Lord, help me be more Mary-like. Teach me how to just sit at your feet and listen to what Jesus said. In a world of instant communications, 24-hour newsreels, social media posts, and text messaging, show me how to just sit at your feet for ONE DAY and just listen.
What would you say to me?
What would you say about this world and how to live in it?
Would you give insight in to what’s happening?
What do I need to hear from you most today?
Would you tell me I’m doing ok or would you guide me to a better way of living?
Yep, this sounds more like me and my Martha-like self.
Distracted by all the stuff.
Because honestly, who’s going to do all this stuff if I don’t? After all, the only reason that Jesus was even in there was because Martha had “opened her home to him” in verse 38. There’s dinner to cook, house to clean, feet to get washed, a table to set, I mean really. You expect me to just sit there and listen, when there’s all this stuff to do?!?!?
How can I just sit and listen to you when the politicians are so loud?
How can I just sit and listen when the family issues seem to be getting ignored and growing worse?
How can I just sit and listen when there are eggs to color and dinner to cook? Or even worse, when there’s not, and the loneliness sets in?
How can I just sit and listen when there are children being abused, abandoned or even worse, killed?
Lord, don’t you care about all the things I see on social media? Don’t you care what so-and-so said? Don’t you care about what is happening to our economy? Don’t you care about ……………………………..?
How can I just sit and listen when there are things to do, places to go, people to see?
Lord tell them!!
As I sit here this morning at the feet of Jesus, in my best Mary-like posture of coffee and pajamas I hear Jesus say. “Today is Easter. Today is the day to celebrate that on the day I visited Mary and Martha, My Father had a bigger plan. On the day I visited Mary and Martha, I loved them both for their reaction to My visit. I love and appreciate you and your readers, in how you respond to your world today. I love Martha for her busy-ness and I love Mary for her sitting and reflecting. There is a time and a place for both the preparation and the listening.”
Friends, just for today, I choose to just sit at the feet of Jesus and reflect on what He has done for us. Before we were even born, before our ancestors were even born, he came to this world to teach us how to love one another, to die for our sins and then finally rise again. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, right this very second, praying for us, and preparing a place for us.
Just for today that no matter what happens in this world, rejoice that your name is written in heaven when you receive Jesus as your savior.
Father, I thank you for Martha and Mary, especially today. I thank you for the imagery of how to do Easter Sunday. There is dinner to cook, family fun to have, and the cross to reflect on. I pray for the person reading this right now, that they would take the time to read your word and listen to what you have to say to them. I pray for many who are less fortunate than I. I pray for leadership of our nation and world. I pray that miraculously each would turn to You and turn their decisions and lives over to You. Lord, I don’t know what the right answers to this world and its issues are, but you do. I trust that you have a bigger plan than what we see right now. Lord help us. Lord we are ready for your return.
Today is Good Friday, the day we recognize that Jesus, the son of God, was crucified on a cross to pay the price of repentance so that our sins would be forgiven. All we have to do is believe and trust in the fact that Jesus is Lord and then follow him. I am praying for each of us to grasp how deep and how wide the love of God!! Not only did he suffer the cruelest of deaths, but then Jesus rose again on the 3rd day. Today we celebrate that day as Easter!! He is currently seated at the right hand of the Father for YOU, my friend. He’s calling to YOU today.
As an illustration of what Jesus has done for us….let us consider some examples of sons and daughters. Some of these were before Jesus came to die for our sins in the Old Testament, and some are after Jesus paid the final price in the Gospels.
Who amongst us hasn’t been a drunkard or a glutton at some point or another. Who amongst us hasn’t kept on doing the wrongs over, and over, and over, and over again, even thought we KNEW that we knew that we KNEW that it was wrong? The evil in this world is overwhelming, and Satan is its ruler. We all fall into temptation. If you are recognizing a sinful behavior in your life, trust me when I say, you are not alone. You are not alone.
The word “sin” is a term used in archery to mean, “missed the mark”. No matter how far off the bullseye an archer is, its a sin. There’s no big sins or little sins, they’re just sins. Often we might find ourselves saying, “well, at least the thing I did wrong isn’t as bad as his/her wrong doing”. That’s off limits folks. Its not our place to judge, only repent for our own.
In the Deuteronomy readings today, there are various laws that Moses lists and the punishment is that the evil doer must be brought before the elders, and the person stoned to death. “You must purge the evil among you” is insisted upon for each.
But then Jesus came.
Jesus didn’t use the term REBELLIOUS Son, Jesus calls him “lost” in the Parable of the Lost Son. Oh, and the term “son” can be used for daughter too…..so ladies, this is for us, as well.
The son asked for his half of the estate inheritance. The only time we get an inheritance, is when someone dies, right? Well, so in essence, the son was telling his father, “you are dead to me! Just give me my money! I don’t need anything from you but my possessions.” Total rejection of the Father. How sad the father must have felt, right? How rejection of a child can be overwhelming. I know this from experience, its the worst feeling in the world, the rejection from a child.
