Renewal and Acceptance

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Daily Prayer for March 29

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16, NIV

Lord our God, dear Father in heaven, we turn our hearts to you, for you know all our need. We turn to you, for you are ready with your help when we are at our wit’s end. You have paths we can follow joyfully because we have a Lord who rules and who reigns over us to make us glad. May we praise your name at all times. May your help be always before our eyes so that we can be your true children, to the glory of your name on earth. Amen.

 

Daily Dig

In your inbox every morning

line of gray pebblesThe Lord did not say, “I am going up to Jerusalem.” He said, “We are going.” It is this “we” that we have to emphasize. For it does not apply only to those first disciples; it also applies to us insofar as we want to be his followers. For us, too, the way to glory passes through suffering and death. To suffer with Christ for sin in the obedience of faith; to give up all foolish wishes and vain hopes with our eyes fixed on him; with him and in love to him to give our old self up to death; to die with him in quiet confidence in a blessed resurrection when our last hour comes; and then to be with him forever in the heavenly Jerusalem – this is our task.

Source: The Crucified Is My Love

 

 

 

Living Lent Dailyl

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Today we reflect on John 11:25–26.

Even though life is messy, and it can feel that things are sometimes falling apart, there is something deep in us that wants to believe in a deeper reality. We want to believe that there is meaning to our lives, a caring God, life after death, and real hope. We might recall loved ones who have passed, the way our lives are filled with moments of dying and rising, and a stubborn optimism in a loving God. The irony is that facing our mortality and the reality of death allows us to really live and love. If you could live from love and accept God’s free gift to you, what would your life look like?
—Brendan McManus, SJ, author of Finding God in the Mess 
and The Way to Manresa

Brendan McManus, SJ, shares his reflection on today’s retreat:

Even though life is messy, and it can feel that things are sometimes falling apart, there is something deep in us that wants to believe in a deeper reality. We want to believe that there is meaning to our lives, a caring God, life after death, and real hope. We might recall loved ones who have passed, the way our lives are filled with moments of dying and rising, and a stubborn optimism in a loving God. The irony is that facing our mortality and the reality of death allows us to really live and love. If you could live from love and accept God’s free gift to you, what would your life look like?

Take a few moments to relax. Breathe in and out, deeply and slowly. As you become quiet within, allow God’s gentle presence to fill you with each breath you take.

John 11:25–26

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Every time we gather for Mass we proclaim in these or similar words, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Jesus’ question to Martha at the time of her brother Lazarus’ death, “Do you believe this?” is also put to us. Do we believe it in our heart of hearts, deep down inside? Yes! Do we believe that God’s power can bring new life out of the most dreadful experiences in our lives? Yes!

What in me is yearning for new life?

How can I be more open to God’s power in my life?

(Pray to Jesus, using these words or your own.)

Life-giving God, help me to trust your power in my life that I might experience the life you have promised.

Amen.

 

 

More Lenten Resources

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Suffering Exists

I’m grateful my Catholic religion acknowledges the existence of brutal suffering. There have been moments of excruciating loss in my life that no mindfulness or cheerful efforts can overcome. News reports of tornadoes and massacres and war remind me that even though the world is a gorgeous place, it can also feel like a valley of tears.

In those moments, the image of Christ on the cross speaks to me as nothing else can. There are periods in every life when we feel as naked and vulnerable and racked with pain as Jesus on Calvary. We can’t fast-forward through them; we can only endure them, trying to find some comfort in the love of others and in the knowledge that God has suffered, too.

Think of someone you know who is in pain. Offer a prayer, write a note of support, or do a concrete act of love to help him or her through this dark time.

 

Arts & Faith: Week 5 of Lent, Cycle A

See all articles in this series.

János Vaszary, “Resuscitation of Lazarus,” 1912

Arts and Faith: Lent

Death threatens life in the story of the raising of Lazarus, and János Vaszary’s Resuscitation of Lazarus invites us into the scene. This 1912 painting is a striking collision of styles: the figures recall the standardized style of Byzantine icons, while the background, color, and expression have a modern, vivid quality. This is revered tradition unfolding in the here and now, much like the Gospel message seeks to imbue our present day.

Vaszary isn’t as much telling the story as inviting us into the heart of it. Instead of a narrative, he offers three key realities symbolized by these figures. On the left, the women crying and imploring are Martha and Mary folding us into the sorrow of fear and loss as their brother is consumed by illness. In the middle, Lazarus hangs naked and limp in the arms of an imposing figure in red—Death. Lazarus’s body brings to mind the body of Christ off the cross, an anti-Pietà with a body that is held here not by a sorrowful mother but a triumphant and defiant Death. On the right, Jesus and the disciples enter to stop him.

Jesus, hand held up in blessing, stops Death in his tracks. As his disciples look to him in wonder, Jesus looks out at us, with a steady confidence that humbles Death’s assumed triumph. Christ addresses us, the viewers, with eternal truth: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”

A notable expression of the modern style of this icon is the background. Instead of solid gold, we see a dawning sky, another sign of the awakening that is taking place. In the Gospel passage, Jesus teaches the disciples about walking by day versus stumbling at night. With the dawning sky, we can anticipate a steady road ahead, a sure way that leads to salvation and fullness of life. There is powerful symbolism here as Christ’s own path will soon lead him to Jerusalem, Golgotha, and the cross. Knowing the way ahead, Jesus’ act of faith is profound encouragement to dare to look further down the road and trust in God as the Author of Life.

On this fifth Sunday of Lent, we may be at different points along the way: wailing with the women in our sorrow, in the grip of death like Lazarus, wondering at the possibility of faith like the disciples, or facing a hard road ahead. Christ engages us from the painting directly: I am the Way; follow me to the fullness of life.

 

Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead

by Andy Alexander, SJ, Maureen McCann Waldron

The following reflection is based on John 11:1–45.

Reflection

Martha speaks profound sorrow at the death of Lazarus, but it is tinged with blaming Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Francesco Trevisani - The Raising of Lazarus - WGA23058Where do I resent the losses in my life and somehow blame God for them?

Even when Jesus tells Martha, “I am the one who raises the dead to life!” she finds it hard to believe. Where do I doubt that Jesus can bring life?

Jesus stands before the tomb weeping. He places no barriers to his feelings about death. Could he be staring at and facing the tomb of his own death? Can I be with him there? Can I stand before and face the tombs in my daily life?Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet - The Raising of Lazarus - WGA12033

Jesus shouts the liberating words of life, “Lazarus, come forth!” How is he shouting that to me today?

The grace will come when I experience how my “deaths” will not end in death but in giving glory to God. When I experience how entombed I have been, tied and bound, no longer alive, dead for a long time, I will sense the power of the command of Jesus that I “come forth.”

 

 

 

    ~~~Dion Todd

Tobacco Fields Back Home

Now after these things, the Lord also appointed seventy others, and sent them two by two ahead of him into every city and place where he was about to come. Then he said to them, ‘The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest.’ Luke 10:1 WEB

By the early afternoon, we were covered up to our shoulders in layers of tobacco gum and dirt. I was a cropper, and as we walked along the rows, we cropped the ripened yellow tobacco leaves off and slapped them under our arm. A tractor pulled a trailer, or ‘tobacco drag’ along a nearby path, and when you had all the tobacco you could carry, you made your way to the trailer and stacked it on until it was full. Then it was taken to the barn of the day, where it was sewn onto sticks by a stringer. The hangers then hung the tobacco sticks on the rafters inside the barn to dry. The barn was then heated with propane burners for a few weeks, until the tobacco had lost about eighty percent of its weight. It was then stripped off the sticks, tied in huge burlap bags, and taken to the auction to sell.

When cropping tobacco, a layer of sticky gum would get on your arms, then the sand from the leaves would stick to that. Then another layer of gum, and another layer of dirt built up until you were covered in something resembling black tar. It was also highly water resistant and very difficult to wash off.

The tobacco cropping season came during the months of July and August in the South where I grew up. That was the time to bring the ripe tobacco into the barns. This was the hottest part of summer, and when you bent down between the rows of tobacco, there was no wind at all. The croppers would often struggle through the intense southern heat.

I remember one day when some of the croppers became sick, partly from the heat and partly from the diesel fumes of the tractor settling over the area. One by one, they began vomiting and falling out, leaving the rest of us to carry their row. We eventually made it through the day and filled the barn, but we sure could have used more help that day.

There is a great harvest in the kingdom of God starting to happen, and true laborers are few. We are approaching the greatest harvest of all time and many of the ones already in the field have become tired, hurt, sick, discouraged, or passed on. Who is going to fill their shoes? Isaiah said: ‘Here I am, send me!’ (Isaiah 6:8) and God sent him. Wherever you are, pray for more laborers. We could really use some help in the field today.

It was interesting that Jesus sent the laborers out ahead of Him, to the places where He was about to go. In my life, I have always wanted to be where the revival was, but usually ended up being somewhere else while it happened. The laborers prepare the way for the Lord to come. They go ahead of Him into the fields. So if you are a laborer, know that your work is not in vain. We are preparing the way for the Lord of the harvest to come.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You so much for all that You do for me, for allowing me to know You. Please put those in my path that I can reach and give me the words to speak and I will say them. Fill me with a boldness and Your passion for the lost, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Jesus and Peter once paid taxes with a coin foundin a fish’s mouth (Matt. 17:24-27).

 

Unstoppable! ‘Reflecting Heaven’s Glory While Under Attack’ — Acts 6:12-15

So [the men debating unsuccessfully with Stephen] persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.

The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

[When the false witnesses were lying about Stephen,] everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.

Key Thought

I can’t imagine what the accusers of Stephen felt when he reflected the glory of God like an angel. His accusers had stirred themselves into a frenzy of hate and jealousy and enticed some to lie about Stephen. Then they looked at this man they wanted dead and saw something they never expected: “…his face became as bright as an angel’s.” Stephen’s manner was testimony enough, even without the words that he would later speak. God showed his approval in a gloriously powerful way. Truth revealed itself despite the abuse of earthly power by those who hated the truth!

Today’s Prayer

Abba Father, we come to you as the one and only living and almighty God. Please exercise your power to bring down every corrupt leader and reveal the truth in our world so marred by injustice and the abuse of power. May we live here on this earth as living witnesses to the character and nature of Jesus. May your Spirit empower us to make our way in the world as Jesus said it, “…as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Quotation from Matthew 10:16.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 16:21 — The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Psalm 31:7-8 — I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place.

Spiritual Warfare:

Illustration of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT — Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.’  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.   That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to how my weaknesses give You the opportunity to show others Your power through my witness. Remind me that others are watching how I respond to the troubles and trials of life, and that they are looking for strength to overcome their own problems. Use my life to encourage others. Bless others through my hardships. Help me to smile and continue being faithful in spite of my persecutions. Shine Your light on others through my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

kindredkggrace

What to Do When You Feel Weak

by Sara Hagerty

The early spring air felt crisp the morning I stepped off my front stoop and walked down our gravel drive for the last time until summer. On the last stretch of a short run, I slipped on a patch of mud and fell, fracturing my ankle. I called Nate in tears. He came, picked me up, put me in the car, and drove back to the house. My feet wouldn’t travel that same stretch of driveway again until August.

I also couldn’t walk the stairs or carry the little one. My crutches sank into the path through the woods that neighbored our property. No more nature walks. I couldn’t stand in the kitchen to cook dinner unless—like a cooking show—someone did all my prep work. No tucking children into bed, no driving, no activities that didn’t allow space for a large, hard boot.

The thought of potential weakness makes me suck in my breath as if preparing for what I resist. Weakness challenges my identity.

Who am I as a mother when I cannot rock toddlers to bed or take big girls out for a cup of tea? Who am I as a responsible member of humanity when I can’t clean up my trash, cook a meal, or take a shower by myself? These were on the surface, the low-hanging fruit of my mind. I felt the chaos in my home and the unproductive days in bed. I felt uncertainty about my physical capabilities in the future if the break didn’t heal properly. Before this, I didn’t realize how much my thriving depended on a few variables, things I assumed were untouchables.

I noticed that my peace and even my sense of connectedness to God was contingent upon my strength.

When the house was clean, I felt peace.

When I could smell fresh air and breathe in the every-day murmurs of nature on a morning run or a walk in the woods, I felt fresh and connected to God.

When I could meet our children’s needs, I assessed myself as a good mom. I felt good about my motherhood.

The list went on. Each of these things is not bad—tending to a child’s needs and having a daily rhythm of outdoor walks or runs and keeping order—and are things I still incorporate into my day now. But what about when I don’t have them?

The question that haunts all of us at times is, “What about when the pillars of my day or my life get challenged?” Two months in a cast revealed my heart to me, as it did God’s.

I like myself better when I am strong and productive and on time. I like myself better when I can help myself and help others and feel needed.

And then when I couldn’t do those things, I started to see His heart: He likes me when I am weak.

He moves most powerfully when I don’t have my strength. He is not impressed by my productivity or my meeting of others’ needs or my help. His currency is not my currency, and it took a boot cast, a propped-up ankle, and the same verses I had sung in songs for years but now seeped past my mind into my heart to see His mercy.

I adored God from Psalm 147:10–11 and didn’t just acknowledge Him but felt Him run His hands along my cast and look deep into my weak day and take pleasure in me. He liked me when I didn’t produce but looked at Him. I learned as I adored. I spoke what didn’t feel true when my insides were reeling from all that I couldn’t do until I saw the God-man behind those words.

And my hope got whittled to one thing: Him.

I couldn’t cook dinner. God, only Your mercy can gather us around a table. I couldn’t clean or drive to friends’ houses or doctors’ appointments or dinner dates: Only Your mercy can cover over what I cannot do.

I felt His kind eyes toward my weakness as I adored, and I watched Him move in to fix and mend and make something of the minutes when I had nothing to bring.

“Adoration invites God into the grit of my life that irritates and exposes, the grit about which He already knows. Adoration is meeting God in the invisible, unaccounted-for minutes I ignore.”

-Sara Hagerty in Adore

Read more from Sara in her brand new book, Adore.

"Adore: A Simple Practice for Experiencing God in the Middle Minutes of Your Day" by Sara Hagerty

“Like a gentle reminder from a trusted friend, Sara’s book Adore nudges our hearts and focus back to God and what it means to be still and know Him anew each day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor…

This is funny??

Mike Smith for 3/27/2020

Aunty Acid for 3/29/2020

Mother Goose and Grimm for 3/29/2020

 

 

 

IMG_9577.JPG

 

 

I’ve Been Drinking From the Well!

Image result for animated third Sunday in Lent

 

Living Lent Daily

Third Sunday of Lent

Today we reflect on Romans 5:1.

What have I learned about God through my relationship with Jesus?

Jesus took time to be alone in prayer to spend time with his Father. Time with his Father helped Jesus to forgive his enemies and to know what God wanted him to do. Jesus models for me how to have a relationship with God and how to root my entire life in God.

I, too, must take time alone in prayer to spend with God. Time with God in prayer allows me to learn God’s will for me, to learn to forgive, and to learn how to accept God’s will. Jesus shows me that tending my relationship with God is how I find peace.

—Becky Eldredge, author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls
and The Inner Chapel

 

The Woman at the Well

by Andy Alexander, SJ, Maureen McCann Waldron

The following reflection is based on John 4:5–42.

Reflection

Why did the Samaritan woman come to draw water at noon, the hottest time of the day?

What are the places in my life where I am embarrassed, where I avoid interaction with others?

Annibale Carracci - The Samaritan Woman at the Well - WGA4446

What are the noonday wells of my life?

Imagine yourself as the woman in this passage. Jesus approaches you and tries to reveal his thirst to you—perhaps his thirst for intimacy with you—but you put him off. You are not worthy. It won’t work. When he offers to satisfy your thirst, you put him off. You are convinced he can’t satisfy your needs, at least not at this well and without a bucket.

Ask: How do I put Jesus off, with excuses, problems, or barriers? Examples might include saying, “I don’t have time,” “I haven’t done this before,” “My stuff is too complicated,” or “I don’t know how to find you in this mess.”Guercino - Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well - WGA10946

When Jesus shows the woman that he knows her, she comes to understand she is in the presence of someone special—perhaps the One she has thirsted for all her life.

Do I let Jesus show me that he knows and understands me?

 

The grace will come when I see that I have been at the well a long time and have long been thirsty. When I can name the new thirst, the Water that now satisfies that thirst, I can overcome my remaining resistance to trust. When I see that Jesus reveals himself to me by revealing me to myself, thereby showing me my need for him as Savior, I will rejoice and tell the whole world, too.

 

Lenten Spring Cleaning

Most years, as I make my way to the Ash Wednesday service, it’s bitterly cold outside, and the hope of spring seems distant. With Easter a bit later this year, I was surprised to look out my window on Ash Wednesday to see the signs of spring quietly beginning its slow advance on winter. This little change shifts my perspective, and I begin to think about Lent in the context of spring rather than winter.

We associate springtime with clean-up and getting ready to enjoy the warm, sun-kissed days of summer. Spring can be hard work—raking up the old leaves and yard debris left exposed by the melting snow, going through the house clearing out what we don’t need anymore to donate to those who need it more, clearing our wardrobe of clothes that don’t fit anymore. Some of us even begin to put extra work into preparing our bodies for summer fashions.

When put in that context, spring and Lent fit quite nicely together. While we might be busy starting to work on those spring clean-up things, we can also do our Lenten spring clean-up preparing for Easter. As the snow slowly melts, it exposes the dead roots and leaves—the things that only add to the messiness of our lives and prevent our souls from blooming. We can take some time during Lent to take a hard look at what those things might be and rake them up. We can rid our wardrobes of any jealousy, selfishness, and anger we may have worn a little too often this past year. We can take some time to ponder the gifts God has given us in abundance to find new ways of sharing those gifts with those who might benefit from them.

Yes, as the sun extends its daily vigil in the sky just a little longer at this time of year, I begin to see more clearly the many ways in which my life will benefit from a good Lenten spring cleaning. I pray that the cleaning season brings us all to a joyful and beautiful Easter.

 

 

           ~~~Dion Todd

The Writing On The Wall

In the same hour, the fingers of a man’s hand came out and wrote near the lamp stand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace. The king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s face was changed in him, and his thoughts troubled him; and the joints of his thighs were loosened, and his knees struck one against another. Daniel 5:5 WEB

Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, threw a huge party for a thousand of his lords. He had the gold and silver vessels that were taken from the temple in Jerusalem by his father Nebuchadnezzar, brought out so that he and his friends could all drink from them. As they did, a hand appeared in the air and wrote a prophecy on the wall in a cryptic language. The king turned white, and his knees knocked together. He called all the wise men together to read the message, but they could not.

Then Daniel the Jewish exile was summoned, and he interpreted the writing. The writing meant: ‘God has counted your kingdom and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales, and found wanting. Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’ The city was overrun that night and the king of the party was killed. Daniel lived, prospered, and was promoted under the new leadership.

There were two men in this story. There was a godless king who seemingly had everything, but lost it in a moment. The other was an exile who faithfully served God, and continued to prosper in all that he did, even when the kingdom changed hands.

Seek God now. Many will try and wait until the very last minute, but in this king’s story, he was too late. God is long suffering, but there came a time when He shut the door of the ark Himself and those who were on the outside stayed out there (Genesis 7:16). There will again be a time when the door will be shut (Matthew 25:10). Don’t wait until the writing is on the wall to begin a relationship with God. Choose Him now, for we are all one heartbeat from meeting Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your mercy and ask that You forgive me of the things that I have done wrong in my life. Wash me and I will be clean. Set me free and I will be free indeed. I choose You. Come into my heart and guide me from this day forth, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Ruth was King David’s great grandmother (Ruth4:17).

 

 

Heartlight

Unstoppable! ‘The Power Behind the Witnesses’

[Continuing before the council which was threatening him, Peter said,] “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”

Key Thought

Peter wanted his adversaries to know something very clearly. They could threaten him, they could persecute him, and they could even kill him and other witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. They could not, however, stop the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and Son as God (Romans 8:11Ephesians 2:222 Corinthians 3:17-18) and is, therefore, eternal and all-powerful. The work of the Spirit in Jesus’ disciples could not and cannot be stopped. Even when the adversaries of Jesus martyred the eyewitnesses to the Lord’s resurrection, the Spirit — whom Jesus poured into the hearts of everyone who came to him in faith and baptism — would inspire future disciples and inform them of Jesus’ resurrection. The testimony about Jesus’ resurrection is, and forever will be, unstoppable!

Today’s Prayer

Spirit of the living God, breathe your power into my life, your witness to Jesus’ resurrection into my faith, and your peace into my fear. I want to be a living testimony to the power of the resurrected Jesus. Please help me live into that commitment today and every day. Through the powerful name of Jesus, and for the sake of his gospel, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 19:11 — A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Passion for Praise: ‘My Victory Comes from Him’

Illustration of Psalm 62:1-2 — I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

Spiritual Warfare: ‘God Protects All Who Persevere in Obedience’

Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, some days it feels like I can’t hold on; it seems like I’m slipping away from You in spite of my heart’s desire to trust and obey. I often let the cares of this present world overcome my desire to do good and be faithful. Forgive me, Lord, and help me to persevere. Help me to last even though it seems like I can’t; help me to keep going when it feels impossible; help me to look up when the world has got me down. You are my only hope, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

LIFE LESSONS LIVED

Been there, done that.

JUST STOP IT!!

There is a difference between “precaution” and “panic.” I have to admit, what is going on here in the U.S. (I am talking about the closings and shutdowns) is a first for me.  I have been through all kinds of things in my short 60-year old life:

  • Floods
  • Tornados
  • Bankruptcy
  • Rape
  • Losing a child (he was my grandson and it was a  fire in our home – both devastating.)

I have learned that “there will always be something” that can shake me or those I love.  I have also learned not to panic.  This is a big deal in times like these.

empty bench

PRECAUTION:

I am lucky (Or maybe just from a great gene pool) to have a pretty good immune system.

