Showing posts with label Lenten Season ~ 2010. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lenten Season ~ 2010. Show all posts

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Grace ~ EASTER Sunday

Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.  And He took it and ate in their presence. 

Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 

Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 

And you are witnesses of these things.  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you . . ."

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.

And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen. 

Luke 24:44-53 NKJV

As believers, we are to be witnesses for Jesus.  Just as He commissioned His followers Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you, we must go. And we must go in worship and in joy and in praise for the Promise of God is everlasting.  GRACE ~ the incalculable, immutable, incomprehensible Promise of God ~ is ours!

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Take the Promise of God into the world ~ in worship and in joy and in praise! ~dho

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Silence ~ Lent 2010

Later, Joseph from Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take the body of Jesus. (Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus, because he was afraid of some of the leaders.) Pilate gave his permission, so Joseph came and took Jesus' body away. Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus at night, went with Joseph. He brought about seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes. These two men took Jesus' body and wrapped it with the spices in pieces of linen cloth, which is how they bury the dead. In the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden. In the garden was a new tomb that had never been used before. The men laid Jesus in that tomb because it was nearby, and they were preparing to start their Sabbath day.

John 19:38-42 NCV

Buried in an empty, borrowed tomb, Jesus' body lay surrounded by darkness in the silence of earth. Separated from the Father by death, Jesus' body lay in the stillness. The Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and nothing more can be done but honor the Sabbath.

Scripture does not say anything about this Sabbath Day. We learn nothing more about Jesus on the day after His crucifixion. As His followers go about their worship this particular Sabbath, one can only imagine the many recollections and questions that filled their minds. There is silence in the Word of God on this day!

Our sacrifice of praise ~
In the silences of life, meditate on the assurance and the glory of God ~ because you know what tomorrow brings! ~dho

Friday, April 02, 2010

Confession ~ Good Friday

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly the Man was the Son of God!"
Mark 15:38 NKJV

Today we must look to the cross of suffering that Jesus endured as a ransom for our sin.  Until that day, the Jewish people, the Chosen of God, worshiped Jehovah with blood sacrifices and burnt offerings.  At the time Jesus breathed His last breath and died, the High Priest sacrificed the unblemished lamb, preparing for the sin offering of Passover.  Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies to place the blood offering on the Mercy seat for forgiveness of sins. 

On this day, when Jesus died, the curtain of the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom.  The Scriptures do not say what happened to the High Priest or the blood of the slain Passover lamb. We are not told the thoughts of the High Priest who witnessed the torn curtain that represented a veil between sinful man and the Holy God.  Until this moment, the High Priest would have taken the blood sacrifice into the Holy of Holies as an offering for the forgiveness of sins for God's people, but now, the altar of the Lord was exposed.

These historic religious customs tell the God-story of Jesus, a Perfect Lamb slain for the forgivenss of sin.  The once veiled Holy of Holies, the Presence of God, is now revealed.  To all who seek a relationship with God, Grace is given through Jesus, the True High Priest.  What remains?  Our confession, "Truly the Man was the Son of God!"

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Who will you share the God-story of Jesus with today? ~dho

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Betrayal ~ Maundy Thursday 2010

Maunday Thursday services celebrate the giving of the Lord's Supper to the Disciples of Jesus, but the evening of fellowship and teaching and prayer ends in betrayal.  As Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, leads the arresting soldiers to Him.  He identifies Jesus with a kiss ~ a kiss of betrayal.  Perhaps the ultimate betrayal always comes from someone close to our inner circle.

And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.  Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man.  Seize Him and lead Him away under guard."

And when he came, he went up to Him at once and said, "Rabbi!" And he kissed Him.  And they laid hands on him and seized Him.
Mark 14:43-46 ESV

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Let your tears celebrate the Bread and the Wine ~ like Oswald Chambers wrote many, many times, "Be the broken bread and poured out wine." ~dho

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Plot ~ Lent 2010

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover.  And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put [Jesus] to death, for they feared the people.
Luke 22:1-2 ESV

These religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus, the Son of God, yet they feared the people.  How like them we are ~ plotting to have our own way, to do our own thing and do it the way we want.  How like them we are ~ choosing a path that does not give God glory and worrying about what "people" will think.

