Walking Into Servanthood

Jesus wash feet

Tuesday, March 31st

Walking Into Servanthood
John 13:1-17

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”  Luke 18:14b

Jesus was a King. He was God living on earth yet He walked everywhere He went. He had no fancy carriage and no palace in which to sleep. Jesus and His disciples slept under the stars and ate whatever they could find. Yet they never went without. Jesus came to earth to demonstrate God’s love for all people by meeting them where they were.

Jesus welcomed children, fed the hungry, healed the sick and lame and loved everyone, no matter their occupation or the sins they had committed. He expected them (and us) to follow His example.

Perhaps one of the greatest acts of servanthood Jesus showed was at their Passover supper the night He was betrayed.

In John 13 we read that as the meal was being served Jesus got up from the meal and removed His outer clothing. He picked up a towel, tied it around His waist and poured water into a basin. Jesus then began to wash the feet of His disciples, drying them with the towel tied around his waist.

There is great significance in this.

First – We just discussed that Jesus and His disciples walked everywhere they went. If they wore shoes at all they were likely only a form of sandals designed to protect the bottom of their feet from rocks and other debris. They were held on by cloth or leather strips, barely covering the tops of their feet as they walked along the dusty roads. Their feet were constantly filthy. Only an individual themself or a servant would wash his or her feet.

Second – A king was dressed in robes and splendor. Jesus never did wear the kingly robes he deserved, and He removed the only robe He was wearing and replaced it with a towel tied around His waist just as a servant would have worn.

Third – Jesus did the unthinkable. He bent down to His disciples, kneeling before them to wash their feet. This posture of kneeling before someone was again what a servant would do to a master. Not a posture fit for a King.

Some of Jesus’s disciples argued with Him. Imagine if you had spent the day walking through a muddy field or down a dusty dirt road wearing open sandals. You arrive home to find someone famous whom you really admire waiting for you with a bowl of water and a towel ready to wash your feet. Would you be excited, or embarrassed? Most of us would want to run around to the back entrance, hop in the shower and clean up before this person could see us. It was the same way with the disciples.

The lesson Jesus was trying to get across is that it doesn’t matter what position you hold or how much money is in your bank account. It’s irrelevant how many Facebook friends you have or if you rub shoulders with influential people. The only thing that matters to God is how far you are willing to go to show love to others.

Jesus knelt before them and washed their feet.

Jesus allowed His enemies to mock Him, beat Him and whip Him until He could barely stand.

Then Jesus gave His life for His friends. That includes you and me.

 

If the creator of the world did all of this for us, is it too much for Him to ask us to humble ourselves before others?

 

I’m going to ponder this today…and hopefully put it into action.

 

Prayer

Jesus, you gave us such a beautiful example of loving others. Everywhere You went kindness and mercy flowed from You. Never were you too busy for someone in need and never were You too important for even the least of society. The desire of my heart is to replicate this way of life but I fail more than I succeed. Lord, today show me how I can be more like You. May Your kindness and humility show through me and if others ask about my actions may I lovingly and humbly point them to you.

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Jesus Walks Into The Temple

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Monday, March 30th
Jesus Walks Into The Temple
Mark 11:12-19

“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Jesus woke with the image of the temple from last night burned into His memory and as He walked toward Jerusalem knew the task that lay ahead of Him. The scene as He approached the temple confirmed what He knew in His heart. The outer court was filled with money changers and merchants trying to swindle worshipers out of their offerings. The noise of those hawking their wares permeated the air, attempting to coerce visitors out of their offering money with the purchase of sacrifices at exorbitant prices.

The crowd with Jesus was amazed as He paused from teaching and made His way through the temple courts overturning tables and benches. They could see the anger mixed with sadness fill His face as Jesus drove out the money changers and merchants who had overrun the temple courts.

Quoting the prophet Isaiah He spoke: “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house for prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17) The whole crowd was amazed by His teaching for no one had ever dared speak against the chief priests and teachers of the law who allowed this practice to take over the Lord’s temple. The teaching was not popular however with those leaders. They saw the reaction of the crowd and feared Jesus, looking for a way to kill Him.

I have often been quick to judge those money changers and merchants wondering how they could turn the Lord’s temple into a marketplace, distracting those who came to worship and pray. I have thought, “I would never do that!” But I have been wrong.

Romans 12 1-2 says:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

God’s desire for His temple in Jerusalem was to be a place of prayer. It was to be dedicated to Him and a refuge where He could be found by anyone seeking Him. It was to be a holy place of worship where all who brought sacrifices and sought forgiveness from sin were welcomed and cleansed.

The same is true of us. God created us to worship Him but too often we allow ourselves to conform to the sinful patterns of the world around us. I don’t know about you but too often I get to the end of a day and realize that I didn’t sacrifice my sinful desires enough. I allowed the cravings of my stomach to override my mind as I put too much unhealthy food into my mouth instead of putting it down. Or perhaps I listened to the voice that told me the comforts of my bed were more desirable than physical exercise and time with the Lord. Perhaps it was joining in with the crowd of complainers and mockers instead of speaking what was kind and encouraging and right.

