Category Archives: Journey through Lent 2019

Passion Week Day 4

So we have come to Wednesday of Holy Week and as we search the four Gospels for what Jesus did on this day, we find nothing but silence. 

The only references to this day’s activity are to record Judas as he steals away to the chief priests and offers to hand Jesus over to them for a sum of money. 

As I read the passages from yesterday, I notice that this betrayal by Judas follows a full day of Jesus teaching and countering every attempt thrown at Him to trip Him up by those who were supposed to be shepherds of God’s people.

In Matthew 22: 15, it says the Pharisees went and plotted ways they could entangle Him with His words. 

They were going to trick The Word who spoke Creation into stumbling over His spoken words…wow.

It didn’t work. 

But Satan joins the party and enters Judas. 

It is interesting to note in two of the Gospels this follows a dinner the night before where Jesus is anointed by a woman. 

She breaks open a bottle of expensive oil and pours it on Him and her extravagant gift is criticized by some for it could have been sold and the money used for the poor. 

We have to wonder if one of the grumbling voices was Judas…who we also know from John 12:6… liked to dip into that money bag for his own personal needs. 

Like a movie where we watch two scenes unfold, we are only privy to the details of one for Wednesday.

Judas scurrying down the back streets of Jerusalem, with a heart full of disdain and hate and greed… the chief priests with their own hearts darkened by the same sin sickness as Judas…plotting…planning…agreeing to betray. 

And somewhere in Bethany, perhaps? We don’t know…but Jesus quietly waiting. 

Perhaps spending time with Lazarus whom He had recently called forth from the tomb? 

Perhaps alone in some isolated place praying?

Perhaps fishing one more time with His disciples or walking the dusty roads and remembering their stories together?

Perhaps enjoying Martha’s hospitably with Mary sitting at His feet?

We do not know. 

And this not knowing makes my heart want to know Him more. 

So today I pray in the quiet moments where we just don’t know what He’s doing, that we would rest in knowing that He is…that He IS…that He exists and that He lives and that He is always doing His Father’s work…even today <3 

Scriptures for Wednesday:

  • Matthew 26: 14-16 (in context of 14-35)
  • Mark 14: 10-11 (in context of 1-31)

The Passion Week Day 3

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As with all things on this journey you have been invited to take with me, the things I write are more often than not from the immediacy of my heart.

So today, as I sit and ponder the Scriptures that cover the corresponding day of Jesus’ last week on planet earth as a flesh and blood man, I am stricken with a conviction in the very first passages of the readings. 

There are many readings for today and you will benefit far more reading God’s words than mine, so my meditation today is brief. 

In Matthew 21: 23 -27, we discover Jesus has returned from his night’s stay in Bethany and has entered the temple to begin a time of teaching. 

The chief priests and elders confront Him and ask Him to explain by what authority He has been given that He would be doing all that He is doing. 

Jesus counters their question with a question and if they can answer His, He will answer theirs.

It is not a difficult question. 

He is simply asking them what they believe.

“The baptism of John {side note: John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance from sins} — where did it come from? From heaven or from men?”

Matthew 21:25 NKJV

Now first off, do you notice they have come demanding to know who His authority is derived from and yet…He controls this whole interaction…hmmmm

But more to the point of this pondering…see how they respond. 

They don’t say they don’t know for sure right off the bat. 

Nor do take a stand on a solid, core belief that lives deep in their gut. 

They step aside in a circle like coaches conferring about the next play in the game and they reason together. 

They think hard about the outcome of any answer they might give. 

If we say it was from men, the crowd might turn against us. 

If we say it was from God, then He will catch us in our own hypocrisy because we didn’t believe John. 

So they opt for ignorance as their best choice in the moment and Jesus wins this round as they retreat and wait for a more opportune time. 

Oh, it’s not that they don’t have an answer…they just choose to not commit to it out of fear for how it will come back on them.

And we can see the hardness of their hearts and the twisted thinking of their deceived minds. 

Sadly they do not recognize that Jesus can read their hearts.

But once again, I can step away from the story and see myself in moments when pushed to ask what I believe, I have feared the crowd or feared losing face and I have reasoned in myself and whispered limply…

I don’t know…

and retreated rather than face the multitudes or my own seared conscience. 