As Passover drew near, a very special time for remembrance, they were not preparing for their own feast, rather they were scheming to take Jesus out of the picture.  How like them we are ~ instead of preparing our hearts to celebrate the Risen Savior, we busy ourselves with Spring's garden needs, a new wardrobe, trips to the beach, gifts for Easter baskets, and Summer's plans. Today, the world still schemes and plots to take Jesus out of Easter, and we are its accomplices.

Our sacrifice of praise ~
In the busy schedules, remember Who this celebration praises! Put "Good Friday" and "Easter Sunday" back into your Spring Break. ~dho

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Works ~ Lent 2010

We thank You, God, we thank You -
Your Name is our favorite word;
Your mighty works are all we talk about.
Psalm 75:1 The Message

Unfortunately, this does not often reflect our lives.  We simply do not talk about God's mighty works on a daily basis.  The world denies and contradicts the character of God, and we silently disagree.  The world boasts and mocks the holiness of Jesus, and we look down and away, quietly shaking our head in disbelief.  If our hearts are thank-full and our souls grace-full and our minds wonder-full, while the world continues to shun God, we should begin to speak about His mighty works ~ all the time!

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Tell someone of God's mighty works in your life ~ tell your God-story! ~dho

Monday, March 29, 2010

Encourage ~ Lent 2010

May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
Romans 15:13 The Message

I read a modern-day parable:
"Some time ago, an advertisement appeared in which the devil was putting his tools up for sale.  On the day of public inspection, each one of his tools: Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Doubt, Lying, Pride, and so on, was marked with its selling price.  Set apart, however, from all the rest, was a harmless-looking tool, well-worn, but priced very high - it was discouragement!

Someone asked the devil, "Why is that one priced so high?"  He replied, "Ah, that one is more useful to me than all the rest.  With it I can pry open a heart and enter, when I cannot get near with any other tool.  Once inside, I can lead the person any way I choose.  The tool is very worn because I use it on almost everyone, since few people know it belongs to me."

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Encourage someone today!  ~dho

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Expression ~ Palm Sunday

. . . the large crowd . . . heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, [and with] branches of the palm trees, went out to meet Him and began to shout, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD. . .
John 12:12-13 NASB

Hosanna!, an expression of joy and praise for deliverance granted or anticipated,* was the crowd's chant as Jesus rode into Jerusalem that morning. Hosanna! was the word that meant, "Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved."* The Disciples and other followers still thought that the Messiah would be an earthly king; the week's events would soon reveal their confusion.  If we had stood along side the road, waving our palm branches, shouting Hosanna!, where would we be standing by the week's end?

Even believers, the very ones of us who profess the truths about Christ, discover places that merge with doubt and confusion.  We find our prayers answered in ways that differ from our hopes.  We meet circumstances face to face and waiver.  We seek more from the world but need more from the Messiah.  

As this Lenten series started with a Scripture in Hebrews, let's look at it again, see if we have learned anything about this sacrifice of praise.

Make sure you don't take things for granted and go slack in the working for the common good; share what you have with others.  God takes particular pleasure in the acts of worship - a different kind of "sacrifice" - that takes place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.
Hebrews 13:15-16 The Message

Our sacrifice of praise ~
When we stand along side of the road today as everyday people pass our way, let's shout Hosanna! and mean it ~dho

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shout ~ Lent 2010

I'm ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
"Wake up, soul!"
Psalm 57:7 The Message

A few months ago I spent the better part of a day touring Daufuskie Island, just off the coast of Hilton Head, SC.  An island full of rich history and Gullah culture merging with renewal and preservation today, my thoughts were captured.  We stopped and toured a church still used today, very small by any of the standards of today's churches.  Out to the side was a small unpainted, wooded structure not bigger than an outdoor garden shed.  It was not original but a replica.  Above the door it read "Praise House."

The Gullah people used this little house as a house of prayer and praise.  Apparently, the prayers started quiet and as inspiration led, the prayers would become more intense, eventually becoming 'Praise Shouts'!  As I thought about that progression of the moving of the Spirit, I wondered how often is my soul moved to the point of Praise Shouts?  And when this happens, do I just contain the joy or does my response raise a tune of praise to the Lord?