If God came into our heart or mind on any given day would He need to overturn tables there? I’m not talking about mistakes or one-time sins but are there habits settled in that need to be driven out?

If you or I suddenly realized that Jesus was walking beside us would we be startled or pleased? I know it’s something I need to consider more.

 

Prayer

Lord, it’s so easy to judge the money changers and merchants for their actions in the temple courts and not look inside my own heart to see what actions are there that should not be. Please walk with me through the day today and make me aware of habits I have developed by conforming to the world instead of your desires for my life. Help me to offer my body throughout the day to you as a living sacrifice. My heart’s desire is to be holy and pleasing to You. May that desire not only be reinforced in me today but be evident to those around me as well.

Walking to Jerusalem

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Sunday, March 29th
Walking to Jerusalem
Luke 19:29-44

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The Sabbath was drawing to a close as Jesus and His disciples walked toward Jerusalem where they would celebrate Passover together. Jesus sent two of His disciples ahead to bring a colt back. He was thankful they didn’t ask a lot of questions, simply did as He asked.

 

Walking along disciples Jesus listened to the other remaining disciples prattle on about mundane things. These men were precious to Jesus, walking faithfully with Him for three years. Jesus knew they were looking forward to the Passover celebration, yet they had no idea what this year held in store for them. He knew the challenges ahead would test them all and ultimately be too much for some.

 

The group stopped briefly as the two disciples approached with the borrowed colt. Placing their cloaks on the back of the colt and seating Jesus there they continued on the road to Jerusalem. Celebration was in the air as people spread their cloaks and branches on the roads shouting, “Hosanna!”. Children waved palm branches and sang to Jesus. Many of these people were present when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, following Him since. They shouted praises to Jesus and recalled the miracles He had done, praising God. They cried, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

 

Jesus took it all in yet He could not celebrate with them for as He looked through the crowd He also saw the unbelief. It caused Him to weep for the city of Jerusalem, knowing the time had come for His purpose on earth to be completed yet those in authority didn’t recognize Him. They exchanged the peace that comes with knowing Jesus as Lord for earthly power and recognition. Their desire was to be acknowledged by their peers more than embracing the truth that a better reward was in store for those who believed in Jesus.

Some of the Pharisees, very upset by this display, told Jesus to quiet His followers yet Jesus told them if they kept quiet the very stones would cry out. (Luke 19:40)

 

The procession reached the temple area in Jerusalem. Jesus looked around, saddened by what He saw. Since it was late He walked on to Bethany with His disciples for the night, preparing for the challenges of the days ahead. Jesus knew in just a few days many of the same people who were praising would desert Him. They wouldn’t understand the sacrifice He was about to make that would give them a new freedom and power that cannot be attained on earth.

 

As this Holy Week begins how is your heart? Will you go through the week declaring the miracles Jesus has done in your own life or will you be part of the crowd that causes Jesus to weep as He looks your way? Is the desire of your heart to serve Him and not seek the pleasures of this world and the power and pleasures of this earthly life?

 

It can be easy to praise God and welcome Jesus as leader of our lives when we see miracles and other good things happen. It’s also easy to turn away from Him when we don’t understand how He will bring good from a difficult situation.

 

As you walk through this week of remembrance and celebration, join me in allowing God to examine our hearts and intentions. Let Him erase your faults and cleanse your heart so you can cry, “Hosanna” to those around you with a sincere and joy-filled heart.

Prayer

 

Lord, the week ahead will be filled with preparations for Easter. The culture around me doesn’t celebrate You or Your resurrection. As I begin this week cleanse my heart, Lord. Examine me and expose any areas where I need to repent. Cause me to reflect on You and express Your grace and love to those around me. May I be a light for You, showing those around me that Easter is about more than colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and baskets filled with treasures. May I, through my words and actions show the real Easter treasure is You.

Walking With Jesus…

Jesus Hand

Walking With Jesus
To the Cross…and Beyond

Holy Week Devotions

 

For much of my life I thought of Easter as only one day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We had a Palm Sunday/Sabbath celebration where we remembered Jesus’ joyous entry into Jerusalem for the Passover Celebration. and talked a little about the events of the week leading up to Easter but not much emphasis was put there. It was so unlike Christmas. Weeks were spent anticipating that day of celebration, singing songs, reading stories and decorating in anticipation of the celebration of his birth.

Not so much with His resurrection. One day of celebration, dinner with the family, then we were done.

While I’m not suggesting we need to intensify the hype of Christ’s Resurrection I realized over the past few years that I want to experience it differently. I dug into the scriptures of the time between Palm Sunday and the Resurrection and I discovered that Jesus walked through so much in those few days that I hadn’t thought of before.

I’d like to share some of what I found with you.

Beginning tomorrow, Palm Sunday I will post a devotion each morning to help us walk to the cross with Jesus.

I hope these thoughts will help deepen your experience of the days leading to the cross and intensify your celebration of the greatest moment in Christian history – the resurrection of Jesus!

blessings and peace to you as we enter this Holy week…
Paula

The Golden Yardstick?

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

This verse is well-known to most of us as the golden rule. It occurred to me today that it could be interpreted two different ways.