But then, as could be predicted, the son squandered off all his possession in “wild living” in the distant land of drunkardness and gluttony. Just the way the first son did in Deuteronomy. He partied with his buddies in a way of life that was foreign to that in which he was raised. Then, of course, when it was all gone, where were his friends? Poof. Gone. So with no money and no possessions, the boy was forced to get a job. He took a job feeding pigs.
Nothing like feeding pigs to bring you to your senses, right? Have you ever fed pigs friends? Ugh, its the worst. My daughter had pigs in 4-H, and man-oh-man, those animals have a whole new level of stink. But, a man’s gotta eat right? When you get to the point of wanting to eat pig food….that my friends, is what we call rock bottom. The desperation of no where else to turn. Unfortunately, that’s what it takes sometimes to draw us back to the Father. Sometimes we have to experience the consequences of our choices. Our very own pig food and pig pen.
He came to his senses. He decided to swallow his pride and go home to the father. Maybe dad wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe dad had been right about a few things. Maybe this way of living isn’t what he thought it would be. Perhaps its time to go home. This son knew that he deserved to be purged from the family, as the reading from Deuteronomy describes. But he was willing to just go home and eat the crumbs of the servants.
But Jesus says something different. Jesus died to pay the ultimate price of stoning and purging and NOW…..while the son was still a long way off, his Father saw him, and was filled with compassion for him; he RAN to His son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
When we get up and go to the Father, He RUNS TO US, friends! By giving the son the best robe and putting a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, the Father restored him to his place in the family. When we repent and turn to the Father, we are no longer outcast. When we go off and are doing our wild living, God calls us lost, and when we return, God calls us found. We were dead in our sinful behaviors, and now we are alive, in Jesus.
Friends, are you lost? No matter the sinful decisions, in sin, we are lost. We are all lost, but Jesus came to let us know that no matter what, we can just say the word, think the thought of returning to the Father and he runs to meet us. We don’t have to make a big production of it, go to a special place, put on a strong exterior, quit the bad habit, get cleaned up, go anywhere, do anything. All we have to do, right now, in each of our quiet hearts, say the words, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son/daughter.” (Luke 15:21) And God will come running to wrap you in His arms. Please do that today, friend.
Lord, I come to you in praise and gratitude for this Good Friday. I thank you that you came to seek us lost souls and redeem us to the family of God. Lord I pray for the person reading this right now. I pray that Peace be on their house. I know that those who promote peace, your peace will rest on them, and if not, it will return to me. I pray that if there is any illness or sin in which needs healing that You would heal them and cause them to follow you. I seek the same for myself, if there is any evil or sickness in or around each of us, that in Jesus name it would quietly leave and that the Holy Spirit fill its place. The kingdom of God has come near. The kingdom of God is near, I pray that this knowledge would cause us to get up, and go to You, Father. In Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Last year I participated in a program called My Transphormation Starts Today! Its a weight loss & fitness program. The company is called 1st Phorm and they also sell weight loss and health supplements. There’s a million companies like it, I chose this one because it was recommended to me by a friend. It works as an app and when you sign up, they assign you an advisor, who is an accountability coach that checks in with you each week. Its only like $48.00 per year, which is cheap comparatively speaking and how they make their money is with supplements, but they don’t “push” them on you. Its the accountability that works for many people, like me. They believe in hard work and the science of food. It really worked for me.
I recommended it to a few friends of mine and a few of us were going to work the program together. I was excited for our little local group. But it seemed that no one else in the group was taking it as seriously as I was, and I felt discouraged, like I failed my friends somehow. This was the first of my “falling off the wagon”. Then the political climate and stress moved me towards checking out of social media and I lost track of the online MTST group. All this together, has created a weight gain that I feel totally ashamed of.
I don’t tell this story for you to feel sorry for me, I do it as an illustration for the Proverb. See, I want to get “back on the program” but I feel ashamed to reach out to my advisor. I had goals and plans, and I fell off the wagon. So instead of asking for help I am “pretending” that everything is ok, and I don’t need help. I am being prideful in reaching out.
I used to tell my kids when they were in school to ask for help, if they didn’t understand a particular subject. Stay after school for extra help, raise your hand and ask for clarification, go to the teacher during study hall or go to a different teacher if they thought it would help. Worst case scenario, ask me for help! God knows, I’d try, but surely there’s someone smarter!! Sometimes they would, but sometimes they wouldn’t. Its embarrassing to be the kid who raises their hand, I think. So often times we go around pretending to have it under control, to pretend to “be somebody”.
But isn’t that really just called PRIDE?
And isn’t PRIDE actually one of the seven deadly sins?
Oh SNAP! There it is.