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Psalm 57:9 msg, "I'm thanking you, God, out loud in the streets, singing Your praises in town and country."  Try praising God ~ in public! ~dho

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mystery ~ Lent 2010

. . . the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, . . . according to His own mercy . . . and renewal of the Holy Spirit . . . that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:4-7 ESV

Christians know these truths about undeserved mercy and grace, how our sin-offering has been paid, and the hope of everlasting life.  Yet, this remains a mystery.  God's goodness is changeless and certain, but it exceeds explanation. 

Be with me in my silence and in my speech, in my haste and in my leisure, in company and in solitude, in the freshness of the morning and in the weariness of the evening; and give me grace at all times to rejoice in Thy mysterious companionship. 
John Baille

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Find one new way to rejoice in God's mysterious companionship! ~ dho

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rhythms ~ Lent 2010

The thought of You stirs us so deeply that we cannot be content unless we praise You, because You have made us for Yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.  Augustine

God is our true resting place, in all times.  Consider these words from the Gospel of Matthew:

I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with Me and work with Me - watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Matthew 11:29 The Message

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Let the everyday walking and working with Jesus, reveal His unforced rhythms of grace. ~dho

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Evidence ~ Lent 2010

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

We have the faith to hope, the faith to believe because God gives us this.  Writers struggle with words to define faith and hope; they are not tangible but known by the heart's relief or the soul's peace.  Faith and Hope would not be great witnesses in court; attorneys like sure evidence, certain proof.  Healing happens, and doctors cannot explain; science always wants to know why, but sometimes the evidence is not seen ~ at least in conventional ways. 

A.W. Tozer wrote: God's plans will continue on God's schedule.  We must trust God's Way, even if the evidence is not seen by us.  This is faith.  The evidence of our faith is demonstrated when we trust God more than our circumstances and consequences. Our obedience to God's Word marks us faithful.

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Lay down the burdens of circumstance and consequence; boldly stand with faith and hope and know the power of the Invisible I AM! ~dho

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Everywhere ~ Lent 2010

God is everywhere and yet invisible, . . . We need more than a watchmaker who winds up the universe and lets it tick.  We need love and mercy and forgiveness and grace - qualities only a personal God can offer.
Philip Yancey

What do you say to your friends about God when you gather together?  Consider these words:

Here's the story I'll tell my friends
when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory . . . adore Him . . .
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way when you were kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do His own thing;
He has been right there, listening.
Psalm 22:22-24 The Message

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Tell your God-story to your friends and punctuate it with Hallelujahs! ~dho

Monday, March 22, 2010

Prince ~ Lent 2010

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,...
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?...
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts - When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Like the first budding of Spring's dogwood blossoms from empty, dormant branches, Christ breathes new life into us.  Love so amazing that words cannot capture the meaning.

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Consider His amazing creations, wordless and beauty-full and offer God your all ! ~dho

Sunday, March 21, 2010

True ~ 5th Sunday of Lent 2010

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic.  But the tunic was seamless woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture [Ps.22:18] . . . John 19:23-24 ESV

Today the pastor at St. Matthew's UMC in Madison, MS, the Rev. David Carroll, preached his sermon on "The Tunic and Dice" and used this phrase in describing the soldiers . . . and us when we choose the world's view of indifference instead of turning our eyes to Jesus, the crucified and risen Savior:

"The soldiers were . . . trading the True for the trivial."

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Let your daily witness to the world be one that trades the trivial things of this world for Jesus - the True! ~ dho 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rejoice ~ Lent 2010

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary--we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-5 The Message

In the middle of life, with its delights and distractions, surrounded by wonder and wilderness, the moments come and go.  How often do we shout our praise in difficult times? Scripture tells us these very troubles can teach us passionate patience.  Some translations use "endurance."  Through the struggles we can become stronger, even hope-full. 

