Category Archives: Journey through Lent 2020

Holy Week 2020 Thursday

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We find ourselves at Maundy Thursday. 

I am surprised at how quickly the week passes given our current state of confinement to our home. It seems just an eye blink ago we were beginning this Holy Week. 

The news this morning had a piece covering how the Jewish community is handling Passover this year and I found it a bit ironic that one rabbi mentioned the important thing was that you just were at home with your family. 

Yes, I believe that would be the point of Passover in the original Jewish tradition. 

On the first Passover…the original Passover that all the other Passovers were set up to commemorate, it was of utmost importance that you were home with your family. 

The ultimate “shelter in place” it would seem. 

Today you might want to review that Passover found in Exodus 12 but for now I will just summarize it. 

The LORD had worked all the plagues He had planned to wield over Egypt and now it was go time. He gave instructions to Moses and Aaron on how the Israelites were to prepare for this event, by first selecting an animal from the flock that would serve as their sacrifice and protection and last meal before making their break from the oppression of those who held them as slaves. 

Side note, and I just love this…if their household was too small to finish off the whole lamb…they were to combine with a neighbor and join together in one place for the meal. Guess that sounds particularly appealing as we are missing the fellowship of our family and friends these days. 

But back to the story…They were to keep the animal in their home for four days and then slaughter it and take some of the blood and spread it over the doorposts of their homes. 

Oh my…we modern folk might cringe at so many aspects of this. We might balk at any animal being killed for food or we may eat meat but certainly want it packaged in nice, presentable plastic wrap and would rather not think of how it got there. 

A few may be hunters or work in the food industry and are accustomed to the messier parts of getting the meat to the table, but death is messy and God wanted His people to understand that the protection they were about to witness would come at a cost of something that had to be sacrificed. 

The blood on the door frames of their houses was not a magic charm. 

It wasn’t the weird fulfillment of a demanding and quirky deity. 

The blood was a sign of faith and obedience for the inhabitants of the house to their God; who had long ago killed his own creation to cover the shame of the first two humans as they made their exodus from His Presence and fellowship. 

It was, unbeknownst to them, more of the unfolding revelation of His plan to send the perfect sacrifice at the perfect time in human history that would, once and for all, provide the way back to His Presence and fellowship. 

“When the LORD passes through to strike Egypt and sees the blood on the lintel and two doorposts, He will pass over the door and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you.”

Exodus 12:23

If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, His blood covers you. 

Think about it. 

Let that sink into you. 

Read Exodus 12 and then meditate on this 

As they were eating, He took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to the, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for many…” 

Mark 14: 22

His body broken for you. 

His blood shed for you. 

Praise to His name forever <3

Holy Week 2020 Wednesday

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Since nothing about this season of Lent has gone remotely like we would have thought it would, I am veering a wee bit off of the original plan this morning of sharing something about the last week of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. 

I rather doubt me going off on a tangent will take anyone who knows me by surprise, and if you are new…welcome to my Journey which is constantly taking twists and turns as I follow hard after Jesus. 

A number of years ago there was an impacting internet scenario type story that was floating around. I am talking back when we used aol and had IM messages pop up…waaaaayyy back in the day.

The story that was passed around from friend to friend had to do with a situation in which a virus suddenly was overtaking the world. People were dying in every country and as far as recovery versus death rates, forget it. There was no survival from it. 

Scientists and doctors, so the narrative went, were scrambling to find the antidote and as they did testing, it was discovered that it was found in a very rare blood type. A search ensued for anyone who might have just the right combination of type and antigens and genetic composition for what was needed. 

As all of humanity was subjected to this process, only one was found and it was your son. 

You are asked to imagine that your precious child has the perfect blood type to provide the necessary cure for this disease that will kill all of mankind, but it will take all of his blood and thus his life. 

So obvious was the story, right? 

Far fetched and still, it got the point across. 

Seriously as we read that sitting in front of our small computer screens with the big old tower humming at our side….we got the idea of a disease that is affecting the whole world being a picture of sin but when would the described pandemic of illness ever happen.

And yet, here we find ourselves today in a setting where the scene is playing out like some sensationalized movie plot complete with plenty of politicians and media and every day heroes displayed across our screens.

Oh sure, there is recovery on a larger scale than deaths and for that we are so grateful. But the wild imagination of the original little narrative from by-gone days is now something we don’t have to supply mental pictures for…we are seeing it in live action. 