Yes, it is. This kind of pride is a sin. But why? Isn’t it ok to be proud of yourself when you accomplish something? Yes. Yes it is. When I was successful in weight loss last year, I felt so much pride because I was able to run longer, lift heavier, feel happier. I felt proud of myself emotionally and I felt healthier. Which REALLY is the end game goal. Right?
But the kind of pride that we feel which causes us to feel ashamed to ask for help….that’s a different kind of pride. That’s PRETENDING to be something we’re not. Which is actually separating us from community and isolating ourselves. Its causing us to “have no food“.
Say you’re a woman who’s been a stay at home mom for several years and decide to return to college. This semester you’re taking statistics. Your professor says, don’t use a calculator, all work must be shown on an excel spreadsheet. But because you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, its been a few years since you’ve used excel. How are you supposed to be successful? Well, you could consider asking a friend for help, someone who might know more about excel and perhaps this friend even offered to get together over a cup of coffee to see if she could help you. If you take this friend up on her cup of coffee, and get some one on one time on excel, then a couple benefits of this are available to you.
You get to spend time with a friend, where two or more are gathered in Jesus name, he is with them
You get free help, a servant
Better to be a nobody, better to be a beginner, better to swallow our pride and get the help we need AKA have a servant.
Dear Lord, I thank you for the practical application of this Proverb that you put on my heart today. I know thank you that it spoke to me. I pray that you take these words of mine and use them to speak to the person reading this right now. I’m sorry Lord for my pride. I pray for the person reading this right now, that you would speak to their heart and cause them to seek out the help they need today. If there are any chains of pretending, shame, fear or embarrassment, I pray that you would use my writings to break them and return each of us to you.
How can I be praying for you today?
What prideful habit of yours comes to mind with this reading?
I wrote this journal entry at the airport on the first day of my trip last week. Because I couldn’t get internet access while I was gone, I was not able to blog. This journal entry felt important, so I wanted to share it with you.
In Chapter 2 God tells Moses, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders:” (verse 3-4) Then God warns the people to avoid the descendants of Esau who lived in Sier because he promised that land to them. “They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war for I will not give you and of their land, net even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country…..You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.”
Then God warns them to “do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land” (vs 9) because that land belonged to the descendants of Lot.
The Lord had given the descendants of Esau and the descendants of Lot their lands, just as he was giving the Israelites the territory of the Promised Land, the land East of the Jordan. They were to bypass Edom, Moab and Ammon because of their blood relationship to Israel. Don’t take something that is not yours to take. Trust that God will provide for you just like he did the Israelites, the Moabites and the Edomites. God is a God of His Word!
What are you being called to trust God for today?
This number Forty Years of provision, is absolutely true of my life. God brought it to my attention in the airport the other day that 40 years ago I was about 16 years old. I was attending church in Waller, Texas with a friend whose dad happened to be the preacher. I don’t know what my motivation was that day to go to the front and asked to be baptized. Maybe it was to fit in with someone. Maybe it was a powerful preaching. Maybe it was truly God preparing me for the wilderness I was about to walk through in life. Because after this baptism, my life took a turn for the not so good. My parents got divorced, my Grandma who was really an anchor in our family, died, and my Aunt Nora died. It was a year filled with tragedy.
My mom decided to move us back to the city so she could be close to her work, and for the sixth time in my nine years of education, I was the new girl in school. Only now I was an angry, frightened, emotionally abandoned teenager. While I didn’t know it at the time, God was with me and protected me starting at that baptism. Even while I was making poor choices in effort of fitting in, I never lacked what I needed.
The readings go on to tell us about how God guided them through the wilderness and was preparing them to “take possession of the land of the Amorites. Many of the nations and kings would be afraid of the Israelites and it would be easy to PASS THROUGH those lands. But the lands they were to TAKE POSSESSION of would be different.
So how do we know that a “land” is given to us? Because its hard. How do we know that a land is NOT ours to live in? Because the inhabitants are afraid of us….or its just easy to do. Its easy to be the smartest guy in the room, but being around successful people and those who are doing the right thing, that can be intimidating.
The first step in conquering something is to know that God will make its heart obstinate. That dream that goal that life plan that you have, that I have, that seems like its throwing us curveballs….perhaps that a difficulty that you have to overcome.
I read last years journal entry for 3/24/2020 in hopes of gaining some “wisdom” to share with my brother and his family on my trip. I read that I had asked God to keep me from bad habits, laziness, food addictions. And interestingly enough, I have been writing about the same thing this year. I am still asking God to give me a victory that He has already given me, but I must conquer it! Often times instead, I just insist on staying in the wilderness and whine about the effects of these habits that God has already delivered me from. Its my daily decision to step up and conquer them.
Having a healthy body is hard because it takes a daily decision to do the thing and eat the food required to have it. Sitting on the couch watching tv or playing candy crush feels more fun “right now”, but the hard thing is what God has in store for me to conquer. But what if its bigger than that…..
What if on the other side of this battle that I have with food and fitness are restored relationships? What if on the other side of this mountain is successful writing? A passionate marriage? What if these are the victories that God has in store for me if I will decide to get up out of the damn desert and conquer that which is hard!
Can I trust in God to deliver me from these sinful behaviors that separate me from a healthy Self that God designed me to be and have?
Didn’t God deliver me from cigarettes? Whew, that was hard, and yes, He did. But I had to choose NOT to smoke them.
Didn’t God make my Real Estate Career successful? Yep, more successful than I ever dreamed, but I had to make the choices for marketing my business and working it every single day.
Didn’t God save my marriage? Yes, thank God he did, but Jeff and I both had to make the decision to love each other through it.
Didn’t God save my Ashley from addiction and give me beautiful grandchildren? But she had to make the decision for sobriety and I had to make the choice to forgive and trust.
Didn’t God return my Dakota and I to a good relationship> Yes. yes. yes. But I had to choose to let her go….and trust that God would bring her back.
So why wouldn’t God deliver me from these new promises too?
How do we conquer the sinful behaviors? Well, it gets done each and every day we decide to make that happen. We have to decide that what we really want is more important than what we want right now. We get off work, and its time to go to the gym, do we go to the gym, or say….ohhh, it can wait till tomorrow (the tomorrow that never comes). Or its time to cook dinner, do we have pizza or gather the makings of a hearty salad?
God wants to bless you, friend. God wants to give you the Promised Land of freedom. What land is it that God has in store for you? Is it overcoming fear and going for the big career move or going back to school? Is it taking the next step in a relationship? Whatever land that God has in store for you…..I promise it won’t be an easy path or one that “most people” travel. It will be worth it though!
Lord, thank you for these years that you have provided for me. Thank you for the journey through the wilderness….even though it was hard. I pray for the person reading this right now, that you would guide them to their Promised Land, and give them the freedom that you had in store for them all along.
The setting for these verses is Jesus, Mary & Joseph had been to Jerusalem for the annual Passover Festival. They were caravaning back home when Mary & Joseph realized after about a day’s journey that Jesus was missing. They couldn’t find him anywhere so they hurried back to Jerusalem to find their 12 year old son. They found him in the temple listening and learning among the teachers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (vs 48) The footnotes say that another interpretation for my father’s house could might be said as “be about my Father’s Business”.
So in response to Mary’s question, Jesus respectively reminds her that he has to Be About His Father’s Business. We all have business to be doing for the Father, don’t we?
This made me take a look back at all the people we meet in Chapter 2 of Luke. All of which, whether they realized it or not….were going about the Father’s Business.
The first person we meet is Caesar August. He issued a decree that a census should be taken, which catapulted Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Bethlehem, as we discussed yesterday, is where the Messiah was prophesied to be born. I’m sure it was not very pregnant Mary and her husband-to-be that thought it a good idea to make this trip back home….on a donkey, no less. Right? I mean would you?!?! So we must consider is it possible that Caesar who wasn’t even a Jew or God fearing man, a Roman couldn’t possibly be aware of what he had set in motion by this decree….was Going About The Father’s Business? Could that be? Could it be that Caesar was put in motion of doing God’s Business, just as God planned it? That’s a mind boggling thought, isn’t it? So if that’s the case….and we look around at our current world and see the politics and world systems that are in motion……are those also systems and people being played out to do The Father’s Business?
Wow. When I think about the mess our world is in, and could this actually play out to be part of the Father’s Business…..it feels a bit overwhelming.
Ok, lets move to someone a bit easier.
Joseph and Mary we meet a couple of times in this chapter. The first time, we think about poor Joseph having to haul Mary back home to take this census. So if this is his hometown, could he have had to explain to his family about his pregnant wife-to-be while he was there? Lots of people were in town and Joseph had to go around hotel to hotel finding a place to stay. Nothin. He would have to take Mary and stay in a barn! Then, the baby is born. Joseph who didn’t conceive this baby, and who is riding on a shoestring of faith, becomes a Dad. Poor guy. While I’m sure he’s ecstatic, sometimes Going About The Father’s Business isn’t very comfortable. Hats off to my friend Joseph, this was a tough day.
Then of course, we meet the shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (vs 8) When all of the sudden angels show up! The Glory of the Lord shone around them and the shepherds were terrified. These lowly shepherds, just doing their job to the best of their ability, living out in the field watching over someone elses profit margin….Going About The Father’s Business.
Then we meet Simeon who was righteous and devout. He had been WAITING for the the consolation of Israel, the Word says. He’d been WAITING and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. So he WAITED. Finally, he was moved by the Spirit and he went to the temple and when Joseph and Mary brought the child to be circumcised, Simeon was able to take the Messiah in his arms. WOW!! Simeon waited and was devout and righteous while he was Going About The Father’s Business. Has the Holy Spirit revealed something to you too?
Next we see Anna, the prophet. She had been married for 7 years and a widow until she was 84. She stayed at the church day and night fasting and praying for probably around 65 years!….Going About The Father’s Business….and was rewarded by seeing the Messiah. She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. She prophesied and she spread the good news, that was the Business that the Father set her about….and she was faithful in it.
Then we’re back to Mary and Joseph, this time I empathise with Mother Mary. She can’t find her son! He’s lost! “I thought he was with YOU”, were the thoughts in her head. Panicked she drags her husband back to Jerusalem to find the boy in the temple hanging out with the elders. Sheesh! “Son, why have you treated us like this?” She’s a mom, she was Going About The Father’s Business watching out for her son….Messiah or no Messiah, that’s her son, am I right ladies?
All of these men and women Set About Their Father’s Business. Some were aware of it, some were just doing what they do. I question myself all the time, if I’m doing what I’m “supposed to be doing”. Am I doing my Father’s Business well? I do find comfort in Verse 50:
So if Joseph and Mary, the parents of God, didn’t understand what he was saying at times….I can know that God gives me grace to just do my best each and every day.
Whenever I question I reach for Galatians Chapter 5.
There are boundaries to this freedom as Christ followers and they are listed in Galatians verses 19-21. Paul warns us to avoid acts of the flesh which are sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like.
Instead, wouldn’t the WAITING be better if we were to live to produce the fruit of the spirit which are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control? Wouldn’t it be best to Go About The Father’s Business with the work that produces these fruits?
Father God, thank you that you are patient with me when I judge other’s Business….and I ask, like Simeon, that you send the Holy Spirit to guide me to the way to King Jesus! I pray for the person reading this right now, that you would speak to their heart today….and show them the Business that You would have them go about.
How can I be praying for you today?
What is the Business of the Father in your day to day life?
In Chapter 2, Luke is especially interested to weaving the story of The Messiah’s birth into the events of world history. Ceasar August issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (Lk 2:1) Many say that Ceasar was the greatest Roman emperor of all time. I am not a studier of Biblical history, or any history for that matter. So I depend on the footnotes in my Study Bible, which say Ceasar replaced the republic with an imperial form of government, he expanded the empire to include the entire Mediterranean world, established the famed Pax Romana (Roman Peace) and ushered in the golden age of Roman literature and architecture. Augustus, which means exalted, was a title conferred on him by the Roman senate in 27 BC.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there with Mary who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (vs 4-5) This is where my kind of study begins…..the prophecies of Jesus. While Ceasar may have been a powerful ruler in the eyes of men, he only played a role in the prophecies that were already written hundreds and hundreds of years before the man Ceasar decided to have a census.
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.“
Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Jeremiah 23:5-6 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.”
King David was a lowly shepherd too. He was discovered by Samuel the prophet. Samuel had gone to the house of Jesse, by God’s instruction, to seek out the next king. When he got there, Samuel was introduced to six of Jesse’s sons, but Samuel didn’t recognize them to be The One. So Jesse said, well, I do have one more son but he’s out in the field tending sheep, he’s young, and doesn’t account for much, surely its not him you’re looking for! But Samuel said, let me be the judge of that….so Jesse sent for what was to become King David. If you would like to learn more about King David, read about his fantastic life in 1st and 2nd Samuel.
So why WOULDN’T the shepherds be the first to know about King Jesus? A decent of David by the lineage of Joseph.
More prophecy. I love it!!
So this brings me to wonder, how much of any of our lives do we REALLY have control over, or are we, like Ceasar, just role players in the Plan of God? Isn’t our whole purpose to do just what the shepherds did next….
All the plans we make for our lives and all the dreams we dream need to be in effort to hurry off and find Jesus! Every day we all go to work, and set about our business, and we need to do it such a way that the way live our lives exemplify that we are followers of this Christ child Jesus. Am I treating people with respect, even the “lowly shepherds” I meet? Do we return and glorify and praise God for all the things we hear and see in our actions, and the way we live? Not just on Sunday at church, but every single day?
Lord, teach me to treasure up all these things and ponder them in my heart every single day of my life. Teach me to seek you out, to not be afraid, to tell others, and glorify you. Lord, I pray for the person reading this right now, that today they would draw closer to you. Plant this seed in each of our hearts so that we can meditate and ponder on it. Lord teach us to be more and more like you to those around us.
This is one of those days where I just don’t know what to write, I feel so inadequate. This passage in Luke is written so eloquently (as my husband put it) that I wonder, who am I to try and put an interpretation into my life, or give insight to anyone else? So I’m just going to go through the passage.