First, the golden rule could be viewed as an instruction – something to be obeyed. Most of us don’t like rules. They get in the way of living our lives the way we want to. We are a rebellious people, sinful at the core and it is not easy to follow rules, especially when it calls for us to put others ahead of ourselves (unless of course we are facing something unpleasant).

Secondly, the golden rule could be interpreted as a measure. If I asked you what this is:

ruler

most of you would reply, “It is a ruler”. And I would not argue with you. However it is also known by some as a “rule”.

rule
ro͞ol/
noun
noun: rule; plural noun: rules; noun: Rules

1. one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.

2. a strip of wood or other rigid material used for measuring length or marking straight lines; a ruler.

So in light of that Jesus calls us to measure what we do to others by how we would measure what they do to us.

Do you ever think that becomes too romantic a notion? Can it be too easy to brush off an action because we tell ourselves we wouldn’t mind if someone did it to us? For most of us it’s not too difficult to deceive ourselves!

There are different types of rulers, or measuring sticks. They can be shorter or longer, metal, plastic or wood. We might call them by different names (ruler, yardstick, tape measure) and they might be used in different situations, but they all serve the same purpose, to measure.

Today I had to wonder if I use a longer measuring stick when I measure my own actions than when I measure those of others.

How would I measure my actions if I was doing it to myself?

Perhaps you don’t struggle with being selfish and egotistical as I sometimes do but I’ll admit that if something is going to impact me personally it can often result in different actions (or reactions) on my part. That’s not easy to admit, but I’m guessing many of you are right there with me!

Do you ever leave dirty dishes in the sink instead of washing them or putting them in the dishwasher right away because you think there’s a pretty good chance someone else will do it for you? Do you leave a project or chore to the last minute because you know someone else will pick up the slack if you don’t get it done?

Have you ever been deceptive by telling yourself you really wouldn’t mind if someone else did it to you? (come on, really?) Do you measure your own actions with a yardstick while measuring those of others with a 6″ rule?

measuring sticks

Maybe it’s a funny way of looking at the idea, but for me I honestly think that in some everyday, routine tasks the golden rule gets lost somewhere in translation.

I’m going to work on that.

Blessings and peace as you ‘rule’ your world today…
Paula

 

 

Stick With It

In our instant/have it now society it is sometimes difficult for me to work at something long enough to make it happen.

We have become so spoiled by microwave ovens and on-demand television and movie stations that waiting for something we want has become something we ‘re not used to.

microwave

We’ve heard it said the most rewarding things in life take work and I believe that’s true. They take practice and persistence. Becoming good at something requires us to keep at it even when we don’t feel like we are making progress and especially sticking with it when it’s not easy.

I don’t know about you but I struggle a lot with chasing after dreams I have because they take too long to come true. Do you share my struggle?

I was thinking today about a couple of dreams/goals I have for my life. They seem so far away and actually quite unreachable. When I’m honest with myself though I realize that in my quest to get to the goal line I can’t seem to be content with the mile-markers along the way I forget that each mile-marker gets me one step closer to the finish line.

Sometimes I find myself becoming so frustrated and discontented that I actually turn around and go back toward the starting line. It seems silly to put that into words for anyone to read, but that’s the reality I face.

This morning I was getting down on myself in this department, feeling like I can’t see anything through to the end or wait for the fruition of what I’m working on when in the midst of my pity party I started looking through the seed catalog.

I love to garden and know if I plant seeds properly, water and weed them and keep the woodchucks and other varmints away I will be rewarded by luscious fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers. I will patiently wait all spring and summer, tending the gardens to reap the reward at the end.

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Suddenly I was encouraged and admonished at the same time!!

Why does it work with gardening when it doesn’t seem that way with other things in my life? Because I have experience in gardening! I know from my past how things will turn out in the end. That’s not to say it has always been easy. I have ruined plants with too much water, watched them shrivel up and die from a lack of water, and stunted their growth by allowing weeds to choke them out. But I learned from each error in order to become more successful the next time.

I know that I have to stick with it.

Sometimes we don’t know what a goal is going to look like exactly. It can be hard to chase a dream because we don’t have a clear or complete picture of what it will look like when it comes to fruition. And oh it can be hard for me to chase after something when I don’t know what I’m going to end up with in the end!

I’m encouraged when I think of Moses and Joshua. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt to a land God promised was filled with milk and honey. Moses had never seen that land but he believed what God said was good and true. He continued leading a tribe of ungrateful, complaining people around in the desert for 40 years, trusting that what was ahead of them was good.

When Moses died, Joshua took over. They were at the edge of the Promised Land but still were not sure of what was ahead of them. He must have been filled with all kinds of emotions from excitement to fear as he met with the Lord. These are the words God had for Joshua:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

We may not feel like we are on the way to take over a new land but when we are chasing a dream that God has put in our hearts that is exactly what we’re doing. And I believe He gives us the same promise as Joshua to be with us wherever we go.

As we begin a new week, join me in sticking with it….whatever your it may be. Even if we can’t see the finish line, move toward the next mile-marker and not away from it for our own promise is waiting to be fulfilled.

blessings and peace to you today!
Paula