What do you believe?

What do you believe about Me when everything around you rises up against the knowledge of the Truth buried deep inside your soul?

To what extent can you stand on the faith you proclaim when you are the last one standing? 

So I ask myself and then I ask you….

When was the last time you explained to your own soul what it is you really believe about the baptism of repentance, the new life you have received, the holy calling placed on you and the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you? 

What do you believe about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in payment for your sins?

And what threats around you could cause you to reason within yourself and opt to say… I just don’t know…rather than declare what you believe?  

Hard questions to ponder today. 

Much to think about in the Scriptures provided as we continue this journey to the Cross. 

Scriptures:

  • Matthew 21:23 – 24:51
  • Mark 11:20 – 13:37
  • Luke 20:1 – 21:36
  • John 12:20 – 38

The Passion Week Day 2

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Today I am focusing on the second cleansing of the Temple by a side of Jesus that takes my breath away. 

Raised to understand the power of rage and to know and to experience and yet to also admit my own capacity to possess the frightening hold that an ungodly temper can have on a human soul…

having cowered in fear of another’s temper unleashed…

and yet having felt my own heart rate increase, body temperature elevate and the death grip that anger can take on my own soul when it threatens to overtake the spirit of Christ in me…

I try to separate what I know of anger fueled by sin from anger in Christ who knew no sin. 

So I read the passages we are given and I try to imagine this Holy Anger loosed on a scene that had grown familiar to the people. 

It was commonplace…convenient…no longer considered out of the ordinary…that the beautiful Temple dedicated to the LORD God Almighty had become a market place and shortcut from one side of town to the other. 

And the Son of God said…in no uncertain terms…the people had forgotten what it meant to be set apart and holy and reverent and doing the business of God in the House of God.

Prayer.

Healing.

Worship.

This was what should be happening in the Temple. 

But instead it had been defiled and dirtied by anything but it’s God ordained purpose.

And now we are His temple, you know. 

He has made His dwelling in us who believe. 

He has saved us and rescued us and placed His Spirit in us, human temples. 

Not that we are our own gods…silence that lie of our culture today, my friend.

No. 

We have become a dwelling place for the Lord God. 

Small and fragile and insignificant  jars of clay in which the Living God, 

Jehovah I am, Yahweh has made Himself a place of residence that His light and life would shine out. 

We are His temple and thus a place of prayer, worship and reverence. 

We attend churches where the focus should be prayer, worship and reverence.

In Christ’s Revelation to John, we see that He is still very interested in cleansing of His Churches:

We see the indictments against the Church in the subtitles of Chapters 2 and 3:

  • The Loveless Church
  • The Compromising Church
  • The Corrupt Church
  • The Dead Church
  • The Lukewarm Church

Matthew Henry says this in his commentary:

“No observances, professions or supposed revelations, will profit, if men do not amend their ways and their doings. None can claim an interest in free salvation, who allow themselves in the practice of known sin, or live in the neglect of known duty. They thought that the temple they profaned would be their protection.

But all who continue to sin because grace has abounded, or that grace may abound, make Christ the minister of sin; and the cross of Christ, rightly understood, forms the most effectual remedy to such poisonous sentiments. The Son of God gave himself for our transgressions, to show the excellence of the Divine Law, and the evil of sin. 

Never let us think we may do wickedness without suffering for it.”  

Matthew Henry commentary on Jeremiah 7:11 from ebible.com

As we pause on Monday of Holy Week, it is good to examine our own “temple” and ask God to reveal where we have allowed other things to defile this holy place in us where God alone should dwell. 

Along with the passages below, I highly recommend one of the most powerful teachings I have ever heard based on the passages regarding the cleansing of the Temple from Jim Cymbala. The link, My House Shall be Called a House of Prayer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U79YOKje2zU

Be blessed today with a holy awareness of God’s presence within  you.

May it fill you with such joy that your own righteous and pure anger would rise up and drive out anything that would dare to defile the dwelling place of God IN your precious heart, body, soul and mind. 

Allow the Passion of Christ to do a holy cleansing in you today.