I am in no way comparing my measly little farm life with the life of John the Baptist or anything in the scriptures. But I do believe that God has a plan for each of our individual lives. We each are given an opportunity for a role in the Kingdom that God invites us to live out. I am reminded of Queen Esther (which if you’ve never read the book of Esther, it’s truly a beautiful book in the Old Testament and I hope you will take time to read it. It’s only 10 chapters. You can totally do this.) Anyway, Esther was kind of a “nobody” and got the opportunity to become queen. During her reign, she was able to save the Jewish people. She felt afraid and unworthy, but finally her uncle convinced her to help by saying:
In the verse from Luke that I opened with, Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah (Lk 1:5) was in the process of talking to the angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and had been sent to speak to Zechariah and tell him the good news. (vs 19)
Those of us who attended Sunday School, Vacation Bible School or CCE classes learned about John the Baptist. He lived in the desert, wore clothes made of camel hair and a belt around his waist. He ate locusts and honey. In fact, I helped teach the preschoolers at church last Sunday and the subject was John the Baptist. Hopefully when I see my grandson tomorrow, he will be able to re-play back what we learned last weekend, like a little magpie.
But really….who was this John?
John’s parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth, they were descendants of Aaron, which meant they served as church leadership and every once in a while, Zechariah got chosen, by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. (vs 8) They were both very old and Elizabeth was not able to have kids. (vs 7)
So on this particularly honorable day in the servanthood of Zechariah, an angel appeared to him and told him about the upcoming birth of his son John, which means “The Lord is gracious” or “The Lord shows grace.” This angel told Zechariah all the ways that John would fulfil the prophecies of the return of Elijah, turning the hearts of people back to the Lord and to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (vs 17)
But Zechariah doubted. How can I be sure of this? (vs 18) he asked….and proceeded to inform the angel (as if he didn’t know) that he was an old man and his wife was elderly too. No one was allowed in to the temple with the person burning incense, so this angel just appeared out of nowhere to predict all this, and here’s Zechariah arguing with this being about all the doubts in his mind.
Zechariah would lose his voice because he doubted. But that didn’t stop the prophecy from being fulfilled. Elizabeth did become pregnant and was shown favor. To be a barren woman in those days, was seen as a disgrace, and by this fulfillment of prophecy, God took Elizabeth’s disgrace away.
Because Elizabeth lived a righteous life in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly, God cared about her enough that he used His mighty plan to redeem her dignity.
The only one punished here was Zechariah and that was because he questioned a messenger from the Lord.
Maybe an angel hasn’t visited you, but have you been given a vision for your life that you doubt? Do you know that God cares about you enough to include you in His Mighty Plan? God does care enough for each of us to fulfill His plan in some small way through us, so why do we question our worthiness or abilities? Do you know that God doesn’t call the ones with abilities, he ables those He calls? Do you believe that? I mean REALLY believe it? If God could work a miracle in your life or through your life, what would it be? What if the miracle that you imagine was EVEN BIGGER than that?!?! What could God do through you? Who could God reach through you, if you just trusted that little voice in the back of your head for just a little while?
Lord, I thank you for Queen Esther and I thank you for John and I thank you for Elizabeth and I thank you for Zecharia to show me how you work to redeem your people. I pray to have the courage of Esther and Elizabeth to just believe and trust and take that step forward. I pray that you would use me and redeem me in some small way to draw others closer to you. Take me and mold me into the woman you need me to be. I pray for the person reading this right now, that you would speak to their heart and let them know that you plans to prosper them and have given them a hope and a future. Speak clearly Lord, your servants are listening.
What can I be praying for you today?
What dreams and goals has God given you for your life?
The ladies that had been following and taking care of Jesus throughout his ministry (Mark 15:41) got up early to continue taking care of his needs, only this time for his burial. When they got to the empty dark grief ridden place of the tomb, they looked up, and saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (vs 4) Then as they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. (vs 5)
They looked up….
All action verbs. The best part is, that they took action to seek out their friend Jesus. They had the faith in His word to continue to care for him.
Where were the men, his named disciples? In other gospels we learn that they were together in the “upper room” where they had last gathered as a community for the Last Supper. The day that the women went to the tomb was the “Third Day” and Jesus had promised that he would rise again on the Third Day….why didn’t the guys go out there with the ladies?
Did they not believe that Jesus would do what he said he was going to do? I looked up on my Holy Bible app and there are at least 10 instances throughout the Bible where God says “I am God and I will do it.” But many of us, have been let down by humans so many times, and Jesus after all, had been there in human form. Have you ever put your hope in another human expecting to be loved and protected, only to have them abandon you? I know I have, and its hard to trust again. Who wants to set them self up for what feels like betrayal again?
Did they even really understand what it meant when Jesus said that he would rise again? It’s easy for us to sit here 2000 years later and understand that Jesus rose again. But the resurrection hadn’t happened yet so these poor guys didn’t know what to expect. And apparently the ladies didn’t either because verse 8 says “trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the men, because really no one knew what it meant that Jesus would rise again.