Already went through bad flu that managed to hook into an allergic reaction that sent me to the E.R. after three days of it just progressing.  NOT the norm for me.  I still blame this part on a damn wasp that stung me on my face by my right eye in 2017.  This is not (on anyone) a dense tissue area, so when I swelled from the sting, I blew up like a balloon just on the right side of my face.  The E.R. doc tried hard to get me to say I got beat up (still find it funny).  When I went to the E.R. this time, it was the same doctor.  The difference this time is my whole head blew up.  The odd part is my throat never swells, and I don’t have a hard time breathing or swallowing.  I just blow up like a balloon and get a nasty fever.  This time around, it felt like hives all over my head – weirdo me.

GET INFORMED AND DON’T GO INSANE.

I have been watching the news, reading articles, and researching information, since the beginning of the year.  The most recent one that broke things down, and was beneficial, was this one:

Is it allergies, the flu or the coronavirus? How to tell the difference

By AJ Willingham, CNN

Updated 4:21 PM ET, Thu March 12, 2020

The big difference in plain English:

hearts

(note: This is right from the Mayo Clinic)

PLEASE DON’T FORGET ABOUT NORMAL ALLERGIES!

Yes, I do have allergies now (didn’t seem to be a problem when I was younger), so every year, I keep my over-the-counter allergy meds handy because I never know when I will be hit.  We own a small farm in a rural area of Colorado, so I am out in the gardens most every day.  Some days I come in beautiful, other days I am a mess. (Personally, I have generic sinus meds – thank you, Dad, for the crappy sinuses – and Benadryl for the lousy allergy days.).

The Basics You Need To Understand And Follow:

  1. Try to avoid the gathering of people. Now, this is easier out here for us than it is for those we love in the city (Denver, etc.).  The biggest gatherings I go to will be grocery shopping at Walmart.  I HATE TO SHOP (as a rule), so I usually go early in the day.  The best part of doing this is that:
    1. There is hardly anyone at the store.
    2. Major cleaning and restocking usually happen overnight.
    3. I like to go on Friday early morning because our local store gets its primary delivery on Thursdays. Most things I am looking for should be available and less handled.
  2. Wash your hands – wash your hands – wash your hands!! I just can not stress this one enough.
  3. If you are sick – STAY HOME! I wish I could say this is just common sense, but I know better here in the U.S.  I can’t tell you how many (including myself, sad to say) people I know that try to tough it out and go into work when they are ill.  I am elderly (boohoo, going to be 61 this April – argh!) and disabled now, but I was a workaholic.  I would go into work no matter how sick I felt.  Unless I was physically throwing up, I toughed it out – IDIOT ME! I’m going to blame it on my parents.  They grew up with the attitude of “you work to the best of your ability” because you are getting good pay for honest work.  That was then, this is now (sad to say), and times have changed in this regard.  I know dozens of businesses that are desperate to hire people, but the employees don’t come.
  4. Don’t be stupid! It is sad I have to put this one in here, but we are all only human.  As humans, we are prone to do stupid mistakes – all the time!  I am a victim of this basic.  I think that sometimes I do not take enough precautions.  Yesterday I went to Walmart, mostly because we are out of critter foods and it is cheapest there.  I did pick up a few more food things, and, of course, I went for hand sanitizer.  Notice I said that I “went” for hand sanitizer – did not get it because everything in the store that had to do with any kind of sanitizing was gone.  Did you also notice I did not say “more” hand sanitizer? Typically, we do not use the stuff.

We believe that under normal conditions it does more harm than good.  The human body MUST build a robust immune system to help fight in times like these.  Part of building that immunity is contact with other people and things.  If you are continually sanitizing yourself, how can your immune system build up?  It just doesn’t have a chance to get stronger to fight these nasty-uglies.  Choosing to do so does provide the annual cold, and sometimes the flu (No, I do not get the shot.  I did it twice, and both times I developed a worse sickness than without the shot.  I know it does not happen like this for everyone, but it does for me.).  Some years I can go the whole year without any illnesses at all (love those!).

All-in-all, we just need to stop all the panic

keep calm carry on

You can also check me out at:  https://helbergfarmstories.com/ for fun stories from our farm.

 

 

ChristNOW

Christ vs. the Coronavirus

Six ways to join in the victory of this grand standoff

What a drama this pandemic is becoming!

Just this week, the entire nation of Italy was quarantined. Just today, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German people that they project 70% of the population will be infected. Already across the planet, the virus has killed (as of the morning of March 11) more than 4000 and infected over 100,000 (that we know of—since ramping up mass testing in many countries, most of all in the USA, has been sluggish, at best).

Just this week officials have projected that as many as 150 million Americans will come down with the disease. Major events—entertainment, sporting, political—are being canceled left and right.

The 1918 plague of the Spanish flu that brought death to millions worldwide had a fatality rate of 2.5 percent. Compare that to the 3.4 percent fatality rate for the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.

As Jesus followers, we know our Savior is fully in charge of the affairs of the nations. Whether reported in the press or not, the real drama taking place before our eyes is “Christ vs. the Coronavirus.” And we know who is destined to win!

Interesting fact: “Corona” literally means “crown”! In other words, what’s at work here is the Crown of Life himself confronting the “crown (corona) of death.”

So, how can believers fully share in the certain victory that is ours in the current face-off between the Sovereign and the scourge? How can we respond to this moment in ways that exhibit how our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3)? After all, we know that long before this current emergency unfolded, we already had been transferred to live in the everlasting Kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1).

Here I offer you six helpful suggestions that can turn this time of stress and uncertainty into a season for you to go further and get stronger in your walk with Jesus.

1. Break forth into praise

Let it be said again that there’s absolutely no doubt who the “winner” in this hour will be. With Jesus, already “death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15).

For the sake of all of us, the reigning Redeemer has been “seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God has placed all things under his feet [and that includes every virus that has ever existed!] . . . Christ fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1, adapted).

So, in the face of all the unnerving statistics and tragic accounts that might weigh you down, turn your face toward heaven and celebrate not only the victory that is sure but even more the Victor who comes this very day to

proclaim good news to the poor . . . to bind up the brokenhearted . . . to proclaim freedom for the captives . . . to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61)

And pray that right now many other Americans will be able to discover and experience his saving power in new ways and then join you in your praises.

2. Beat back all fear

Yes, there is every reason to take all of this very seriously. Before the pandemic passes, millions will be sickened, and many will die. At the same time, the financial foundations of the global economy are being shaken.

But there is no room for fear in the life of any believer who has a full view of the spectacular supremacy of God’s Son today. Drink in these promises:

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1).

 

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Hebrews 2).

Fear has no home with those whose home resides at the throne of heaven.

3. Be ruthlessly practical

At the same time, we need to be realistic—we are still flesh and blood, and that means any one of us could get the virus and suffer the consequences.

However, modern science provides us excellent advice. If we follow it, we will be significantly protected. Remember, all medical wisdom was implanted in creation as our Lord Jesus fully intended because “the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1). To follow the doctor’s advice is to follow the creative genius of our Savior.

The National Association of Evangelicals has just shared on Facebook a post which says, “The CDC now has a webpage dedicated to helping faith and community leaders plan, prepare and respond to coronavirus: Resources for Community- and Faith-Based Leaders.” You should check it out!

4. Bring every sickness to Christ the healer

If the virus reaches your doorstep and you or loved ones become ill, remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13). He who healed multitudes during his earthly ministry has not changed—either in terms of his compassion or his power.

Let these verses, fulfilled by—and filled full of—the Lamb upon the throne, guide you in how you talk with the Father about your need for God’s restoration:

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion (Psalm 103, now fully ours in Christ Jesus).

 

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8).

 

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? (1 Corinthians 6).

Even your body is a member of Christ. Have you ever thought of that? So, in some sense, what happens to your body is happening to Jesus too. For sure, the healer cares.

5. Bear witness to those around you

Because you know who the King of Glory is—the one who calls us to “take heart” because he has “overcome the world” for all of us (John 16)—we have a wonderful hope to offer those who may be trembling before the coronavirus threat. Therefore, we need to assume the outlook of Paul in Colossians 4 and pray for ourselves the way Paul wanted believers to pray for him:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

“Make the most of every opportunity” could be paraphrased like this: “Exploit this crisis moment in the life of your friends and neighbors by sharing with them the very truths captured in this short blog post—maybe even sending a copy of it to them.”

6. Break out the blessings waiting at ChristNow.com.

OK, let’s imagine that you end up under a 14-day quarantine with the virus. Or maybe (as has happened near me in the city of New Rochelle, New York) your whole community gets shut down, with everyone working from home. Maybe eventually there will be corporation-wide, statewide, even nationwide, quarantines. Maybe as it has taken place in Italy over the last three weeks, you aren’t even allowed to congregate in a Sunday worship service.

What does that mean for you? Here’s what I think: It means a new season of spiritual blessings! Why do I say that?

It means you’ve got lots of extra time on your hands that you might use to enrich your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ!

For example: The time you usually spend on your daily commute. The days you set aside for that Caribbean cruise. The morning hours you normally spend at church every Sunday. The evening you planned to attend the theater or a concert or a political rally.

Now, what an opportunity this presents you! You can choose to invest those freed-up hours in refreshing your walk with Christ—as you spend those hours seeking to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3).

So where should you begin? Good news: ChristNow.com exists precisely for such a time as this! There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the digital world. And it is all free to you—a rich reservoir of all kinds of resources and social media designed to take you further with Christ than you have ever gone before.

And it will never be quarantined! Furthermore, it can serve you wherever you may be quarantined—doing so right on your laptop, tablet, or cell phone.

ChristNow.com stands ready to help you turn a quarantine from others into quality time with Jesus!

Come visit us! Let’s share together in the “victory” that Christ gives us over the coronavirus!

 


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.

 

 

Echos of Ancient Springs

By Publisher on Mar 11, 2020 05:04 pm

This month on March 24 we celebrate the beginning of the Jewish sacred year.

 

The Lord Himself specified that the sacred year would begin in the Spring at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12:2). In Egypt the New Year had begun in mid July when the bright star Sirius rose in conjunction with the annual flooding of the Nile. By moving the New Year to the beginning of Spring God wasn’t just differentiating His people from the Egyptians, He was restoring the year to its ancient parameters.

 

Even before the Flood of Noah, Enoch’s calendar begins with the Spring Equinox. This calendar is contained in the Book of Enoch, which was quoted in the New Testament and is a part of the Ethiopian Church Bible. There is strong evidence that portions of the book may have actually originated with Enoch, including the fact that his astronomical observations come from an area far north of the Holy Land, perhaps from the Black Sea which scientists admit was “recently” flooded under salt water and could have been Noah’s home. In addition, Enoch’s calendar was made by observing the Sun’s position on the horizon, a method which was used in such ancient structures as Stonehenge and New Granage, but not in the historical near East. For more information on Enoch we recommend Dr. Randy Delp’s book The Impact of the Book of Encoh on Christianity and other Religions.

 

After the flood Noah’s descendants settled in Mesopotamia, where the vast majority of the calendars adopted a Springtime new year. Enoch had named his first month Temmani, linguistically similar to Temennu, the Babylonian name for the constellation Taurus (The Bull). Taurus was, in fact, the constellation of the Spring Equinox in Enoch’s time and after the Flood in ancient Mesopotamia. The preeminent place of Taurus the Bull was recognized in many aspects of Middle Eastern pagan religion and life. An echo comes from the Hebrew alphabet, where the first letter is a bull pictograph. More interestingly, our first letter “A” resembles the Hyades star cluster which houses Aldebaran (The Governor), and which is the “eye” of the bull Taurus.

 

At the time Abraham was called in 2091 BC, the precession of the Equinoxes moved the Spring Equinox into the constellation Aries (The Ram). This movement of the sign into the season of Spring is a part of the Prophetic Calendar (Genesis 1:14) and marked the beginning of the formation of a nation and a family to bring Christ, the Seed of Woman (Genesis 3:15) to Earth. It is no coincidence that Abraham, who was promised that his Seed would be the Seed of Woman (Genesis 15:5 and 22:18), was prevented from sacrificing his son and a ram, symbolic of Christ, was sacrificed in his place (Genesis 22:13).

 

Two years before Jesus was born, in 7BC, the prophetic calendar had moved the constellation Pisces (The Fish) into Springtime. Pisces is a picture of two fishes, representing the Jews and Gentiles, united to form the Church. Jesus came to establish His Church and, after His resurrection in the first month of Spring in 30 AD, the Church was born at Pentecost. We are still living in the age of the Church.

 

In the year 2121 the Prophetic Calendar will bring the constellation Aquarius (The Water Pourer) into the Spring season. The date can be changed if God makes a simple change in the precession of the Equinoxes, and no one knows the day or the hour. Still, like the Wise Men who watched for the signs of Christ’s advent, we should watch for the signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars which Jesus said would lead to His Second Coming  (Luke 21:25). For more information take a free download of our book The Stars of His Coming at https://bit.ly/StarBook .

 

So tonight after sunset look to the West and see if you can find the now upside down “A” in the eye of Taurus. Tell someone about the ancient Springs which promised the coming of the Seed of Woman and the Church. And don’t forget to mention the Spring promising the Second Coming.

 

 

Guideposts

Your Weekly Inspiration

Do Deceased Loved Ones Watch Over Us?

A biblical scholar separates fact from fiction regarding God’s heavenly hosts.

by 

A dream, realer than real, in which a beloved relative, who passed away years earlier, suddenly appears. The heavenly sign, in the midst of a tough day, that could’ve only come from your mother up above. Or, a voice, seemingly from out of the blue, that sounds just like your deceased grandfather.

Some of the most miraculous and angelic encounters involve the dead offering some guidance, comfort, protection or a message from beyond. This begs the question: do our loved ones become angels—or more specifically, our guardian angels—when they die?

It’s a popular notion, one that pops up over and over again in popular culture, from books to movies where the deceased reappear to those they love on earth. So what’s truth and what’s fictionGuideposts.org talked to Dr. Charity Virkler Kayembe, who has a doctorate in biblical studies and is the author of Everyday Angels, to find out.

Guideposts.org: There are many miraculous stories out there about people who receive signs from their deceased loved ones. But can the dead become angels?
Dr. Charity Virkler Kayembe: Obviously, we all want comfort after a loved one dies, and we want someone from heaven to be watching over us. But that’s God—He’s the one watching over us with His heavenly host, a.k.a. His angels. The angels, though, are not our deceased relatives. They’re a different, separate order of beings. The Book of Revelation gives us a picture of heaven—there are angels there, but there are also people. And we know that we are created in God’s image, whereas angels are not. That right there shows us we are different; so the spirits of our loved ones do live on after death, but not as angels.

GP.org: Who are our guardian angels then?
Kayembe: God takes into account exactly who we are and matches us up to the angels who will bring emotional equilibrium and balance to our lives. I always say they’re like the best version of your very best friend. They are spirit beings. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ‘ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.’ Again, that’s a distinct order of beings that God created before people. That’s another reason we don’t turn into angels—they were here first.

GP.org: If we don’t become angels when we die, what will we do in heaven?
Kayembe:  Scripture doesn’t really talk about what work we’ll be doing; the one job that’s clear is that we will be worshipping God. Whatever we end up doing, though, I think it’ll be great.

GP.org: A lot of people receive mystical signs from beyond. If their loved ones aren’t behind it, who is?
Kayembe: Let’s give the credit to God. Every good and perfect gift—including angels—comes from above, from the Father of life. So if you do receive a sign or experience synchronicity, it very well could be from your guardian angel watching out for you.

GP.org: Why would God send us a message using something we associate with a deceased relative, say, your mother’s favorite flower? Is he simply speaking to us in a language we’ll understand?
Kayembe: Well, absolutely! God knows every single thing about us. The hairs on your head are numbered. He knows what’s going to be the most impactful, significant symbol for us and He wants to encourage and bless us. So, yes, He would use your mother’s favorite flower, or whatever it is, just to let you know that He’s with you, He’s watching over you, and He hasn’t forgotten you.

GP.org: Research shows that people who are dying often have dreams or visions where a deceased friend or relative appears. Why do you think that is?
Kayembe: I believe God wants to comfort us in that time of transition and doesn’t want death to be a fearful thing. It’s not necessarily a dead relative visiting. Rather, if you’re about to die and are afraid, God may show you a glimpse of the other side—your friends or family in heaven—in order to give you a sense of joy and peace.

GP.org: What about deceased relatives who appear in dreams? Are they actually visiting us or is something else going on?
Kayembe: Dreams are bridges to the supernatural and are usually symbolic. If a deceased relative comes to you in a dream, I would interpret that person as a symbol, the same way I would interpret a living person in a dream as a symbol. So, for example, if your grandmother was very wise and appears in a dream, I wouldn’t say it’s your grandmother herself. Instead, she may represent the wisdom God wants to give you in a situation.

GP.org: What does it reveal about God that he would send us messages in this manner, i.e. using loved ones who have passed away?
Kayembe: God is such a loving, affectionate, compassionate Father—more than we could ever imagine. He will do everything he can just to encourage us at a specific time of need. He knows what will bring us the most comfort in that moment.

 

 

Humor…

Lee Judge for 3/13/2020

Aunty Acid for 3/15/2020

Image result for Maxine on being sick

Image result for Blessings for Lent

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Spring Ahead?

Image result for animated Praying Time

 Daily Prayer for March 8

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9–11, NIV

Lord Jesus, we bow before you, before you to whom all power is given. We will love you, O Lord. We will treasure you. Your thoughts shall be our thoughts, that we may learn how you are named in heaven, on earth, and below the earth. Watch over us and be with us until you can come, until the time is fulfilled when you will appear among us and establish God’s kingdom. Then the whole world will rejoice and all people will bend their knees before you, the one Lord and Savior. Amen.

 

 

Living Lent Daily

Second Sunday of Lent

Ash Wednesday

Today we reflect on  Matthew 17:1–2.

When have I glimpsed God in a way that brought my understanding to a new level?

I’ve not had an experience similar to the disciples seeing Jesus transfigured. But I glimpse the reality and glory of God when something speaks to that deep place in me—the place where I recognize truth, where I know that I know something wonderful. Sometimes the truth seems to vibrate and sing to me when I read a poem or a line from a novel or essay or the Scriptures. I take in the word or phrase, and it becomes alive in me. That moment becomes part of the long, long string of moments in which the Holy Spirit speaks to my spirit in a way that cannot be denied. Thus, the string of moments develops into an ever-growing memory of faith.

I’m a word person, so it makes sense that I glimpse the Divine through words. But God appears to each person in a way he or she will recognize and relate to.

—Vinita Hampton Wright, author of Small Simple Ways
and The Art of Spiritual Writing

More Lenten Resources

The Transfiguration

"Landscape with the Transfiguration of Christ" by Francesco Zuccarelli

Let us look at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2–8) with its obvious reference to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan (Mark 1:9). At the baptism we read: “And just as [Jesus] was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased’ ” (Mark 1:10–11). How did Jesus feel as he heard these words, he the Jew of the first commandment? We can ask him to reveal this to us. Now at the Transfiguration Jesus has another profound experience of God. At least one can read the scene this way even if some commentators see the scene as a postresurrection appearance translated to the public life. Jesus has just predicted the Passion for the first time; he can sense the hatred and venom beginning to surround him. At this critical juncture he once again hears similar words, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). What a comfort these words must have been to him. After all, it is the leaders of God’s religion who are out to kill Jesus. Could he have had doubts about the course he was on? I know people who have cried with joy that Jesus heard such words of warmth and love and reassurance from God in this dark hour. And they have felt that the memory of this experience sustained him in the Garden of Gethsemane. How does the scene strike you? What is Jesus like for you?

—Excerpted from Seek My Face by William A. Barry, SJ

 

 

 

Unstoppable! ‘Meet Mr. Encouragement’

There were no needy people among [the disciples], because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.

Key Thought

How are you known among your friends and your brothers and sisters in Christ? What is your reputation? What would they nickname you if they gave you a name to match your lifestyle and reputation? These are good questions for us to ask ourselves as we remember the story of Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement.” This generous brother not only gave up his property and offered encouragement to others, but he also reclaimed Saul (whom we know as Paul) and mentored him in ministry (Acts 9:26-2711:25-26). Let’s commit to leaving an example and legacy of goodness, graciousness, and encouragement for others, like Barnabas.

Today’s Prayer

O Father, I want to be known as a person of generous grace. I don’t want this reputation so I can be prideful, but because I want to be truly your person, someone who reflects your generosity, grace, goodness, and encouragement. I ask for the Holy Spirit to work in my life and grow your holy fruit in me. I want, O LORD, to reflect your righteous character and gracious compassion faithfully in my life through the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 11:17 — A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.

Passion for Praise: ‘Never Enough’

Illustration of Psalm 106:1-2 — Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?

A Year with Jesus: ‘Can’t You See the Urgency?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

You need to treat the issues of the kingdom with a sense of urgency. There is never a time to be complacent. As you read the verses below, you will see that I emphasized the need for a great sense of urgency.

For those who first heard My words in the verses below, there was going to be an important moment of decision. My rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection were going to lead to a moment of supreme decision for everyone. This moment of supreme decision for all who knew and heard Me was coming sooner than anyone wanted to recognize. This decision would tear families apart because some would wholly reject Me, considering Me a blasphemer and a troublemaker, while others would see Me as I AM — the Holy One of God sent to save them.

For you, this decision is one you must make continuously: What will you do with Me? Am I a liar and a lunatic or Lord? And if I am Lord, how then will you live differently from those around you? Yes, this is a decision of continuous urgency!

Verses to Live

While you don’t face exactly the same scenario as these first hearers of My message, you are confronted with a challenge by the things I’ve said. You must feel a sense of urgency about where to invest your life. Your attachment to the world can easily lead you to live in apathy and approach important spiritual matters with complacency. So I’m challenging you today with passionate and serious language and strong images because you must decide what you are going to do with Me.