Of course, the story was supposed to point out the gut-wrenching sacrifice of a parent to give a son to save many lives. It was meant to offer you and I the opportunity as humans to imagine the extravagant cost of the kind of love for other people that would enable you to give up your own child for them. 

That is what Easter is about as we know. 

In my studies this morning I read 1 John 4:9-10

Here is my journaling of this passage:

God revealed His love to us in this way —> He sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 

Love is made up of THIS —> God loved US

Love does not consist of our love for HIM

That is backwards

That is exalting us

No

God loved US and He showed us that love by sending His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  

That is what love is. 

That is what Easter is about. 

The cure for the sin of the whole world could only be found in the Son of God. 

He is the only one who could end our sin problem. 

And He did. 

He gave His life for you and for me. 

We have only one thing to do and that is to receive it. 

So simple and yet we fight to hold onto our independence and our insistence that what we do is far more important than what was done for us. 

Say it with me….

  • Love is not that I first loved God, but that God first loved me. 
  • Love is that before I even knew how to love Him, He loved me. 
  • He did not love me because I was worthy of it. 
  • He loved me because He is love. 
  • It is who He is and what He does. 
  • And He is worthy of all my love in return <3

Holy Week 2020 Tuesday

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This morning for this Holy Week devotion, I spent some time meditating on the verses found in John 12: 37-50. 

I am sharing my observations, but if you have time and feel led, look it up and read and ponder on your own. 

As I read, I thought about how it is our tendency to think if Jesus would just work in some miraculous way then everyone in the situation would believe in Him. I know I have prayed for miracles and in my fervent prayers, I have apprised God of the way He could really work my prescribed answer to His advantage. 

So it is a bit eye-opening to see that God knows humanity better than we know ourselves when it comes to evangelism through signs and wonders. 

John 12: 37 informs us of the sad truth….

Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe Him. 

Oh. 

Welp. 

Add to that verse 42 tells me that actually for many, they did believe him. That’s promising news. Right? 

 Not just the ordinary common folk, but some of the rulers of the people. The influential leaders. Maybe the politicians. 

They saw what He did and heard what He said and got it and believed. 

Except the next verse tells us that even though they DID come to believe, they kept it hidden from public display because they were afraid of the Pharisees. If they confessed their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, they would be ousted from the Temple and they didn’t want that. 

Now before anyone reads this and translates “Pharisees” into the “Church”….please don’t. 

While there has been and always will be a “pharisee spirit” plaguing the organized portions of Christianity and various individuals who profess to be followers of Christ….I believe the “Pharisees” of our day are any who would quench the Holy Spirit by enforcing any kind of man-made laws…be they religious, political, cultural or popular. 

The “Pharisee spirit” is alive in any one or any group who have created their own set of rules for what is upright and moral and correct. So yes, it happens inside the Church, but is alive and well in all branches of every system of this world in my opinion. 

The secular world as well as those in religious circles, who say it is our way or the highway.

So here we have a large group of people who believed by kept it from affecting their outward lives…because they preferred being well thought of by people over being approved by God. 

But Jesus simply lived and taught and did by a completely opposite standard. 

In 44-45 it says He cried out…got loud about it…said in such a way that His voice rang out over the whole crowd of non-believers and revealed believers and secret believers and He said:

The one who believes in Me believes not in ME, but in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 

In those two statements He declares two things. 

One that He is God. 

And also that He is obedient to God. 

When we see Jesus, we see God. 

But Jesus was obedient to go when sent by God. 

The unity of the Trinity involves God in three persons…this is a core foundation of my belief in God. 

And the three persons of the Trinity, while they are all God, have different roles and Jesus in His role, surrendered in obedience to God the Father. 

Jesus’ ministry on earth speaks of the role of order and authority and submission in matters of faith. He came to be a light so we would never have to walk in darkness. He came to make the way open to the Father. He came to set us free from the death that we deserve. He came to reconcile us back to God.

Do you believe in Him? 

Do you believe Him?

Do you see Him?

Perhaps today we can ponder a bit on how Jesus was both fully man and fully God and how He modeled obedience and surrender. These thoughts are not theology…they are just my musings as I read the Scripture.

Put yourself in the Word today and ponder it…mull it over…write it out and consider what God might be saying about Himself and about you as it works into your soul <3

Holy Week 2020 Monday

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It is Holy Week and I am shaking my head in disbelief of what has transpired in the six weeks of Lent this year. 

Emotions run high these days with plenty of time to sort through them since our calendar has been wiped clean and our outings consist of walks around the area or a well-planned trip to get supplies. 

The walks happen daily, sometimes multiple times…the shopping happens as little as possible. 

