm throughout the day to remind you to take a breath, look heavenward and remember your God is in control and with you always.
  • Quote a favorite Bible verse throughout the day as a reminder of His peace and love for you.
  • At dinner, talk about being with Jesus and how that looks to the people in your family.
  • When you lie down for the night, speak to God as you close your eyes, thank Him for His provision and gifts.  Drift off to sleep with Him on your mind.

Friends, Jesus said “One thing is essential and Mary has chosen it.  It is the main course.”

Don’t neglect the main course.  It’s where we get our strength for the journey.  Let’s do this thing together for the next 40 days. And maybe, just maybe, we will find it the greatest necessity of our lives and will never want to go a day without it again.

I’ve loved this song by Larnelle Harris for a long time.  It is the heart cry of our Savior’s longing for us.

I Miss My Time With You.

The road to resurrection

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In the bleak mid-winter, I am thinking of another season.

Tomorrow, February 25, 2015, marks 40 days until Resurrection Sunday, what the world calls Easter.

Like many other Christian-related events, the holiday of Easter has taken on a life of its own, becoming quite commercial and in many ways far removed from what it was to represent.  On Easter Sunday morning, people will fill sanctuaries of churches all over the world.  Some of them haven’t been to church since last Easter.  Many will wear new clothes.  Children will find an Easter basket filled with chocolate bunnies, eggs, and jelly beans.  Plastic eggs will hide in yards waiting to be found by happy little folk, excited for the adventure.  Families will gather at the table for a festive meal and probably serve ham. Because that’s what we do on Easter.  Right?

But . . . let’s view the holiday through a different lens.

Jesus entered Jerusalem one triumphant Sunday and on the following Thursday, he celebrated the Jewish Passover feast with his twelve friends.  In less than 24 hours, he was hanging on a rugged cross gasping for breath and weighed down with the load of guilt, shame and sin from the likes of you and me.  He was the sacrificial Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, to satisfy a holy and righteous God who must and will judge sin.

He died a horribly cruel death and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  His friends, followers, and family were devastated, their hopes dashed to the bloody ground where Jesus’ life poured out.  They didn’t understand.

Somehow the world still doesn’t.

Sunday morning brought a glorious change.  Astonished women and disciples discovered an empty tomb. Men walking along a road, welcomed a companion and only recognized Him as the living Lord when He broke bread and gave thanks.  A surprise appearance to the disciples and a touching of the nail prints turned despair unto belief as words joyously expressed the heart’s cry, “My Lord and my God!”

This is the reason we celebrate.

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll be taking a 40-day journey toward Resurrection Sunday.

Would you join me and my sweet sister-friend, Robin Howe, who will be guest posting with me during the next 40 days?

This journey is meant to prepare our hearts, to work out our salvation by drawing near to the heart of God with the desire to be more like Christ Jesus every day.  In the process may we become more pliable in the Father’s hand so that He can conform us into the image of Jesus, which is our purpose.

You are welcome here.  Journey with us during the next 40 days as we look backward at God’s plan and forward to it’s fulfillment.

From Mt. Moriah with Abraham and Isaac to the Israelite deliverance from Egyptian bondage.

To the Judgment halls of Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod.

To the whipping post and the road to Calvary.

To the darkest weekend the world has ever witnessed.

To the garden tomb very early on Sunday morning.

This is our salvation.  This is our freedom.  This is our victory!

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Revised and re-posted from March 2014

I would love to hear from you, especially if you are journeying with us.  

Sunday grace

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

by Stuart Townend

Continually I stand amazed at the deep, deep love of God for the likes of me,

That He would pursue me like the Hound of Heaven until He found me.

Not to punish me for all my sins, mistakes, errors, faults and failures.

But because God is love and love comes from God.

And He wanted to lavish that upon me, pour it out like honey,

like rain on parched ground, like bread to the starving soul.

This is it.  He loves.  That is who He is.

And I am the beloved, the apple of His eye.

Can I grasp that?  Can I live like I am loved?

Wouldn’t that change everything?

Sunday Grace, friends.

Song:  How Deep The Father’s Love, sung by Joy Williams 

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The helping hand

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I notice them gathering even before the sun appears.  The birds.  The hungry, cold birds needing food to give warmth and energy in these below-average temperatures.

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Taking courage, I walk out the door to the back deck in my robe and house slippers to spread seed on rails brushed clear of snow,  I can’t even get to the feeder in the yard without donning tall garden boots. They are my only shoes that are higher than the drifts.

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While they scatter at my appearance, the birds return soon.  They are hungry.  They flutter back and forth there all day long. The peaceful mourning dove, the tiny wrens and sparrows, the bright red cardinals, the bossy blue jays.  I am delighted by the sighting of two red-wing blackbirds.  Even the starlings come seeking a little something.

I put out more food late at night for the early birds tomorrow.