Jesus to His disciples:

This is serious business we’re involved in. My mission is to send a purging fire on the earth! In fact, I can hardly wait to see the smoke rising. I have a kind of baptism to go through, and I can’t relax until My mission is accomplished! Do you think I’ve come with a nice little message of peace? No way. Believe Me, My message will divide. It will divide a household of five into three against two or two against three. It will divide father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

(speaking to the crowd) You see a cloud arise from the sea in the west, and you can say, “Here comes a shower!” And you’re right. Or you feel the hot wind blowing in from the desert in the south and you say, “It’s going to be really hot!” And you’re right. Listen, hypocrites! You can predict the weather by paying attention to the sky and the earth, but why can’t you interpret the urgency of this present moment? Why don’t you see it for yourselves?

Imagine you’re being sued. You and your accuser are on your way to court. Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to settle out of court before you stand before the magistrate? After all, he might drag you to stand before the judge, and the judge might hand you over to the police, and they might throw you in jail. Once you’re in jail, it’s too late: you’re not going anywhere until you’ve paid in full.

(Luke 12:49-59)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I confess that I can become complacent, sometimes even apathetic, about my life as Jesus’ disciple. There are so many things crowding into my heart for my attention. So today, I pray the prayer Moses offered many centuries ago: Lord, “teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.”* I want to live every moment for Jesus with passion and courage. I don’t want to waste any moments You give me and fritter away my life on what doesn’t matter eternally. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Psalm 90:12 ESV, from a psalm described as “A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God.”

 

 

     ~~~Dion Todd

Baby Talk

Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalms 131:2 WEB

Babies tend to cry a lot. Anytime they want something, they begin to cry. During this time, the parents are usually quick to look after them, partly out of love and partly to stop the noise. I have seen them cry when you bring them food, and then cry when you take it away. They certainly cry when they are hungry, and they always want it right now.

As a child grows and becomes weaned, they learn to wait for the food to be prepared. They are content to play and carry on with their life until the meal is finally served, and they are called to eat. A weaned child will tell the parents that they are hungry, and then wait for it. Children are not as needy or fussy as infants.

You need to reach a point in your walk with the Lord where it no longer matters if you get what you want immediately. You learn to pray and wait confidently instead of giving into panic and despair. No matter what happens, God is still on the throne.

When something doesn’t make sense, pray about it and put it on a back burner for a while. Don’t let it consume the rest of your life and drive those around you crazy. If God hasn’t given you the answer yet, learn to wait for it patiently.

Also don’t focus so much on a scripture you don’t understand, that you begin to neglect the rest of the Bible. There are a lot of other verses in there to read, try one of them. Pray about the one that confuses you and let it rest a while. In His time, God will usually give you the answer. We are big boys and girls now. We can learn to wait a little.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for bringing me this far. Please help me grow in grace, guide my steps and help me make the right decisions today. I understand that You will tell me what I need to know when the right time comes, and I trust You to do that. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: An average reader can read the book of Philemonin about one minute.

 

Daily Dig

purple crocusI believe that God really has dived down into the bottom of creation, and has come up bringing the whole redeemed nature on his shoulders. The miracles that have already happened are, of course, as Scripture so often says, the first fruits of that cosmic summer which is presently coming on. Christ has risen, and so we shall rise… To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. Two thousand years are only a day or two by this scale. A man really ought to say, “The Resurrection happened two thousand years ago” in the same spirit in which he says, “I saw a crocus yesterday.”

Source: Watch for the Light

 

 

3 Prayers for Our Government and Leaders

Prayers for our government and leaders–current and future–matter more than ever. Whether your concern is for the President, Congress, or the Judges of our land, will you be faithful to pray? Here are three prayers that might help strengthen them:

Prayers for Our Government: A Prayer for Our President

Lord, no matter who is leading our country as President, we offer our prayers on behalf of his/her position. Draw him into a strong relationship with You. Thank You for this one who has pledged his life in service to our country. Give him a true servant spirit, one who is a person after Your own heart. Anoint him with Your Holy Spirit’s power, that he might feel your strength in every situation.

Let integrity and honesty guide every decision as He first looks to You for divine help. Turn his heart from distractions and temptations that could bring harm rather than help to his life, his family, and to the people he serves. Make him a leader in every respect, morally and spiritually strong. Enlighten His mind with discernment, wisdom, and fairness.

When others tempt him to embrace arrogant power rather than humble service, give him an undivided heart. Help him to stand firm, knowing that You will fight his battles with him. May He begin His day with You and Your Word, with gratitude and praise for the honor You have given to him.

Throughout the day may Your Spirit remind him of his purpose and of Your love for him. And when the night arrives, calm his heart with the peace that passes all understanding as he purposes to keep trusting and obeying You, no matter what the cost. As You surround him with godly counselors, give him accountability to them and the people he serves, but first and foremost to You. Bless him with joy when righteousness and goodness prevail. But give him a heart that weeps for the injustices and sorrows around him.

Guard our President against unfair criticism and unfounded accusations. When he stumbles, give him the courage to admit his mistakes. Strengthen his character, guard him against hurtful compromise, and give him a listening ear for the people he serves. In danger, surround him and our country with Your angel protection. From the time he begins in office until his time is complete, may he serve you and our country as a true leader with an undying love, an unswerving faith, and an unending hope in the only One who can make our country great. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayers for Our Government: A Prayer for Congress

Because you desire all people to be saved, we pray for salvation for every leader in Congress and throughout our government. Capture their hearts for kingdom work so they can help turn the hearts of others toward You and the good of our country, helping us live peaceable lives.

For both Representatives and Senators and all who serve within Congress, give them a desire to promote righteousness: the things that will honor You, not themselves. Cut through any hypocrisy or tendencies to make their names known instead of Your own. Let them experience the joy of sacrifice, honor, and a pure conscience.

Bring a spirit of unity to our Congress, but only with compromises that promote Your good, not godless laws or damaging agendas. Let wisdom and integrity reign in every leader’s life. Keep their goals simple, birthing ideas or laws that will help keep our country safe, protect the weak, heal the broken, and encourage every person to his full potential. Protect them and their families, and surround them with Your angel protection.

Give every leader a strong sense of their destiny, and remind them of their accountability not only to the ones they serve, but always to You, Lord. Open their eyes to Your perspective for decision-making. May Your Word become the truth and guide for all decisions, and may they look to You for the last Word. Raise up strong leaders in Congress, Lord, who will stay the course and work tirelessly to foster peace, fairness, and justice for all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayers for Our Government: A Prayer for Judges

Lord, You are the supreme Judge and Ruler over all, so we pray for every judge in every courtroom throughout our nation. We pray for their salvation and their ultimate submission to You so they can understand the true principles of justice, mercy, and grace. Give them wise hearts and discerning minds that will interpret truth and uphold law according to the principles in Your Word. May they represent You with dignity and integrity with full accountability to You and the ones they serve. Let them judge tenderly yet firmly for the needs and rights of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Help each judge to see everyone as You do, as people of worth and value. Give them an extra sense of fairness that judges each individual uniquely. Help them to visualize both the need for discipline and restoration as they look at each case presented to them. Protect them and their families from harm, especially when others disagree with their verdicts.

Deliver them from the temptation to bow at the feet of comfort or convenience, seeking to please people instead of You. Keep them balanced in their priorities, loving God, family, and others. As they rule on the laws that keep Your people and our country safe, remind them that their efforts are not in vain. Assure them that every decision matters in the scope of eternity.

Help us to be faithful in our prayers for our government and leaders.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What Does the Bible Say about Our Role in Government?

God Himself first initiated the position of authority. He is the sole Creator and Ruler of the world. The Bible gives Jesus the name of king of Kings and lord of Lords. God first set up the principle of submission to authority by establishing that we were to worship Him and Him alone. From that standard came the principle of submission to all authority. Because of sin, God allowed governing authorities to preserve justice and fairness in the world.

Our role in government is not only to obey the laws of our land. We also need to intercede for those in authority. Obedience means paying taxes, a practice even Jesus taught. We are to offer thanks, stand in the gap for justice, and pray diligently for the ones who represent authority. This pleases God, and His Word says it allows us to live peaceable, quiet, godly, and dignified lives.

When citizens try to take matters into their own hands through lawlessness, peace is disrupted and lives are in turmoil. We are told to respect the position, even if we don’t agree with the person in authority. God is the one who places people in leadership. But we are given the privilege of voting for those, hopefully positioning ones in office who do believe in God’s ultimate authority.

As Christians, however, we are not bound to obey laws that violate God’s moral and righteous standards. When commanded by authority, Daniel and his three Jewish friends refused to worship idols. Peter and the apostles were told to stop teaching about Jesus’ name. But they replied, “We must obey God, rather than man.” We can make appeals, like the biblical Queen Esther. And we can help hold our leaders accountable. But our greatest role in government is to pray. The Bible says when His people will humble themselves and pray, He will hear–and heal our land.

5 Bible Verses about Earthly Rulers and Government

  • Romans 13:1-2 NIVLet everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
  • Romans 13:7 NLTGive to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
  • Psalm 2: 10-12 CEVBe smart, all you rulers, and pay close attention. Serve and honor the Lord; be glad and tremble. Show respect to his son because if you don’t, the Lord might become furious and suddenly destroy you. But he blesses and protects everyone who runs to him.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-4 CSBFirst of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
  • Proverbs 21:1 CEVThe Lord controls rulers, just as he determines the course of rivers.

God’s Word offers clear direction for leaders in our nation and those in authority. Their responsibilities and duties are never easy. Our prayers for our government and leaders matter. When we pray faithfully and live godly, obedient lives, we can honor God and live peaceable lives.

*This post first appeared on Crosswalk.

*Here is another post I wrote that can help you in praying for our country.

It’s Your Turn

What about you? Will you add your prayers for our government and leaders? Your prayers matter! I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.

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The Good Shepherd

By Publisher on Mar 04, 2020 03:10 pm

Tonight at about 8:00 PM the constellation Auriga (“The Shepherd”) will be directly overhead.

 

Auriga is one of the constellations associated with Taurus (“The Bull”) which tell of the Second Coming of Christ. In the ancient world the bull symbolized great power, reminding us that Christ will return in power to conquer His enemies. The bright constellation Orion (Coming Forth as Light), a picture of Christ preparing to crush the serpent Satan, encapsulates the theme of the Star Bible that the Seed of Woman will be bruised in the heel and will crush the head of the serpent (See Genesis 3:15). Flowing out of Orion, the constellation Eridanus (“River of Fire”) shows the fate of Christ’s enemies (Revelation 21:8).

 

In the midst of this picture of judgment Auriga tells a different story. The constellation pictures a shepherd (Christ: See John 10:14, 15) holding a goat and two kids. The goat represents the Jews, who will be kept through the time of troubles before Christ returns, and who will live during Christ’s 1,000 year reign. The two kids represent the Church, uniting Gentiles and Jews to rule with Christ when He returns. The Shepherd reminds us that “The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgement, while continuing their punishment” (2 Peter 2:9).

 

Next week on March 9 we celebrate Purim, the feast of Jews under Queen Esther. The story of how God rescued the Jews while destroying their enemies is a powerful illustration of the promise of Auriga to hold the Jews safe and rescue God’s people.

 

Auriga has a distinctive shape and contains the sixth brightest star Capella (“The Goat”), which is almost directly overhead. The two stars representing the kids, known as the Haedi, are almost directly on the Zenith point near Capella. Just below Auriga to the West are the two brightest star clusters in the sky, the Hyades (The Congregated) representing those who return with Christ at His Second Coming (Jude 14-15) and Pleiades (The Congregation of the Ruler) representing those believers alive when Christ comes who will be taken up to meet Him in the air. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) Auriga is also located in the Milky Way, known in ancient times as the Highway to Heaven, and presents a fine sight through binoculars.

 

So enjoy the constellation Auriga tonight, and rejoice that the Good Shepherd will protect His flock in the midst of judgment, as we travel along the Highway to Heaven.

The post The Good Shepherd appeared first on International Star Bible Society.

 

 

 

Humor—

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Share a Smile Day

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What Is Lent: Honoring the Sacrifice of Jesus

What Is Lent: Honoring the Sacrifice of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2

What is Lent – A Time Set Aside

Just as we set aside time to spiritually prepare for Christmas Day, it makes sense to set aside time to prepare for the two most important days of the Christian year. Lent is a time that offers us an opportunity to come to terms with the human condition we may spend the rest of the year running from and it brings our need for a Savior to the forefront. Like Advent, Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand our Lord a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually Easter comes, it is not just another day at church but an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer.

But unlike the childlike joy associated with the season of Advent, with its eager anticipation of the precious baby Jesus, Lent is an intensely penitential time as we examine our sinful natures and return to the God we have, through our own rebelliousness, hurt time and again. Lent is also an opportunity to contemplate what our Lord really did for us on the Cross – and it wasn’t pretty. But ultimately, the purpose of Lent does not stop at sadness and despair – it points us to the hope of the Resurrection and the day when every tear will be dried (Rev. 21:4).

 

 

Living Lent Daily

First Sunday of Lent

Today we reflect on Matthew 4:3–4.

Hungry after forty days of fasting, Jesus is met by the tempter. What is offered, like the way offered to the first human beings, is a way of pride. Notice that every response Jesus makes to the tempter is a Scripture passage. Relying on God, letting God move and speak through our lives rather than our pride, we can respond to temptation in a different way—a way that brings life, not death.
—Excerpted from 2020: A Book of Grace-Filled Days by Amy Welborn

Hungry after forty days of fasting, Jesus is met by the tempter. What is offered, like the way offered to the first human beings, is a way of pride. Notice that every response Jesus makes to the tempter is a Scripture passage. Relying on God, letting God move and speak through our lives rather than our pride, we can respond to temptation in a different way—a way that brings life, not death.

—Excerpted from 2020: A Book of Grace-Filled Days by Amy Welborn


Amy Welborn

Amy Welborn is the author of Loyola Kids Book of SaintsLoyola Kids Book of Heroes, and more than twenty other books for Catholic children, ​teens, and adults.

As you begin your retreat, pause for a few moments and allow yourself to grow still. Let go of any distracting thoughts. Take several slow, deep breaths. Become aware of the great love God has for you.

Matthew 4:3–4

The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: ’One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”

Children often see rules as little more than a limit placed on being free to do as they please. Many adults, too, live under this illusion. In the same way he tempted Jesus, the devil wants us to “make our own rules.” In his response, Jesus sets out the truth that following the Word of God is a source of life. In the Commandments we find God’s rules for life. By following these rules, we will remain connected to him and to each other. Our faithfulness is made evident by our choices, not only in what we avoid but also in what we choose to do.

When am I most tempted to make my own rules?

How do the choices I make each day show my fidelity to God?

(Speak to Jesus in these words or your own.)

Jesus, thank you for your example of faithfulness to God. Grant me the grace to listen attentively and live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Amen.

 

 

More Lenten Resources

Ash Wednesday

Following Jesus into the Desert

After my baptism, I returned daily to the river and watched. When John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” we applauded. Some danced. Some jumped into the water and splashed each other like children.

People were so busy celebrating that they didn’t notice Jesus head toward the desert. I wondered why he left and followed.

He walked for an hour and then stopped. I stayed back, hesitant to disturb him. He stood still, eyes closed, and tilted his neck so the sun could fall fully on his face. The hands at his sides slowly rose. I became self-conscious. Was I intruding? I went home.

Days passed, and I wondered about Jesus. No one had seen him. More days passed, and I decided to return to the desert. I don’t know what I hoped to find.

Somehow my wanderings led me to Jesus, who sat with his chest to his knees. He looked thin and tired. His lips were dry and cracked. I stayed back. Had he been praying all this time? I can barely sit through a synagogue service. What self-discipline this man had! And what was he thinking about as he sat there? Did he love solitude so much? Or was he waiting for an answer that was slow in coming?I wanted to imitate him, so I started praying at a distance. I became aware of stiff limbs before I realized that much time had passed. As I gazed at a full moon, I felt famished. I wanted the comfort of my own bed. What was I doing out here? Why didn’t I leave?A thought occurred to me: “Yours is a useless life. What you do doesn’t amount to anything. You don’t amount to anything.”

I chewed on this idea for a moment. As fear mounted, Jesus turned. He knew I was there. My mind raced. A voice inside accused me: “You don’t belong here. Leave. You are interfering.”

I wanted to run. But Jesus’ eyes contradicted my inclination. I stayed. It was then that I noticed Jesus sweating profusely. Was he going through a battle of his own? His hands were clenched in prayer, and I followed his example.

“God, I belong to you,” I prayed. “I want to follow your plan, but I don’t know what that is. Show me.”

The image of the ill neighbor I care for flitted across my mind. Then I remembered my mother, who lives with us. I do matter, and it’s a temptation to think I don’t.

“Give me courage,” I prayed. “Give me patience and a kind word when I am exhausted.”

I closed my eyes. Peace overtook me. The next thing I knew, sun was warming my cheek. I had fallen asleep in the desert. As I stretched my stiff muscles, I looked around. Where was Jesus?

I began wandering and looking for him. Why was I seeking him? I should be home. I should be… I caught myself in this thought.

“Be kind to yourself. Test your thoughts.”

I heard a voice and turned to see Jesus. “We’ve had a lot to think about out here, haven’t we?” Jesus smiled. “Let’s head back. We know what we need to do now.”

As we walked together, he talked about his own temptations. And he invited me to talk about mine. When we reached my house, he thanked me. He thanked me!

“I know you’ll accompany me again,” he said. “Not into the desert, but into your busy life of service. This is love, my friend.”

He turned up the road, and I went into my house to receive a puzzled look and a reminder that the roof needed fixing. “And your mother has been calling for you.”

 

Overcoming Our Temptations

What is a temptation, really? We make feeble attempts with ardent effort to overcome our temptations during Lent, but what is it we are really trying to overcome?

desert treeWe are trying to overcome those things in our lives that hinder our relationships with God and prevent us from putting God first. So often we try to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong for us without any thought of God’s will for us. We naturally turn first to our desires for fun, to our inclinations for busyness, to food or alcohol for comfort, and to others for company.

God often comes behind these things in our thinking and often is not even considered as the source that can calm all of the chaos and desires in our lives. Instead, we put our human desires first, and we find ourselves in a state of restlessness, tiredness, or desolation. We feel lost as to the problem but also to the solution.

When it comes to deciding what is right or wrong for us, we can look to Jesus as our teacher. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert and leaned heavily on his Father during his time there. It is only with his Father’s help that Jesus was able to overcome the temptations presented to him by the devil. Jesus surely felt the desires of his humanity in the desert—hunger, pride, and power. How ardently he must have fought against his human desires! How weak he must have felt! Jesus understood, though, that his strength to overcome temptations came by turning to his Father and letting God help him decide what was right and wrong for him.

This Lent, we are invited to make that same bold turn toward God. And we do not make this turn alone. Both Jesus and the Spirit are here helping us as we turn to God to give us the strength and wisdom to overcome our temptations.

Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.
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Daily Dig for March 1

Thomas Aquinas

Suppose a person entering a house were to feel heat on the porch, and going further, were to feel the heat increasing, the more they penetrated within. Doubtless, such a person would believe there was a fire in the house, even though they did not see the fire that must be causing all this heat. A similar thing will happen to anyone who considers this world in detail: one will observe that all things are arranged according to their degrees of beauty and excellence, and that the nearer they are to God, the more beautiful and better they are.

Source: Sermon-Conferences of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Apostles’ Creed

 

 

A Prayer for Your Teen’s Faith
By Kristine Brown

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)

It’s every parent’s worry. How does my child continue trusting God when today’s culture teaches him to question his faith? I discussed this topic with my teen. His fresh perspective gave me renewed hope.

Our open conversation uncovered three practical things parents can do to help our teens keep the faith in an increasingly faithless world. Let’s learn together how to help our teens stay grounded in unshakeable faith, even in the midst of the madness.

It’s not about controlling what they see, but controlling what they see in you.

Our teens may not always listen to what we say, but they will absorb every detail of our actions. Are we displaying Christ-like character at home? Are we treating others with unconditional love and kindness? Do we rely on God’s Word in times of trouble?

God designed us to shine His light. Our kids will learn most about what it means to be a Christ-follower from watching our example.

Listen, even when you dread what they might say.

I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me with their deepest thoughts and greatest fears, but I don’t always act like it. I need to create an atmosphere of trust – a safe place to share burdens.

 

 

 

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Humor—

 Aunty Acid for 3/1/2020

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Hosanna to the King of Kings!

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Daily Prayer for April 14

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25–26, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, to you we entrust everything, for you have given us life and will call us to resurrection. You will help your children, your people, to reach what you have called them to. Protect your church on earth. Let her soon see your glory. Let her see Jesus Christ intervening in people’s lives and destinies until, shaken and trembling, they have to recognize that they should love and honor Jesus alone, to your honor, O Father in heaven. We thank you for all you have given us in your Word, which enables us to become your children and to find your way for us on earth. Bless us and give us the Holy Spirit. Protect us this night. Protect us so that nothing evil can harm us. Amen.

 

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Daily Dig for April 14

J. Heinrich Arnold

When Jesus sent two disciples to fetch a donkey’s colt on Palm Sunday, they had no other task in the whole world more important than fetching it. If someone had said to them, “You are called to greater things; anyone can fetch a donkey,” and they had not done it, they would have been disobedient. But there was nothing greater for them at that moment than to fetch the donkey for Christ. I wish that we all might do every task, great or small, in this obedience. There is nothing greater than obedience to Christ.

Source: Discipleship

 

 

PALM SUNDAY OR PASSION SUNDAY
LITURGY OF THE PALMS
Sixth Sunday in Lent
YEAR C
On the same date: Palm Sunday, Liturgy of the Passion

Psalm Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29
Gospel Luke 19:28–40
Index of Readings
PSALM
Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29

1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
Because his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let Israel now say,
That his mercy endureth for ever.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness:
I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:
20 This gate of the LORD,
Into which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me,
And art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders refused
Is become the head stone of the corner.
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
It is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the LORD hath made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD:
O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD:
We have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light:
Bind the sacrifice with cords,
Even unto the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee:
Thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
29 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
For his mercy endureth for ever.

GOSPEL
Luke 19:28–40
28 And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

PALM SUNDAY OR PASSION SUNDAY
LITURGY OF THE PASSION
Sixth Sunday in Lent
YEAR C
On the same date: Palm Sunday, Liturgy of the Palms

Old Testament Isaiah 50:4–9a
Psalm Psalm 31:9–16
New Testament Philippians 2:5–11
Gospel Luke 22:14–23:56 or Luke 23:1–49
Index of Readings
OLD TESTAMENT
Isaiah 50:4–9a

4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary:
He wakeneth morning by morning,
He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear,
And I was not rebellious,
Neither turned away back.
6 I gave my back to the smiters,
And my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair:
I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
7 For the Lord GOD will help me;
Therefore shall I not be confounded:
Therefore have I set my face like a flint,
And I know that I shall not be ashamed.
8 He is near that justifieth me;
Who will contend with me? let us stand together:
Who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.
9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me;
Who is he that shall condemn me?
Lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.

PSALM
Psalm 31:9–16
9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble:
Mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing:
My strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.
11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies,
But especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance:
They that did see me without fled from me.
12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind:
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I have heard the slander of many:
Fear was on every side:
While they took counsel together against me,
They devised to take away my life.
14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD:
I said, Thou art my God.
15 My times are in thy hand:
Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant:
Save me for thy mercies’ sake.

NEW TESTAMENT
Philippians 2:5–11
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
GOSPEL
Option A
Luke 22:14–23:56
14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, guntil it be fulfilled hin the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: lthis do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21 But, behold, mthe hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of man goeth, oas it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! 23 And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.
24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called tbenefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: ubut he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is ychief, as zhe that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but zI am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in amy temptations. 29 And I bappoint unto you ca kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That dye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and esit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, fSatan hath desired to have you, that he may gsift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art iconverted, kstrengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. 35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without ppurse, and scrip, and ppshoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a ppurse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, qAnd he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me rhave an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be †willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and cpray, lest ye enter into temptation.
47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? 49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? 53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is hyour hour, and ithe power of darkness.

54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
63 And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. 64 And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? 65 And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. 66 And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, 67 Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: 68 And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor xlet me go. 69 Hereafter shall the Son of man ysit on the right hand of the power of God. 70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. 71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
23 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. 3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. 8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. 16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) 18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. 25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, lBlessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30 mThen shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in na green tree, owhat shall be done in the dry? 32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, tforgive them; for uthey know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in oparadise.
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, tinto thy hands I ucommend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counseller; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

OR
Option B
Luke 23:1–49
And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. 3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. 8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. 16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) 18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. 25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, lBlessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30 mThen shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in na green tree, owhat shall be done in the dry? 32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, tforgive them; for uthey know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in oparadise.
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, tinto thy hands I ucommend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
Revised Common Lectionary. (2009). Bellingham, WA: Faithlife.

 

5 Things about Palm Sunday That Remind Us Christ Is King

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that begins the Holy Week. It is the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem as Savior and King. As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Is Palm Sunday?

This year Palm Sunday is on April 14, 2019.

“Many churches celebrate Palm Sunday, which is always the Sunday before Easter (see our When Is Easter? article). Maybe your church has children waving palm branches to help them connect to the story. But while this is a triumphal entry, it is Jesus’ first step toward His death.

Matthew 21:4 tells us:
‘This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’  *The prophecy is cited from Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 62:11.

Jesus had become somewhat of a celebrity among people who had heard of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead, and they wanted to see Him and treat Him like a king. But Jesus wasn’t arriving to be their king on account of Lazarus; the story of Lazarus would have had the religious leaders in even more of an uproar and determined to put an end to His life, which He knew . . .  Jesus’ glory would be greater than that of a local king.” -Excerpted from When Is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday Bible Story

Matthew 21:1-11 – Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

On the heels of Palm Sunday, as we begin this Holy Week, may we constantly be reminded of its significance and value for our lives today. That very important day in history, when Jesus began His journey towards the cross.

Yet maybe in the midst of busy lives, on the heels of Spring Break, or in all of the upcoming thoughts about Easter, the real meaning of it may, even unintentionally, get missed.

His Word reveals such great truths in every part of this story. Truths that draw us closer towards Christ, reminding us that He alone is King…

5 Things about Palm Sunday that Remind Us Christ is King

1. God’s Word tells us the people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, laid them out on the ground before Jesus as He rode into the city. The palm branch represented goodness and victory and was symbolic of the final victory He would soon fulfill over death.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Cor. 15:55

2. Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey, which directly fulfilled Old Testament prophecy of Zech. 9:9. In Biblical times, it was common for kings or important people to arrive by a procession riding on a donkey. The donkey symbolized peace, so those who chose to ride them showed that they came with peaceful intentions. Jesus even then reminded us that He is the Prince of Peace.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zech. 9:9

3. When the people shouted “Hosanna!” they were hailing Christ as King. That word actually means “save now,” and though in their own minds they waited for an earthly king, God had a different way in mind of bringing true salvation to all who would trust in Him.

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” Ps. 118:26

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9

4. The Bible says that Jesus wept for Jerusalem. In the midst of the praise of the moment, He knew in His heart that it wouldn’t be long that these same people would turn their backs on Him, betray Him, and crucify Him. His heart broke with the reality of how much they needed a Savior.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

5. Palm Sunday reminds us that the reign of Christ is far greater than any the mind of man could ever conceive or plan. Man looked for someone to fight their battles in the present day world. Yet God had the ultimate plan of sending His Son to fight the final battle over death. This is the greatness of why we celebrate this week. Because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, we can be set free of death.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,'”John 11:25

We have so much to be grateful for this week.

The enemy knows that, and you can bet, he’s going to do everything he can to try and distract us away from the true meaning of what this Holy Week means. Don’t let him win.

In this Holy Week, may God direct our thoughts and attention towards what matters most, Jesus Christ our King…

Let’s choose to focus on worshipping our Lord, thanking Him for the gift of His sacrifice, celebrating the power of the Resurrection, and the new life found in Him alone.

Grace.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Cor. 9:15

Palm Sunday Bible Verses

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

John 12:12-19 – The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

Luke 19:11-44 – “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Palm Sunday Prayer

Lord God,

I give you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless.

Here I stand, at the start of this holy week,

This week in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death,

And I am distracted by many things.

Turn my eyes now to the One who comes in your name

The one who opens the gates of righteousness

The one who answers when we call.

I bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon me,

And for sending your son to us, in human frailty.

To walk the road we walk.

Open my eyes that I may see him coming,

And may praise him with a pure heart.

And may walk in the way of his suffering,

And share also in his resurrection.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

As we walk with Jesus during Holy Week,
may we also walk with those who are in need.

Scripture

“But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!”
Psalm 22:19

 

Reflection

We are entering into the most sacred week of the liturgical year, during which we celebrate Jesus’ final days. The journey begins with shouts of praise as Jesus enters Jerusalem and is welcomed by exultant crowds. This only serves to heighten the tension between Jesus and his critics, who work all the harder to bring him down.

As he goes through the week, Jesus teaches in the Temple arena, he scatters the money lenders, and he challenges the religious authorities. Jesus has long known what would be the result of his mission, but he faces his critics with courage. This is the culminating path of his journey in mercy.

At the beginning of the week, Jesus seems to have all the friends that he needs. But as the week goes on, the crowds become silent, his disciples become more nervous, and Judas plots with the leaders in the Temple to betray him. By the end of the week, Jesus will find few companions on this road of mercy as he prepares to die on our behalf.

Not one of us will end this journey of life without suffering, pain, and death. And there are those in our lives who daily suffer the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of disabilities, loss of motor function, or psychological loneliness. These conditions do not have an easy fix; there is no magic pill that will cure all. With their ongoing issues, it can be easy for us to be impatient with them, not to call them, or not to send a note to indicate that we are willing companions on their way of the cross. Because we fear being inconvenienced, we distance ourselves through indifference rather than accompanying them with mercy in the midst of their suffering.

This week we will accompany Jesus on his journey of mercy. By taking a more active participation with those in our lives who are in need, we will grow in the grace of mercy won for us by Jesus this Holy Week.

Lenten Action

► Read Jesus Enters Jerusalem: An End and a Beginning by Becky Eldredge.

Jesus, as we enter Holy Week, I am moved with emotion that you were able to put one foot in front of the other as you entered the streets of Jerusalem. You knew that Jerusalem was a city that did not like prophets, much less the Messiah. Surely you understand you were in danger as you went there. Surely you knew your life was at risk. Why did you go?

Jerusalem was your end, but it was our beginning.

There are days that I pray with the Scripture stories about your time in Jerusalemleading up to your death, and I feel angry that you went there. Why didn’t you flee? Why didn’t you turn and run another way?

Praying with the Scriptures about you in front of Pontius Pilate I want to yell out to you: “Defend yourself! Speak up! Tell them who you are!” Why did you remain silent?

Jerusalem was your end, but it was our beginning.

This week, I pray that we remember what you did for us—that you intentionally put one foot in front of the other as you entered Jerusalem; that you dined with friends knowing that you would be betrayed; that you were mocked, insulted, slapped, spit on, and falsely accused. You could have chosen otherwise. You could have fled, but you stood, rooted in your Father, and went where you were called to go.

Jerusalem was your end, but it was our beginning.

May we remember what you did for us. May we remember that your death did not end in darkness and loss, but in the hope of the Resurrection. May we trust that God can use us to transform lives and the world the way you did for us. May we bring hope into the world the way you did.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as you humbled yourself for our sake, help me to walk in humility and truth with my family and neighbors.
Logos.com

The Star Lord

God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. Genesis 1:16 WEB

He also made the stars. What a sentence. I read this verse sometimes and I am amazed by how much the Bible packs into a single verse. Scientists estimate that there are around 300 sextillion stars now, and that number grows larger as they develop devices that let them see further into space.

That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros, or 3 trillion times 100 billion. My mind cannot even fathom numbers like this, and yet mankind cannot create a single star. Written out it in long hand it looks like this: 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

There are multiple planets in orbit around these stars, and multiple moons in orbit around those planets. When compared with the universe, the planet Earth that we live on is like a speck of pollen. We are only a speck living on that speck, but yet fighting and dividing over anything that we can think of. From above, it would be much like watching ant colonies milling about, so busy at work, till a boot comes down. We really need to keep our life in the proper perspective and see the big picture.

The Awesome God Almighty that made the stars calls us by name and knows how many hairs are on our head. He created all of this, and yet He will be involved in your life today if you let Him. Though He created the universe, He has given me answers to questions on a math test when I asked Him, simply because He cares.

Today if you feel worthless, put it aside. The Creator Himself has deemed you worthy to call Him Father, and no one else’s opinion really matters. Can the ones looking down their nose at you make stars? I am thrilled to know the Star Lord, and that He knows me.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for creating me and for giving me a place in Your universe. Please help me find the place that I belong and put me right where You want me to be. Guide me and help me make the right decisions as I live my life for You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

 

 

 with Jesus: ‘Compassion in the Middle of Conflict’

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I came to Jerusalem and was greeted with wild enthusiasm. I came as the Prince of Peace, humbly riding on the colt of a donkey as prophesied (Zechariah 9:9). I did not come as a conquering general riding on a white horse.

The crowd was overjoyed at My coming to Jerusalem:

[A] huge crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God with loud shouts, glorifying God for the mighty works they had witnessed.

The religious leaders were incensed at My entrance into Jerusalem. They demanded that My followers stop their praises. What was My response to these leaders? I told them the truth!

Listen — if they [the people in the crowd] were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!

The time for diplomacy and subtlety was over. People had to decide what they believed about My identity. Fence-straddling was no longer possible. The issue of My identity could no longer be ignored. The people did not let Me slip quietly into Jerusalem. They wanted God’s promised deliverance. They were convinced that I could bring deliverance to them. But even with their grand expectations, they had no idea what was at stake as I entered Jerusalem!

Jerusalem’s leaders rejected Me. They made the excuse that they were trying to preserve and protect Jerusalem. I knew better. They were trying to protect and preserve their own positions. When I saw the city of David, the holy city for the Israelites, My heart was broken. The leadership of My people refused the offer of peace I came to bring them.

Only by accepting Me would Jerusalem have been spared impending destruction. However, Jerusalem’s leaders would not accept Me. They would kill Me for many reasons, but one of their stated reasons was to save their city, their temple, and their way of life (John 11:45-53). What these leaders didn’t realize was that they were rejecting their only chance for lasting and true peace by rejecting Me.

O how I wish they had welcomed Me and the peace I longed to bring. But in the end, all I could say was really heart-breaking:

How I wish you knew today what would bring peace! … Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too, because you did not recognize the day when God’s Anointed visited you.

How could My heart not break?

How could My emotions not be aroused?

How could I not keep coming back to the temple to reach out to any who would listen?

How could I not confront the religious leaders with their hypocrisy, duplicity, and ignorance of the Scriptures they claimed to know?

What followed My triumphal entry was a week of conflict. Please know, however, that I loved these very people I confronted. I loved the people who listened on the fringes of the crowd. I loved each person in the crowd. So I ministered to their needs. I confronted their wrong-headed notions about their faith. I did not hide to keep Myself safe. I did not play the game of couching things in politically correct speech.

The strongest words of confrontation and accusation of My whole ministry came during this final week before My crucifixion. These words sealed My fate. Nevertheless, behind even these strong words, My heart was filled with compassion. I hurt for people held in bondage to their false notion of religion, to their pretentious show of religious knowledge, and to their pompous parade of the self-righteousness. My heart ached for those fueled by hate and determined to kill Me. They wanted to return things back to their religious and political status quo. I did not back down from the conflict. False religion and duplicitous hearts had to be confronted. However, I never let go of My compassion for those filled with hate and determined to kill Me!

I mourned their blindness. I wept for their self-imposed destruction. I grieved their hardness of heart. I died so they could be forgiven for it all.

Verses to Live

This last week before My crucifixion was a week of conflict and compassion. So as you read about this last week, listen carefully. Examine the words of My story reported to you by the four gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Notice the seeds I sowed in the hard hearts of those who would one day remember what happened during this week and come to faith (Acts 2:33-39). Today, please remember this truth: even if the crowd had not welcomed Me to Jerusalem in my triumphal entry, the rocks would have shouted out My praise.

When He [Jesus] finished the parable, He pushed onward, climbing the steep hills toward Jerusalem.

He approached the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, which are near Mount Olivet. He sent two of the disciples ahead.

Jesus:

Go to the next village. When you enter, you will find a colt tied — a colt that has never been ridden before. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you why you’re untying it, just say, “The Lord needs it.”

So the two disciples found things just as He had told them. When its owners did indeed ask why they were untying the colt, the disciples answered as they had been instructed.

Disciples:

The Lord needs it.

They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their coats on the colt’s back, and then sat Jesus on it. As Jesus rode along, some people began to spread their garments on the road as a carpet. When they passed the crest of Mount Olivet and began descending toward Jerusalem, a huge crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God with loud shouts, glorifying God for the mighty works they had witnessed.

Crowd of Disciples:

The King Who comes in the name of the Eternal One is blessed!

Peace in heaven! Glory in the highest!

Pharisees (who were in the crowd):

Teacher, tell these people to stop making these wild claims and acting this way!

Jesus:

Listen — if they were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!

When Jerusalem came into view, He looked intently at the city and began to weep.

Jesus:

How I wish you knew today what would bring peace! But you can’t see. Days will come when your enemies will build up a siege ramp, and you will be surrounded and contained on every side. Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too, because you did not recognize the day when God’s Anointed One visited you.

He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. He began driving out the temple merchants.

Jesus:

The Hebrew Scriptures say, “My house shall be a house of prayer,” but you have turned it into a shelter for thieves.

He came back day after day to teach in the temple. The chief priests, the religious scholars, and the leading men of the city wanted to kill Him, but because He was so popular among the people — who hung upon each word He spoke — they were unable to do anything.
(Luke 19:28-48)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I want to believe that had I been there that day when Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a colt, I would have praised Him for His great works and His great teaching. But sometimes I find myself slipping into the mode of trying to preserve the religious status quo of my day. Sometimes I don’t want to risk having an extravagant and bold faith in Jesus and being rejected by people I know. I sometimes catch myself trying to water down some of Jesus’ strong words of truth because they are not acceptable to many people — inside or outside Your people of faith. So give me compassionate courage, I pray, dear Father. I want to stand for truth and speak the truth to the hearts of those who need it. Help me, dear Father. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Illustration

Illustration of  —

 

 

 

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Momma…….

 Momma for 4/14/2019

Aunty’s tidbit….

 Aunty Acid for 4/14/2019

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Living Lent…and other Oddities

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Daily Prayer for April 7

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16–17, NIV

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit, who binds us to you. Give us continually afresh something of this Spirit so that we can go forward with light shining on the paths we must follow on earth. Grant us your Spirit, grant that light may break into our whole life and we can rejoice because we experience so much of what you are doing. For through the power of your Spirit you can help us toward your future and all that is to come, that we may live not only in time but in eternity. Amen.

 

Daily Dig for April 7

Jane Tyson Clement

Bird on the Bare Branch

Bird on the bare branch,
flinging your frail song
on the bleak air,
tenuous and brave –
like love in a bleak world,
and like love,
pierced
with everlastingness!
O praise
that we too
may be struck through with light,
may shatter the barren cold
with pure melody
and sing
for thy sake
till the hills are lit with love
and the deserts come
to bloom.

Source: The Heart’s Necessities

 

 

 

Living Lent Daily

Fifth Sunday of Lent

The disciplines of Lent bring with them the promise of renewal.

Scripture

“I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:19

 

Reflection

The season of Lent brings with it the promise of spring. We are moving out of winter, spring flowers will be budding out of the ground, and the vestiges of the season of cold weather will soon be a memory. Isaiah promised a similar renewal; he told the people that the memories of the hard travels they have had were in the past: “Do not remember the former things, / or consider the things of old” (Isaiah 43:18). Rather, he encouraged them to look forward to the newness God was creating for them.

Even though he was in prison when he wrote his Letter to the Philippians, Paul did not let his imprisonment or the memories of past persecution dampen his hope in Christ. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1‒11). The religious authorities brought the woman accused before Jesus for judgment. (Note, the man involved was equally guilty and subject to the same penalty, but we hear nothing of him.) The woman was nothing but an excuse for the authorities to entrap Jesus. She was not named―she was an object in their eyes, truly a person on the periphery of her society.

Should Jesus have excused her, he would have been criticized for not obeying the Law. If he told the authorities to carry out the judgment and stone her to death, he would have been seen as heartless. Jesus stooped to the ground and, ignoring the authorities, traced lines in the sand. He then stood and told the authorities, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). He then stooped to the ground once again. Those who were ready to stone the woman disappeared.

Accepting the woman as a person, Jesus asked who was there to condemn her. “No one, sir,” she said. Then Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11).

In a personal encounter with Jesus, the woman had received mercy as only God can give, and she was offered the possibility of a new life in a new relationship with God. Jesus offers us that same possibility when we approach him with a contrite heart.

 

Lenten Action

► Reflect on this Sunday’s Gospel with Arts & Faith: Lent.

Palma il Vecchio, “Christ and the Adulteress,” circa 1525–1528

Arts and Faith: LentPalma il Vecchio’s Christ and the Adulteress invites us into the crowd standing with the Pharisees to hear how Jesus will judge the woman caught in adultery. Palma il Vecchio’s depiction invites us into close proximity with Christ, the woman, and three Pharisees, creating an intimacy that inevitably leads one to examine his or her conscience. Christ’s direct gaze at us, the audience, reinforces this proximity and demands a look inward.

The woman in this scene is modeled after Violante, an ambiguous figure in the painter’s life, whom he regarded as a daughter. Her face appears frequently in Palma’s work. Rather than an ashamed, frightened, or penitent face, the face of this woman is somewhat defiant, unconvinced that her accusers have the right to charge her. Her raised eyebrow is evocative: it is as if she has owned up to her adultery, while at the same time remaining skeptical that her accusers are any better than she is. In this one lifted eyebrow, Palma tells us the story of “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” While these are Christ’s words in John’s Gospel, here the words echo from the woman’s expression. To be a carrier of God’s Word gives her a vocation and returns to her the dignity that is stripped from her when she is labeled an adulteress and marked for execution.

If the woman’s raised eyebrow communicates the sin and hypocrisy present in this story, Christ’s direct gaze at us is the visual depiction of the words: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” His gaze is gentle but honest, firm but encouraging. It is a gaze of truth and life, the same gaze perhaps that fell upon the Samaritan woman at the well, or the penitent woman who shed tears on Jesus’ feet. In this image, the gaze rests not on the woman caught in adultery, but rather on us.

Meeting Christ’s gaze is an opportunity for conversion. It is a chance to come into Christ’s truth and life, and to discover once again the dignity and vocation of being God’s beloved.

 

► Read Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead.

by Andy Alexander, SJ, Maureen McCann Waldron

The following reflection is based on John 11:1–45.

Reflection

Martha speaks profound sorrow at the death of Lazarus, but it is tinged with blaming Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Francesco Trevisani - The Raising of Lazarus - WGA23058Where do I resent the losses in my life and somehow blame God for them?

Even when Jesus tells Martha, “I am the one who raises the dead to life!” she finds it hard to believe. Where do I doubt that Jesus can bring life?

Jesus stands before the tomb weeping. He places no barriers to his feelings about death. Could he be staring at and facing the tomb of his own death? Can I be with him there? Can I stand before and face the tombs in my daily life?