Peter had disowned Jesus (Mark 14:66-72) The others had deserted him and fled (Mark 14:50-52) Did they feel ashamed, guilty and afraid of going, looking and entering into the grief. Perhaps they were afraid of putting hope in to something that didn’t seem available anymore. They had all abandoned Jesus in his final hour of death, perhaps they were afraid that they let him down and were wallowing in their self loathing? Could they ever face their friend with all that they had done to him? Could they ever be forgiven? Could they ever be accepted again? They had all believed that they were following the Messiah. They had all sworn their allegiance to Him….and then when it mattered most, they failed. They did exactly what he predicted. We, in our human weakness, many times cave to the pressure of sin and weakness. They failed and we fail too. Could we ever be forgiven? If he did rise, would he want me?
But the women were faithful they put their HOPE in Jesus doing what he said he was going to do, so they WENT and they LOOKED UP and they ENTERED IN TO? What a risk! It was risky to go out there! “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? (vs 3)
“I don’t know, we’ll figure it out when we get there,” they say in my mind. That’s the way hope is right?
We go, we look up, and we enter in to….
That’s the way these writings are. That’s the way our move to Kansas was. That’s the way my real estate career was. That’s the way motherhood was. That’s the way new jobs go. That’s what we do when there’s not enough money to meet all the bills at the end of the month. That’s the way it goes when our kids make bad decisions, and there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s the way new relationships go. That’s the way it goes when we seek forgiveness for what seems like an unforgivable sin. That’s the way it goes when we feel abandoned. That’s the way it goes when we don’t understand how its going to turn out.
We look up
We enter in to
Father God, I thank you that you meet me right where you tell me to go, and are there when I look up, and hold my hand as I enter in to. Help me to always have the courage to take the step I see you guiding me towards. I pray for little flutters that I am on the right path toward your will for my life. I pray for the person reading this right now that you would be with them as they make choices for their life, if there is any doubt, any fear, and sin, and abandonment, issues within them, I ask that you speak clearly to their heart and send them some kind of message of your will for their life too. Use my writings to draw the person reading this closer to you.
Can I be praying for you today?
What are you seeking and looking for and entering in to that seems a bit scary today?
Pilate was the Roman governor who then ruled Judea, Samaria and Idumea. He wasn’t a Jew, and likely didn’t follow a religion at all. The only god he worshiped was Caesar. None other mattered because Romans ruled everything. Pilate has a conversation with Jesus and in all four gospels this conversation starts with the same words,
“Are you the king of the Jews?” (vs 2)
I imagine how this question might have been asked. Was it asked in curiosity? Was it asked in an accusatory way? Was it asked in doubt? Was it asked perhaps even with fear, because what if this REALLY WAS the “Son of God” or “King of the Jews”, as some of the “crowd” had indicated? It was such a tumultuous time, and perhaps Pilate was saying to himself, “Oh my, if this IS true….what does that mean for me if I send him to his execution? Can he really be the Son of God? Is there really a God like some say?”
What if someone goes their whole life not believing in God, and then is confronted with, “but what if it’s true….?” I mean, the story has lasted over 2000 years that Jesus died on a cross and rose again. The best selling book of all time is the Bible….so like, what if it is true?
I know how a doubter feels. I too at one time didn’t believe in God. Oh, I figured there must be “something”, but this God stuff couldn’t be for real!! Right? That was the Theresa from a long time ago. So I speak to the agnostic or atheist or perhaps to the one who may have just gotten a bit lost or off track. Perhaps you knew God some time a long time ago, but that was for kids. So for you, who have stumbled across my blog today, I say to you, “Welcome! I’m glad you’re here! This is for you.”
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life! ITS TRUE! That little voice you hear in the back of your mind saying “what if it’s true?” The Word of God is Truth. Jesus did go before a doubter named Pilate that day for YOU. I too have heard those other voices that are trying to crowd out the Truth. Voices from the past and the present that say, “Jesus Freaks are just people needing a crutch” or “If there is a God would he have let such-and-such happen?” or “If there is a God, why didn’t he save me when……?” or “All the Christians want is my money” or “I don’t need no god, I can take care of myself”. These voices of unbelief are liars. I know they’re loud, I know they’re all over social media and the news and perhaps even, like me, within your family. But they are lying voices.
I ask you to just stay here a little longer. Come back again tomorrow. I’m writing to you, I was once in your shoes, and finally when I came to believe my life got better. Oh that’s not to say that I haven’t had my share of problems and didn’t make mistakes. Because, OH. MY. GOODNESS. Have I ever messed things up at times. But see, that’s why Jesus came! Jesus came to give us hope, friend. Our lives really CAN BE better with Christ at the center.
The anxiety and depression and fear and hopelessness that we feel without Christ in our heart doesn’t have to stay there. Jesus came to give us hope knowing that even when bad things happen, even when we make mistakes, even when we feel lost, we can rest well knowing that He loves us and will take care of us, no matter what. No matter what it’s going to be ok. I remember being in such a mess that I just held up my hands, literally and said “I surrender” I’ve got this thing called life so screwed up, that there’s no hope. Help me Lord!
