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by Kristal Kidd

The cross of Christ is the central theme for all believers. This Sunday, we will have the opportunity to revisit the story of Peter’s denial. Many of us can see how we are more like Peter than we would like to admit.

When Peter denied Jesus, he disassociated himself from Christ.  “Deny” in this sense means to affirm that one has no connection with a person.  Peter denied that he knew Christ…. Three times!  He walked with Christ, talked with Christ, and these things required spending time with Christ.  Then, Peter reports having no connection with his Lord?

Peter WAS sincere when he made the promise not to deny Jesus, but Peter found that he was weak.  He was proud, boastful, over-confident, and self-assured (Matthew 26:31-35).   He was spiritually lazy and did not watch and pray (Matthew 26:36-46).  He was zealous for the wrong cause, a physical fight (Matthew 26:47-56).  Finally, he was cowardly and did not follow Jesus closely (Matthew 26:58).

We have moments of denying Jesus too.  We may give in to peer pressure and go along with the crowd.  Maybe we don’t mention Jesus when controversial or worldly issues come up.  We pity ourselves during rough seasons.  We, too, pray less, think too highly of ourselves and fight for the wrong causes.

Thankfully, Peter did not remain in sin!  Peter was restored and did great things for the Lord.  This is good news for each of us too.  We serve the all-knowing God of Redemption.   AMEN!

Each person has a different perspective on Mother’s Day. We all have different stories of celebration and heartache. Your emotions may consist of admiration, love, and wonderful memories, or it may look more like heartache, anger, or loss. And who’s to say that it’s the same from one year to the next? Life is full of ups and downs and bumps along the way. Thankfully, we as a church body are family who will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Always keep in mind that not everyone is living your story. Reach out in love and kindness. The following are a collection of stories from our body.

Anonymous #1

I have to admit. I am not really a fan of Mother’s Day. While the thought behind such a holiday is sweet, there are times when it is nothing short of an ordeal. My mom and I have never really had a great relationship. She has been emotionally and physically abusive ever since I could remember.

This spring is nothing different. As we approach Mother’s Day I am faced with the hard reality that I want to show my mother Jesus (i.e., love and grace) but honestly she has degraded my mothering skills and torn down my husband, and it takes everything within me to forgive and try to “rise up and call her blessed.”

The Lord has given me this mom because I am supposed to learn something BIG. I am not quite sure what it is, and I might never see it, but until the day I get to heaven, I will continue to love my mother. She, even through all of her fallacies, raised me. She blessed me with food on the table and an awareness of others that has shaped me into who I am today. Mother’s Day isn’t always sunshine and roses. It is a time of reflection for most moms. We think about the mother who raised us and the mother we have become.

We have a tendency to compare the two and compare ourselves to the moms around us when in reality we are each on our own different journies, and we are all at different stages in life. I want to encourage you that if your story is similar to mine, DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO YOUR MOM. Do NOT feel in any way, shape or form that you are her. You are YOU. A new creation in Christ.

Reflecting on your motherhood journey is ok! Be proactive and intentional with how you are shaping your children, but DO NOT for one second think that you aren’t good enough. Words that have been spoken at you do NOT define you. TRUTH defines you and YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH KING. He loves you and YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! 

Marisol Seegers

To me, Mother’s Day was always a great time to show my mom gratitude and love for being the amazingly strong, brave and sacrificial mother she’s always been.

Although I always knew I wanted to be a mom someday, I never actually pictured myself celebrating Mother’s Day until I became a mom but didn’t have a baby to prove my motherhood. What I mean by this is that I got pregnant in January 2017 and lost that precious baby just a month later.

Those 8 weeks of carrying a tiny little embryo transformed me in ways I could never have imagined before. I felt full of life (even or especially through the morning sickness), and my heart was just bursting with happiness, gratitude to God and with an immense love for someone I had never met, and that didn’t even look like a human yet. To say I was devastated to find out our first baby’s heart was no longer beating is an understatement. It was like I lost a big part of me that I would never get back.

The grieving process went slow and when I thought I was making progress, Mother’s Day came around, and it reminded me that, in people’s eyes, I was still not a mom; therefore I couldn’t and wouldn’t be celebrated. I indeed didn’t celebrate it because It caused more pain and seemed silly to own a holiday when I didn’t have a baby of my own to hold. Majority of our friends and family members didn’t even know we had expected a baby, much less that we had lost it, so it wouldn’t have made sense anyway.

This painful feeling about not being able to celebrate Mother’s Day made me realize that I had actually become a mom from the moment I saw those pink lines on the pregnancy test.  

When we found out I was pregnant, my whole perspective about life changed. I was no longer eating for myself, I was eating to provide nutrients to my growing baby. I was no longer working for my own self-growth, I was working to show my child what it looked like to enjoy the fruits of our labor and to provide for her future. I was no longer worried about my appearance in a vain way, I was desiring to grow my belly to see her growing in a healthy way. I was simply no longer thinking about myself, I was only thinking about her, and those loving, selfless, and sacrificial behaviors are what made me become a mom.

Although I wasn’t able to enjoy Mother’s Day 2017, I looked forward to the next one whether or not I’d have a baby by then. The Lord blessed us with a baby boy in March 2018, and I had the opportunity to rejoice that following Mother’s Day next to him. Now, Mother’s Day to me means celebrating the miracle of life, the ability to see a part of yourself in the form of another human being, and most importantly, it means that I was chosen to lead and nurture another child of God – and that is the most amazing job I get to have.

After more than a year later of having Kean, now more than ever, I get to enjoy motherhood to the fullest as he gets to love back on me with kisses, clingy hugs, and adorable “momma” calls. He is the pure definition of love in human form and the promise of God’s eternal love for me. Mother’s Day means the world to me. 

Anonymous #2

My mom did not come from a family of believers, but when she was a teenager in the 1960’s she moved from Chicago to Goshen, Indiana! There she informally became part of a Mennonite family who taught her about gardening, canning, sewing, caring for animals, and loving God. She became a believer in college and passed her faith down to me; now I am passing it down to my children.

Mother’s Day is a day to remember and recognize the role motherhood plays in making disciples. We cannot control our children or their decisions, but we can be an influence and a model of authentic faith. I hope I raise a “Timothy” or two.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Louis and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  (2 Tim 1:5)

Justin Wood

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it is easy to go the Hallmark greeting card route.

“So thankful,” “You are my inspiration,” “You make every day brighter.”

Somehow, these are hollow and empty for those of us that didn’t have a traditional childhood. For me, Mother’s Day means something a little different.

My mom and I had a rough time as I was growing up. She was a single mom that struggled with substance abuse and the lifestyle that goes with it. I, in turn, followed the same path.

We both came to a point twenty plus years ago that we chose to walk down a different path, one of health and life. Part of that new path included the reconciliation of our relationship. My mom has become a dear friend that I now get to do life with, walking through the good and the bad. There is life in our relationship where there was once hate and animosity.

Mother’s Day is a yearly reminder of where we were, and where we are now, about the love that can grow when we stop considering our position as right and the other wrong. It is a reminder of not just this earthly relationship, but our eternal relationship with our Creator, the One that was willing to sacrifice what is just for a relationship that could not exist outside of intentional reconciliation.

So, this Mother’s Day, there isn’t a Hallmark card that can capture the depth of love and appreciation that I have today for my mother. All I can say is, I love you mom, and I am grateful every day that God gave us the chance to be reconciled and have the opportunity to walk in life together!

The Monster of Change

by Lee McDonald

 

Change is difficult for me. I balk at it and question its necessity in my life. But, try as I may to avoid the elephant it becomes in the room, I inevitably succumb to its grip and realize in the end that the “monster of change” I tried so hard to fight — sword wielded, legs kicking and screaming — ultimately brought good through hard.

My husband, Luke, lives by a particular mantra, “Do hard things.” Sure, change is hard, but he ain’t scared! He likes change, embraces it even. Meanwhile, I’m in the corner crying; stress paralyzed and fearing all of the imaginary (and totally realistic) negative consequences this so-called “good move” is going to bring. (They say opposites attract.) Luke is not deterred by my distress (emphasis on stress); however, and once I have calmed down, he can logically and systematically convey to me why the “good move” is indeed a good move. Does it mean, throw all caution to the wind and jump right in? Sometimes. But, more often than not, it means a slow and steady willingness to move forward with an open hand toward the new and different, embracing the change together.

We have been in a few slow fades of change, transitions if you will, for quite some time now. We have been moving forward with an open hand. Even though we are still in the midst of change, and there are still days of anxiety and frustration, I have been able to see God’s grace and goodness in and throughout, and we’re excited and hopeful for what is to come. Philippians 4:4-7 has considerable impact and necessary implementation during this time, but really always.

To quote one of my favorite bands, Lake Street Dive:

Change is comin’, oh yeah

Ain’t no holdin’ it back

Ain’t no runnin’

Change is comin’, oh yeah

Are you interested in finding out more about baptism? You’re in the right spot. Scroll through to find the answers to many of the questions we receive.

Q: Why is it important that I be baptized?

A: Baptism is a response to your faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus commands us in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Peter reiterates Jesus in Acts 2:38 saying, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins.” Jesus has conquered sin and death for you; baptism is an opportunity to testify to the Gospel that has freed you.

Q: Does baptism save me?

A: Absolutely not. Paul is clear in his letter to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (v. 8-9) Salvation is freely given through our faith in Jesus Christ. Paul extends further, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confessed, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10) The grace of Jesus Christ and grace alone saves us.

Q: Do I need to be fully immersed?

A: The Greek word for baptism is βαπτίζω (baptizo) meaning to immerse, submerge, or to make overwhelmed. We can see this illustrated in Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water…” In following Jesus, we are fully immersed in the water.

Q: I was christened as a baby/child, is it necessary to be baptized again?

A: Following the examples, we are given in scripture, baptism always follows believing in Christ and repentance from sin. Since the christening you received came before a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, it is important that you be baptized after putting your faith in Him.

Q: What is the outward expression of baptism to those around me?

A: Baptism shows the world that you have given over your life to Jesus Christ. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” It indicates that you have died to self, been buried in Christ, and raised to a new life in Him. Baptism declares to the world that you are a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Q: What’s happens next after baptism?

A: Rejoice in the salvation and freedom you have received through Christ Jesus. If you are not already involved in a community of believers, we urge you to find people to surround you with love and encouragement as you continue to walk in His footsteps.  As Paul explains to the Ephesians, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” You will have spiritual highs and spiritual lows, but take heart, Jesus walks with you through it all. Look to Him and his word as you take each step through life. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

Want to learn more or sign-up for the next baptism?

Click here to fill out the Baptism form.

In 1 John 1:5-8, John writes:

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

In these verses, we are called not to hide our sin in the darkness, but rather to bring our sin into the light. All through scripture, God is described as light and, by contrast, the enemy as darkness. Bringing our sin out of the darkness and into the light takes control away from the enemy and gives it to God. Confessing our sins to brothers or sisters in Christ is the best way to bring our sin into the light and out of the darkness. The enemy makes this very difficult. Our fear of shame, or judgment, or rejection is a powerful tool that the enemy uses to fester and grow our sin. By overcoming this fear and being vulnerable with other Christian believers, we take away the enemy’s stronghold and allow Jesus through the Spirit to work in us. How many times have you listened to someone’s testimony and felt the power of God pouring forth? God’s love and deliverance are potent forces that suppress the enemy’s schemes and let us be light in a dark world. If we live in the light, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with Christian brothers and sisters, bringing our sins out of the darkness and into the light, we unleash all of God’s power on our enemy.

What happens after Easter? We’ve had Ash Wednesday, 40 Days of Prayer, Palm Sunday, Seder, Tenebrae, and Easter Sunday, so now what? I guess we wait until Advent, right? What do we do for the next eight months?

Let’s change the question and ask, “How do we live in light of the resurrection?” What does it look like to live in the freedom of conquered sin and death? Here are three questions to contemplate as we live in celebration of our emancipation.

What are you afraid of?

