I have earnestly desired . . .

Luke 22:14-23

 And when the hour came, he (Jesus) reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

bulgaria-2532034_1920I’m going to make a few observations on the scripture verses above. I’m not going to tell you what to think, or how you should feel, I’m just going to share observations I’ve made, and encourage you to do the same as we approach the time we commit to recognize and honor the great sacrifice made.

  1. Jesus was eager to spend time with his disciples before the suffering began. To share with them a sacred meal, to have fellowship, to share that it was the last time he would do so until he was joined in his kingdom, an emphasis on his love, his devotion, the level of sacrifice? A powerful testament to his human nature, his God nature, or both?
  2. He broke the bread, giving thanks, as he was reported to do at each gathering for food, again reminding the disciples of what he had taught about his sacrifice, and not only asking but commanding, that it be a symbol of remembering that sacrifice. An understanding of the human need for symbolism as a way to remember?
  3. When he poured the wine, he told the men around him that it was poured out for them. That the blood that would flow, like the wine he had poured, was a covenant between God and man. I have to wonder, did they grasp the wonder of that covenant as they listened?
  4. Jesus announced that the betrayer sat among them, but he did not publicly say who it was. The disciples began questioning each other about who it could be. Were they angry, curious, bewildered? Can so great a sin be so well hidden even to the ones closest to you?

Continue reading and you’ll find the disciples began to dispute who would be the greatest among them. The human pride, desire, selfishness so often reflected in these men who equally left all they had to follow Jesus. A complex mixture of all that is good, all that is strong, all that is weak and sliding toward sin? And in the end, they’ll each have their place in God’s kingdom as their reward.

Powerful verses shared in Lukes amazing ability to bring life and detail to the story. A story of the Christ who earnestly desired to spend his last hours with the men who had walked beside him for three years.

I have to believe He earnestly desires to spend time with each and every one of us.

Next blog: where do I go from here?

 

 

 

What we dread and when will it come?

Have you noticed it? That nervous anticipation that grows until it becomes dread, a heavy pit in your stomach, that whirling progression of thoughts as you try not to worry about what lies ahead, but somehow it repeatedly rises to torment you, building into a fear that demands your attention above all other things?

woman-533626_1920Or maybe it isn’t quite so debilitating, but still exists in more common areas of your daily life without you realizing it. Listen to the things people say and you’ll hear it.

Things like:

It’s Monday again.

I have to go to the dentist.

Why do I have to do that job?

I wish I could just cancel that appointment.

Why did I ever agree to go out with this person?

Why did they put me in at third? I’m a left fielder!

Why can’t I ever beat the heavy traffic?

Is it real dread, or is it lamenting that we don’t get what we want when we want it? I am inclined to think that even if it isn’t genuine dread, the constant mindset of not wanting something to happen creates a whole new thought process. We repeat the words, or the thoughts until they build into something that changes our outlook, our moods, and even at times our faith.

What is it in your life that brings you dread? What is it that twists and turns around inside of you as you wait for the when.

I understand dread. There was a period in my life that hearing a vehicle pull into my driveway created a rapid heartbeat and shallow breath and it took a supreme effort to not just stay behind closed curtains. From a period in my life of a practiced lifestyle of dread, based on multiple events, each with its own unique sense of dread, I created an atmosphere of fear as I waited as though trapped, not knowing when the things I dreaded were going to happen. And now, many years later, I can look back and see how not one of the things I dreaded came to pass with the horrendous devastation I was sure was in my future.

It’s no wonder the Lord teaches us in scripture not to worry. To fear not. To trust Him. To think about things that are good. The mind is powerful and can be a very dangerous traitor, influenced by a great enemy, especially if we don’t know the promises of God; if we don’t depend on Him and allow the Holy Spirit to be counselor and comforter and teacher.

What created the change in my situation? One day I turned on the radio that had sat silent for a long time. It was playing a station I thought I’d switched away from, and a  preacher started talking, and to this day I can’t remember the words, but suddenly the depth of the reality hit me that I was trying to live within the darkness of dread without God. Not that He had left me. As the craziness grew, I had begun to withdraw, to believe the lie that I was done, that I had failed God and there was just no point…in anything.

But I was never really alone. I had family and friends, and most importantly, the Great Counselor was planting seeds that one day finally came together like puzzle pieces and I went to my knees and wept, praying as I hadn’t done in months. And then I got up and threw open the drapes that had been closed for much too long and let in not only the sunshine but welcomed in the Son. I immediately turned back to the Word and seeking God because I knew if I sought Him I would find Him, that not only did I need to seek with all my heart, but oh how I wanted to seek Him.

