Lent 2019 – Holy Week

Monday, April 15, 2019

“Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” ( He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.) Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.” ~John 12:3-8

Welcome friends to a new week, Holy Week. Today, we read about Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume. She was questioned by Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples about using such an expensive item, but Jesus told him to leave her alone. Mary was honoring Jesus while he was still with them instead of waiting to use it for his burial preparations. Mary it seems from the writer, knew and believed what Jesus had been telling his closest followers, including her that he would soon have to die. Jesus goes onto to say in the following verse, “You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.” ~John 12:8. In response to Judas saying the perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.

Juan Huertas, the author of the pamphlet I am using, points out the human nature, human behavior of some individuals that believe they know the motives of other people. This is something I have struggled with most of my life. I make assumptions regarding people’s actions as being directed solely at me, with no supporting data whatsoever. If someone is a having a rough day, I used to take it personal, thinking I must have done something to cause this effect on that person. I certainly think a lot of myself, thinking that everyone’s behavior is a direct reflection on me and my interactions with them. As if the universe evolved around me and that I somehow have power over others!! Of brother!!! I’m not exactly sure how I came to believe such things but I’m thankful for caring people in my life showing me a better way to navigate life. There are many things we can do to try to convince others to act or feel a certain way but the true power is within the individuals themselves. We have the power of our own decisions. They may not be easy to but they belong to us. We really do not have the power to make people happy or sad, it must come from within. I lived many years thinking it was my job, my responsibility, my goal to make others happy. We can provide and offer support and even companionship but we do not have control only concern.

A great example, at least it has been for me is when driving and someone cuts you off in traffic. The assumptions I used to make was, “What a jerk!” Basically, summing the person up as rude and selfish. When in reality a million other things could be going on…maybe they were just given bad news, maybe they are rushing to the hospital, fleeing domestic violence, having a panic attack, daydreaming… The point I’m trying to make and that Juan is making is that we can’t read the minds of others and we need to stop making assumptions without evidence proving otherwise. We should be more loving and more accepting. We need to be more like Jesus.

Discipleship is doing as Jesus would do. It’s dying to self so we can live. During this Holy Week, let’s listen for the voice of Jesus. Let’s pause and ask ourselves, what would Jesus do(?). Are there things in your life that are tugging at you?

How is God getting your attention about the cross-bearing life? Prayerfully seeks God and his plans for you. ~Shalom

Breath Prayer: Faithful Lord,…help my unbelief.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Lent 2019 – Holy Week

Sunday, April 14, 2019

“Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “ Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” ~Mark 11:9

The darkest hour has long been used figuratively to mean ‘the lowest ebb’ and there are many such examples of it in print dating from the late 1700s.

The English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller appears to be the first person to commit the notion that ‘the darkest hour is just before the dawn’ to print. His religious travelogue A Pisgah-Sight Of Palestine And The Confines Thereof, 1650, contains this view:

It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.

Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday, reading from the book of Mark chapter eleven, we read that people were happy and excited that Jesus was coming. The anticipation was overwhelming and people were singing and shouting “Hosanna!” They placed palm leaves and their own personal cloaks on the ground as Jesus make his way into the city. These people had either seen or heard all the things that Jesus had done and they wanted to be a part of it. They were seeking salvation, healing, wholeness and new life!

Do we receive Jesus in such a manner?

Do we get excited to go to church and worship with other believers?

Do we thirst for the Words of Jesus?

Today is a joyous time to celebrate Jesus and the salvation he offers to everyone who believes in him. As we journey onward through Holy Week and make plans for Easter let’s take time to experience each day as it comes. This week will be filled with very painful moments in history and difficulties in hearing the truths of Jesus’ sacrifice. Let’s pray for one another, for the strength and courage to face the challenges ahead and to restrain ourselves from the urge to skip over the parts of the story that are hard to grasp and comprehend. Jesus suffered for each of us so that we would not have to endure the pains that he did. As painful as this week may seem, let us remember that freely Jesus gave himself for us so that we could have everlasting life with him for all eternity. Just as the saying goes, it is darkest before the dawn; but as believers we know that JOY COMES IN THE MORNING! Hallelujah, Hallelujah Amen!

