Lent devotional 38
Today I was shoveling our steps to our house of the knee deep snowfall we had last night. Suddenly my shovel his something metal and I had a moment of that ‘I found treasure’ rush before fishing it out of the snow and finding it be the cross we have hanging on our door. The wind had blown it down in the storm. I put it aside, finished what I was doing and then took it around to the back of the house where I could leave it in a shelter to dry. I noticed that something was wrong with it as I inspected it for damage and soon realized that the ‘faith’ on the front of it was covered with snow, so I brushed it off and went inside.
Isn’t that so like life? We dig for something of value in this world and find a treasure of faith. Then a big storm hits and our faith gets blown around and beaten until it falls and becomes buried by the crushing weight of our problem. Then we start to clean up from our pain and problems little by litte, knowing that we need help, and there we find our faith waiting for us, just a little wet and a little buried by the snow. we pick it back up, dust it off, and place it back in our lives where it belongs. Storms are supposed to be conquered through faith, they aren’t supposed to win and knock our faith down. They aren’t supposed to, but sometimes they still do. But God is faithful to us and is ready to help us even when we lose our faith, even when we can’t take anymore, even when we fall asleep in the garden. It breaks His heart, but He gets it and doesn’t give up on us.
“Thank you Jesus for getting me even on days when my faith has taken a beating, I know you are always there and that though you may rebuke me, you will never stop loving me.”
Don’t be ashamed to face God and ask for forgiveness for falling asleep on watch, go to Him and reach for Him, He will hold you close and restore you, because even if you fail Him, He never fails you.
Lent devotional 34
The steps grow heavy as the hooves near the towering wall. He is afraid. He hears cheering and clicking and crying ahead of him. The smells of the city waft out like air from a grate. A wet drop hits his neck. He turns and sees his companion is crying. His fear grows. Maybe he can run away? Maybe no one will notice? He trudges on. The gates loom over him as he enters the dark opening. A moment of cool shade is followed by blinding light. He squints. The cheers grow louder. He looks around and sees a crowd of people. They wave scary branches at him and drop them for him to step on. If he turn and run now he can get away. Ready? Now. A hand touches his neck and he cringes. The hand pats softly. He looks up. His companion is smiling at him, all tears are gone. He nuzzles the man’s knee. The hand continues to rub gently and the fear melts away. This is okay. It’s all going to be okay. He doesn’t know how or why, just that it is. The man gets off and whispers in his ear, “well done.”
Imagine the fear and sorrow Jesus must have felt entering Jerusulem that day. The menacing wall. The dark gate entrance. The noises beyond and what awaited Him later on. He had determined to go forth, but He must have thought about running away. Maybe not. Maybe that is my human mind talking and saying what I would have felt. Just turn around, no one will notice. But He was doing the work of His father. He would never run from His Father’s wishes. I bet the donkey wanted to. He was a baby. All these sights and smells would have been new to him. The palm branches slippery under foot and the cheering croud deafening. But Jesus’ presence calmed him. Perhaps they led his mother ahead of him to keep him stable, but there is no record of that, no, I believe it was Christ’s presence that calmed the baby’s fears, even though He had fear Himself. What a king. What a savior. What a friend. To go through such horrors for a fading flower like me.
Credit to owner for image
Lent devotional 31
God says His eye is on the sparrow. I love this because of the bird He chose to name. He didn’t say peacock or flamingo or eagle, He said sparrow. The most commonly found, plain, tiny bird out there, that is the one God named. I love our sparrows in our yard, they remind me of God’s compassion. I see the extra feathers deep under the top layer of feathers that these small birds fluff up to stay warm, I see the way they come and go in a multitude for protection but once in a while will flit over to the bird feeder alone only to whisk away at the slightest movement from inside the house. I see the way God provides deep branches in the forest around us so that these birds have shelter, I see their courage when defending against a preditor. God equipped these tiny, ordinary birds so that they could do great things to survive. He equipped us in the same way. He gives us answers to the needs we have. He watches over us and lifts us up when we have stumbled. He gives us the abilities to weather all storms and He alone hides us in the shelter of His wings.
You may feel small, plain, one in thousands; but God sees you, His eye is on you and He is taking care of you. You are not ordinary or insignificant, you are loved and cherished, more than you could ever know.