Jesus shouts the liberating words of life, “Lazarus, come forth!” How is he shouting that to me today?

The grace will come when I experience how my “deaths” will not end in death but in giving glory to God. When I experience how entombed I have been, tied and bound, no longer alive, dead for a long time, I will sense the power of the command of Jesus that I “come forth.”

Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet - The Raising of Lazarus - WGA12033

 

► Read “Cletus, Come Out” by Maureen McCann Waldron.

Perhaps because I feel as if I have been brought back to life after a 12-day siege with the flu, I have been thinking a lot about Lazarus.  It’s such a deep and wonderful Gospel with Jesus standing at the end of the tomb, peering into the darkness and calling us back to life: “Lazarus, Come out!”

It’s that kind of summoning back to life, the invitation to unbind ourselves from the things that tie us up that gives such power to our relationship with God.  Lent is a time of becoming aware of how much God longs for a deeper relationship with us, one where we realize that God is not in our minds, but deeply settled in our hearts, just waiting for us to notice.  It’s a gift of faith that I deeply wish for those I love the most.

My dad, who died about 9 years ago, was always terrified of death.  He actually dwelled on it a lot, but it was often in kind of a maudlin way and it was clear he was afraid of it.

Now, when I think back on his life, I can also see that he was raised to be terrified of God.  He knew that at the end, he was going to be punished for his bad life.

My dad was a hard man in many ways but finally, toward end of his life, I had the grace to see him with new eyes, maybe looking at him as Jesus does. He had lived a good life, raised six children and did his best. In his faith life, he never missed Mass. He read a number of Catholic magazines and lots of books and in retirement often had long conversations with his pastor about Church issues, Church politics, and reform.

But perhaps he could never move his relationship with God from his head to his heart.  It was rare for him to talk about his relationship with God, but when he did, it was clearly one of fear with God as a judge.  It didn’t seem to be a warm relationship but more cautious and leery.

He never had the sense that at the end, he would be falling into the arms of a loving God.

He didn’t know he would hear Jesus saying, “Cletus, come out!”

 

Prayer

Help us, O Lord, to approach you with a contrite heart so we may receive your mercy.

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Logos.com

 

 

Catch Me if You Can

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. Jonah 1:3 WEB

It was late one Saturday afternoon when a friend stopped by and invited me to go to church with him the following morning. I politely declined because the thought of getting dressed up in a suit and pretending to be someone else one day a week did not appeal to me. Besides, I knew some of the people there, and during the week they often behaved worse than me. Even the friend that invited me had probably smoked a joint on the way to my house.

Like Jonah, I ran from God and evaded Him for years, or so I thought. In time, He caught me. One night while playing music at a party, I met the Lord and suddenly my whole life changed. My friends no longer knew me. Suddenly I wanted to know everything there was about God. My old interests and friends soon faded away.

Over time I learned that you don’t have to wear special clothes or pretend to be someone else to please God, for that is only man made traditions. We should always be ourself, seven days a week, and not have to put on ‘The Church Face.’

It is not just a Sunday thing, but more of a Monday through Friday thing. God so loved us that He gave His only Son to save us, just as we are. When you fall, get up and take another step. God is not mad at you, and when you turn to Him, He will immediately accept you.

Sure you should live a life that demonstrates faith in God, but you don’t start out perfect. You won’t even end perfect, but you will get better. Know that God is seeking a personal relationship with you while at work, just as much as when you are at church.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for accepting me just as I am. I want to serve You Lord with all my heart. Please continue to draw me to You. Consume me with Your love and deliver me from the things that hinder me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Zimri was king of Israel for only a week (1 Kings 16:15-20)

 

 

with Jesus: ‘Presuming on Grace?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Caiaphas spoke treacherously about Me. At the same time, he also unwittingly spoke God’s truth about My mission:

Caiaphas, the High Priest That Year:

…it’s better… that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won’t perish.

… As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God’s children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people.
(John 11:50-52)

Many of My own people would reject Me (John 1:10-11) and have Me crucified by the Romans (Acts 2:22-23Acts 3:13-15). However, My death and resurrection would draw all kinds of people — Jews and non-Jews alike (John 12:32-33) — to Me as disciples. I didn’t die just for one group, but I died for the sins of all people (1 John 2:1-2).

I want you to hear My loving, but firm, words of truth. No group, no race, no country, and no region can grow calloused and presume they are the only recipients of heaven’s grace! We — Father, Son, and Spirit — called Abraham to be the father of a new nation. This nation was to live in a special relationship with Us and be a blessing to all nations of the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, received Our promises and shared in the blessings of Our covenants. We called Israel to be a light to the nations. Israel was to be a blessing to those trapped in the darkness of sin, paganism, and ignorance. Yet throughout Our long history of loving patience with Our chosen people, you will find exceptional person after exceptional person who was not an Israelite by race. And each of these remarkable people became part of Israel’s great story of faith — people like Rahab, Ruth, and several centurions you meet in the New Testament. So as I near My chosen city that is about to reject Me, you shouldn’t be surprised by the thankful outsider in the story below. This outsider is the only one who returns to thank me.

Years earlier, Moses had repeatedly warned the Israelite people never to forget all that their great I AM had done for them. Regardless, how quickly they did forget. So I ask you not to presume on the grace you have received. Don’t assume that Our blessings are yours by national privilege, racial preference, religious heritage, or your own righteousness. As Hosea declared and the apostle Paul repeatedly pointed out, My righteous people will live by faith. What’s more, that faith will motivate them to take the grace they have received and share it with others.

Verses to Live

As you read the verses below, think back on the blessings that you have received. Ask yourself if you are more like the nine insiders who didn’t offer thanks for their healing or the one outsider who returned to thank Me.

Jesus was still pressing toward Jerusalem, taking a road that went along the border between Samaria (considered undesirable territory) and Galilee. On the outskirts of a border town along this road, He was greeted from a distance by a group of 10 people who were under quarantine because of an ugly and disgusting skin disease known as leprosy.

Lepers (shouting across the distance):

Jesus, Master, show mercy to us!

Jesus:

Go now and present yourselves to the priests for inspection of your disease.

They went, and before they reached the priests, their skin disease was healed, leaving no trace of the disease that scarred them and separated them from the community.

One of them, the instant he realized he had been healed, turned and ran back to Jesus, shouting praises to God. He prostrated himself facedown at Jesus’ feet.

Leper:

Thank You! Thank You!

Now this fellow happened to be, not a Jew, but a Samaritan.

Jesus:

Didn’t all ten receive the same healing this fellow did? Where are the other nine? Was the only one who came back to give God praise an outsider? (to the Samaritan man) Get up, and go your way. Your faith has made you healthy again.

(Luke 17:11-19)

Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. I want the reign of Your grace to completely capture my heart and continue to change my attitudes, my words, and my actions to reflect my deep appreciation for the grace You have given me. I recognize that I am saved by Your grace. I trust that Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection defeated the power of sin and death, purchasing my pardon and making me Your child. May I never presume on Your amazing grace, O Lord! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

KindredKGgrace

There is a Mission style antique chair that sits in our living room. The legs are marked up, the corners worn. The stain has been rubbed off the arms and back from use.

I want to be like that chair. Standing firm without giving anyone splinters. Transparent enough to show the wear without wearing a mask.

Community has been an integral part in the Father’s gentle wearing off of my rough edges. But I know He has so much more to do.

Here at Kindred Grace, we believe there is no room for self-righteousness or for self-condemnation in hearts that have been given life by His transforming love.

And we are dedicated to fellowship through words in order to glorify God and to encourage each other.

We would love to encourage you, friend. In the words of Paul to the Philippians, “We have you in our hearts.”

Would you help us out? Would you hit “reply” to this email and answer this question:

In what area of your life are you having trouble applying grace?

We would count it a privilege to pray for you.

~Gretchen

 

 

(Photo by Joey Banks on Unsplash)

When I went to Bible school in 1982, an elder in the body of Christ warned me. He basically told me that knowledge puffs up and makes one proud, and that I was going into a spiritual jungle and would hear many new things. I was only 18 months old in the Lord, and he was concerned that I would not discern between what was human, divine or even demonic. He was concerned that as a young convert, I would lack discernment to rightly divide the things of the soul and the things of the Spirit, or that which was “good” versus that which was truly born of God.

By the grace of God, I thrived in Bible school and cultivated a healthy, intimate prayer life with the Lord, and He kept me from stumbling and falling into error or pride. I learned great truths from a general in the faith, the late Kenneth E. Hagin, who had the deepest prayer life and love walk of any man I’ve known to this day. The supernatural followed his life and ministry, and even though he was a man of the Word, spectacular visions of Jesus marked his ministry. And yet to this day, he is one of the most misunderstood ministers, and many still fail to receive his ministry and the many truths and light he brought to the body of Christ.

When I survey the landscape of Christianity today, I have similar concerns to those the aforementioned elder had for me all those years ago. It is a vast spiritual jungle out there with many more false apostles, false prophets and false teachers than there were back in my earlier Christian days. There are many conferences and a host of celebrity-type ministers who are polluting Christendom with teachings and practices that are thoroughly unscriptural, and even some that border on the occultic.

We must familiarize ourselves with the real Spirit of God and be grounded in the Scriptures, or we could succumb to the spirit of error that is prevalent in this hour.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

“But the anointing which you have received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. For as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in Him” (1 John 2:27).

Be very careful, my friends. There are some popular names out there that are in grave error concerning doctrine and practice, and they even have questionable lifestyles. Some have a multitude of followers even numbering in the millions. Just because someone has a big name, a big ministry or a mega-following does not mean they are following God. Jesus warned us that we would know them by their fruits.

Where many miss it is that they judge these misguided leaders by the fruit of their ministries, their gifts, talents, popularity, size and influence of their ministry instead of by the fruit of their lives, their character, marriage, children, home life and so on. Who you are in the home is who you really are. Don’t be fooled.

I could say much more, but this is sufficient for now. The safeguard against deception is to cultivate humility, teachability and a strong Word and prayer life as well as a love for the truth. Surround yourself with true fathers of the faith and elders in the body of Christ.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24).

Our books are forerunners to personal holiness, the move of God and the return of the Lord. They also combat the departure from the faith and the turning away from the truth we are seeing in our day.

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, has authored several books with an emphasis on helping to restore the true spirit of Christianity in the Church today, including his latest book, Passing on The Move of God to The Next Generation. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook and @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

 

 

 

The Ground of Hospitality

Norman Wirzba

The christian church has multiple saints associated with gardening, farming, and food. There’s Saint Isadore, Saint Urban, Saint Fiacre, Saint Patrick, and, of course, Saint Francis of Assisi. I especially like Saint Phocas, who farmed in the region of Sinope, a fairly remote Turkish peninsula jutting into the Black Sea. During his life he aided Christians being persecuted by the emperor Diocletian (284–305). He regularly opened his home to strangers and travelers, and he fed the poor with food he had himself grown. Phocas was well known across the country for being a man of great charity and virtue.

It was his reputation for hospitality that got him into trouble. Scholars believe that sometime around AD 303 Diocletian singled him out as one Christian especially deserving of death. The emperor promptly dispatched two soldiers to do the job. They had an enormous distance to cover, much of it through treacherous and hostile terrain. As they approached Sinope, they came upon Phocas’s farm. They explained their mission to him. Phocas insisted that they spend the night at his home. He assured them that he could direct them to the man on the following day. Meanwhile, they needed a good meal and a good night’s rest, which he provided.

While the soldiers slept, Phocas went to his garden to dig a grave.

The next morning, having enjoyed a good breakfast, the soldiers asked for directions. Phocas told them they need look no farther, since he was the man. The soldiers were astonished, perhaps even embarrassed, having just enjoyed such extraordinary hospitality. But Phocas insisted. If they failed to kill him, the emperor would likely kill them. And so they went to the garden, where the soldiers cut off his head and buried him in his grave.

While the soldiers slept, Phocas went to his garden to dig a grave.

I have no doubt that Christian training played a major role in Phocas’s development as a man widely known for his kindness, generosity, and hospitality. But I also believe that his work in the garden contributed directly to his hospitable manner. By giving himself to the ground he learned in the most visceral manner that the ground is constantly giving in return. The ground isn’t simply a stage on which people do their thing. It is, rather, the miraculous matrix that cradles, supports, and feeds life.

To work in a garden is to be surrounded by the mysteries of germination, growth, and decay, and it is to be overwhelmed by the gifts of raspberries, tomatoes, and onions that surprise us with their fragrance and taste. But it isn’t all pleasantries. To garden is also to be frustrated by the disease and death that are beyond one’s control and power. Where did this blight come from? Why won’t this seed germinate? A late frost again? The temptation is always to give up and walk away. But that isn’t really a viable option. If people are to eat, they must eventually return to the ground.

Saint Phocas understood that if the land gave itself to him, then he must give himself to the land in return. He did this daily, in the actions of cultivating, seeding, watering, weeding, pruning, and harvesting. He didn’t simply take what the land provided. He invested his time and skill, his devotion and energy. At the end, he even gave his body to the ground. I like to think that it pleased him to know that his flesh and blood would nourish the ground itself, feeding the life below that feeds the life above.

Gardening is one of the most vital practices for teaching people the art of creaturely life. With this art people are asked to slow down and calibrate their desires to meet the needs and potential of the plants and animals under their care. Gardeners are invited to learn patience and to develop the sort of sympathy in which personal flourishing becomes tied to the flourishing of the many creatures that nurture them. A garden, we might say, is a living laboratory in which we have the chance to grow into nurturers, protectors, and celebrators of life. This, I believe, is why the first command given to the first human being was to come alongside God the Gardener and “till and keep” the Garden of Paradise (Gen. 2:15). Gardening is hard and frustrating work, but it is not a punishment. To garden well – in the skillful modes of attention, patience, sensitivity, vigilance, and responsiveness – is to participate in the way God gardens the world.

We must become hospitable to the soil that is hospitable to us.

Among contemporary writers, few have understood and articulated these insights as well as Wendell Berry. Whether in the form of poetry, story, or essay, Berry has argued that apart from a people’s commitment to repair and nurture particular places and communities, the world comes to ruin. His call to “return to the land” is not the expression of some romantic yearning to relocate urbanites within an agrarian arcadia that never existed. The issue is not relocation, but the development of the sympathies and skills that make for an enduring, responsible, and beautiful livelihood. One doesn’t need a farm to do that. All one needs is a place within which to learn to exercise care and commitment. He knows it won’t be easy, especially in cultures characterized by speed, rootlessness, and a spectator approach to life.

From an agrarian point of view, one of humanity’s most important postures is looking down. Though plenty of spiritualities encourage people to look up and away to a better world beyond the blue, looking away causes us to forget that in fact the ground beneath our feet nurtures us. Scripture made the point inescapable (Gen. 2:7, 3:19): to say the word human (adam) is to be reminded of the ground (adamah) from which we come, by which we are fed, and to which, upon death, we return. To ignore the soil or, even worse, to despise it, is to cut oneself off from the love of God and the power of life that circulates through it.

As people have moved out of agrarian ways of life, soil has mostly disappeared from their imaginations. If it registers at all, it is often as “dirt” – the substance to avoid because it makes one “dirty.” This is a tragedy, because soil is indescribably complex and miraculous in its ability to create the conditions for life. In his early essay “A Native Hill,” Berry described it this way:

The most exemplary nature is that of the topsoil. It is very Christ-like in its passivity and beneficence, and in the penetrating energy that issues out of its peaceableness. It increases by experience, by the passage of seasons over it, growth rising out of it and returning to it, not by ambition or aggressiveness. It is enriched by all things that die and enter into it. It keeps the past, not as history or memory, but as richness, new possibility. Its fertility is always building up out of death into promise. Death is the bridge or the tunnel by which its past enters its future.

It would be a mistake to dismiss this characterization as a poetic flight of speech. Hans Jenny, one of the great soil scientists of the twentieth century, noted that sixty years of study only reinforced his realization that soil is fundamentally a mystery. The border between life and death, the biotic and the abiotic, is nearly impossible to draw. Soil is constantly receiving massive quantities of plant and animal corpses, and so should be a stinking mass of death. But it isn’t. Somehow death, by circulating through soil, is transformed into the fertility and fecundity of life.

Soil, we could say, is the first earthly site of hospitality, because it makes room for death, welcomes and receives it, so that new life will germinate and grow. The more primordial power of hospitality, however, is God’s. For good reason, the Garden of Eden story presents God as the one who creates by kissing soil, breathing into it the life that is you and me and all the plants and animals. In this gesture, God communicates that the divine nature is never to be far away or aloof. God is near, and stays intimately close as the breath within our own breath and as animate soil that circulates throughout all our eating. God’s creating, creative power is a hospitable power that constantly makes room for everything else to be and to flourish. God is the primordial host who prepares the beautiful, fragrant, and delectable feast at which all creatures are fed and find their true home.

Ángel Bracho, The Wheat Ear, detail

Ángel Bracho, The Wheat Ear, detail Artwork by Ángel Bracho
View Full Artwork

In his book Life in the Soil, the biologist James Nardi takes readers on a fascinating journey into soil. By following the routes of roots, he notes that after just four months, a single rye plant will send down 15 million roots totaling 380 miles. These roots make surface contact with an area of approximately 2500 square feet. If one adds to the equation the innumerable, miniscule hairs that attach to roots, then the length of the overall root system extends to 7000 miles in length and 7000 square feet in surface area.

Above ground a plant may appear to be a solitary, self-standing thing. But the roots reveal a different story. Plants crave contact and (chemical) communication. To be healthy, they need a dense network of nurturing relationships. A healthy plant, however, doesn’t simply take from the soil and all the microbes alive within it. The plant receives sunshine and transforms its energy into food, especially sugars, that it sends down through the roots to feed the fungi and other microscopic creatures that make their home near the roots. The more the roots grow, the more hospitable the soil becomes, further aiding the fertility of life. The vitality and vigor of plants, not to mention the tastiness of their fruit, depend on maximizing the flow of hospitality that circulates through sunshine, stems, roots, and soil. The destruction of life begins with the erosion, denuding, and poisoning of soil.

Agrarians believe that few tasks are more fundamental than for people to become hospitable to the soil that is hospitable to them. The work of making room for others, noting their need and potential, and committing to care for them, is the indispensable work. It is here, in the giving and receiving of nurture, that we learn the meaning and the point of life. If you want to experience life’s abundance and potential joy, give yourself away. This is what the gospel teaches. It is what God has been doing since the beginning. It is what the soil witnesses to every day.


Ángel Bracho, The Wheat Ear, detail

from “Enriching the Earth”

Wendell Berry

To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past season
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind’s service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.

Source: Wendell Berry, Farming: A Hand Book (Counterpoint, 2011).

 

 

 

Spirit-Led Woman

(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Over the past 15 years, I have worked at leaving my past behind and walking in my new identity in Christ.

One thing that has been critical to this journey is surrounding myself with verses about what God says about me and my new identity in Him.

The Bible is filled from cover to cover with verses about who we are in Christ and about the fact that:

  • God’s thoughts about us are numerous.
  • God’s plans for us are prosperous.
  • God’s redemption of us gave us new life.
  • God’s sacrifice secured us in His family.

And these verses line my war room wall (part of it is now located in my pantry and the other part in my journal) to remind me of what God says about me in those times when the enemy wants to remind me of my past.

And when he reminds me of my past, I remind myself of what God’s Word says because that’s even better than reminding the enemy of his future.

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It’s better because instead of being focused on the enemy, I turn my focus immediately to God’s Word.

I fill my mind with Scripture.

I replace the lying thought with biblical truth.

I catapult myself out of negativity into victory!

10 War Room Verses to Help You Combat the Devil’s Lies

—”I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I have heard from My Father have I made known to you (John 15:5).

—”See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isa. 49:16a).

—”Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him, so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6).

—”Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

—”Put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

—”But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

—”I will praise you, for You made me with fear and wonder; marvelous are Your works, and You know me completely” (Ps. 139:14).

—”I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

—”But our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we await for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

—”If you then were raised with Christ, desire those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). 

Rosilind Jukica Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together, they live with their two active boys in the country, where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an associate degree in practical theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of “A Little R & R,” where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You may follow her on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google +.

 

 

 

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Forget Your Burdens…

 

 

 Daily Prayer for March 24

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, in quietness we come to you and ask you for your Spirit. We ask this especially for the time of waiting still required of us as we hope and strive for light to come into all hearts, for light to shine where there is so much death. We must not despair of our inner life even when life around us rages as if it would suck us down into its whirlpool with no way out. But you will guard us. Watch over us, we pray, also in hours of temptation, so that we may remain under your care. Watch over us so that we have hope and joy in you, assured that your goal for us all is true life from above, a life of resurrection. Amen.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Psalm 69:6

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

What a beautiful prayer for any Christian! In a world that is so self-absorbed, isn’t it refreshing to be reminded of the powerful impact for good and bad that we can have? Let’s not only be reminded of the devastating impact of our hypocrisy and rebellion, let’s also pray that our failures will not be destructive to the Kingdom’s increase nor to our brothers and sisters in Christ as they seek to serve and honor the Lord!

My Prayer…

O gracious and mighty God, I do not want to sin. I know it is rebellion against you and it breaks your heart. I do not want to sin because I know it diminishes me and makes me even more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks in the future. I don’t want to sin and bring disgrace upon your cause O God. And Father, I don’t want to sin and be the cause of those seeking you to stumble. Please forgive my sins, but please Father, strengthen me and help me not stumble in my time of temptation. In the name of the one who conquered temptation and sin, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Living Lent Daily

 

Third Sunday of Lent

Lent is a time when we respond to Jesus’ call to build a society based on mercy.

