Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gethsemane - Place of surrender

OK, honestly, I should have written about this around Good Friday time, but as I've warned you before: I procrastinate....and I didn't think of this until today when the word surrender came up yet again!

I'm also thinking of Easter a little differently this year. You know how at Christmas you kind of promise yourself to keep that giving spirit going into the new year or to really be "in the moment"? And then right around January 2 or 3 when everybody heads back to school and time gets short, you stop having that Christmas feeling. (If not, maybe it's just me!) ;) I would like to think of Easter that way this year. Not just a one day/weekend thing, but reminding myself throughout the coming weeks that Jesus rose from the dead and we serve a risen, living King!

While I was thinking about surrender, I got to thinking about Jesus in Gethsemane. He went there to pray before the mob came to get him. He knew what was coming. He'd been preparing for it for about 33 years. He took some of his buddies, presumably to keep watch and maybe even pray for him...yeah, they fell asleep....not once, but three times! Meanwhile, Jesus is going through some serious agony.

Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV) 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. 41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
42 He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Even Jesus had to surrender his will and let God's will be done. I take comfort in these verses. It shows a very human side to Jesus. He felt troubled and overwhelmed with sorrow. Mark 14:33 says in part he was deeply distressed. He asked for the burden to be taken away, but asked that God's will be done. If it is possible, take it away. "Not as I will, but as you will" "The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" If it is not possible, unless I do it "May your will be done". Jesus surrendered His own will so we would have the right to choose to surrender to God as well. Jesus knows how hard that is.

He knows the overwhelmed troubled feelings. Given a choice, we'd probably all ask for our paths to be a little (or maybe a lot!) smoother. However, knowing Jesus came out victorious should give us comfort that even as Jesus hung on the cross, God was waiting for him to come home. Same as He is for us....waiting....and watching us grow in the process.

Praying for Easter blessings that continue on throughout the year. May you feel God's arms around you when you're at your worst...and God's arms raised in victory when you're at your best! May you feel valuable because Jesus has paid the ultimate price for you. Easter blessings!

Friday, March 21, 2008

1 vs the "mob", Good/God Friday

In the game show 1 vs 100, a contestant takes on the "mob". He or she answers a question and matches it up against the 100. The contestant then has the choice to take the money or the mob.

Jesus was 1 who faced a mob. No promise of money either. He faced the mob that came to get him with swords and clubs.

Matthew 26 : 55-56 (The Message) Then Jesus addressed the mob: "What is this—coming out after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I have been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me.

He faced a mob of Sanhedrin who were looking for any evidence to put Jesus to death. They were scared of him as people saw the miracles he did and believed in him.

Matthew 26:59-63 (NIV) The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.' "
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."

Finally, after being taken to the governor, Pilate, the mob demanded that Jesus be crucified.

Luke 23:23-25 (The Message) But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.

Jesus was then beaten and forced to carry his own cross to the place where he would be put on the cross for the sins of the world to fulfill prophecy that was written long before.

Isaiah 42:1-7 (NIV) The Servant of the Lord
1 "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4 he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope."
5 This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
6 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

I've always struggled with why the day Jesus dies would be called "Good Friday". What's good about it? As I'm reading the above verses, I'm thinking it wasn't good for Jesus. It was good for us. He did it all for you and me: He will bring justice, He will be our light, He will open our blinded eyes, and free us from our earthly prison. God is for us...all the time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A King? THE King? Hosanna!

1 Samuel 8 (NIV) Israel Asks for a King 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king."

SO Israel got what they asked for. They got A king. They could have had the best King then, but they chose to think they knew better. Everything God told Samuel to pass on to the people about what would happen with a king...did. Years later, a new generation was still looking for a king. They thought they found him in Jesus and they praised him.

John 12:12-13 (NIV)
The Triumphal Entry 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna![
a]" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"

[a] A Hebrew expression meaning "Save!" which became an exclamation of praise

A few days pass and they find out Jesus is not the king they are looking for. He doesn't lead a rebellion against the Roman government and he doesn't get their taxes lowered. They want a fighting leader, not a savior.

Today, what are we looking for? Are we looking for the quick fix? The long term answer? A king when we need THE King?

This week, think about what side you're on. Are you the disciple/friends of Jesus or are you in the crowd anxiously awaiting the rebellion?

This is an especially important time to consider this as we approach Friday. We are also in an election year where essentially we're looking for our nation's next leader. Please be in prayer for the decisions our nation faces.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

March on to Spring! Birds and do not worry....

Psalm 104:12 (NIV)
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)
Do Not Worry

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Wow, it's March already! I am SO looking forward to Spring! I've been seeing and hearing glimpses of its approach. Some green grass is peeking through the melted back snow. Our sump pump is running approx. every 1 1/2 minutes! AND I heard birds the last couple of days.

I looked up some verses past Genesis (where birds of the air are mentioned a lot) and found the above verses. I like Psalm 104, but Matthew 6 goes beyond the birds and tells us not to worry. I figured that's a good reminder too. If God keeps the birds safe, we are even more valuable. So why do I worry so much when God's got it covered? No need to answer...I'm sure I'm not the only one who worries about stuff that never ends up happening. What a waste of time and energy! Now to remember that in the midst of crisis and chaos. (How's that for the name of a blog...or a book...Crisis and Chaos) :)

One quote I have always liked goes something like: Worry is like a rocking chair, it keeps you busy but it doesn't get you anywhere.

I tried to look up who said the above and found it credited to a couple of different people...and worded slightly different each time. The following site had some other great quotes about worry.

I looked up worry at and found: to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort similar words were: torment and struggle. That certainly puts worry more in perspective!

So a prayer when feeling overwhelmed or struggling:
You know me better than I know myself. Help me to put my attention and effort toward things that can make a difference in my life and for others. When worry starts to make me frustrated, remind me that you have the situation handled even when it is not in the time I wish or the answer I expect. Help me to not feel like I need to do everything on my own or perfectly. Thank you for caring about all the little details in my life.