Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

Even if ……

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This morning my reading was in Habakkuk. 

A short book and the devotion that accompanied my reading suggested taking time to read the whole thing, so I did. 

This minor prophet is asking God why He is allowing what is evil to overtake the people who belong to Him and God answers. 

He has raised up an enemy army who will storm in and He is allowing a big mess to come to fruition because the people have made choices and decision and set a course outside of His will and so He is letting them live the consequences. 

And if you think that sounds like God is unfair and unkind and mean and vengeful…remember the times you heard your parents say or have now said to your own little rebel something to the effect of ….

“You have made your bed, now lie in it”…

and you wished with all your heart they had chosen differently and you cry hot tears watching them suffer…

but for the love of their souls, you let them reap what they sowed so they hopefully will learn a lesson and choose right the next time….

and then ask if God is unkind. 

Habakkuk asks God why and he listens to God’s answer.

Like many of the prophets, the suffering Habakkuk was enduring was because of corporate disobedience of God’s people. The punishment was not necessarily his own actions, but because he identified himself with those who belong to the Lord, he accepted the consequences as his own.

 And he lands on this beautiful verse to close out the book:

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off form the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

The writer of the accompanying devotion in my study this morning suggested writing out that verse by adding your only “even if’s.”

I did it and they were so personal, I didn’t even use my pen to record them. 

In pure fellowship and communion with my Savior, I simply said …

Even if…and I named off the things that are my deepest hopes…

Even if…this thing…that thing…

remains unchanged

bears no fruit

is completely void of a yes from You

Yet..

YET…

I will choose to rejoice in the LORD

I will take JOY in the God who saved me <3

He is worthy of our praise whether things are as we hoped they would be or not.

He is worthy of our praise when we are being disciplined, corrected, or redirected.

He is worthy of our praise whether our circumstances are great or alarming.

The choices that led us to consequences, whether ours or someone else’s, may be out of our control…but the choice to say…Yet…Yet, I will rejoice in You..no matter what…that is all on us.

How will we choose today?

A PS on that story….

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I wrote a post yesterday on the website about a positive experience I had with the customer service department at the Discover company and what I learned about dealing with my own interactions with customers as well as people in general. 

Link is here

But today I want to add a PS to that and I am sharing with you all the thoughts that went through my mind after I posted.

Because I refer to myself as a “customer” of the Discover Card company and yet they really do not make any money off of us. 

We pay our balance every month so they never get a dime of interest and there is no annual fee. 

They even give me cash back on purchases made. 

You see, the real paying customer is the businesses from whom I buy. 

They pay the fees for the convenience of me using the card.

And yes, businesses may cover the cost by tagging a little more on to the price of an item, but for the most part I am one of those “sale shoppers” who rarely pays full price anyway.

I live on grace and mercy. 

I was treated very well by a customer service department for a company who has done everything for me and I have done nothing in return but avail myself of their services.

Kind of sounds like Jesus doesn’t it?

No…the Discover Card is not my savior…but I get treated well and am called a child of God, with all the rights and privileges of an heir, and have done really nothing to earn that status. 

He paid it all and I just live in the fullness of life He gained for me. 

I am treated like royalty. A daughter of the King. 

The great exchange.

My debt paid by Him.

Accepted because of His rejection.

Abundant life purchased by His death and resurrection.

A sinner saved by grace. 

What a wonderful Discover-y.

Be blessed today child of God and extend grace as it has been given to you <3

Easter Sunday <3

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Easter Sunday

We have arrived!

It has been forty days since Ash Wednesday.

We have chosen some fasts perhaps. Read a little more Scripture than we normally do. 

Offered our hearts to be cleansed more…opened our minds to be renewed more.

Contemplated the events of Holy Week from a new perspective, and now we celebrate. 

This year our family is doing something on Easter that we haven’t done in a very long time. 

We will all be together. 

For the past several years this has only happened one time every year. One short few hours on Christmas Eve when all the whole tribe is in one place together at the same time. 

I dare say as my tears flow every Easter and as they are surely spilling out even as I type those words, we do not stand a prayer of a dry Easter here in Austin. 

It has been a “pinch me I must be dreaming” day for this mom and I can say that we did not rest….not for a moment. 

And God willing and the creek don’t rise, we get to do it again in May for a wedding and June for a birthday. More than I could ask or imagine.

We packed all the life and fun and togetherness in that we could. 

But I want to end this journey through Lent as we began so I will turn the last few thoughts of this to the first Resurrection Sunday. 

All four Gospels spill out the details as if they were telling it for the very first time. 

To the hardened, cynical eye it may sound like they are telling conflicting stories, but this is not the case. 

Just as each one of us here in my family could give you the story of the events of today as we visited a zoo, children’s museum, ate various meals and hopped in and out of cars, our stories would be all true…but from different perspectives and angles. The details would be inconsistent from one to the next. 

The one thing we can definitely know is that the grave is empty.

Jesus is alive and he didn’t look like something that crawled off the set of the Night of the Living Dead. 

He still bore the marks of crucifixion in his hands, feet and side but He was healed from the other wounds inflicted on Him. 

No scars from the crown of thorns…no scabs from the scourging…no bruises from the beating.

Just Him…alive and triumphant, but always and forever bearing the proof that our sins were nailed to the cross forever. 

Paid in full.

Hallelujah! 