Scripture

“He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”
Exodus 3:6

Reflection

The secular culture in our society has done an excellent job in privatizing religious belief. Religious belief is expected to be kept out of the public sphere. Each person is seen to have the right to believe what they want, just as long as they keep their beliefs to themselves. But in the story of Moses’s encounter with God in the third chapter of Exodus, we see that God has not come to give Moses a personal revelation. God identifies himself as the God of the people. He is preparing Moses to lead a social revolution. The people are suffering under their Egyptian taskmasters, and God is getting ready to lead them to build a new society.

Pope Francis’s call to mercy is clearly in line with the iconic description of God’s purpose in the world that we find in Exodus. God is not a complacent deity who is content to observe the world from a distance; quite the contrary: God is actively concerned for the world, as he most clearly shows by sending his Son Jesus to redeem us and call us to build a society of mercy.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus vividly calls all to repentance. The parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6‒9) is for anyone of us who ignores the needs of a world in which millions of people face hunger every day and suffer under the taskmasters of our age. God continuously calls out to those who ignore him. God is patient, but we will eventually face God’s judgment: “If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” (Luke 13:9)

Lenten Action

(1)  Reflect on this Sunday’s Gospel with Arts & Faith: Lent.

Alexey Pismenny, “Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree,” 2008

Arts and Faith: Lent

Through a contemporary style that pays homage to orthodox icons, Alexey Pismenny depicts the Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree in a composition of three related scenes. Each of these scenes is a moment in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 13. The narrative begins with the top left scene of Pilate overseeing an execution. It then moves across to the right, to the scene of the collapsing tower at Siloam about to crush its victims. True to the fashion of traditional icons, both of these scenes are symbolic, rather than literal—they offer us just enough detail to recall the story told more fully in Luke.

In the foreground of the painting, we encounter Christ the Teacher, flanked by the fig tree and the man threatening to cut it down. Christ steps in to intercept and to offer a lesson, as he stands in the traditional teaching pose with one hand raised in instruction. There is a profound lesson in the juxtaposition here of teaching and violence, reinforced by the perfect alignment of Christ’s teaching hand and the lowered axe head. Instead of strong-arming the figure with the axe, Jesus leads him to see another way through the wisdom of his words.

The depiction of the fig tree offers us an image of hope. It is no longer the barren fig tree that stands accused. Rather it has already been tended to by Christ—the spade and bucket rest by the trunk of the tree already having been used to bring the tree back to life. Signs of life spring forth as leaves sprout from the gnarled branches. This tree is going to live and bear fruit, because Christ has given it life.

The composition of these three scenes calls us to conversion, just like the parable told to those hearing the words of Jesus. The two background scenes remind us of the finitude of life, the sin, and the suffering we experience when alienated from God. Apart from God we wither in a fruitless existence that leads to eternal isolation. Jesus offers himself to keep us from this fate and calls us to life and communion in hope.

(2)  Read Bring to God Whatever Burden Hinders Us by Vinita Hampton Wright.

by Vinita Hampton Wright

If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not withhold his own Son,
but gave him up for all of us,
will he not with him also give us everything else?

Romans 8:31–32

It’s not that hard to admit that we need God’s help in this life. Only the most proud or the most foolish believe they are truly self-sufficient. Yes, we need God. Yes, we can seek from God whatever we need—help, comfort, or guidance.

But actually taking the step toward God can be not only difficult but complex. A lot of things can get in the way.

Pain.

It’s possible to be in so much pain that we cannot move. We are paralyzed, numb, almost without sense. So we do nothing but remain in our deep hurt.

Shame.

We can’t come to God and tell lies at the same time. This spiritual process requires that we face our embarrassments, shortcomings, failures, and sins, and the shame of all this holds us back.

Anger.

It really is all right to come to God angry, but many of us don’t feel that it’s all right. We’re deeply disappointed in God—for not rescuing us from a situation, for allowing us to suffer loss, for not giving us what we wanted—and that anger prevents any steps in God’s direction.

Fear.

We may fear punishment. We may fear God’s disapproval. We may fear that God won’t act or say what we’re hoping for. And we may fear that, in coming to God, we’ll need to change in some way.How do we overcome these obstacles? How do we come to God when pain, shame, anger, or fear is blocking the path?

Remember one simple fact: God is for us, not against us. God waits for us, eager to help with our pain, shame, anger, or fear. The only thing to do is step forward and bring to God whatever burden hinders us.

Prayer

Lord, help us to be open to your nurturing word that the seeds of faith you planted may blossom into a life of love and mercy.

kindredKGgrace

What is Grace?

At Kindred Grace, we see grace as threefold.  The grace God showed to us by sending His perfect Son to die for us.  The grace we need to give ourselves for our failures and imperfections.  And the grace we desire to show to each other through our words and actions.

Grace Given

Grace is the undeserved love, forgiveness and acceptance that Jesus shows us. It’s the way He patiently and consistently shows us a better way, but doesn’t abandon us when we fumble. It’s Him loving us just as we are, but also loving us into a better person.

Grace Received

Grace is the recognition of God’s abundant blessings that are transforming our lives. It is the realization that there is no room for self-righteousness in hearts that have been given life by His transforming love.  It is releasing our pasts and our pain into the covering of Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Grace Shared

Grace is love with no conditions — abundantly given. We haven’t just been blessed with the gift of grace to hold to ourselves, but we’re called to extend grace, too. Leaving the gray areas gray and not trying to turn them black and white, remaining firm in our convictions yet always holding to an attitude of teachable humility.

Grace is…(what is it to YOU?)

To me……..

A new year seems like such a good place for a fresh start. But sometimes I think it’s hopeless. Over and over I make the same resolutions, the same pledges to do better, only to have them fall by the wayside before the sharp edges of the year have worn off. Those friends I want to keep up with, the pounds I want to lose, the good habits I’m sure I can stick with this time — in my heart, I know I’m destined to fail once again.  And I’m not alone, apparently:  97% of people who make New Year’s resolutions abandon them within 30 days.

Why? Why must I always, always, mess up? I can’t even do something as simple as remember to call my siblings on their birthdays. And the failures make me try harder, without success, and the guilt piles up, and soon I’m wishing for another chance, another New Year’s to start over. Sometimes even that wouldn’t be enough. Not everything can be fixed by resolutions to do better next time, and New Year’s Day? It’s a great time for new starts (like, perhaps, the re-launch of a certain website),  but it only comes once a year.

The answer, of course, is grace.

Another chance at the diet.

Forgiveness for the hurt feelings.

A chance to say “I’m sorry” or “I love you” one more time.

A new day to try again.

Permission to let go of our failures.

I don’t need to wait for New Year’s Day to come around again.  God’s grace is here, now, waiting for me to reach out and take it. And it’s not just to be applied like glue to the broken mess I’ve made, but directly to my heart.  Because my failures show that I’m the one who needs grace.  If I could fix everything on my own – or better yet, not make mistakes in the first place – why would I need God? This weakness, this propensity for falling, is a gift most precious, because it forces me to run to my Savior.

This January, my first resolution is to accept grace.  Only then will I be able to offer it to others….

And so I have, and so it has helped me through, again and again…….I have begun, once again, to venture out of myself……to see the beauty of God’s creations— thank You, Lord of all!!  Your “fresh Grace” is like a breath of fresh air!!!

 

 

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Daily Dig for March 24

Flannery O’Connor

I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.

Source: The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

 

 

Short Tax Collectors

There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn’t because of the crowd, because he was short. He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ Luke 19:2 WEB

Tax collectors were one of the lowest social classes in Israel during the ministry of Jesus. They were usually Jews that worked for the Roman occupiers to collect taxes from the people. They were considered traitors, and hated by nearly everyone.

The Roman tax system was very complex, and they auctioned the tax farming jobs to the highest bidder. The winner would pay Rome in advance, then go and collect the taxes from the people. Whatever extra turned up, they could keep for themselves. The system was ripe with corruption. They became very wealthy, while the people became poor. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector.

When Jesus came to visit his town, the road was so crowded with people that Zacchaeus could not see Him, because he was a short man. So Zacchaeus ran on ahead and climbed up a tree so that he could get a better view of Jesus. When Jesus came to the tree, He stopped, looked up and called Zacchaeus by name. Then Jesus said that he had come to eat with him at his house that day.

Jesus passed by huge crowds of people, to get to the one that was desperate to see Him. He could just have easily eaten at a priest’s house. Jesus chose the one who was an outcast, but was so desperate that he would climb a tree just to get a glimpse of Him. Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house and spent time with him, while the religious leaders stood outside and watched in disgust.

The Lord loves the outcast. I have lived this and as one of least of the least, saw the Holy Spirit show up at my work place, during a dead season at our church. You may feel like you are standing in the back of the line, unnoticed, and disliked by everyone around you, but the Lord will pass by a thousand people to get to the one that wants to see Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please let me see people through Your eyes. Let me comfort the broken hearted, heal the rejected, and recover the outcasts. I want more of You in my life. Lead me into all that You have for me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Obadiah has 21 verses, 602 words and is the shortest old testament book.

 

 

 

Cornflakes and Christ Awakenings

Has your walk with Christ started going stale? Do you lack that feeling of excitement about Jesus you once felt? Has he grown a little distant to you? Is your relationship with him in need of a fresh spark? Or maybe an entirely new start?

How would you like to be re-introduced to God’s Son for ALL he really is today?  How would you like to meet your Savior again–in a way that felt like it was for the very first time?

Well, then this story is for you!

————————————————————————————————————

This post is an edited excerpt from David’s latest book, Christ Is NOW!

Seven Groundbreaking Keys to Help You Explore and Experience the

Spectacular Supremacy of God’s Son Today. [Shop here]


It’s about a breakfast cereal that, in its own way, faced the same problem: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

In the late 1980s, the Kellogg Company realized sales of their most popular product, corn flakes—featured on grocery shelves for over one hundred years—were starting to lag seriously. It seemed their customers were experiencing the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt”—or at least indifference.

But an amusingly creative advertising scheme turned everything around. A series of 30-second commercials were developed for TV, supposedly introducing a NEW cereal. In each episode, someone holds a bowl of the “new” cereal and talks about how simple, plain, and boring this cereal looks, but then after tasting a spoonful of the corn flakes, he or she suddenly breaks into a huge smile of delightful rediscovery! Every time, as the commercial fades, an offscreen man speaks up: “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes—taste them again for the first time.”

That’s exactly what needs to happen for you. To borrow from the ads, I would say it this way:

“Jesus Christ: You need to meet him again for the first time.”

Does either of these experiences feel
familiar to you?

At a ten-year class reunion, you get into a conversation with an old girlfriend who used to join you at sports events and parties. Now as the two of you talk a decade later, you realize she is far more interesting, more personable, more talented, more inspiring than she ever appeared to be back then. In a sense, you meet her again for the first time.

As an avid NBA fan, you end up in the locker room with some of your hometown team heroes after a game, asking them for autographs. As they sign your program, allowing you to interact with them up close and personal, it’s apparent they are far warmer, more down-to-earth, and more open-hearted than you had assumed based on how fiercely they battle out on the court. You see them in a new light. In other words, you meet them again for the first time.

Now envision this: What if similarly striking encounters with different people happened to you practically every day?

But then envision this: What if these amazing, daily discoveries were always about the very same person?

Most importantly, what if that person happened to be the single most consequential individual in all creation, throughout all history, and for all eternity?

I’m talking about Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the King of heaven, the Lord of the nations, the Redeemer of the world!

And what if this happened? What if you started to realize that many previous reports about him often repeated among believers were flawed at best—diminishing him by misguided opinions and misleading claims?

What if you found him to be so much greater than his current reputation, much more alive and active, and also much more astonishing, much more appealing, much more awesome—and much more approachable than you’d been led to believe?

What if you kept on personally encountering Jesus over and over, day after day? What if this happened to you in such unexpectedly fresh and surprising ways that it seemed that with each new rendezvous you were meeting your Lord and Savior AS IF for the first time?

Here’s How All of This
Keeps Happening to Me

For over forty years, I’ve been caught up in an extraordinary journey with Jesus precisely like this. To be sure, at times it has run hot and cold, fearful then bold, with ups and downs, in the light plus through the night.

Yet for me, this Spirit-guided course has remained a steady trek in the same direction—toward an ever more astonishing wealth of disclosures about who our Lord is today in the fullness of his spectacular supremacy.

And that brings me to you.

Finally, after decades of writing parallel books that actually foreshadow this volume, I offer you my magnum opus (chief work). Christ Is NOW! shares with you my distillation of exciting insights about our Redeemer King—uncovered while I was “meeting him again for the first time”—over and over and over.

In these pages, I hand you keys that will unlock doors into the wide-open spaces of a renewed vision of and involvement with God’s Son in all of his greatness and goodness and glory. You’ll find these insights to be simple but also comprehensive, practical but also radical, breathtaking but also life-giving. Rooted in God’s Word, they will reintroduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ to help you see him for all he is right now.

In its approach lies a way for you to move into deeper intimacy with your Savior, not just in terms of who he was or who he will be, but in terms of who he is today. I think you’ll find this approach truly is groundbreaking. I believe that long before you finish reading Christ Is NOW!, you will begin undergoing a genuine “Christ Awakening”—which is my great hope not only for you but for the entire Body of Christ.

The Hope at Hand: The Reformation That Must Come

Unfolding in answer to decades of concerted prayer globally, a nationwide and worldwide Christ Awakening movement, many believe, is at hand.

An awakening to the Lord Jesus Christ is urgently needed because far too many of this generation of Christians are slumbering concerning the full extent of the supremacy of Christ now. J. I. Packer says most believers have only pieces of him. John Stott calls us pigmy Christians because we worship a pigmy Christ. The late Chuck Colson suggested evangelicals have made him a “product” to meet our needs as consumers. Kendra Creasy Dean’s research reports that many Christian youths have lost true passion for Jesus. William Willimon concludes that the reigning Christ is essentially “missing” for us in the thick of all we try to do for him.

We need a grander exaltation of God’s Son that is able to breathe new passion into God’s people to advance his kingdom purposes at this moment of history, yet we remain asleep. Here’s how American theologian Kevin Vanhoozer puts it (emphasis added): “Present-day Christians need to awaken to the glory of the transfigured, risen Christ in our midst, and we need to stay awake so that we, like the disciples, see ‘no one but Jesus only’ (Matt. 17:8).”

Said another way, we need a “Christological reformation”—one in which God’s people wake up to meet God’s Son all over again, as if it were for the first time, thus re-forming their whole vision of all he is.

On November 1, 1517, citizens of Wittenberg, Germany, found nailed to their church doors an extensive, militant document that spread rapidly throughout Europe due to a recently invented “social media” called the printing press. The Protestant Reformation, which had been brewing for decades, was unleashed!

Today, in a very real sense like those “95 Theses,” Christ Is NOW!, along with our ChristNow.com social media delivery systems—website resources, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blog posts, videos, ebooks—are issuing a similarly radical call for a reformation of—a magnification of—the Church’s vision of who Christ is right now.

Many define this fresh work from heaven as a Christ Awakening. A Christ Awakening is a revolution of one’s entire life in Christ. It comes about as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to enable believers to meet the Son of God for ALL he is seated on the throne of heaven—making it feel as if we are meeting him again, as if it were for the very first time.

Every Christ Awakening—whether for one single Jesus follower or for an entire body of believers—eventually unleashes a grassroots insurgency set on waking up the whole Church to become wholly alive to the whole Christ.

And when that happens, it will not—it cannot—be contained within the Church! It will flow like a life-giving river into all of the sin-sick world that so desperately needs Jesus.

Talk about a fresh start with Jesus—this is it!

Why should we ever settle for less? Why should you?

 

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 

 

Heartlight

with Jesus: ‘Look Closely at the Evidence!’

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

My words have always provoked strong reactions! I do not leave people any middle ground for their decision about Me. There is no “safe” place they can put Me in the middle as just a good man and a good teacher. In the encounter with the crowd that you read about in today’s verses, I AM claiming to be the Son of God. I AM saying that what I do and what I speak I have received directly from My Father in heaven. I AM claiming that every disciple that I have was given to Me by My Father.

Every contemporary Jewish person who heard Me in the events recorded below knew that I was claiming to be God walking and teaching among them. They told Me:

We demand Your life because You are a man, yet you claim to be God. This is blasphemy!

As an experienced rabbi familiar with their way of arguing about the meaning of Scripture, I gave them two reasons why I could claim to be God among them.

First, I used a good rabbinical defense strategy: I quoted a passage that shows that others had been called “sons of God.” These people were not punished for their claim, so I shouldn’t be punished for My claim. This argument is technically correct for their type of reasoning used in rabbinical discussion. However, most of those listening knew that I was claiming that I AM much more than one of many “sons of God.” They knew My claim was that I AM THE Son of the God!

Second, I could call God My Father because what I claimed about Myself was validated by what I did! When you examine the great things that I did, the authoritative truths that I taught, and the way that I lived, you see that My actions validate My words. Notice what I said to My doubters and My critics:

Examine My actions, and you will see that My work is the work of the Father. Regardless of whether you believe in Me — believe the miracles.

Despite My opponents’ anger at these claims, they could not disprove them. They were left to try to kill Me, but they couldn’t do so at this time. The time wasn’t right. The Father wouldn’t let them. I wasn’t ready yet to lay My life down, so they couldn’t take it. Therefore, I continued with My ministry and many others believed in Me.

Verses to Live

OK. What are you going to do with Me? You can choose not to read My story, but My story won’t go away. People will keep making movies about Me, they will keep talking about Me, they will be fascinated by Me, and many will come to full faith in Me.

So what are YOU going to do with Me? My claims are extravagant, even blasphemous if they are not true. But if they are true, then everything rides on your decision about Me! So look closely at the evidence — not just the evidence in the verses that follow, but at everything I said and did. Look at the movement I left behind. Examine the weak and fearful men and women who became bold and were willing to be martyred. What explains it? What was their belief in Me that led them to risk everything to be My disciples?

When He [Jesus] spoke these words, some of the Jews began to argue.

It was winter and time for the Festival of Dedication. While in Jerusalem, Jesus was walking through the temple in an area known as Solomon’s porch, and Jews gathered around Him.

Jews:

How long are You going to keep us guessing? If You are God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, announce it clearly.

Jesus:

I have told you, and you do not believe. The works I am doing in My Father’s name tell the truth about Me. You do not listen; you lack faith because you are not My sheep. My sheep respond as they hear My voice; I know them intimately, and they follow Me. I give them a life that is unceasing, and death will not have the last word. Nothing or no one can steal them from My hand. My Father has given the flock to Me, and He is superior to all beings and things. No one is powerful enough to snatch the flock from My Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

The Jews gathered stones to execute Jesus right then and there.

Jesus:

I have performed many beautiful works before you in the name of the Father. Which of these can be judged as an offense that merits My execution?

Jews:

You are not condemned for performing miracles. We demand Your life because You are a man, yet you claim to be God. This is blasphemy!

Jesus:

You know what is written in the Scriptures. Doesn’t it read, “I said, you are gods”? If the Scriptures called your ancestors (mere mortals) gods to whom the word of God came — and the Scriptures cannot be set aside — what should you call One Who is unique, sanctified by and sent from the Father into the world? I have said, “I am God’s Son.” How can you call that blasphemy? By all means, do not believe in Me, if I am not doing the things of the Father. But examine My actions, and you will see that My work is the work of the Father. Regardless of whether you believe in Me — believe the miracles. Then you will know that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.

Once again, some of the Jews tried to capture Him, but He slipped away, eluding their grasp. Jesus crossed the Jordan River and returned to the place where John was… cleansing the people through baptism in the early days. He lingered in the area, and scores of people gathered around Him.

Crowds:

John never performed any miracles, but every word he spoke about this man has come to pass. It is all true!

In that place, many believed in Him.
(John 10:19John 10:22-42)

Response in Prayer

Holy and righteous Father, I confess that some days the urgency of my faith is simply not there. I feel blah, You seem distant to me, and the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life seems to have vanished. I pray that You, O Father, make me thirsty for You. I give You the invitation to make me hungry for Your presence, Your word, Your Son, and Your Spirit. Bring people into my life to shake me out of my mediocrity and my moments of spiritual lethargy. Restore my passion by reawakening my heart to the voice, the leading, and the lordship of Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

March 24: Green Pastures: They Require Action
Numbers 28:1–31; 1 Corinthians 10:23–11:16; Psalm 23

Love and complete reliance on God are interrelated concepts. When we discover what love really means, we want to praise God for it. When we learn to rely on God for all our needs, we see just how loving He is as He takes care of all aspects of our lives. And this love makes us want to show love to others.
It’s those who don’t have who are most apt to come to Jesus. They’re most in need of love. For this reason, it’s hard for us who do have—a home, a car, enough food for a week—to fully understand reliance on Christ. It takes a different type of discipline.
This is why it’s still shocking to me how many people absolutely love Psa 23. It’s comforting, I suppose, and that’s why: “Yahweh is my shepherd; I will not lack for anything. In grassy pastures he makes me lie down; by quiet waters he leads me” (Psa 23:1–2). I think so many of us love it, though, because we’re aware of how frail and vulnerable we really are. It could all be gone in a moment. Disease catches up to us, and death will eventually get us all. We often forget just how important love is in all this, and we fail to recognize why Psa 23 has a special place in our hearts.
We are in the top percentile of wealth in the world. Many of our families own more than one car. Nonetheless, the death around us and the diseases we see show just how quickly it can be gone. And for this reason, we can recognize how crucial love is. Love carries people through hard times. It brings them to depend on God. Paul tells us we could have all sorts of incredible spiritual gifts, but if we don’t have love, there’s no point (1 Cor 13:1, 13).
And when Paul speaks about love, he’s not talking about something we say or even feel; he’s talking about something we do. Love requires us to give all things; or in Paul’s words, it “rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:6–7). So, those of us who understand relying on Psa 23, even in our wealth, must help those who rely on its promises but are yet to experience them. They are people all over the world, waiting for us to “bear” their burdens with them. They are the hurting, the voiceless—the people who need us to show real love.