Breath Prayer: I am desperate for salvation;…Lord, save me.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/darkest-hour-is-just-before-the-dawn.html

https://ancf.org/blog/234-why-do-things-often-get-worse-before-they-get-better

Lent 2019 – Discipleship Is Not Easy

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Dear Friends, I hope you had a good week wherever you are in the world and whatever it is that occupies your time. It’s such a wonderful feeling knowing that I am blessed to be able to share my thoughts with others across the globe! God indeed has blessed me beyond my imagination. After reading today’s words by Juan Huertas, I found myself connecting with his examples. I can relate to the idea of avoiding death and dying, we live in a time where a huge portion of time is given to living and eating well to be healthy and prolong life. A large portion of my youth was filled with playing sports and being physically fit but as time passed other things took priority and now I concentrate of health issues that my doctor recommends. I know that life is short and for that reason I give myself permission to indulge, maybe too much at times. When I was younger I didn’t give a lot of thought to dying, life seemed like there was plenty of time to do everything I wanted to do. I look at my life now and think (?) where did the time go? The subject of death can be very complicated and affects us all differently. I can only share what has been my experience has been and in no way would I compare my story to anyone else’s. For me a turning point way the death of my mom, I just never imagined life without her. Recently, my church family has endured the deaths of three of our congregation members and we are feeling the void of their absence.

It’s the unknown that scares me about death, a better word I guess is that my faith, much like Thomas is weak and doubting. I’m my heart I believe that heaven is the immediate other side of death for believers. The Bible tells us, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” ~2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV

The other thing that resonated from today’s reading is the part about knowing the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the temptation to jump forward in the story. It’s easy to jump from Palm Sunday to Easter, skipping the entire span of time in between. Personally, I struggle with this kind of thinking in my personal life, especially when it relates to tough topics. I’m ok with the beginning and the end but like to speed through the middle. I’m learning that the middle stuff, that’s the important stuff. It’s the learning stuff, the important contents. I like to speed through the process because I think it will be less painful, and that may be true. I’ve found that some of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far in life have come from the most painful experiences I’ve known. I’ve found meaning in the pain, the pain was for my good not to harm me. These experiences have strengthened my faith and trust in God.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die…” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a

“I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

Let’s step into the whole story, the rest of the story…walk with Jesus and experience all that is available to us. Let’s pursue our discipleship and share in the story of Jesus’ death so that we can be born anew to a living hope and share the Good News of Jesus.

~Peace~

https://youtu.be/5IxaEZD02wY

Breath Prayer: I will die with Jesus…and live in hope.

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=2%20Corinthians%205:8&version=NKJV

Lent 2019 – Discipleship Is Not Easy

Friday, April 12, 2019

“But the Twelve understood none of these words. The meaning of this message was hidden from them and they didn’t grasp what he was saying.” ~Luke 18:34

Discipleship is more than learning to be a disciple of Jesus and his teachings it is living his teachings. Being Jesus in the world, being the hands and feet of Jesus. Sharing the words of Jesus through words and our actions. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are changed from the inside out. We are called to immerse ourselves in the study of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus so we can understand what was once hidden. Just like the disciples with Jesus, they too did not understand or comprehend what Jesus was telling them. Much like learning a new skill or a new language, it seems so foreign to us at first and we feel like we will never understand it, but after practice and study and repetition it begins to made sense. When we immerse ourselves into daily living for Jesus by spending time in prayer and reading his word, we can easily transition into new life. The more we interact with other believers and trust in God’s Word, our eyes and our minds are more fully opened and we begin to grasp the enormity of God’s greatness and his love for us.

As we press on in our pursuit of Discipleship, let’s support one another through prayer, meditation and sharing of God’s love. With Easter quickly approaching and continue to read/learn the history of Jesus’ sacrifice, lets prepare to emerge with thanksgiving to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this hurting world, who is in need of a savior.