He is Risen….

He is Risen indeed <3

  • Scriptures:
  • Matthew 28: 1-15
  • Mark 16: 1-11
  • Luke 24:1-33
  • John 20: 1- 23

Saturday <3

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There is not much reading for today.

So little in fact, I decided to include the short portions of Scripture that tell how Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus got brave and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 

How they wrapped His broken and beaten frame in fine linen, layered and treated with myrrh and aloes…a hundred pounds, mind you…and then laid Him in a tomb just as the sun was slipping away so that they could be home for the Sabbath. 

I think about these two men gently and lovingly tending the remains of this man they had loved who had touched lepers and healed the blind, had welcomed the unlovely and the outcast and invited them into His family. 

I think of the physical labor involved in lifting the spices, carrying Him, wrapping Him and then lifting Him onto the place made for the corpse and the weight of the pain in their hearts and souls.

I think of Nicodemus and how he once snuck off in the dark of night to talk to Jesus full of fear to be associated with Him and now boldly going to Pilate and asking if he can give Him a proper Jewish burial. 

I think of the women and the disciples, raw with grief and lack of sleep.

In the first stages of shock and completely broken, they observed the Sabbath rest.

We have been there haven’t we all to a certain degree?

The day after the worst possible thing we could imagine happening and we wonder how we are still breathing as the crushing of immeasurable sorrow presses every ounce of joy and hope and life out of us. 

Activities and conversations that used to be normal and automatic now seem strained and pointless because we are sure our heart, soul and spirit have been irreparably shattered.

 But our mind won’t stop.

It keeps going over the details and the what if’s and what now’s.

It is like life has become a cruel joke as we go through the motions of regular routines knowing that everything has changed drastically and yet the world is moving along just as it did every day before we lost something dear to us.

We do not even know where to place our feet to move forward into what tomorrow will now look like for us. 

Surely it was like this for them.

And even more so.

But they rested. 

Because it was the Sabbath. 

Because they knew one thing…if He was still with them, He would have rested. 

And so in the familiar place of obedience and the resolve to follow Him they did nothing except rest and wait <3

  • Scriptures:
  • Matthew 27: 62-66
  • Mark 15:42-47
  • Luke 23:56

The Passion Week Day 6

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The details of the events of this day can make the head spin as Jesus is transported from one leader to another and at each point, riddled with questions and beaten, spit on, humiliated, scourged, mocked and abused. 

From all accounts and our own common sense, after such treatment He was basically beaten to a pulp…

unrecognizable…

as blood would have been dripping down His face, from His back and sides and limbs.

Add to that a rough hewn cross slammed down on raw flesh as the crown of thorns dug deeper into His matted hair, temple and forehead. 

He was weakened from lack of food and drink on top of it. 

So for today’s mediation, my mind rests on Simon of Cyrene. 

Three of the four Gospels tell of his forced shouldering of the Cross of Christ. 

Two say he was going out of the country and just passing by, one mentions he was the father of Alexander and Rufus. 

And I try to fill in the gaps. 

Was this dad walking into Jerusalem with his two sons the day before Passover just minding his own business?

Perhaps wondering what was all the commotion as people were lining the street and then he sees another Roman prisoner stumbling along under the weight of a cross. 

Maybe he tries to shield his sons’ eyes from the brutality.

Or if they are older perhaps he tells them this is what happens to those who cross the Roman government and let that be an example to you, my sons.

When all of a sudden, he is seized by these soldiers and pushed alongside this blood covered human and forced to get in step with Him. 

John says Jesus carried His cross to Calvary so we must assume it was in tandem with this man named Simon. 

I wonder if Simon was a believer or even a Jew. 

I think of how his clothes and skin rubbed up against the oozing flesh wounds and sweat and filth of our Savior. 

I wonder if the thorns didn’t bump against his own cheeks and into his head as they were pressed together under the weight of the cross. 

If his blood and sweat began to mingle with Christ’s.

I wonder if his sons followed along weaving in and out of the crowd trying to catch a glimpse of their dad, wondering how much more the soldiers would demand of him and would they be walking away together or would their father suffer the same fate as this prisoner.

I wonder if they stayed to watch while the soldiers nailed Him to the Cross and I wonder as they walked away and later heard the stories of the empty tomb and His appearing to so many, healed and whole with only the permanent holes in his hands, feet and side if Simon questioned why he, out of all the world, had been chosen to bear that very-different-from-any-other-in all-of-time-and-eternity Cross alongside Jesus. 

I wonder what methods they employed as they tried to get the blood stains and mess cleaned out of his hair and skin and clothes and erase the terror and fear of that day from their hearts and minds.

And I wonder. 

Is His blood evident on me and in me…in all I do and all I say and all I think and all I am? 

It may not be perfectly displayed to those around me, but it is evident to the only One whose opinion matters. 

When God looks at me, He sees His Son’s sacrifice that covers me and paid the penalty for me. 

This is the promise for all who have received Him as Lord and Savior. 

For all who were yanked out of the crowd and summoned to take up His Cross and walk beside Him.

I hope you will read the passages associated with the day of Christ’s death and then I hope you will celebrate His Resurrection and the new life that is ours because of His sacrifice. 

Scriptures:

  • Matthew 27: 1-61
  • Mark 15
  • Luke 22: 66- 23:55
  • John 18:28 – 42