How can you show love to the hurting and voiceless in the world today? God has called us all to action—that is what love means. So how will you act?

JOHN D. BARRY

 

 

 

Humor Time….

Some Lent humor…..

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And the rest….

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Politically speaking…..

 Steve Kelley for 3/24/2019

Aunty’s Words of Wisdom for the day…..

 Aunty Acid for 3/24/2019

For the touch of weird in you……

 

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Lucky Irish?

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Daily Prayer for March 17

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31–32, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, grant that we may come to you in the Spirit. Through your Spirit gather us and many others on earth around our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Savior of humankind. May our hearts become truly free because you deliver us from all bondage to our own natures and to the world around us. As free people may we be led safely through distress, fear, and want, through need and death. May we become happy children whom Jesus Christ has called to life, children who are not discouraged by the struggle but who fight joyfully for your kingdom until it can be revealed to all the world. Amen.

 

Daily Dig for March 17

Emily Bronte

No Coward Soul Is Mine

No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear

O God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest,
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

Source: The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Bronte

 

 

Verse of the Day…illustrated

Logos.com

 

 

Living Lent Daily

Second Sunday of Lent

Lent is a time when we open ourselves to God’s transforming grace.

Scripture

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 3:20

 

Reflection

In an interview with the program Witness for Salt and Light Television, Monsignor Dario Viganò, then director of Vatican television, told of the first moments of Pope Francis’s papal ministry. Pope Francis came out of the Sistine Chapel and went to the Pauline Chapel with two cardinals accompanying him. His head was bowed down, as if the burden of the task that he had been elected to was weighing him down. In the Pauline Chapel, instead of going to a prearranged papal throne, he sat in the last pew, compelling the two cardinals to sit with him. He prayed in silence.

Msgr. Viganò says that when Pope Francis got up to go to meet the people, he was a different man. His head was no longer down. He looked straight ahead and was smiling. It was as if God had said to him personally, “Don’t worry. I am here with you.” Pope Francis had an experience of God’s transforming mercy and grace. (Dario Viganò interview with Fr. Thomas Rosica. WitnessOctober 4, 2013)

In the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul calls on his brothers and sisters in faith to follow his example insofar as he is following Christ. Paul is critical of those who name themselves Christian, but follow their bellies with their minds on earthly things. As long as they act this way they will be closed to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Paul promises that for those who follow Christ, they will begin to experience in this world the joy and happiness that will be completed in the next.

Lenten Action

1.  ► Reflect on this Sunday’s Gospel with Arts & Faith: Lent.

Lorenzo Lotto’s Transfiguration of Christ is the central panel of a three-part altarpiece created for the church of Santa Maria di Castelnuovo in Recanati. This piece shows the influence of the great Renaissance painters and captures a moment in Lotto’s transition as an artist. We see Renaissance proportion and balance, which will later give way to Mannerist exaggeration, elongation, and tension. In one way, this transition itself echoes the story of the Transfiguration, a moment of heavenly order and balance that will give way to the tension and disorder of the Passion after Christ and the disciples descend from the mountaintop.

We see this juxtaposition of balance and imbalance in the arrangement of figures in the scene. At the top of the image we see Christ flanked by Moses and Elijah, in a triangular composition oriented toward heaven’s presence breaking in at the very top with God’s vertical words, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him.” Heaven’s light from above illuminates this scene, as the clouds and angels narrow in a reverse triangle leading to the figure of Christ.

In contrast, we see the three jumbled forms of Peter, James, and John against the dark hillside below. If the scene above conveys order and balance, then this one below conveys disorder and disarray, though not completely. Lotto’s placement of heads, hands, and feet save the three Apostles from complete chaos by rooting the composition in a varied but intentional repetition of these forms. This slight emphasis on heads, hands, and feet is perhaps an allusion to the Passion to come, and to the foot-washing scene in which Peter offers all three of these for Jesus to wash. Heads, hands, and feet are symbols of discipleship: to believe, to serve, and to follow the way of Christ, in and through our imperfect, shaded, jumbled human existence.
While still in our jumbled and imperfect reality, focus on Christ is our clear way forward. Rather than condemning our mess, Christ meets us in it fully, leading us and the disciples from this mountaintop experience all the way to the cross. Entering our broken reality, Christ shows us that the cross and all that leads to it is real, but death does not have the final word. Listening to Christ as God commands, we find hope and joy in that mystery.


Daniella Zsupan-JeromeCommentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, assistant professor of liturgy, catechesis, and evangelization at Loyola University New Orleans.

2.  ► Read We Never Expected the Transfiguration by Loretta Pehanich.

Francesco Zuccarelli, “Landscape with the Transfiguration of Christ”

This story is inspired by Luke 9:28–36, the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Jesus casually invited three of us on a hike one warm, sunny day. I think Peter, James, and I are probably his closest buddies. Can you imagine what it felt like to be Jesus’ best friend?

The hike turned out to be a steep one, but we were happy to go along. Wherever Jesus was headed, we were willing to follow.

But we never expected the Transfiguration. When I got up that morning, I never expected to be seeing Moses that afternoon. I was stunned.

What did it feel like to see Elijah talking to Jesus about Jesus’ exodus? Exodus? Why did he use that word?

It would take me a long time to process that unexpected encounter.

And Jesus didn’t want us chattering about this experience, so Peter, James, and I would whisper about it occasionally.

“Remember his clothes? They were so white it was blinding.”

“What did it mean that God spoke from a cloud?”

“Did you feel the ground shake, or did I imagine that?”

“I wonder what they were talking about. I couldn’t make out the words.”

“I think there was some connection between that mountain and Mount Horeb.”

After the Resurrection, we would tell the story of the Transfiguration again and again. And I am sure that others benefit from this retelling. That’s how it is when you have an unexpected encounter with God; it must be remembered and shared for the benefit of others.

3.  ► Read How to Find Time in the Day for Lent

The fast pace of your life may seem to leave little time and energy for the traditional Lenten practices. But you can weave moments of spiritual awareness and service into even the busiest of schedules. The trick is to see Lenten practice as part of, rather than in addition to, each activity of your ordinary hectic day.

The three foundational practices of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Here’s how to think about them in a new way:

Praying Daily

If you make a habit of saying a little prayer whenever someone irritates you, cuts you off in traffic, or makes life difficult; when someone does you a favor, you experience great and friendly service, or when something joyful happens to you—you will soon find yourself praying your way through the day. Try this simple practice and you will be observing the Catholic Church’s call for greater prayer during the Lenten season. You will also find that this habit makes your life flow smoother, your self more centered, and your Spirit more aware of God’s presence.

A Different Type of Fasting

There are many ways to fast. Why not fast from criticism, gossip, judging others, or passing on rumors? Why not abstain from unwarranted fear and anxiety? You can also tell that inner voice inside your head that criticizes you to abstain from eroding your ability to be the confident, blessed person God calls you to be. These are beautiful ways to observe the Lenten call to fasting and abstinence. In the book, Praying Lent, the authors offer suggestions on different ways to fast during Lent.

Give of Yourself

Daily life also offers countless opportunities to give of yourself to others (alms), and most don’t involve dipping into your wallet. Give encouragement to the doubting, give a word of praise to the insecure, show kindness to someone who could use a friend, and offer a word of thanks to those whose service of others often goes unappreciated. Give the gift of your attention to someone who simply wants to be noticed. Tell your children stories about people whose values you admire when you gather at mealtime. Don’t be stingy with your smiles—give them freely to everyone you meet. And most important, give your love to those close to you. Hug them, hold them, and tell them what they mean to you. In this way you open your heart to God and others.

So no matter how busy your are in life, with some greater awareness and new perspectives you can consciously pray, fast, and give of yourself this Lent—and you will be ready to celebrate when a joyful dawn breaks upon you Easter morning.

Prayer

You, O Lord, are the light of our salvation. Whom should we fear?

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

The Lamp

Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light for my path. Psalms 119:105 WEB

The old oil lamps that were used in biblical times had a small radius of light. They would light the path just a few feet ahead of you, and you could not see very far down the road. When traveling by night, you could see just enough to take the next step. When you did take that step, the circle of light moved with you, and then you could see a little farther. The entire journey was made like this, one step at a time.

I have heard it said that if you took a ‘soon to be bride’ into her new house and showed her all the dirty dishes that she would have to wash, the stack of dirty diapers that she would have to change, all the meals that she would have to prepare, and all the housework there would be to do, that she would run for the hills. So it is with us. God shows us just enough of the path for today. Tomorrow, He will show us what we need for that.

Jesus told us: ‘Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself’ (Matthew 6:34). When the problems show up, so will the answer. Don’t worry about problems that do not even exist yet. You will only exhaust yourself.

Just because you are struggling with something does not mean that God is not with you. Even the Apostle Paul had his ‘thorn.’ Living a Christian life does not mean that we will not face trouble, but that God can be trusted to handle the trouble when it arrives.

So many times I have wanted to know what was farther down the road, what was coming, but God gives us enough light for today. I have always found that when tomorrow came, that He took care of that as well.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for lighting my path and the way that I should go. Let me walk in Your light all the days of my life and guide my steps. Please send me Your peace today and ease my mind and fears, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

 

 

with Jesus: ‘Can’t You See the Urgency?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

You need to treat the issues of the kingdom with a sense of urgency. There is never a time to be complacent. As you read the verses below, you will see that I emphasized the need for a great sense of urgency.

For those who first heard My words in the verses below, there was going to be an important moment of decision. My rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection were going to lead to a moment of supreme decision for everyone. This moment of supreme decision for all who knew and heard Me was coming sooner than anyone wanted to recognize. This decision would tear families apart because some would wholly reject Me, considering Me a blasphemer and a troublemaker, while others would see Me as I AM — the Holy One of God sent to save them.

For you, this decision is one you must make continuously: What will you do with Me? Am I a liar and a lunatic or Lord? And if I am Lord, how then will you live differently from those around you? Yes, this is a decision of continuous urgency!

Verses to Live

While you don’t face exactly the same scenario as these first hearers of My message, you are confronted with a challenge by the things I’ve said. You must feel a sense of urgency about where to invest your life. Your attachment to the world can easily lead you to live in apathy and approach important spiritual matters with complacency. So I’m challenging you today with passionate and serious language and strong images because you must decide what you are going to do with Me.

Jesus to His disciples:

This is serious business we’re involved in. My mission is to send a purging fire on the earth! In fact, I can hardly wait to see the smoke rising. I have a kind of baptism to go through, and I can’t relax until My mission is accomplished! Do you think I’ve come with a nice little message of peace? No way. Believe Me, My message will divide. It will divide a household of five into three against two or two against three. It will divide father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

(speaking to the crowd) You see a cloud arise from the sea in the west, and you can say, “Here comes a shower!” And you’re right. Or you feel the hot wind blowing in from the desert in the south and you say, “It’s going to be really hot!” And you’re right. Listen, hypocrites! You can predict the weather by paying attention to the sky and the earth, but why can’t you interpret the urgency of this present moment? Why don’t you see it for yourselves?

Imagine you’re being sued. You and your accuser are on your way to court. Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to settle out of court before you stand before the magistrate? After all, he might drag you to stand before the judge, and the judge might hand you over to the police, and they might throw you in jail. Once you’re in jail, it’s too late: you’re not going anywhere until you’ve paid in full.

(Luke 12:49-59)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, I confess that I can become complacent, sometimes even apathetic, about my life as Jesus’ disciple. There are so many things crowding into my heart for my attention. So today, I pray the prayer Moses offered many centuries ago: Lord, “teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.”* I want to live every moment for Jesus with passion and courage. I don’t want to waste any moments You give me and fritter away my life on what doesn’t matter eternally. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Psalm 90:12 ESV, from a psalm described as “A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God.”

 

 

March 17: Letting Evil Burn
Numbers 19:1–20:13; 1 Corinthians 2:1–16; Psalm 18:13–30

“And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying … ‘let them take to you a red heifer without a physical defect …. And you will give it to Eleazar the priest, and it will … be slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest will take some of its blood on his finger and spatter it toward the mouth of the tent of assembly seven times. The heifer will be burned in his sight; its skin, its meat, and its blood, in addition to its offal, will burn’ ” (Num 19:1–4).
This passage is so strange and gruesome, it is clearly symbolic. The heifer represents the perfect, unblemished sacrifice—which takes care of some (not all) of the purification associated with things Yahweh deemed unclean for the purpose of teaching His people obedience, and some of the results of sin (Num 19:9).
Also, the heifer is burned because it has to be made into ashes. This beautiful creature becomes ashes. That’s the cost of an impure life: good has to become worthless. The only way to purge impurities is to burn them away. Then what has been purified through fire (and then water) can be used (Num 19:9–10). The passage goes on to describe several uses associated with this practice (e.g., Num 19:11–13).
All of our lives include things that go against God’s will, and these things must burn. We must let the Spirit work in us to empower us to remove them. And there’s good news for this: Jesus has already done the great work of conquering sin in the world. There is no more need for the red heifer because Jesus’ sacrifice (His death) paid for our problems. He wasn’t the symbol of the sacrifice, like the heifer; He was the sacrifice itself.
God calls us to the great race of running toward Him—for Him—in honor of what Christ has done among us. So let’s let the evil burn.

What is God calling you to burn?

JOHN D. BARRY

 

 

 

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Repent, or…Perish!

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Daily Prayer for March 10

My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the word that I speak – it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do. Isaiah 55:10–11, TEV

Lord our God, light of the world and light of our human life, we thank you for sending your Word into our hearts. Your Word works within us and allows us to rejoice. Even if we often experience hard and bitter times here on earth, we can rejoice already, as the world shall rejoice when your will and your Word are fulfilled. Protect us, and keep us pure and free in spirit, that we may be your servants, that we may sometimes be allowed to say a little word in harmony with the great, powerful Word which you have sent into the world. Amen.

 

 

Today’s Verse, Illustrated

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Daily Dig for March 10

Amy Carmichael

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy, if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.…That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.

Source: Bread and Wine

 

 

Without Fear of Our Enemies 

“That’s it!” the man said with tears in his eyes. “I live my life in fear that the things in my heart are going to take control of me. I have never before heard anyone say that I could be free from sin.” The man who was speaking had been church for most of his life and was seeking to serve God with all the strength he could muster. Yet he lived his life in fear, continually struggling with the darkness that plagued his own heart. Would today be the day that he succumbed to the powers of darkness and sin?

I had just preached a message on how the blood of Christ purges our inner man from sin. Hebrews 10: 2, 22. The minister in the prior service had brought a tremendous message, but speaking of the epidemic of pornography involving people in the church, she said, “These people are in the church. These are the blood-bought!” As I took the pulpit later, I said, “In can be rightfully said that every person upon this earth is blood-boughtbecause of the fact that Jesus Christ died for all, but you can know that those who areblood-washed are clean!

After the service I was questioned by some people about the things I had spoken about being made free from sin. I referred to the prophecy spoken by Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist. He said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us …That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” Luke 1:68-75. It was this promise of being able to serve God without fear that so took hold of the man standing before me.

To serve God without fear of our enemies is to know that the things which once possessed us, controlled us, tormented us, and destroyed us, are now destroyed through the blood of Christ. This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that “you shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29. If we abide in Christ where there “is no sin” I John 3:5, we have no need to fear that sin will “rise up and take control of us.” If we know that Christ destroyed the devil and his works, then we know as we abide in Christ that sin has no place or power in our heart or life. Paul confirms these things, saying, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14.

Years ago I visited a revival and listened to a preacher tell the people a dozen times, “The devil is going get you!” “You are going to fail! You are going to sin! It doesn’t matter how long you walk this walk, the devil is going to get you!” No one who believes such a thing can serve God without fear of their enemies. Religious teachers so often fill our minds with the inevitability of being overcome by sin and Satan that you would think Christ was the one who was defeated at Calvary. Until you see and believe the absolute victory of Christ over sin and Satan, THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU! But if you can see Christ in all his victory, you will understand that you never again have to fear that sin or Satan “is going to get you” because you know that CHRIST IS GOING TO KEEP YOU!Jude 24.

It is strange that the modern church has taught us to fear Satan, but has cast away the fear of God. If you believe the way the gospel is often presented, you might come to the conclusion that Christ died so that we would no longer need to fear God. They say we cannot be touched by his wrath. He cannot see our sins us or judge us because of them, and we have a heavenly home assured that he cannot take away. It seems God is stuck with us, so why should we fear him? This ignores the words of the apostle who said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31. The children of God are not “afraid of God” as they abide in Christ, but they understand that to neglect their walk with Christ is to bring themselves under the severity of God.  Paul confirms this saying,“For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Romans 11:21-22.  You can live in the goodness of God, but have no doubt, if you neglect your walk with Christ, you can find yourself living under the severity of God  …and cut off!

Our complete redemption in Christ is such that you can live in his goodness and victory all the days of your life. There is nothing Satan can do about it as long as you simply abide in Christ. You need not fear the devil, and you need not fear sin. These things have no place in the children of God, and these have no power to take you by force. O child of God, you need to know and believe this truth of Christ, so that YOU being delivered out of the hand of YOUR enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of YOUR life.

 

 

The Waterfall

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. Psalms 42:7 ESV

Moments before the water was still and quiet as they drifted down the stream. They were relaxed in the warm sunshine, not noticing the low roar coming. Suddenly, their lives flashed before their eyes and they began to panic as they realized they were quickly approaching a waterfall, and now it was too late to get off. Screaming loudly they went over the cliff, completely out of control, and splashed into a surprisingly tranquil pool below.

Have you ever had things going great but then suddenly you hear the waterfall coming? It is terrifying to see the end of your world coming at you and there is no way to get out of this boat.

Oddly enough, this is the way God usually brings promotion. What looks like the end of your world, is actually the beginning of a new era. The way up in the kingdom, is down. The greatest among you, will be your servant. Going over the cliff, is actually going up. Still it looks terrifying when it is coming at you and things will look better when you have gone through it.

If you hear the waterfall approaching, brace yourself for the ride of your life, but remember: this will work out for your good. To go to a new level you must go over this waterfall.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that this will work out for my good. You will get me through this and I will come out a better person, in the name of Jesus I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Old Testament books were scrolls, a strip of animal skin that was rolled up on two sticks.

 

 

Living Lent Daily

First Sunday of Lent

Lent is a season when we are tested as we focus
more intensely on who God is calling us to be.

Scripture

Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
Psalm 91:14

 

Reflection

Soon after the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he fasts for 40 days. Note that this time of discipline and potential hardship was not the result of any fault on Jesus’ part. This is a period not unknown by any of the great Christian mystics—after a period of consolation, there is a period of a “dark night” or “desolation” in which the commitment made in a period of joy is tested.

Weakened by hunger, Jesus is tempted by the Devil. The Devil offers three possibilities for Jesus. The first is to fulfill the basic need of hunger, to turn stones into bread. The second is to become the ruler of the world as payment for worship of the Devil. The third is to wow the world by leaping from the highest point in the city and being caught by angels for an easy landing on the ground. Jesus responds to each of the Devil’s temptations by citing Scripture: one does not live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3), God is not to be put to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16), and only God is to be worshipped (Deuteronomy 6:13).

The season of Lent is a period of testing for all Christians as we recognize that we are being called by the Holy Spirit to a deeper relationship with God and with others. This means that in following the disciplines recommended by the Church—the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—we learn to become more dependent on the grace of God and we keep ourselves focused on who he is calling us to be.

Lenten Action

► Read Following Jesus into the Desert by Loretta Pehanich.

Following Jesus into the Desert

Arts & Faith: Lent - Ivan Kramskoi - "Christ in the Desert"

After my baptism, I returned daily to the river and watched. When John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” we applauded. Some danced. Some jumped into the water and splashed each other like children.

People were so busy celebrating that they didn’t notice Jesus head toward the desert. I wondered why he left and followed.

He walked for an hour and then stopped. I stayed back, hesitant to disturb him. He stood still, eyes closed, and tilted his neck so the sun could fall fully on his face. The hands at his sides slowly rose. I became self-conscious. Was I intruding? I went home.

Days passed, and I wondered about Jesus. No one had seen him. More days passed, and I decided to return to the desert. I don’t know what I hoped to find.

Somehow my wanderings led me to Jesus, who sat with his chest to his knees. He looked thin and tired. His lips were dry and cracked. I stayed back. Had he been praying all this time? I can barely sit through a synagogue service. What self-discipline this man had! And what was he thinking about as he sat there? Did he love solitude so much? Or was he waiting for an answer that was slow in coming?

I wanted to imitate him, so I started praying at a distance. I became aware of stiff limbs before I realized that much time had passed. As I gazed at a full moon, I felt famished. I wanted the comfort of my own bed. What was I doing out here? Why didn’t I leave?

A thought occurred to me: “Yours is a useless life. What you do doesn’t amount to anything. You don’t amount to anything.”

I chewed on this idea for a moment. As fear mounted, Jesus turned. He knew I was there. My mind raced. A voice inside accused me: “You don’t belong here. Leave. You are interfering.”

I wanted to run. But Jesus’ eyes contradicted my inclination. I stayed. It was then that I noticed Jesus sweating profusely. Was he going through a battle of his own? His hands were clenched in prayer, and I followed his example.

“God, I belong to you,” I prayed. “I want to follow your plan, but I don’t know what that is. Show me.”

The image of the ill neighbor I care for flitted across my mind. Then I remembered my mother, who lives with us. I do matter, and it’s a temptation to think I don’t.

“Give me courage,” I prayed. “Give me patience and a kind word when I am exhausted.”

I closed my eyes. Peace overtook me. The next thing I knew, sun was warming my cheek. I had fallen asleep in the desert. As I stretched my stiff muscles, I looked around. Where was Jesus?

I began wandering and looking for him. Why was I seeking him? I should be home. I should be… I caught myself in this thought.

“Be kind to yourself. Test your thoughts.”

I heard a voice and turned to see Jesus. “We’ve had a lot to think about out here, haven’t we?” Jesus smiled. “Let’s head back. We know what we need to do now.”