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture…” (Romans 8:31-35 The Message)

What is your plan for spiritual growth?

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Where is God working and how can you serve?

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8)

The Passion

Day 35, Monday, April 15

“Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.” (Mk 11:15-18)

Do you have a zeal for God and his church like Jesus did? What kind of action does he want you to take about the injustice you see in the world?

 

Ask God to give you righteous anger for the things that anger Jesus.

 

Day 36, Tuesday, April 16

In chapter 23 of Matthew, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for being hypocritical. He has nothing good to say about what they are doing.

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.  They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.’” (Matt 23:1-12)

 

Pray for a humble heart and mind.

Ask God to reveal areas in your life where your actions don’t reflect the life you proclaim in Christ.

 

Day 37, Silent Wednesday, April 17

It is called “Silent Wednesday” because the Bible makes no mention of what happened that day. Speculation: Jesus most likely spent this day with His disciples in Bethany and had one last intimate fellowship before He is arrested. It is assumed that Judas travels this day to have his talk with the Pharisees about betraying Jesus. He may have done this the day before. Let’s grant the speculation validity for the sake of asking these questions: What would it be like to know someone so close to you is about to betray you to your death? How would you feel on a day filled with some of the closest people in which you love, and yet knowing what is about to happen to you?  Does your life characterize this intimate time Jesus spent with his disciples on this day?

 

Pray for the understanding of God as man and the unimaginable love He has for us to walk this path to the cross.

Thank Jesus for His strength and courage which continues to live in you.

 

Day 38, Maundy Thursday, April 18

In John 13-16, Jesus is in an upper room preparing himself and his disciples for his death. As Paul describes later, the Messiah takes on “the very nature of a servant” by washing the disciples’ feet.

He uses this simple last supper to give the Passover meal a new meaning. The loaf of bread and cup of wine represent his body and his blood. With this, he institutes the Eucharist using the words we still use today. Jesus also instructs the disciples “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” In Latin, this is ‘mandatum’ (the root of the word mandate), hence ‘Maundy’ Thursday.

Jesus then leads the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. He asks them to wait while he prays. He prays in agony as he confronts his impending death “for the sin of the world” and we glimpse the Son of God at his human state as he begs his father to “take this cup from me” Imagine what it would be like to be present at that moment, seeing Jesus in despair? Remember, His disciples, the ones who loved and knew Him most, fell asleep. (Matt 26:36-46)

 

Ask God what He is speaking to you about the life of Christ right now.

Pray that God would give you a servant heart like Jesus and specifically reveal what that looks like in your life. 

 

Day 39, Good Friday, April 19

“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.” (Matt 27:45-61)

Following betrayal, arrest, desertion, denial, condemnation, beatings and mockery, Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha for crucifixion with two other prisoners. Jesus’ body is placed

in the tomb before 6:00 p.m. when the Sabbath begins.

If you were there would you have been standing there at the cross or hiding with most of the disciples? How do you think John and the women felt as they stood at the cross? What was going through the minds and hearts of the disciples wherever they were hiding? What did the soldiers think as they saw this? Try to imagine what Jesus is going through not just in a physical sense but a spiritual sense of being cut off from God.

 

Kneel in silence for a moment, as if kneeling at the base of His cross, as you realize the magnitude of this evening.

Listen for God’s Word over your heart and mind.

 

Day 40, Saturday, April 20

“Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.”And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” (Matt. 27:62-66)

“…This hour and the power and authority of darkness are yours.” (Luke 22:53)

The powers of Satan are in great celebration on this day in history (yet, they still are using deception to hide the truth). The disciples and all his true followers are in shock and mourning feeling the great loss. They truly are in darkness. What was it like for Mary to realize that her Son she had placed all her hope in was gone forever? What was it like for the disciples to know their Leader destroyed? What was it like to have the people see their Messiah murdered never to return?

Pray for the hope of Christ to fill your heart.

Ask God to lift any dark circumstances you may be battling in your life.

Proclaim the life and authority of Christ over you and your family and friends.

Ask God to give you a continual desire to know Him more and focus on Him beyond these 40 days you’ve spent with Him.