You are so deeply loved <3

Scriptures: 

Matthew 21:12-13 and 14-16

Mark 11:11 and 15-19

Luke 19:45-48

Jeremiah 7:11

Isaiah 56:7 (in context of Salvation of the Gentiles vv.1-8)

Revelation 2:1-3:22 

The Passion Week Day 1

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The people had heard of His miracles. 

The blind were healed…the lame had not only walked, they had danced.

Lepers with rotting flesh had run to priests with clean skin and joyful hearts. 

A widow had walked away from her son’s funeral with her boy by her side. 

He had fed thousands. 

Twice.

He spoke and taught with authority.

And now He was coming in triumph to do the impossible. 

He was the long awaited King of Israel…and He was entering the city just as it had been prophesied He would. 

So they celebrated and rejoiced and cheered. 

All of this was true. 

They just didn’t understand.

They didn’t understand that His Kingdom never was of this world. 

And the way He would save them was not in the political arena but before the very judgment seat of God Almighty.

How often have I expected Him to come into my circumstances and do what I want Him to do in exactly the way I think He should do it?

How often have I worshipped Him for what I assumed would be His plan only to withdraw from Him when He didn’t come through in that excellent way of my mind’s agenda?

How I love the celebration and avoid the suffering….

So today, yes. 

We watched with joyful hearts as palm branches waved across the front of the church and little voices sang Hosanna with so much enthusiasm we feared a couple might topple into the laps of the parishioners in the first row. 

We participated in the procession and renewed our love for our Christ. 

And now let’s enter in to Holy Week, fully engaging in the events.

Fully acknowledging our own capacity to swing from happy throng to angry mob when things begin to go in an unforeseen direction.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

I pray you will meet me here each day with Bible and heart open to how God would like to lead you and me through this important week on the liturgical calendar.

Each day this week I will offer a mediation and passages of Scripture relating to that day’s events.

I encourage you to read these aside from my words and experience the remembering of the last days of Christ’s first coming.

For Palm Sunday:

Matthew 21:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Luke 19:28-44

John 12: 12-19

Outreach 101 <3

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Russ and I have been trying to attend the Wednesday Lenten Services offered at the nearby Lutheran Church as our schedules permit.

This past Wednesday, he was out of town so I put on my big girl pants and went by myself. 

Being long time church attenders and just knowing we humans are creatures of habit, it is always a bit dicey to choose a pew.

Some people find this irritating in the Church, but I don’t mind it. I understand.

We tend to gravitate to certain places to sit – whether it is the coffee shop, a favorite restaurant or the church. 

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I scanned the rows and decided to slip in to one that was semi full.

I moved down to leave room for any late comers, but as I was scooting the gentleman at the end of the group already seated turned and very kindly said to make sure I left room for one as his wife would be coming soon. 

I left space and as I sat down, the couple in front of me both turned to look back and see who was now behind them. 

Being self-conscious I asked if someone else usually sat there and they were so sweet and laughed in agreement that we don’t want to upset the apple cart in the church pews.

Then they introduced themselves by name to me and shook my hand. I told them my name and they made some small talk with me offering some information about their own lives. I did share that I belong to FCC and they tried to think who they knew that went there as well.

As we chatted, the wife of the gentleman next to me arrived and she caught on that I was a visitor so introduced herself and her husband. She also chatted a little with me.  

People who really know me are not at all surprised by this since total strangers who I have not even made eye contact with are drawn to share their life story with me, but I do have a different point to make here.

When the service was over, they once again asked me to repeat my name and then said it was nice to have me attend and repeated their names for me. 

No big deal, right?

But it was huge to me. 

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I was alone and missing my husband. 

I felt vulnerable and unsure of myself. 

And with just a simple conversation, I felt welcomed and included. 

I added four names to people I know and some information about their lives and history in this community. 

It made me realize how important it is for us to do the basics of greeting people and introducing ourselves. 

Our church pastors and staff work hard to bring people to Christ, but it is also our job as ministers of the Gospel to reach out, literally one on one, and make an intentional effort to be welcoming and kind. 

Sharing a little bit about who we are and making room for strangers to make a connection. 

Whether it is in the context of a service at the church or out in the community, we are the extension of the hands and feet of Christ. 

He took time to talk to people, to share Himself with others and to listen to what they wanted to share with Him. 

I pray for God to help me be more outward focused at church and in life <3