Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday April 4, 2015 Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
Saturday of Holy Week: a quiet bridge between the somber sorrow of Good Friday and the unleashed joy of Easter. Tradition tells us it is the day when Jesus' body lay in the tomb while his soul descended into hell. A day when his followers were in stunned confusion over the events of the preceding day before the glory of the resurrection was revealed. For us who follow Him today, a day of quiet contemplation and preparation, both spiritual and physical, for Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day, we know is following. This passage of scripture is surely included in most people's top 10 list from the Bible and in it I see shades of Holy Saturday. As Christ was beaten and tormented and ultimately crucified, his strength drained slowly from his dying human body until, we are told, he cried out to His Father "into Your hands I commit my spirit" and breathed his last. But was that the end? Of course not, as we proclaim in the creeds of our faith, He rose again in glory and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. But Christ did not win that final victory over death for himself alone. NO! He did it to save us and reconcile us to our Heavenly Father that all could be saved. In a like manner, while our suffering in this life cannot be compared to that of Jesus, at times it can be great and it can drain us of our strength and resolve. But this beautiful passage assures us that if we are waiting on The Lord, we too shall be victorious. We are promised renewed strength to the extent of soaring on eagles wings. I have had the privilege of watching eagles in flight and I can tell you there are few images that evoke the combination of strength and ease that majestic sight does. Wings spread wide, they rise up on the thermals soaring for impossible lengths of time on a single flap of those powerful wings. This is a promise to lay hold of. Our Heavenly Father longs to carry us thus and to empower us to run and not be weary and walk and not faint as we serve Him and wait in His presence for renewal. Let us remember this when we are tempted to believe we are so weary we have nothing left to give. Come into His presence and be lifted up, strengthened and renewed as we wait on The Lord on this "quiet" day for the victory we will celebrate tomorrow.
Prayer for today: Father God, You are so gracious and we thank you for Your many mercies. On this day between death and victory, call to your children and help us set aside time to be with You being renewed as we prepare to celebrate Jesus' resurrection and victory over death. We ask in His name.AMEN!
Confession for today: I confess that as I wait upon The Lord and align myself to His purposes for me I will be strengthened for any task He assigns. My God is not known for calling the equipped but rather for equipping those He calls. I declare this by faith in Jesus. AMEN!
For Geri

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday April 3, 2015 Hebrews 12:2

Friday April 3, 2015
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2)
On this Good Friday, as we contemplate the breadth and depth of our Lord's sacrifice for us, I find these words of special comfort. Jesus fully knew the extent of the agony his death by crucifixion would entail. He knew what the physical pain of the cross would be. He knew what the spiritual pain of separation from His Father, even temporarily, would be. Scripture uses the word anguish to describe Jesus' state at the very thought of what was to come. His distress was such that we are told that his sweat filled with drops of blood, and he begged his Father “Abba...everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me." (Mark 14:36). Indeed Jesus knew what was to come. Jesus had a choice in whether he would lay down His life in such a way and out of His great love for us He did, buying our redemption. What I find comforting about this passage is the idea that the joy of heaven to come made this suffering possible, even worthwhile for Jesus. The key for me is that Jesus had full knowledge of not just the anguish of His death, but of heaven on the other side of that death. We have to take it on faith that the joy of heaven will eclipse all our earthly suffering but Jesus did not. Jesus was with God from the foundation of the world.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and 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 1:1-3 NIV)  Jesus had full knowledge of what heaven would be and according to this passage,  the prospect of that joy was worth the suffering he would endure for our sakes. If Jesus, who had personal knowledge of both sides of the equation chose God's will for Himself, surely we can trust His divine judgement and follow him through our own crosses to the eternal life He has bought for us.
Prayer for today: Jesus, we love You and are so humbled and grateful for the sacrifice You made to pay our debt! On this holy day, keep us mindful of both Your sacrifice and the joy You have bought for us. We ask in Your name. AMEN! 
Confession for today: I confess that though I am weak and unworthy, Christ has paid for my sins and I am no more a slave to them. I will chose to follow Him, empowered by His Holy Spirit indwelling me, through whatever challenges this life may bring, anticipating as He did, the glorious joy awaiting me in the next. AMEN!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday April 1, 2015 John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)
I recently brought a blender.  Not a top of the line does everything for you including puree your vegetables and make your soup hot blender, I brought a $19.99 blender.  It’s a personal blender, just big enough to make a one serving smoothie for myself.  In deciding to buy this blender, I factored into the equation the reality that I didn’t know if I would like having smoothies for breakfast and $19.99, I decided, wasn’t really much of an investment.  My decision made sense; less of an investment meant less heartache in the long run.  I brought the blender, gathered the ingredients, and began making smoothies.  My blender worked great, at least for the first week.  Around the middle of week two during one of my morning blending sessions, the motor of the blender was whirring so fast, and got so hot, that the cup got lodged in the blender and melted a little bit.  I attributed this to the blender being a little too full, and worked over the next week, to adjust the contents accordingly.  However, now the blender didn’t seem to be blending as fast, and it didn't seem to blending my vegetables as smooth.  During week three, the blender started spewing the contents out of it, and it didn’t seem to matter how tightly I placed the lid on it.  On one occasion when this happened, I succeeded in getting smoothie all over me just before heading to church on Sunday morning to prepare for worship.  I was beginning to rethink the $19.99 blender.  I had wondered on more than one occasion if I should have spent a little bit more, or made an investment in a really good blender, thus saving myself some of the troubles I’d experienced over the last week.  This morning, as I was making my smoothie, I successfully managed this without getting any all over myself or the counter (though not without a lot of effort), I found myself thinking about investments.  

God invested in each of us when he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins.  God continues to invest in us on a daily basis.  Grace and mercy are extended to us, and all we have to do is be willing to receive this.  What if we made this type of investment in the things of God?  What if we fully invested in those around us by being fully present and in the moment?  What if we fully invested in the things of God through fasting, praying, reading scripture, and participating in Bible Studies?  Sadly, our investment in the things of God, is often like my investment in the blender.  We want it to work for us when we want it to, but we don’t want to put a lot of effort into it.  I believe a portion of this way of thinking can be directly attributed to a fear of failure.  The question, “What if I get this blender and don’t use it?” is almost like asking, “What if I pray and my prayers aren’t answered?”  Both questions stir up negative feelings associated with failure.  2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”  
During this season of Lent, I encourage you to find ways to fully invest in God. John 10:10 reminds us that, “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy,” but that Jesus comes that we might “have life, and have it more abundantly.”  The abundance of God only comes through being fully invested, through not taking the easy way out.  The abundant life comes through living fully without the worry of not being good enough, holy enough, religious enough, or righteous enough.  Today, I invite you to serve with your entire being that you might live an abundant life in the fullness of God.  

Prayer for today: Help me God to be fully present to all those around me today. I ask in Jesus' name. AMEN! --Michelle Lewis