 

Tomorrow, we celebrate!

Decision Point

by Kalyn Stralow

Matthew 28 (NASB)

We’ve arrived at the epic conclusion of the greatest story of our faith – the crux of Christianity. And Matthew, who has regularly subjected us to chapters that top out at over 70 verses detailing the parables and teachings of Jesus, gives us a whole 20 verses to wrap up everything from Jesus’ resurrection to his commissioning of the apostles. It’s almost startling in its brevity.

But it makes the details that Matthew DOES choose to focus on that much more interesting for their inclusion. He records how the very same events that occurred on the morning of the resurrection play out in dramatically different ways for the two sets of witnesses at the tomb.

On the one hand, we have the women who have been a constant presence throughout the events leading up to Jesus’ death and burial. When they see the open tomb and the angel, their response is a combination of fear, joy, and action. They are the first to hear of Jesus rising from the dead, and they are obedient in going to tell the disciples the good news. On their way, they see Jesus Himself, and their immediate instinct is to fall down and worship Him in response to his Godship and his triumph over death.

The women go on to share their message with the disciples, who meet with Jesus just as he promised in Galilee, where they also worship Him and receive their commission. It’s a truly joyful, miraculous event – sprinkled with some very realistic fear and doubt on the part of His followers – as they hope for the story of the resurrection to be true and then see that their hopes are not in vain.

On the other hand, we have the guards at the tomb, who experience the exact same opened tomb and angelic visit. And this also strikes fear in them, but this is where the similarity of their story ends….Their fear leads to inaction.They became “as dead men.” These miraculous events were not greeted with joy and wonder, despite the amazing things that were occurring right in front of them.

Matthew recounts that at the same time that the women are going in obedience and excitement to tell the disciples the news, members of the guard (who have apparently recovered from the events) also head out to report what happened to the chief priests. You can almost picture the two groups of messengers, forking away in different directions from the point of origin, racing to tell their tales.

When the guards recount the incredible events that occurred, there is no reaction of joy or wonder or even shame or regret for what has been done. There is no being swayed by this final, epic miracle – the kind of sign that they had all mockingly clamored for leading up to Jesus’ death. There is only the practical calculation of how best to control the damage and manage the fallout. The plan includes hush money, a weak cover story, political maneuvering, and an attempt to get their own spin on the tale out in front of the public first.

The same tomb. The same set of events. Two very different reactions and the consequences of the actions taken by those present at the empty tomb.

It’s the same set of choices we have have today when we encounter the story of Jesus. Matthew has laid out all his evidence of Jesus as the resurrected Messiah. And then he leaves us with Jesus’ great commission for those who choose to believe.

At the very end of the story, when we arrive at His resurrection, we get to choose our own response. Do we take the path of the guards or the women? Do we choose to turn away from what we’ve seen and allow ourselves to be talked into a different version of how events must have gone? Or do we choose Him?

Palm Sunday

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
And the bow of war will be cut off.
And He will speak peace to the nations;
And His dominion will be from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:9-10)

We begin our ascent into Holy Week as we approach the Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday. Jesus enters Jerusalem as the crowd cheers and lays palm leaves before Him; such a stark contrast against what’s to come. He rides in on a colt, a prophecy of old fulfilled:

‘When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.’

The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them,and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,

‘Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!’

When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’And the crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’” (Matthew 21:1-11)

As you read these passages, imagine what Jesus was thinking and feeling. How did the people in the crowd view Him? What were they thinking and feeling? Should we be like them? As we enter Holy Week, allow yourself to explore all the emotional ups and downs. Celebration, betrayal, denial, desperation, doubt, grief, and then the hope of Sunday.

Read Matthew 21-28 to follow the journey of Jesus from Palm Sunday to Easter.

 

You are invited to join us for Holy Week services:

Palm Sunday-April 14 10:15 AM

Good Friday-April 19 7 PM

Easter Sunrise-April 21 8 AM

Easter Breakfast-9 AM

Easter Service-10:15 AM

 

Grace

Ephesians 1:7

 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”

Ephesians 4:7

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

Day 29, Monday, April 8

We live in a world where people measure their value and their worth by what other people think or say about them. All of that leads to judgment. Judgment kills but only grace makes alive!