Discipleship Definition – Changing from the inside
“The important distinction with Christian discipleship is that we are not only called to learn the teachings of Jesus Christ, we are also called to live them. A disciple who bases his or her life on the teachings of Christ “like a person building a house, who dug a deep hole to lay the foundation on rock” (Luke 6:48). When we make our initial declaration of faith and ask Christ to be our Savior, He will begin changing us from the inside, giving us the ability to understand His word and the desire to live it.” *See reference article listed below

Breath Prayer: Immerse me…in your grace, O Lord.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org/discipleship-definition.htm

Lent 2019 – Discipleship Is Not Easy

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The road to what we want is often difficult. Have you ever wanted something so badly you never thought it would happen? I recently experienced such a thing. I have been thinking and dreaming of going on vacation for a very long time. I specifically wanted to go to Walt Disney World in Florida, my last real vacation was in 2012 and it had been at WDW. I had a lot of doubts that it would happen but through planning and saving and sacrifice it happened. So, now the vacation has come and gone, what a blessing to be able to go and I was able to go with friends, it was truly magical! I was able to rest, relax and enjoy all four parks and reminisce about previous visits. In order for this trip to come to fruition I had to be willing to have self-awareness of my money and my vacation time at work, I had to make sacrifices regarding my spending practices, this all took intentionality. And, wonderful moral support from friends and family, reminding me of the benefits of the sacrifices I was making. Seven years is a long time in between planned vacations, but it was so worth the sacrifices. This all reminds me of the reading for today from Juan Huertas and the scripture verse telling us that to be followers of Jesus we must say no to ourselves, take up our cross. In our humanity, we are very selfish individuals! I remember a time in my own life where I made a lot of really bad financial decisions because of pride, pride of self and pride of trying to give others what “I” thought they needed, wanted and desired. It’s true what they say, money can’t buy happiness or love! Following Jesus means that we become like Jesus, we care for others, we love others and we make sacrifices. When we read about Jesus and His life, he did not have a full wardrobe of the latest fashions coming out of Rome and Jerusalem. He did not have sandals made from the softest leather in the land. He did not dine on the finest culinary delights in elite clubs or lodge in elegant bed and breakfast inns. No, Jesus was most often found with the lowly, the average and the forgotten people, people with little to no money and little food but hungry souls for truth and hearts of generosity. Following Jesus is accepting a life of discipleship, saying no to self and yes to our brothers and sisters. It is true, life is short but eternity is waiting for us with open arms. Saying no to our selves does not mean gloom, its saying yes to community and a shared life with other believers, its participating in the common good of all people, and it’s a communal vision to life everlasting with our Heaven Father.

Following Jesus means letting go of many things but your return in accepting Jesus and the life he has for you is boundless! Go ahead and LET GO!

My prayer is that you will see and feel God in a very special and real way today! You are special and uniquely created by God and you are so very loved by God! ~Shalom

Breath Prayer: Help me let go…so I can live.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Thank you!!! #400 (#401)

Friends, I just want to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU!” for your support of my blog space. It’s truly a dream come true to share my thoughts with you. I appreciate everyone’s likes, comments and subscription to follow.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.” ~John 14:27

~Peace~

Lent 2019 – Discipleship Is Not Easy

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“Look, I’m sending you as sheep among wolves. Therefore, be wise as snakes and innocent as doves.” ~Matthew 10:16

The life of discipleship can be difficult and dangerous. Being like Jesus; loving, forgiving, including and reconciling are often seen as a threat to those who are not yet believers and those in powerful positions. Just like in Jesus’ day, he was viewed as a threat because he brought a new way of life and a new way of thinking to the people. The leaders of the city certainly did not want to see an end to their extravagant way of life. The city leaders of Jerusalem and of religious leaders of the Temple knew that they needed to put a stop to Jesus and His ministry, if they were to succeed in keeping their way of life prosperous. As they devised a plan to rid themselves of Jesus and His followers, Jesus was preparing his disciples for a life that was anything but comfortable. Jesus did not soften his words or paint a pretty picture of life here on earth, he told them straight, they would be like sheep among wolves.