I remember Ash Wednesday. I went to St. Paul’s at noon and received the ashes. I shook hands with the pastor and thanked him for such a convicting and good message to begin this season. 

And I sat last week and cried my eyes out as I listened to him tell his congregation via a video…because you know…social distancing…that they aren’t sure how many days he has left to live. 

It’s not the Covid that is killing him, but an aggressive cancer. 

So he and his family are sheltering in place wringing all the days of together they can out of what is left on his hand-breadth of time. 

I have texts on my phone from friends who are grieving all kinds of changes that they are facing in the confines of our current pandemic. Some are just more fall out from older seasons of grief. Some have developed quickly. 

We send hearts and prayer hands emojis. 

We ache to just sit with them in their trials.

We lift their names before we eat. 

We have our own concerns here under this roof that Russ keeps over our heads like he always has. 

So today I am scanning the Scriptures trying to bring you some words of hope and encouragement and to remember Jesus as He walked out His last days here on planet earth.

My eyes rest on a most unusual set of circumstances today and the story Jesus promised would be told wherever the gospel is proclaimed. 

What a scene. 

First off Jesus is being hosted by a man named “Simon the leper.”

How would you like that to be your handle?

So here we are dining at the home of a man who is associated with a disease marking you as unclean, and in comes a woman carrying a costly container of expensive perfume. 

With little fanfare it would seem, she approaches Jesus as He is sitting at dinner and she cracks it open and pours it on His head. 

I am a visual person, so I am picturing this potent smelling oil drizzling down what most likely would have been a thick head of longish dark hair. Probably unwashed hair as I rather doubt they showered on the regular in those times. 

From the response of the disciples which is described as indignant, I would say she was totally out of line socially, ethically, culturally. 

A waste of money they called out. 

Her extravagance was an affront to their disciple souls and consciences. 

She had made a scene and a fool of herself and had unwisely thrown away resources that could have really helped others in need. 

And Jesus defends her.

He publicly accepts her extravagant gift of love that put aside all thoughts of what anyone would think of her and thought only of Him. 

She poured out her pride and her wealth and her honor on Him and He received it and blessed it. 

Do you and I love Him extravagantly? Or do we worry what others might think? 

It would seem there is only One who matters in this story. 

I would say we have within us a collection of costly treasures that we hold tightly for fear of losing their value if we let them go. I would say we do not take kindly to making a fool of ourselves out of love…

but….

perhaps today we could gather together in our wide open hands the treasures of our hearts and souls and then lift them up to Him…perhaps we could kneel down and forget what we look like to others and gaze into His precious face….perhaps we could symbolically gather every relationship, reward, possession or accomplishment we can think of that we carry in our hearts and visualize them as the expensive perfume in our alabaster jar.

Maybe we could imagine what it would feel like to break the seal on all the people, places and things we love and then to pour them out over His head…willingly give up any thing that we have tightly held close to our hearts …and bless Him back for He is worthy.

And then to receive His acceptance of our gifts of offering to Him and simply rest in His love today <3

Palm Sunday 2020 <3

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The sun will soon be setting on this unusual Palm Sunday. 

Like many of our friends and family, we watched online services – our home church last night and then some of our family’s offerings from their home churches today. Somehow it makes us feel closer to them. 

In all three teachings, it would be no surprise that the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was the main text, but each pastor took that and added different applications and takeaways. 

All three were reminders that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, He was welcomed as the hoped for answer to their oppression and poverty, diseases and dysfunction. 

That He would change the dynamics of the way they were governed and finally restore their wonderful past that they viewed with rose-colored glasses and blinders attached was evidenced in their praises and Hosanna’s. 

But He didn’t do things the way they thought and it took little time for them to turn cold and in a few short days their cheers twisted into chants of “Crucify him!!!” as they declared their allegiance to the very government that was oppressing them.  

As we look to Him now to deliver this whole world from a pandemic, it occurs to me that this particular virus and all that it has exposed that isn’t as it should be, is just one more example of the pandemic of sin and disease and death that has oppressed us all since the Garden. 

We have continued through all the generations since to seek our own way. Times where we have followed and then fallen away only to be pulled up from the pit once again. The world systems that we look to for salvation will always fall short. 

Jesus has saved us once and for all, for all who will receive Him. 

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As we enter Holy Week, I invite you to just reflect with me each day on the events that lead up to the Cross and to the beautiful celebration of New Life that is Easter morning. 

Let’s truly engage in remembering this blessed week that brought us from death to life <3