I worry about them, yet I remember that God created them to endure with their fluffy feathers (who doesn’t love a down comforter on a cold night).  They sit and eat in their ruffled up way to manage this extreme cold snap we are having in what most call a southern state.

A verse comes to mind.  “[God] provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.”

God provides for all His creatures.  And I put out seed for birds and dress little dog in a sweater and booties to go out so his feet won’t be frosted.

God provides for people.  And I help my neighbor who needs someone to care for her daughter in the early morning hours.

God provides for people we care about.  And I text my friend who had surgery this week, praying for her recovery, like many have done for us.

God provides what we need.  And two sweet daughters-of-my-heart send someone to clear my drive so I am no longer housebound in the deep, deep snow.

God provides shelter and daily bread.  And I have food and warmth and Sweet William is being cared for by medical professionals who know what he needs.

God provides mostly through . . . us.

Because we were never meant to live this beautiful life alone.  Not islands unto ourselves.  No self-made men or women who don’t need anyone else.

God created the earth and all that is in it to work together, to move like a well-oiled machine.  Sun warming earth to bring forth food.  Moon moving tides in and out.  Honey bees taking pollen to flower after flower.  Plants to grow and produce seed that is planted again.

The beauty of it all is just astounding when I think of it.  And that I get to be part of the process is even more amazing.  That the greatest of all, the Ancient of days, the One who is from everlasting to everlasting, who is complete in Himself and has no need of anything, the I AM – He has called me, has called you, to be part of His work.  He invites us to come along beside Him in what He does.

Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan, His admonition for us to love one another, His laying down His very life for mankind is the beautiful demonstration of the hand extended to one’s brother or sister.

We are made for each other.  We’ve been given gifts and talents that are needed by someone else in our little corner of the world.

I love the story of the woman who brought her expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus.  When criticism arose, Jesus responded lovingly, “She did what she could.”  It was what she had in her hand and she offered it to the One she loved.  She did what she could.

What is in your hand today?  I have bird seed in my hand and a warm sweater and a prayer and a word here and there.  I will do what I can.

40 Days – sort of

lentToday begins the season of Lent, a 40-day journey to Easter but does not include Sundays because they are “little Easters,” which actually equals to 47 days (according to my calculation).  Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the so-called last hurrah before Lent ushers in a time of sacrifice, self-searching, and often the practice of giving up something for the 40-day (47-day) interval.  The practice goes back hundreds of years.

The church tradition under which I grew up never practiced Lent.  As an older adult I was employed by a church that did celebrate the Lenten season, and I learned from them.  I pondered it but didn’t participate at first.  The following year, I decided to give up something for Lent.  Critical words.  I thought that wouldn’t be too hard.  Wrong.  I became painfully aware of how often my thoughts and words were quite reproachful.

It taught me a valuable lesson, not only about myself but about the preparation for the season, a looking toward the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior of the world.

While I am a member of a church somewhere else now, a place that does not practice Lent, I find being in anticipation of the occasion is helpful.  A thoughtful journey toward the season of Passover and Resurrection Sunday may be just what is needed. If I truly want to be Christ’s follower, to love like He does, to listen and obey the Father’s will, then I should examine myself.

And the weeks before the Sunday called Easter is a good time to focus in that direction.  While we dig out of snow here in the south, I long for spring, the re-birthing of flower and tree.  How appropriate to envision the place of the soul without Christ in a deep winter while His gift of salvation is the hope of spring and new life.

Last year, I partnered with my sweet friend Robin to lead us on a 40-day journey to Passover and Resurrection Sunday.  I’d like to go there again and hope you will come along.

Would you be willing to  review and remember?  We watch reruns on TV or go with a friend to a great movie we just saw.  We read special books again. We listen to the same news over and over. And need I say anything about our favorite songs?

Perhaps a little repetition will be helpful. Perhaps truth will sink in, take root and bring forth fruit.

Our 40 days will begin next Wednesday, February 25 because I will be counting all the Sundays.  I hope you will travel with us.

Look for the introduction next Tuesday, February 24 and get ready for 40 days leading up to Passover and Resurrection Sunday starting February 25.

I don’t know about you, but I am longing for spring, new life, new beginnings.

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Today . . . Sunday grace

No matter the horrors of this morning’s news,

No matter the prognosticators or weather forecasters or naysayers,

No matter the bad moods or Debbie Downers,

No matter how desperately I may be looking for the light at the end of the tunnel,

Of this I will remind myself and will bring this to my thoughts:

God is good.

I am desperately loved.

I was bought with a high price.

Jesus covered my sins with His blood.

I am part of the family of God.

I have a hope and a future.

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So I will lift my eyes, lift my hands, lift my heart to worship

the One true God who is worthy of my praise.

No matter what.

Sunday Grace, friends.

Credit:  Google images