Luke 10:3, “Go you way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” 

Acts 20:29, (Paul speaking)“I know that, after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and won’t spare the flock.”

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we must not be naive to the world and the ways in which satan will attempt to distract us. To be wise means to be purposeful, discerning, attentive, thoughtful and with regards to innocence, we must not use the same tactics that satan uses, like violence, coercion, manipulation, envy or jealousy to get our way. The easy thing to do is to react and strike back, as in an eye for an eye but what did Jesus tell us to do? “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well.” ~Matthew 5:38-39. Jesus tells us to act differently, not to REACT, but to LOVE.

Our preparation, our discipleship is rooted in community, relationship and connection to ourselves, our neighbors, our church, our friends, and most importantly, God!

Moving forward, we shed our old self and put on newness of life in Jesus, being Jesus in the world. Lord, help us to be attentive and allow the challenges and struggles of discipleship to made us more like Jesus.

Breath Prayer: In struggle,…make me wise and innocent.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://deltastatement.com/4113/archives/fall-2017/taking-road-less-traveled/

Lent 2019 – Discipleship Is Not Easy

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

“I begged your disciples to throw [the Spirit seizing his son] out, but they couldn’t.” ~Luke 9:40

Greetings! Today’s verse is taken from the Book of Luke, chapter nine. The story starts at verse thirty-seven, when a man from the crowd shouts, in verse 38, “Teacher, I beg you to take a look at my son, my only child” and then in verse 40, “I begged your disciples to throw it (spirit that causes my son to seize) out, but they couldn’t.” Luke does not say who the disciples were, we only know that they were followers of Jesus and that they had failed to remove the spirit within his son that causes him to seize. FAILURE!

I love the quote by Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Biblically speaking failure is similar in that we get the opportunity to begin again, renewed by the GRACE of Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines failure as:

omission of occurrence or performance

• a state of inability to perform a normal function

• an abrupt cessation of normal functioning

• a fracturing or giving way under stress

lack of success

• a falling short

In the reading for today, Juan Huertas talks about toddlers and how they are always wanting to do things on their own, “Me do it!” If you’ve ever spent any time around small children I’m sure you have heard those words more than once! It can be frustrating to watch them try to do something knowing they are going to fail. The natural instinct is to help, help because it will be easier and help because it will be faster! Both are true yet, they can also hinder learning. Easier and faster are not always the best choice. Much like a child learning new skills, the life of discipleship can be challenging and a reminder that we still have areas in our lives that need cultivating and development. Failure does not mean that God will give up on us or that we should give up on ourselves. No Not At All…repent, taking our mistakes and sins to Jesus in prayer asking for forgiveness and grace to start anew. God knows we are not perfect, he does not require perfection. God wants us to love Him with all our hearts and let our obedience stem from a heartfelt desire to be pleasing in His sight.

Every day we are faced with challenges that test our faith, we stumble and we get sucked into thoughts and conversations that are less than Godly, Do Not Despair, remember you are human just like everyone else, what matters is how we deal with it. As in the story today, the disciples were unable to cast out the demon spirit, Jesus was able to do it. Luke does not go into great detail, I researched the commentaries and what I found was that this specific healing required a bit more than the usual casting out. Failure nonetheless by the disciples because there was still more that they needed to learn. Juan Huertas tells us that this one required a different approach, prayer and fasting. Look for ways to develop your discipleship like gathering with other believers to continue to grow, encourage, ask questions and practice the ways of Jesus. It is in failure and disappointment, we grow in God’s love.

Today is a new day, a new opportunity to be Jesus in the world.

~Peace~

Breath Prayer: Loving God,…teach me in my failure.

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com

Bible Gateway by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. Bible Gateway by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible-gateway/id506512797?mt=8

[biblegateway app for apple: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series]