As we walked together, he talked about his own temptations. And he invited me to talk about mine. When we reached my house, he thanked me. He thanked me!

“I know you’ll accompany me again,” he said. “Not into the desert, but into your busy life of service. This is love, my friend.”

He turned up the road, and I went into my house to receive a puzzled look and a reminder that the roof needed fixing. “And your mother has been calling for you.”

► Read Lent Lived After the Ashes.

Lent Lived After the Ashes

I attended Ash Wednesday services on my lunch break one year, heading back to work afterward. Throughout the afternoon, as coworkers came by with questions or pages needing proofing, they would catch sight of my forehead and inevitably remark, “Oh, you’re Catholic!”

True, I had not broadcast my religious affiliation far and wide at work. It was more a matter of respect for others; in a diverse newsroom, where all are required—and proud—to provide an unbiased account of events, we tread carefully on topics that might strike raw nerves.

At the same time, I don’t think the revelation of my Catholicism really shocked anyone, either. I didn’t live in obvious opposition to my faith. But it made me think: What do I do to demonstrate my beliefs? Should others know by my actions that I have at heart an unending connection to this religion into which I was born?

Ash Wednesday, with its conspicuous mark of faith, is atypical for Catholics. As we read in Matthew 6:16-18, we are not to mope or moan while fasting. We are to wash our faces and trust that God will see our good works, even those done in silence. We are to carry our crosses with courage and grace.

And we all have crosses, some more heavy than others. It may seem that your neighbor has it easy: She’s always chipper, or his yard is neat and his car clean. But no one escapes trouble or sorrow entirely in this life. It may simply be that they have washed the ashes from their faces and bear their crosses in silence.

So what can you do this Lent to demonstrate your love for God and your willingness to share in the cross his Son carried for us? You can take up the crosses you encounter daily, and you can do so with faith, hope, and love.

One way is through the traditional Lenten practices of increased prayer, fasting, and giving to those in need. These practices can take on many unique forms in the course of even a busy day.

Think of 40 small steps you might take this Lent as you walk with Jesus on the road to Calvary. Add your shoulder under the cross—his cross, your own, and others’. Even more, try to do so with the trust that God sees your efforts, and that, paradoxically, there is no greater satisfaction or reward.

Taking Up the Cross in These 40 Days

Social scientists say it takes 28 days to change a habit. Lent asks us to change more than a habit. We’re invited to change our priorities and the focus of our lives. Maybe that’s why Lent takes a full 40 days and happens every year.

There are other reasons that our Lenten journey lasts 40 days. Throughout the Bible, the number 40 holds special meaning, indicating a span of time when significant events took place. It rained on Noah and his ark for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses spent 40 days and nights with God on Mount Sinai. The Hebrew people spent 40 years wandering in the desert upon their deliverance from slavery to the Promised Land. Jonah gave the city of Nineveh 40 days in which to repent. And Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights.

Our time of preparation in Lent is akin to Jesus’ preparation for his work. We spend 40 days fasting, praying, and giving. “By the solemn 40 days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church says. We are called to live as representatives of Jesus today—even when the ashes have been washed away, even when no one is looking.

Prayer

O Lord, help us to be open to your grace to recognize the ways in which you rescue and honor us in times of trouble.

March 10: Jesus Christ (Meant to Be) the Superstar
Numbers 10:1–36; John 17:1–26; Psalm 10:1–18

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, is certainly incorrect (and rather heretical) in its portrayal of history, but it got one thing right: Jesus is meant to be the celebrity. He—no one else—is the Savior, the Christ, the Lord.
And that’s why the celebrity pastor movement is quite frightening. I don’t say this as a cynic, and it’s not that I’m primarily concerned with how these teachers are marketed (although that, too, can be scary at times); I’m worried about the way they’re received.
Certainly there are people who can be trusted more than others, and popularity is by no means a measurement of trustworthiness. But automatically agreeing with everything a teacher says puts the disciple in a bad position with the God they worship. It also puts the teacher in a position similar to an idol. Teachers who truly follow Christ would never desire such glory for themselves.
In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus glorified by the Father. Jesus was obedient to the Father, even to death, which is why He alone is worthy of our worship. “I have glorified you on earth by completing the work that you have given me to do. And now, Father, you glorify me at your side with the glory that I had at your side before the world existed” (John 17:4–5).
True teachers of the gospel want commitment—not to themselves, but to Christ and His cause. Jesus prayed: “Righteous Father, although the world does not know you, yet I have known you, and these men have come to know that you sent me. And I made known to them your name, and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I may be in them” (John 17:26).

In what parts of your life is God asking you to make a statement similar to Paul’s? What teachers are you adoring too much?

JOHN D. BARRY

 

 

 

Heartlight

with Jesus: ‘Unless’

Note from Jesus

Dear Searcher,

There is only one message that you must hear today. This message is the one truth on which your eternal destiny pivots. So rather than give you many words in My note to you today, I want to challenge you with this one, unalterable truth:

Unless you believe I am Who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death.

My beloved disciple John wrote his story of Me, the Gospel of John, to help you truly believe and find life in Me (John 20:30-31). While I welcome you here each day on our journey through the New Testament, I encourage you to take some time this week to read John’s whole story of Me. Read it at one sitting to get the whole story and come to fresh faith in Me. Do this to find the life that cannot be taken from you even when death comes to claim you.

Verses to Live

Notice especially what I say in the underlined paragraph near the end of the Scripture below. Notice what I say about Who I am and what My relationship is with the Father. Over the next several weeks, you will journey with Me to My crucifixion. All will appear to be lost. I will appear to be abandoned. Even when I AM lifted up on the cross, all will not be lost, and I will not be abandoned. I will be giving My life to ransom your life from sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). I will be doing what the Father has willed to redeem you at His exorbitant cost. I want to win your heart fully and help you know convincingly how deeply We love you. The power of sin to hold you and have you is real, but the power of My cross breaks the power of sin if you choose to believe!

Jesus (to the crowds):

I am leaving this place, and you will look for Me and die in your sin. For where I am going, you are unable to come.

Jews:

Is He suicidal? He keeps saying, “Where I am going, you are unable to come.”

Jesus:

You originate from the earth below, and I have come from the heavens above. You are from this world, and I am not. That’s why I told you that you will die here as a result of your sins. Unless you believe I am Who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death.

Jews:

Who exactly are You?

Jesus:

From the beginning of My mission, I have been telling you Who I am. I have so much to say about you, so many judgments to render; but if you hear one thing, hear that the One Who sent Me is true, and all the things I have heard from Him I speak into the world.

The people had not understood that Jesus was teaching about the Father.

Jesus:

Whenever the day comes and you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He. It will be clear then that I am not acting alone, but that I am speaking the things I have learned directly from the Father. The One Who sent Me is with Me; He has not abandoned Me because I always do what pleases Him.

As Jesus was speaking, many in the crowd believed in Him.
(John 8:21-30)

Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Jesus — for His great love, for His costly obedience to Your will, for His redeeming sacrifice. I believe in Your love, dear Father. I believe in Jesus as Your Son and the greatest demonstration of Your love. I trust Jesus as my Savior, and I offer my heart to Jesus as my Lord. In His name, I confess and pray. Amen.

 

Daily Wisdom: Proverbs 9:9

Illustration of Proverbs 9:9 — Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

 

 

God Says We’re Not Created Equal

God Says We're Not Created Equal

No two apple pies (or people) are created equal. Where’s the spiritual truth in that? It is a biblical principle, sort of. Stay with me until the end, and I’ll explain.

Today’s blog formed in my mind one day as I was creating an apple pie. None of my apple pies look the same. Yes, I cook them on the same oven temperature, for the approximate same minutes, most of the time. Even that can change slightly. It can depend on the look and feel and thickness of the crust.

The DNA Always Varies

The basic recipe is the same, but the DNA definitely varies–always:

D – The Dough may include one, two, or three kinds of flour. That day, I combined Spelt, Whole Wheat, and White flour. But most of the time I use only spelt flour. Heavier, but healthier crust for me. I like oil and milk for a flaky crust, but the amounts can vary. A little salt helps, too, not usually measured.

N – Necessary spices and sweetener. Sometimes I use a little sugar and a lot of honey. That time, I added only honey. Cinnamon and nutmeg add spice, again in varying amounts. Today I included some tapioca grains for an extra crisp crunch. A bit of flour or cornstarch to thicken the honey and juices. I forgot that today, though, as well as a dot of butter on the whole pile. A drizzle of milk on the top crust to brown it nicely.

A– Apples. I never use the same number of apples, or the same kind. On this pie, I chose Granny Smith and Gala. Each apple differs in size, color, and crispness. All sliced, all hand-peeled. All different widths. (Or you can choose a can of pre-sliced apples for faster pie making.)

created equal - granny smith apples - God Says We're Not Created Equal
English: Granny Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We Are Not Created Equal

Why is that an important and needed spiritual truth?

Parents Need to Know That

Every parent wants to treat their kids equally. What child hasn’t screamed “No fair!” if you vary from your treatment one iota? I tried that. I was the Queen of “Fair,” but years later I realized what an impossible task that was. Every child has his own personality, his own “bent,” and temperament. Some respond to gentle discipline, while others need a “firmer” approach. They all need love.

Husbands and Wives Need to Know That

If we just recognized how different we truly are as husband and wife, can you imagine how much time and energy we’d save trying to make the other person like us? That wasn’t my idea or yours. God made man and woman different–in a hundred ways or more. The funny thing is, where one’s weakness ends, the other’s strength begins. We were made to compliment each other, not to compete with one another.

Employers Need to Know That

Employers who expect their employees to function exactly the same in any position need a reminder. Some of us do well at certain tasks, while others need longer instruction. Personalities differ and physical abilities and limitations factor in, but all can give their best effort.

The Body of Christ Needs to Know That

God not only gives us unique personality traits and physical abilities, but He also blesses us with different spiritual gifts. To some He imparts the gift of helps to lend a hand in any practical job of service. To others, He gives the clear ability to speak His truth boldly and clearly, so we would understand His authority.

He gives organization and leadership skills as well, so His church will have vision and order. To others He gives the gift of teaching. allowing us to grow stronger in Christ and know His Word accurately. He chooses some to feel the hurts of others and apply the balm of healing, while others He blesses with the ability to give greatly to expand His kingdom work or relieve the difficulty of others. Still others He imparts with encouragement, so we can lift up the body in distress or help them look upward to God.

In so many ways He blesses us to function with all the right ingredients to accomplish one thing: to build up the body of Christ, His church, to make it effective in a world that desperately needs His love, light, and truth. (Romans 12: 4-8, NIV)

No, we are not all created equal–not in gifts, not in abilities, not in our appearance. God chose a unique DNA blend for each person; no two are exactly the same. But there is one underlying, basic ingredient. We were all made in His image–for His pleasure–for His glory. (Genesis 1:27Ephesians 1:12)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16).

My Personal Prayer for You

Father, thank You for Your ingenuity and creativity. Thank You for making me so unique. I’m one of a kind! We all are! Reflecting in Your image is my desire; enjoying Your fellowship is my blessing; knowing You more is my longing; sharing Your truths is my passion. Lord, help each of us to live our lives with the joy and purpose You intended. I’m so glad You created us all with Your love and in Your image.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

Complimentary Rebecca’s “Pantser” Apple Pie Recipe

If you’d like a complimentary copy of my “Pantser” Apple Pie Recipe–like the one in the above picture, you’ll find it on my freebies page.  Don’t know what I mean by “pantser?” Check out the recipe, and you’ll find out!

Heads-up for Book Giveaway

If you’re not subscribed to my newsletter/blog updates, you can still get in on a book giveaway I’ll be offering next week. Only subscribers will receive the information. I hope you’ll sign up today on my website. 

 

 

 

Some Humor….

 

 Al Goodwyn for 3/8/2019

 Aunty Acid for 3/10/2019

 Bizarro for 3/9/2019

 Herb and Jamaal for 3/9/2019

 

 

NATIONAL MARIO DAY – March 10

 

 

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Transfiguration Sunday…Begin!

 

 

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Daily Prayer for March 3

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23–24, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, you have sent us the Lord Jesus to bear our guilt and our misery. To this day we rejoice that he came, he who can free us from all evil. Teach us to understand the way of the Cross, the way Jesus went. Grant that we may always follow him, even if we also suffer and have a cross to bear. Then we can joyfully go the way he went to the glory of your name, O Father in heaven. We are your children whether we understand it or not. You protect and care for us, until your glory comes and everything is completed that was begun through Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Bless us in his Word, and help us to become his true followers. Amen.

 

 

Verse of the Day for Sunday, March 3, 2019:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. — Colossians 1:15

Thoughts on Today‘s Verse….

If we had been alive when Jesus worked in the carpentry shop in Nazareth or walked along the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, we could have said, “There goes God,” and been right. The amazing reality of Jesus is that he was God among us. Matthew calls him Immanuel, “God with us.” In Colossians 1, Paul pours out every superlative he can use to describe Jesus’ preeminence over everything and everyone. He is God with a human face. He is the ruler, the transcendent one, who reigns above all creation. He is also our Savior and our sacrifice.

My Prayer…

Almighty God, why you should love us so much, I can’t comprehend. We have rejected you, spurned you, ignored you, blasphemed you, and sought to place you on the periphery of our lives. Yet time and again, you are there to hear our cries and save us from ourselves. Forgive me, Father, for not reverencing you more. Forgive me for not recognizing the greatness of Jesus and the utter humility it took for him to sacrifice himself for me. But Father, thank you! Thank you for being patient, sacrificial, and long-suffering. Thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Cruise Control

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11 WEB

Have you ever gone into your prayer room thinking that you were right in step with the Lord, but came out in tears after seeing just how far off base you really were? I have, more than once. I call it Cruise Control.

When things begin to go smoothly in your life, everything is working like it should, your plans are coming together and your prayers have been answered, it becomes easy to grow complacent. To just drift and let the current carry you along. Of course you still pray, you still go through the motions, but your whole heart is not in it, and your mind is always somewhere else. As surely as you breathe, you eventually drift off course, as a car would drift off the road if you stop steering it. The sooner that you correct it, the better.

God is always welcoming us into His loving arms. He wants to be a part of our life and He is just a prayer away. So make some time for Him today. Ask the Lord to make what is important to Him, important to you. Intentionally seek out the Lord’s presence as if you mean it. There is a great reward waiting for those that do. He promised that we would seek Him and find Him, when we search Him with all of our heart.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I seek You today. Please lead me into all that You have for me. Help me to see through Your eyes and make what is important to You, important to me. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: In ancient Israel, men sealed a deal by exchanging sandals (Ruth 4:7).

 

 

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Daily Dig for March 3

Søren Kierkegaard

Only a person of will can become a Christian; for only a person of will has a will that can be broken. But a person of will whose will is broken by God is a Christian. The stronger the natural will, the deeper the break can be and the better the Christian. This is what has been described by the expressive phrase: the new obedience. A Christian is a person of will who no longer wills his own will but with the passion of his crushed will – radically changed – wills another’s will.

Source: Provocations

 

 

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TRANSFIGURATION SUNDAY
Last Sunday After the Epiphany
YEAR C

Old Testament Exodus 34:29–35
Psalm Psalm 99
New Testament 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
Gospel Luke 9:28–36 (37–43)
Index of Readings
OLD TESTAMENT
Exodus 34:29–35
29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. 31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

PSALM
Psalm 99
Psalm 99

1 The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble:
He sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.
2 The LORD is great in Zion;
And he is high above all the people.
3 Let them praise thy great and terrible name;
For it is holy.

4 The king’s strength also loveth judgment;
Thou dost establish equity,
Thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt ye the LORD our God,
And worship at his footstool;
For he is holy.

6 Moses and Aaron among his priests,
And Samuel among them that call upon his name;
They called upon the LORD, and he answered them.
7 He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar:
They kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.
8 Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God:
Thou wast a God that forgavest them,
Though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.
9 Exalt the LORD our God,
And worship at his holy hill;
For the LORD our God is holy.

NEW TESTAMENT
2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
4 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
GOSPEL
Luke 9:28–36 (37–43)
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. 34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

[
37 And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. 38 And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. 39 And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. 40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. 41 And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. 42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
43 And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
]

 

March 3: It May Seem Bland
Numbers 3:1–39; John 12:1–19; Psalm 3–4

Let’s just admit it: genealogies and lists, like the one in Num 3:1–39, are the most boring elements of the Bible. But they do something for us that other formats cannot—they give us a sense of history and lineage.
With a genealogy, we can do more than just trace people; we can map their relationships to others and to the events that happen through those relationships. We can also determine who was involved in those major events.
Genealogies and lists give us a small glimpse into God’s providential work, even though we may not recognize them as such. God worked among the people in those lists. He chose to use them. They didn’t deserve to be used by God in mighty ways, but they were. Some of the people in Num 3:1–39 were given seemingly insignificant tasks: “The responsibility of the sons of Merari was the supervision of the frames of the tabernacle, its bars, pillars, bases, and all its vessels and all its service,” among other things (Num 3:36). If most of us were given this assignment, we would probably think it lame and ask for another. But the sons of Merari likely understood that anything God asks of us should be followed through with honor.
The people listed in Num 3:1–39 were likely selected because they believed they would see God’s glory. God may ask us to do things that seem insignificant or crazy, but if we don’t, we will miss out on seeing His glory.

What is God asking of you that seems insignificant or crazy?

JOHN D. BARRY

 

 

 

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Heartlight

Jesus: ‘When Life Is Hard’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

There are times when life is very hard. Remember when I fed 5,000 people out of five loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21)? The people were tired and hungry, the hour was late, and My disciples were not ready to handle the problem. So I want to remind you where I was emotionally before all of this started.

Herod had just killed My cousin and great forerunner, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12). I felt both the personal loss of this great servant of God and also the burden of knowing that John’s fate would soon be My own (Matthew 17:10-13). I was trying to get away to a quiet place and pray when the crowd found Me. Matthew sensitively describes My situation:

And so he [Herod] sent orders to the prison to have John beheaded, and there was his head, displayed on a platter, given first to Salome and then passed on to her mother.

John’s disciples went to the prison, got John’s body, and buried him. Then they went to tell Jesus.

When Jesus learned what had happened, He got on a boat and went away to spend some time in a private place. The crowds, of course, followed Jesus on foot from their cities. Though Jesus wanted solitude, when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, and He healed the sick and the lame.
(Matthew 14:10-14)

I share this because I want you to realize that I know about life being hard — about needing to grieve and regroup by being alone, yet not being allowed to have that time. So when your life caves in around you, please don’t believe the lies of the enemy — that I don’t care about your pain and that your pain doesn’t matter to the Father. There will be times when you are tempted to feel that the devil’s lie is true, but please remember the real truth. I know human anguish. I know it not just because I am God, but because I have been mortal, God Who is one of you. I know what it’s like to face the storms of life and feel as if they are going to swallow you whole. That is why what happens next after feeding the 5,000 is so important for you to believe.

As I tried to be alone with the Father, I sent the disciples away. They left by boat, and soon they were overwhelmed by a storm. What I was facing emotionally, they were facing physically. So I went to be with them. In the middle of My raging emotional storm, I entered into their own battle with their storm.

While I was approaching them in the storm, Peter did what early Peter often did: he made a bit of a mess of things by presuming to do something the others would never dream of doing. But don’t miss this truth: he did it! He walked on the water to Me until he became distracted by the storm. But in the roiling power of the storm, this seasoned fisherman — this man so familiar with survival in the sea and her storms — didn’t try to save himself. Instead, Peter cried out to Me to save him and I rescued him.

So here’s the deal. When you are going through your own storms, call out to Me. Welcome Me into the middle of your messes, trials, struggles, and storms. When you do, I will join you in them. You will never be alone (Hebrews 13:5-6). Even if My arrival seems to take forever, don’t despair. I will come to you in the storm. You may not recognize My presence at first, but keep looking for me. I will be there. One way or another, I will get you to your true destination. You will find rest, hope, and peace for your soul.

Don’t forget, I know what it’s like to face the worst storms of life, and I will not abandon you to fight them alone.

Verses to Live

Please read this account of these important events in My life — taken from both Matthew’s and John’s records of these events. It is more than a story in the Bible; it may also be your story or the story of a friend. Remember, I won’t abandon you in the storm. Look for Me when the storm seems most fierce, and you can’t figure out how to go on — or even better, look for Me when you see the storm approaching and stay with Me.

Immediately [after feeding the 5,000] Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on to the other side of the sea while He dismissed the crowd. Then, after the crowd had gone, Jesus went up to a mountaintop alone (as He had intended from the start). As evening descended, He stood alone on the mountain, praying.

The boat was in the water, some distance from land, buffeted and pushed around by waves and wind. Deep in the night, when He had concluded His prayers, Jesus walked out on the water to His disciples in their boat.
(Matthew 14:22-25)

After rowing three or four miles through the stormy seas, they [the disciples] spotted Jesus approaching the boat walking mysteriously upon the deep waters that surrounded them. They panicked.

Jesus (to the disciples):

I AM the One. Don’t be afraid.

(John 6:19-20)

Peter:

Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.

Jesus:

Indeed, come.

Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began walking toward Jesus. But when he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink.

Peter:

Master, save me!

Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him.

Jesus:

O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?

Then Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat together, and the wind became still.
(Matthew 14:28-32)

They welcomed Jesus aboard their small vessel; and when He stepped into the boat, the next thing they knew, they were ashore at their destination.
(John 6:21)

And the disciples worshiped Him.

Disciples:

Truly You are the Son of God.

(Matthew 14:33)

Response in Prayer

O Father, give me courage in my storm to call out to Jesus. Give me courage in my weakness to find Jesus’ strength in my storms so that I can welcome Him to me and can find peace, hope, and strength for my soul. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

 

 

 

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 Aunty Acid for 3/3/2019

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