In alert expectancy reminds us that God's blessings, like His Faithfulness, are certain. We are to praise God in all circumstances, not for the despair or difficulty, not for the sadness or sorrow; rather, we are to praise God for His Everlasting Hope that endures troubles, that endures for eternity.  We are to praise God for the countless blessings that have been and are to come.  We are to praise God for the lessons of passionate patience which strengthen and renew.  We are to praise God ~ for He alone is worthy of praise.

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Try to find enough containers to hold God's Goodness and Grace! ~dho  

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hope ~ Lent 2010

Rejoice in our confident hope.  Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Romans 12:12 NLT

Henry Nouwen writes:
The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God's healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings. from Bringing Solitude into Our Lives

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Find a moment of silence - somewhere, somehow - and find Hope! ~ dho

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Worthy ~ Lent 2010

He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.
Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT

This season we have been thinking about a way to offer a sacrifice of praise as a way of remembering Christ and His Gift of Grace.  One of my older daughter's favorite hymns is Worthy of Worship.  Consider some of the words:

Worthy of worship, worthy of praise, worthy of honor and glory;
Worthy of all the glad songs we can sing, worthy of all of the off-'rings we bring . . .
Almighty Father, Master and Lord, King of all kings and Redeemer,
Wonderful Counselor, Comforter, Friend, Savior and Source of our life without end . . .
You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy  and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.
words by: Terry W. York

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Lay down the relentless idols that shout for attention, idols that crave worldly worship and demand empty praise.  For God alone is worthy, worthy of our worship and praise. ~dho

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Soul ~ Lent 2010

As the Holy Spirit descended to the gathering of followers that would be the beginning of Christ's church (Acts 2), Peter stood and began to remind the people of the prophetic telling from Joel.  He talked about the wonders that were now known, about Jesus the Messiah, and recounted King David's testimony.

You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture me [diffusing my soul with joy] with and in Your presence [Ps.16:8-11].
Acts 2:28 The Amplified Bible

I happened upon this quote by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

The meaning of earthly existence lies, not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul.

Reading more about the Russian writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, I discoverd a few facts from his autobiography (see link below). He always wanted to be a writer but circumstances directed his studies toward physics and mathmatics, all the while he studied history and philosophy and literature on the side.  He graduated Rostov University with a degree in physics and mathmatics only days before WWII began.

Imprisoned for eight years for having political differences with Russia, he was exiled for another 3 years.  All this time he taught mathmetics and physics, claimed this "rescued me from death."  In time, Solzhenitsyn would be recognized for his writing, his long awaited dream.  He wrote, "It is almost always impossible to evaluate at the time events which you have already experienced, and to understand their meaning with the guidance of their effects. All the more unpredictable and surprising to us will be the course of future events."

A lesson to take away is that God has a plan for the world ~ Christ, and God has a purpose for each of us ~ redemption.  God wants to renew the soul of each person.  The way this is accomplished is through our faith in Christ, the Son of God, the Savior, the Redeemer.  God's purpose through us is revealed in many ways ~ through His design.  Our limited minds cannot know the reasons or understand all that happens.  We must trust that God will use us, if we seek the True and Living God.  Through God's plan we are rescued from death. Our future through Christ is eternal life, and this is sure. 

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Stand in the presence of God, ask Him, "Holy One, diffuse my soul with Your Joy!"  This is true "soul-shine! ~dho

Link to autobiography:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Design ~ Lent 2010

If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.
1 Peter 4:11 NKJV

Reading Max Lucado's Volume II of Grace For The Moment inspirational daily thoughts today, I found a thought very worthy of sharing.  It is an excerpt from Lucado's Cure for the Common Life.  He reminds that God has shaped each of us according to our purpose.  All of us have certain abilities such as, the "ability to diagnose an engine problem by the noise it makes, to bake a cake without a recipe."  Lucado gives other examples that describe specific interest in particular topics or the ability to remember names.  He asks, "How do you explain such quirks of skill?"

The answer is God!  Knowing Israel would "need a code, He gave Moses a love for the law."  With other examples in the New Testament to demonstrate this, Lucado writes, "He designed you.  And His design defines your destiny."  We conclude that any ability, any strength, any gift we have is from God.  Designed by the Master Designer, we are to minister to others with the talents He provides.

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Designed by God, use this ability to touch the lives of others for Him. ~dho