There are days when I picture the angel taking care of my dog. I know he’s there because of the times I pray, ‘God protect my pal from himself,’ and then later that day see him do something that causes me to hold my breath in horror as I wait to see if he survives. Only a loving God would bother to protect my unstable Jack Russell because He knows how much he means to me.
Today I imagined Pal’s angel sitting him down for a talk that went like this:
Angel: “okay, let’s do this one more time. You do not chase the skunks.’
Pal: “okay! I chase skunks!”
Angel: “no, you do not chase the skunks.”
Pal: “yep, chase skunks. Got it.”
Angel rubs his forehead: “no, you do NOT chase the skunks! You leave the skunks alone! Skunks carry disease.”
Pal, horrified: “I can’t leave the skunks alone! Then they will be lonely!”
Angel groans but refuses to give up and tries again. This could go on forever so we’ll move on.
How like my crazy little dog are we at times?
God sits us down and says that there is something we are about to do or are presently doing that we should avoid because it’s dangerous. Maybe not physically, but it might be spiritually dangerous. Then we miss what He is saying and keep going, we keep chasing whatever it is that we are after no matter how bad it might be. He tries again to stop us and save us from ourselves, and again we miss it and keep going. Then when we finally understand that God is saying to stay away from that thing we are chasing we become defensive and argue with Him that we know best. But our loving God refuses to give up on us, even if that means He has to step in and save us last minute because we wouldn’t listen to Him. He is such a loving Father. He always strives to keep us from harm, and then we chase the skunk and get sprayed He loves us enough to clean us up and heal our injuries and to continue to protect us, even from ourselves.
Lent devotional 23
To love them with your whole heart.
We feel these days that to love them is to accept them, all of them, as they are in that moment. That is true in a sense but not in a whole. As Christians it is always a struggle to accept the whole of the person but to also fight against their sin. We forget that if we accept the sin and not simply the sinner then we aren’t truly loving them. To accept our whole selves and to accept our own sin is not truly loving ourselves either. There is the great truth that we all have a darkness to us, but when we claim that we love our darkness as part of ourselves we are hurting ourselves. When we claim that we love someone else’s darkness as part of themselves then we are condeming them to forever be trapped by that darkness. Our sin is not who we are, it is not part of us. Like a big chain holding down a wolf, that chain is not part of that animal, that free spirit, it is simply attached to him or her. Once someone loves the wolf enough to say, ‘that doesn’t belong on you, let me help you take it off,’ and the wolf is set free from it’s bonds it can finally return to the trees and run the way it was meant to run. These chains are not part of us, our sins are not part of us, we cannot lie down and simply accept them in ourselves and in others, we must stand up against sin and scream ‘no more!’ ‘No longer will this sin hold me down!’ ‘I want to be free!’
You are not defined by your chains. You are meant to be free.
Seek a good Church with a pastor you trust and can come to with your sin, seek good Christian people who will help you. I don’t mean as someone to confess to, I mean as people to pray with you. Trust me, they have sins too that they are fighting, you are not alone.
Jesus I love you, I love that you love me and fight against my sin becasue you want me to be free. Thank you that you are not condeming me when you condem my sin, but that you are saving me. Let me trust in you and your truth. Guide me to fellow Christ followers so that I might find people who will pray with me and fight with me.
I grew up in BC so I love rain! The cold rain that leaves everything fresh. I love unberellas and rain boots and ponchos. Today I was walking my dog through the water, he loves it so we tend to get fairly wet, and I realized how Jesus and rain boots go together. When we are in runners we avoid puddles the best we can, because our shoes don’t protect us from water and soggy socks aren’t fun! But when we put on our rain boots we are protected so we can go deeper and deeper into the water, and have more fun with the wet without getting soggy socks. Without Jesus we stay away from anything deep because it scares us, but when we have Jesus, our protector, we can go as deep as we want because He protects us. He keeps us dry when out on the waves. He keeps us safe in the floodwaters. He is our rain boots. Our protector from the storms.
God was walking through His Church one day and decided to ask people about their favorite Bible verses and why they liked them. It wasn’t that He didn’t already know the answer, just that He wanted to have His people tell Him themselves. God smiled as He spoke with different people and saw the mix of emotions on their faces as they explained why their favorite verse was their favorite. Out of the corner of God’s eye He spotted a man that He knew was simply there to put in his necessary hour of Church before going on with his week. God smiled sadly and went over to the man.
“Hello my child,” God said as He approached. The man bristled and nodded a greeting. God tried again, “how have you been? I’ve not heard from you lately.”
The man shrugged and mumbled that he was fine.
God smiled, “tell me, what is your favorite scripture?” God knew, but wanted an opening to discuss it with the man.
Irritated the man looked at God, “I can do all things. That’s my favorite verse.”
God tilted His head, “go on.”
“What?” The man growled.
“Go on and finish the verse.”
“That is the verse.”
God shook His head, “you’re missing part of it.”
“No I’m not! That’s how it’s written!”
The argument began to draw attention, embarrassed, the man walked away and left the building.
Back in his own house the man sat with his arms crossed, still angry about earlier. Suddenly his couch dipped down as another body sat on it. The man looked to see God sitting next to him. Startled, the man exclaimed, “what are you doing here! Don’t you have a Church to lead?”
God smiled, “but you are here.”
“So what? I’m just one person.”
God nodded, “but you are the one who needs me most right now.”
The man scowled, “why was I wrong about the scripture earlier? I quoted it right.”
“Yes, but you left out the most important part.
‘I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength- Phillipians 4:13.
You left me out of the verse, just as you’ve left me out of your life.”
The man un-crossed his arms and looked at his shoes, “I was wrong God. I can’t do all things on my own.”
God put both arms around the man and drew him into a deep hug, “but you have me my son. You never need to do things on your own. Just trust me.”
The flames will only make me stronger-Zeno
People often call the testing of God, “going through fire.”
Actually bad things in general are often called tests of fire too.
Right now it feels like the whole world is burning, being tested by fire.
One of my absolute favorite novel characters ends up in a burning building. You guessed it. Even though he is not the main hero he ends up having to save everyone from the collapsing, burning building. When the others argue about leaving him behind to be engulfed by fire he responds with: “don’t worry. The flames will only make me stronger.”
For those who are wondering, no, he does not die. Though badly burned, he makes it out alive.
Do we live like that? Do we see our “flames” as something that only makes us stronger?
I know that I don’t. Though the power and beauty of fire is nice at a distance, walking through that fire is not something to be called, “enjoyable”. But just because you hate it, and just because it hurts doesn’t mean that God isn’t making you stronger through it.
During these difficult times I challenge you to read through the story of the three Hebrew boys, pick the verse that most speaks to you, and put it up someplace in your home to remind you that the flames will make you stronger.
Our feet feel the squish of who knows what? The air is some sort of un- breathable fume and the walls are wet like tar. But we asked to come, so here we are.
Wails trick our ears from every corner and sunshine is a distant memory, but there is hope. The jingle of keys in a strong and determined hand. Several people join our ranks, faces I never thought I would see as each door is opened. Jesus smiles as He sets the last of the captives free.
Imagine being there with Jesus. Walking through hell and setting the captives free. The Bible says that Jesus took the keys from the devil. You didn’t think He kept them as a souvenir did you? He used them to free those imprisoned by death. Death before Jesus would have been terrifying. Death now is a glorious reward, Heaven.
What would it have been like to walk through the devil’s territory and let free those who had been waiting there for Jesus? Imagine the joy. Imagine the disgust and horror the devil must have felt? It would have been glorious.
Thank you Jesus that we can live unto you and no longer have to fear death because you died for us. Amen.
Those fabulous last words that you place at the end of a story. After struggling, working hard and emptying the drug store of it’s caffeine content, you finally have the right amount of pages, the perfect centering, every title centered and highlighted, every art peice’s name placed on where they are to be inserted onto the page. Now you write. The End. And you take one final breath before sending it off.
The end. Jesus said it more eloquently when He stated, ‘it is finished.’ After all His struggles, all His suffering, all His hard work, now everything perfect to the writer as He closes the book and states. “It is finished.”
It is finished. There is no longer a curtain, no more need for a high priest to pray for us, no more need for sacrifices. It is finished. We have Jesus fully. We have God. We are in dwelled by the Holy Spirit. Heaven is now our prize too. It is finished.