God is faithful!

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15

If you are dreading something and wondering when it will come, my hope is that you will turn to God, and consider that the time is here when we need to be asking, “when will He come?” and joyfully prepare, with no dread at His coming if you have believed by faith that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, I offer you the solution to not only my past issues of dread and fear, but any that might come in the future, and that is the joy and strength that comes with my relationship with Jesus Christ. If you need prayer, please use the contact form available on the menu. You can also use that form if you have questions about the Christian faith, and how you can join the family of believers.

Next blog: I have earnestly desired . . .

 

 

 

Hosanna in the highest!

Matthew 21:1-9

The Triumphal Entry

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,  saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Shared on YouTube by bethanae  Published on Sep 2, 2012

Beauty In the Eye of the Beholder

Most people have said this phrase, or at least heard this said, at some time in their life. Sometimes it is a statement of recognizing different opinions. Sometimes as a way of encouraging people not to judge. Or the opposite, said in sarcasm, implying strong judgment. The power in the words we use is in how we say them and when we choose to say them. Especially when we use them in reference to human beings.

Behold. A word not used very often in our modern culture. An attention-getting word used to introduce Jesus in John 1:6 “and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, Behold, the Lamb of God!’

We are all beholders, are we not? What beauty are you beholding, observing? binoculars-1026425_1920 So much is determined by the understanding of the meanings of words. Beauty truly can mean one thing to someone and something different to another person. Confirming the statement that the concept of beholding beauty is individualized and specific. Perhaps a spiritual view of profound beauty in humankind can ease a troubled place in your heart. Genesis 1:27 (ESV): So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I’ll take that definition of beauty any day. To know that I was created in God’s own image! Even if by the standards of mankind I am not considered a beauty to behold, I know that in the eyes of God, I am beautiful. Because what He created He saw as good, and all good things come from God above. Good news, that holds true for you as well!

My physical makeup may not be considered attractive to someone based on their culture, their personal favor, or social influences. That can seem harsh, but it is not devastating because I know in God’s eyes I am beautiful. I know also, that time diminishes even the greatest of physical beauty, and there is a far better beauty waiting for me in eternity, more than I could ever hope to have here on earth.

So, when I hear Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, I have to smile, because I know that the One who beholds me is, above all others, the one I desire to find me pleasing.

Next Blog: What we dread and when will it come?

No Turning Back

There is no turning back in this world. You go forward, to the left or to the right, but there is no turning back.

arrows-167536_1920That’s what I told myself as a way of encouraging myself. Of doing my part in not letting the past have a controlling hold on me. The past is the past and I need to focus on the future and what lies ahead. That the mistakes, as well as the victories of the past,  were right where they belonged.

Sometimes the rigidity of a singularly focused mindset screams trouble!

A few years ago I was taking part in studies of Revelation from two different sources and these verses repeatedly pounced on me.

Revelation 2: 1-7: To the Church in Ephesus. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

My days were busy. With life. With work. With church activities. With ministry. Doing all that was required of me, and willingly. But, had I been one of those that had abandoned my first love?

Abandoned is a word that connects with pain. Physical, mental, emotional. Each of us at some time has felt abandonment in one way or another. To suddenly see myself as the one doing the abandoning and not the one being abandoned was a momentous, and painful, discovery.  The battle between my “mantra” of no turning back and God’s truth didn’t last long. I realized that the overwhelming love that comes in the first season of your relationship with Christ was no longer there.  Love was still there. The commitment was there. Yes, there was still a joy, but not as in the past. The past that I had for so long insisted needed to be kept in its safe tomb. Where I could control it so it had no chance of it controlling me.

So I repented. And I examined the works that I used to do. I asked the Lord to give me a clear understanding of the proper places in my heart for things of the past as I worked toward the future that He designed for me. Slowly, and sometimes in reluctance when my faith wavered off of Him and onto my own abilities, I have returned to some of the works of those early years. Some things only God can enable my rebellious aging body to take on. Some things He has not required of me. But there have also been doors that have opened for me that only He could open. As I stopped putting limits of time on a timeless Lord, my relationship with him grew stronger, returned to the intimacy of the past, and I can rejoice that I had ears to hear what the Spirit was saying.

Next blog: Beauty in the eyes of the beholder

_____________

 

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Note on my choice to use ESV: The English Standard Version (ESV) is an “essentially literal” translation of the Bible. It was created by a collection of more than 100 leading evangelical scholars and pastors and it emphasizes “word-for-word” accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning.