Thursday, April 27, 2017

True Humility

Easter gatherings with their celebrations are fast becoming memories as plans for Spring Break and summer vacations begin to fill the calendar. Before life fills our plates too full with other thoughts, I would like to spend the next several weeks sharing some of the insights I gleaned during these recent weeks of Lent.~dho
As Christians, the mystery of grace teaches us that as we lose ourselves in the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love, humility becomes to us the consummation of everlasting blessedness. Andrew Murray, Humility, the Preface 
One of the books I read during Lent was Humility by Andrew Murray, missionary to South Africa. Murray, Christian writer, teacher, and pastor, lived from 1828-1917. Many of his pithy theological and spiritually applicable writings are now available in reprint. Over the years, I have read several of his books, including Abiding in Christ, Absolute Surrender, and A Life of Obedience. Murray wrote, "True humility comes when before God we see ourselves as nothing, have put aside self, and let God be all."
The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility. Andrew Murray, Humility, pg 61
So often we struggle with our own importance, wrestle with obedience to God, turn from dependence on God. Humility is the antithesis of self-importance, disobedience, and arrogance. Even our pretentious religious words and good deeds lack humility and become the very definition of "counterfeit holiness."  Philippians 2:6-8, 12-16 from The Message give voice to the lessons on humility that Christ teaches:
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion... What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night...
One Sunday worship service early in the Lenten season, we sang a hymn, and the chorus exclaims the only way we can have true humility, to surrender and be obedient to God: 
Jesus is Lord of all!
Jesus is Lord of all!
Lord of my thoughts and service each day; 
Jesus is Lord of all!
-dho

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Margins of Life

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? James 2:1

Easter gatherings with their celebrations are fast becoming memories as plans for Spring Break and summer vacations begin to fill the calendar. Before life fills our plates too full with other thoughts, I would like to spend the next several weeks sharing some of the insights I gleaned during these recent weeks of Lent. I hope you will look back over your markings in the margins of books read or the scribbles in your journals and find His presence again now, asking how you can make your faith more alive. Spiritual growth is more than asking questions, searching for answers, or finding holy guidance. In these next weeks I will share some of the words and phrases and thoughts that are challenging me to examine myself before God and move to a deeper level of spiritual understanding and response. I would love to hear your thoughts (you can comment at the bottom of the blog post - or contact me here via email with your thoughts.) 
"Where faith is really faith it cannot be shoved to the margins of life." Gerhard Lohfink
One book I have been reading during Lent, Called to Community, The Life Jesus Wants for His People, is comprised of a myriad of Christian educators, writers, theologians, philosophers, pastors, and martyrs, some living long ago and some living now. In one such chapter, Gerhard Lohfink, German New Testament professor, uses this phrase that true faith cannot be shoved to the margins. We are called to Christianity by faith in Jesus, even faith itself is a gift from God. So why would we think that faith is something to hoard or boast about, keeping it to ourselves? When does our busyness begin to dictate our response to God? How am I keeping my faith shoved to the margins of life?

While church is defined as "a community of Believers", it does not infer that all the Believers will be the same, all the same gender, all the same economic level, all the same nationality; rather, even in our differences we have common beliefs. We must all believe that Jesus is the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, sinless and yet betrayed, crucified and died on the cross, and resurrected to new life. These common core beliefs of Christianity bind our hearts and minds and souls with Amazing Grace because of Perfect Love. But, we have to be certain that our individual faith-story isn't just the words to the Apostles Creed, the Newsboys song "We Believe" or Psalm 23. Faith cannot be shoved to the margins and still reflect a true, growing relationship with God, not the margins of society, not the margins of our families, not the margins of our calendars. True faith must be more than scribbled notes on the margins of our Bibles, the good intentions that skip across the margins of our thoughts, the generosity that walks passed the margins of opportunities. "Where faith is really faith it cannot be shoved to the margins of life." -dho

**Again, I would love to hear your thoughts (you can comment at the bottom of the blog post or contact me here via email with your thoughts.) 

  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

EASTER Sunday! ~ Go!

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

More surely than ever before, I know now that we are called to give our very lives to one another and that, in so doing, we become a true community of love. Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved (p 115)

In The True Vine, Andrew Murray writes of Christ's joy: His joy is nothing but the joy of love, the being loved and of loving. It was the joy of receiving His Father's love and abiding in it, and then the joy of passing on that love and pouring it out on sinners. Christ is Perfect Love, an offering to imperfect people. Like His disciples and closest followers, we are imperfect people yet perfectly loved by Jesus. 

As He spoke, He held out His hands for them to see, and He showed them His side. They were filled with joy when they sas their Lord! He spoke to them again and said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent ME, so send I you. John 20:20-21 NLT

On Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection, Jesus appears to several people, each Gospel giving a similar but varying account of all those who witnessed the risen Savior. John writes of Jesus coming in the evening to the disciples who are meeting behind locked doors fearing the Jewish leaders. Jesus offers them peace and joy; He reminds them this assurance comes from the Father. He breathes the Holy Spirit into them. The are prepared to take the Good News of redemption and reconciliation into the world. The root of Christ's joy is the Father's love.

Jesus gives us the same command today, saying as the Father has sent Me, so send I you. We are to carry the Good News of His amazing grace into the world. We are to build up the community of faith by sharing His love. Christ prepares us with His peace and affirms us with His joy. After Christ's return to Heaven, at Pentecost the Spirit comes to dwell within the hearts of all believers. The sure foundation of our joy is Christ, Perfect Love.

READ John 20:19-23  (complete story of the resurrection, see John 20, 21)

consider this!

- Imagine being in the room with the disciples when Jesus 'suddenly appears'. Describe their joy.

- How does Jesus model the task of sharing the Gospel?

- Have you experienced the resurrected Jesus? How will you share such Perfect Love?

Blessed Assurance! You are Eternal Love! I am overwhelmed that the love of the Father and the grace of the Son and the presence of the Spirit are mine! You choose me and love me and send me to be a witness for You. Your unfailing faithfulness and enduring love prepare my heart with peace and joy! You empower me to tell my faith-story. With the joy of Christ, I go! Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Waiting...

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

And He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. St. Augustine

The Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, and this one even more special as it is the beginning of Passover. Celebrated by the Jews according to the Old Testament, Passover recalls the time the plague of death 'passed over' their homes as they are delivered from Egypt. To prevent having all the firstborn males under two years of age die, they had to take the blood of the unblemished, sacrificial lamb and place it on the door frame of each house. (Exodus 12/complete text) But this particular Passover the Lamb of God is sacrificed, Christ's blood shed for all.


And so, because it was the day of preparation before the Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. John 19:42

Just before sundown Friday, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, secret disciples of Jesus, ask Pilate for Jesus' body, quickly prepare the body, and carefully place Him in the tomb. Fearing the Jewish leaders, these two members of the Jewish High Council had been keeping their following of Jesus a secret until now. Jesus' body lies in the tomb as Passover begins.

There is little written about that Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath that falls between the crucifixion on Friday and the resurrection on Sunday. There would be no work, only time for worship and rest. For those who mourn Jesus's death, there is much time for reflecting on recent events, remembering of times shared, recalling of countless miracles. They do not understand. They wait.

READ John 19:38-42

consider this!

- What risks did Joseph and Nicodemus take?

- What thoughts might the disciples have during this time?

- Does Jesus live within my heart? If yes, do I ever keep it a secret?

Lord - What happens when the world denies You, and I keep silent? What happens when the world mocks You, and I turn away? You must week at my selfish response. What happens when You offer hope that is eternal, and I do not share this Good News? What happens when You love with amazing grace, and I do not share this forgiveness? You must weep at m casual faith. Forgive me when weakness wins the battle inside my soul. In these times of struggle, I call to You and always find You waiting for me. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday - "Crucify!"

 Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
The account of the trial and crucifixion of Christ is in all the Gospels. Like reading the story of Jesus' birth in Luke each year at Christmas, this is the day we remember, listen to, or read ourselves the recorded history of Jesus' last hours on earth. Unlike the Christmas story, this one is harder to hear. Full of partial truths and truths ignored, betrayals and beatings, cowards and cynics, guilt and innocence, this story let us walk the Via Dolorosa with Jesus and the crowd, and hear Crucify! Crucify!.


"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked. We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. John 19:15b-16
Jesus fulfills the Scripture, lives God's plan of salvation for us in detail, willingly and obediently. He is crucified between two thieves, a picture of disgrace and disillusionment for those who doubt Him, those who believe in Him, those who love Him. And the crowd? From Hallelujah! to Crucify! in a week's time, the crowd scatters and scorns with uncertainty. Who are those standing in the crowd, both watching and wondering, fickle and frightened, confused and concerned?

Today, we are standing in the crowd - we are the everyday people. We either endure the everyday beatings or participate in them. We determine our worth and either applaud our own plans, or we confess our sins and need for Grace. We seek the world's approval or humbly accept God's plan. We are arrogant or obedient, either rolling the dice for a piece of Jesus or embracing the completeness of Perfect Love. We are the everyday reasons that Jesus is broken bread and poured out wine.

READ John 18:28-19:42

consider this!

- Why did the Jewish leaders say they wanted Jesus put to death?

- Did Pilate find Jesus guilty?

- Matthew 27:35-44; Mark 15:25-32; Luke 23:32-42; John 19:18-27: These are the Gospel's accounts of Jesus being nailed on the cross. List all the people around the cross. What names are missing from the list that you would have expected?

Holy Father! My heart comes to the foot of the cross and recognizes Jesus as the Son of the Most High, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I kneel and bow and week that my sins nail Him to the cross, place the crown of thorns on His head, mock Him and reject Him. And still, He loves me more than I can understand. He willingly is battered and endures the beatings for me, for all of us. Forgiveness in mine. Grace reigns. Help me seek Your vision for my life. Let me endure what I must to honor You, to give You glory. Holy! Holy! Holy! You are LORD! Amen. -dho

Check out BibleGateway.com available online/app! Multiple versions of the Bible are available. I use this to link all the Scriptures in my blog.

 All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday - Betrayal and Intercession

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

 "You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give the kiss of greeting." Judas Iscariot, Matthew 26;48 NLT

Betrayal robs more than loyalty; it robs the soul. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, one of the inner circle of Jesus, accepts thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. His actions demonstrate a lack of sincere commitment to Jesus. Afterwards, disgraced and without asking for reconciliation, Judas takes his own life. Judas, the pretender.

"I swear by God, I don't know this man you're talking about." Peter, disciple of Christ, Mark 14:71

As Jesus gathers His disciples together one last time, He tells them that they would all desert Him. Peter's loyalty disagrees, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never." But just as Jesus predicts, three times Peter denies knowing Christ. When he realized he has betrayed his own vow, Peter breaks down and cries. Later, after the resurrection, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love Me?" Peter responds each time, "Yes, Lord, I love You!" Jesus restores Peter, tells him, "Follow Me." Peter becomes the first great leader of the early church. Peter, the rock.

READ John 17

consider this!

- Meditate on this beautiful prayer that Jesus prays. For whom is He praying?

- This prayer is call the "High Priestly Prayer." Why do you think it is called that?

- Do I ask Jesus to intercede for me?

Eternal Intercessor, my prayers rise to You, full of wordless gratitude for undeserved grace. Forgive me when I betray You in my deeds and with my words. Sin is the easier choice. But You have restored me with Amazing Grace. You call, "Follow Me!" I reply, "Lord, I love You!" Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

To Believe or Not Believe

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

This is and has been the Father's work from the beginning - to bring us into the home of His heart. George MacDonald



Despite the miracles Jesus performs, there are those who do not believe He is the Christ. There are those who do believe but are afraid to speak up, afraid of rejection or punishment. And still there are others in the crowd who believe, but their faith is fragile and weak. We, too, are standing in the crowd today. Who do you choose?

Many people, including some of the Jewish leaders, believed in Him. But they wouldn't admit it to anyone because of their fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. 
John 12:42-43 NLT

Jesus shouted to the crowds, "If you trust Me, you are really trusting God who sent Me." John 12:44 NLT

God's plan from the beginning was to offer us a way back to Him, to offer us salvation. We can read all the books every written and ask all the questions ever wondered and still not have the evidence that our human minds crave. Grace enters into the world in the form of Perfect Love, not in the way the world finds logical. How often we choose human praise over God's praise! How seldom we really place our trust in God! Yet, God still chooses us.

READ John 12:37-50

consider this!

- What evidence is necessary to secure your belief in Christ?

- Using Jesus' words (vs. 44-50), explain Christ's purpose in coming to earth the first time?

- How does my desire for human praise stand in the way of trusting in God's plan?

Lord, we stand in the crowd watching. Some around us choose the world, and others choose You but are afraid to tell. Then, there are those like me that choose the Grace that only Perfect Love can give. Forgive me when I find the world's applause more appealing than the Spirit's whispers. Forgive me when I stand in the crowd, and no one knows I stand with You. Amen. -dho


All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Listening to the Father

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

 Jesus' obedience means a total, fearless listening to His loving Father... We will never understand the full meaning of Jesus' richly varied ministry unless we see how the many things are rooted in one thing: listening to the Father in the intimacy of perfect love. Henri Nouwen, Show Me The Way (p.112-113)


Time after time we find Jesus alone praying to the Father. When Jesus predicts His death on the cross to the crowd, He again seeks the Father's power. Nouwen writes, "This inexhaustible love between the Father and the Son includes and yet transcends all forms of love known to us." God is the Source of everything for Jesus, power, direction, and love. Jesus seeks the Father in all things; He listens to the Father in the intimacy of perfect love.

"Father, glorify Your name."
Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." John 12:28

Jesus tells the crowd that God has spoken for your sake. There are questions and uncertainties about what it all means. Jesus wants them to understand that He is the Christ, the Messiah. He declares himself Light, calling them to believe and become sons of light. Jesus longs for those in the crowd who follow Him to become a community. Today, Jesus still desires for Believers to join together, to be an intimate community that worships and seeks the Father for all things. How do we achieve such unity and intimacy? By listening to the Father.

READ John 12:27-36

consider this!

- What did the people say when they heard a voice from heaven?

- How did Jesus describe His death? Did the people understand?

- When do I go to the Father? Do I listen for His reply?

Father of Light! You fill my darkness with fireworks of possibilities and wonders that exceed my imagination. You call me to share this light with others. I am listening more and more to Your whispers and the Spirit's promptings. I want to be obedient to Your best for me. Forgive me when I settle for good enough. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Faces in the Crowd

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

The temple God wants to be master of the human soul, which he created and fashioned just like himself. We read that God said, "Let us make man on our own image."... He made each soul so much like himself that nothing else in heaven or on earth resembles him as much... God wants the temple to be pure, so pure that nothing should dwell there except he himself. And that is the reason why he is so pleased when we really prepare our souls for him.  Meister Eckhart (1260-1327)

A growing crowd has followed Jesus these last weeks, watching and testifying to what they have witnessed - Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, many miracles of healing, parables and teachings. The religious leaders, struggling with supernatural possibility and personal pride, are threatened, fearing the crowd's allegiance to Jesus.

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him." John 12:19 NKJV

The crowd, like the Pharisees, come with their own agendas. Some are caught up in the excitement of the moment, some looking for the extraordinary, and some skeptical but curious. The Pharisees think the crowd is foolish, but wants to find something to discredit Jesus' popularity. We are sometimes the crowd, watching, wondering, looking for more! We are sometimes like the Pharisees, cynical, doubting, expecting less! 