I’ve often heard grace referred to as unmerited favor, but I think it’s so much more. Grace means EVERYTHING! It is by Grace that we are here; it is His Grace to come alongside us amid trials and suffering. It is His Grace that He chose to save any of us. It is His Grace that He promises never to leave us or forsake us. It is His Grace that He gives us His power and strength for living every day.

It is His Grace that he sent His Son Jesus.

 

Thank the Lord for one way He’s shown His grace to you over this past year.

Ask the Lord to show you an area in your life where you can offer grace instead of judgment.

Ask for God to show you ways that He shows you His limitless, amazing grace.

 

Day 30, Tuesday, April 9

Meditate of Ephesians 1:7 and 4:7.

 

Thank you, God, that there is nothing that the blood of Jesus does not cover. Thank you that I am ransomed from the kingdom of darkness through Christ’s full work on the cross. I receive His forgiveness on this day. I receive His hope, love, faith, wisdom, power, and strength. Thank you, Lord, that You graciously lavish all of Your riches upon me in away that I do not deserve. All glory and power to His name. Amen.

 

Day 31, Wednesday, April 10

The grace of God is critical in our daily struggle against the flesh.  This gift of God – grace freely given – is incomprehensible to our ego, which thinks only in terms of merit and deserving. Our flesh loves the law because we can use it to justify ourselves, in our own eyes, and to condemn others.  But when faced with the free, unmerited gift of grace, our ego – the old self – cannot make sense of it.  Here is something that is unmatched by the fleshly, transactional way of operating in the world.  Through the Gospel and the Spirit given to us through grace, we can put to death the flesh.

 

Pray that the grace of God would be incomprehensible in its richness and humbling in its simplicity.  Remember, by grace you are saved.

 

Day 32, Thursday, April 11

God has determined by His will to sanctify us (i.e., set us apart)and make us Holy; by the broken body and shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 ” For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. ” Since we have been saved by grace, it seems appropriate that we should extend grace to those we come in contact with. Various trials, tribulations, and temptations will come our way each day. We can choose to respond in the flesh, or we can choose to submit to the Holy Spirit within. How is this done? We take a moment, pray, and submit ourselves to God. We then ponder what the Bible would say about our situation. We then respond in grace and thus reflect to others God in us. In this way we are extending grace to members of our family, co-workers, and those we encounter in the world.

 

Pray that the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior so fills you that it spills over to those around you.   

 

Day 33, Friday, April 12

Grace is God’s unmerited favor and sufficiency or fullness in the life of believers. He clearly lays out the importance of granting us grace so that we can be forgiven and redeemed to spend a life of eternity with Him. He makes it look so easy, but for many, it can be difficult to accept or give grace. For me, it is easier to extend grace to others than it is for myself. Over the years I have learned to accept His grace to live in freedom and to truly experience His gifts alive in me. Some days are easier than others to accept God’s grace, but the more I practice accepting His grace, I am humbled to see His gifts lived out and perfected in my weaknesses.

 

Ask God to show you who you need to extend grace to.

Ask God to give you the strength and courage to let go of any pain or judgment that could be in the way of giving or accepting grace.

Now that we declare and claim we have redemption through His blood, forgiveness of our sins, and to put into practice giving and receiving His grace to be made full of His goodness, In His goodness, we find peace.

 

Day 34, Saturday, April 13

“And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).” (Jn 1:14)

Imagine Moses in the cleft of the rock (Ex 33:22-23) as God passed by and graced Moses with His full presence. It was too much for Moses to take in, so God covered his eyes so as not to blind Moses with His glory. Moses then saw the back side of God and even that was almost overwhelming.

God, full of grace, sent His Son that we may encounter His glory, too.

 

Thank God for sending His Son that we may see His glory.

Ask God to reveal the fullness of His glory in your life.

Pray the fullness of Jesus is expressed to those around you. Through you, may they see the fullness of grace and the fullness of truth.