We all have a God-shaped hole in our soul that we keep trying to fill up with things other than God. Medications, drugs, alcohol, men, women, sex, gambling, shopping, exercise, crystals, cards, work, activities, etc…..but until we fill that hole with the One True God, we will still feel incomplete. Like a puzzle missing a piece. Are you there yet? Are you ready to surrender yet? Pilate wasn’t just yet, I wonder if he did later after Jesus rose? Don’t wait, my friend. Reach out just call on His name. He’s there, and has forgiven you and loves you already. I promise.
Lord, I thank you for the Truth of the Gospel that you came, died and rose again to show us how much you love us. I can’t imagine where I’d be today if I had listened to the voices of the liar instead of believing in the Truth that set me free. I thank you that it all worked out. Lord, I pray for the person reading this right now that they would continue to listen to the voice of Truth. I pray that Your Word would reach those who most need it today to give a voice of hope and guide others close to You. Thank you Lord, use me and use my blog. In Jesus name.
How can I pray for you today?
Do voices of doubt ever drown out the voices of Truth?
I love, love, love this story of Caleb and Joshua. I refer to it often when I’m feeling unconfident about a decision I need to make.
Moses had sent 10 of his strongest warriors, one from each of the tribes of Israel, over into the land that God instructed him to in order to explore it. He sent them with questions like: What is the land like? What are the people like, are they strong or weak, few or many? Is the land good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they walled or fortified? How is the soil, is it fertile or poor? Are there trees? Bring back some of the fruit of the land. (Numbers 13:17-20)
They returned at the end of forty days with a cluster of grapes so big they had to carry it on two poles, along with pomegranates and figs. JACKPOT! The scriptures indicate the land to produce beautifully and will provide for all their wants and needs, just like God had promised! Just like the Israelites had been yearning for!
Friends, you might think that the guys would be excited about reporting all they found, but you know what they did? All but two of them reported fear. Allllllll these eight “mighty warriors” could talk about was the bad guys and how big they were over in this land! They said,
We went into the land which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is the fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.”
They’d never be able to conquer it, the forces against them were to strong. They were doomed before they even started. But get this….no where in chapter 13 was there written anything about any people that they met….only the provisions that were there for the taking. The only report we see of the giants there was when these eight unconfident men spread fear amongst the people.
Do you have any lands that you want to conquer? Is there a choice that you need to make that SEEMS too hard, to big to difficult? Are these giants for real or are they the enemy that someone has TOLD you about, that may or may not be real? Or, even worse, are they walled cities that you have created in your mind that may be holding you back from the JACKPOT that waits in your future?
Caleb is my hero….and in Chapter 14 we find out that Joshua joined him in the power of positive thinking. See, these people had been living in the wilderness, and the only hope they had was going across that river and in to the promised land. The whole reason its called the Promised Land, is because God PROMISED to provide for them there. He had told them over and over and over and over and over again that he would protect them and provide for them.
God promises to fight our battles, and God will do it when we are in the will of God.
Have you asked God what is next for you? When we ask God, seek God’s will with our whole heart and ask God to put a “different spirit” in us we will know. Notice how out of 10 guys only 2 were willing to take the risk. Taking that next step might mean standing out from the crowd. It might mean getting weird looks and doubts from your friends. It might mean taking a giant leap of faith.
At this point God is done. He told Moses to tell the people that because of their lack of courage and lack of faith, NOT EVEN ONE of them would enter in to the Promised Land because they didn’t trust God. The only ones going were Caleb and Joshua. Everyone was going to be walking around in this wilderness for 40 YEARS!! For forty years – one for each of the 40 days you explored the land, you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you. (Nm 14:34)
When we moved to our little farm here from Houston, I’m telling you something, people thought we’d lost our marbles. That friends was a GINORMOUS LEAP OF FAITH! It hasn’t been easy, but it is worth it.
So let me ask you this, and ME this….what are you afraid of? What lands have you explored but not had confidence to go conquer? Maybe it’s a relationship that you’re afraid to commit to. Maybe its a career change that you have thought about for a long time. Maybe it’s a marathon you’d like to run. Maybe its going back to school. Maybe your challenge is taking your blog to the next level. Should you go ahead and submit that article or just keep it in your computer? I don’t know what your “what’s next” looks like, but God does. Seek God’s face, friends, if God leads you to it, God will lead you through it. It may not be easy….but it’ll be worth it!
Dear Lord, thank you that you put a different spirit in me. I like it, but it does feel a bit scary at times. You have been faithful and I am grateful for that. I see the next Promised Land for me….and I’m going to just keep moving forward. I pray that if there are any giants ahead of me, that you meet them and conquer them before I even get there! Lord, I pray for the person reading this blog post right now. I pray that if there is a leap of faith in their future that this reading would encourage them and provide hope and faith in YOUR will for their life. Meet them where they are Lord, and guide them closer to you in to the Promised Land of their future.