READ John 12:17-19

consider this!

- Picture yourself in the crowd. Who are you? What do you expect from Jesus?

- Consider yourself a Pharisee. What questions do you ask?

- How am I preparing my soul for the living Christ?

Holy Father! Prepare my soul for the journey it must take. Help me step away from the crowd to be with You, to listen for You, to feel You near. Take my cynicism and make it compassion. Take my doubt and make it trust. Take my soul to Your high places of blessing. Amen. -dho


All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

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Sunday, April 09, 2017

Palm Sunday - Oneness in Christ - Recognizing Jesus

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

A life of complete faith propels one to live not by his own ideas, impulses, or abilities, but by the leadings of the Spirit that have much the same ebb and flow and unpredictability that wind and waves do." John Haughey

Those watching for the Messiah, their King-to-be, anticipate much more pomp and circumstance, grandeur and power. They think the Messiah will rule on earth. Instead, God's plan allows Jesus to enter Jerusalem on a donkey with His disciples following but not understanding. Often times, God's plans for us come in unpredictable ways, like on a donkey, and we do not understand at the time.

"Fear not daughter of Zion;
Behold your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey's colt." John 12:15 NKJV

Hoping for a king, the people do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Shouting Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! The King of Israel!, the crowd waves palm branches as Jesus enters Jerusalem riding a donkey. Like those lining the parade route some 2,000 years ago, sometimes we do not always recognize Jesus, like when He wears the tattered clothes of a beggar or the tears of an abused child or the hunger in a distant land or the loneliness of an empty life. Like the disciples, we follow Jesus but do not always understand in the disappointment or the crisis during the parade. Only afterwards do we recognized Jesus and the Providence and Grace of a loving God. 

READ John 12:12-16

consider this!

- The crowd is shouting words from a Psalm. Read Psalm 118 and find the words.

- When DID the disciples understand?

- As you read these verses in John, imagine yourself standing in the crowd. How might you react?

Faithful Father! Your wisdom exceeds my best ideas. My heart's desire is that You find me faithful. Help me see You in all things. Amen. -dho


All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Anointed and Prepared

Deus caritas est! “…God is love.” 1 John 4:16
As we enter this season of reflection and renewal, let’s rediscover God calling to His children, revealing His goodness, and transforming each one with Perfect Love. "This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10) ~ Donna Oswalt

For God himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for His wonder. Thomas Kelly, Devotional Classics by Foster/Smith


During these weeks of Lent, the intention is to be a time of reflection, a time for the soul to be prepared to once again consider the sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb for sinners, imperfect in every way. This is not to suggest that the Easter season is the only time for reflection or study; certainly it is not , but it can be a time of spiritual renewal. As the last week approaches and the familiar story unfolds, be prepared to listen, be prepared for His wonder.

But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial." John 12:7

As you read this account of Mary's anointing Jesus feet with expensive perfume, consider the extravagance of her gesture. Commentaries tell us this expensive perfume equals a year's wages. Mary receives criticism from one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot. Jesus intercedes, once again reminding that He will not be with them much longer. Mary's soul somehow understands the gravity of the time at hand. She abandons the expected role, steps outside the boundaries. Mary senses the wonder of Jesus and the house is filled with the fragrance of love.

READ John 12:1-8

consider this!

- List all those Scripture mentions as being present at this dinner.

- What is your reaction to Judas' comment?

- Now, consider the extravagance of Jesus' love.

Lord, in Your presence I find unspoken joy, wordless praise, endless thanksgiving. You draw me to Perfect Love, and I long for more. Prepare my heart and mind and soul as I once again walk the dusty roads up to Jerusalem, stand in the crowds watching, listen to the mocking, see the Body broken for me, contemplate the cross, find the empty tomb. Amen. -dho

All rights reserved; copyright 2017 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author;  Breathing Room For My Soul (blog)~ Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~