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Walking Into Servanthood

Reading: 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 themselves 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

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 around 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.

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Walking With Jesus – To the Cross And Beyond

As we begin the week commemorating Jesus’ walk to the cross, and then His ultimate victory over death I would like to share with you some devotional thoughts each day. Consider with me what it might have been like to walk with Jesus that week and how that might impact how we walk with Him day by day in our own lives. Paula

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  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 how different this year would be. 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 to be acknowledged by their peers was far more important to them 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)

As 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 many of the same people who were praising would desert Him in just a few days. 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.

 

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He Picked You!!

Happy_valentines_day

Are you filled with anticipation today for the excitement that awaits you?

Perhaps suspecting surprises of flowers or candy or even a sparkly something on this special day?

NO?

Is today tough for you? Is it a day that reminds you of being alone…taking you back to your grade school and junior high days when you stood in a line waiting to be picked? You waited and waited as others were chosen, whispering to yourself each time, “pick me! pick me!”

Fast forward to adulthood as you look around and see others picked to fall in love while you’re still saying, “pick me”. It can be a hard way to spend the day.

I have good news for you…someone DID pick you!

pick me cupcakes

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

Is this verse too generic for you? Let’s try it a different way. Read the verse out loud and say your name each time there is a blank:

For God so loved ____ that He gave his one and only Son, that because _____ believes in Him _____ shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn ______, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17

You were chosen to be you – uniquely you and loved by an amazing God. He has wonderful plans for you whether or not you have a sweetheart to spend Valentine’s Day with. I understand the pain of being without an earthly love/significant other who loves you, dotes on you and can’t wait to spend time with you. I still desire that.

But one thing I know for sure. The love of other human’s will fail. They will disappoint us. They will anger us. Some day they may leave us (at least for a time) through death.

Not so the love of God. The apostle Paul put it this way:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

God’s love isn’t always easy to comprehend on human terms. But if you reach out for Him, He will reach in and change your life in wonderful ways.

Even if you’ve known Him for years, come to know Him in a new, deeper way this Valentine’s Day.

Today, may the unending love of Jesus wrap you in a hug deeper than you’ve ever experienced before.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

blessings and peace,
Paula

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I Resolve

Well, here we are at the end of the first week of a new year. It’s funny how we measure our lives in years – from January to December or from birthday to birthday. It’s good to have measuring sticks so long as we don’t hang our every hope on them.

2018

There was much in 2017 I hoped to accomplish but didn’t make it to my goal. I look back and see that some of those goals were unrealistic and some I made progress on but didn’t conquer completely. I often get to the start of a new year beating myself up for those things. As I was praying at the start of 2018 I was reminded of this verse:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
                                                                                                                  Isaiah 43:18-19

After reading & meditating on this verse I decided this year will be different. This year I am going to examine those things in 2017 that weren’t what I hoped, then use them as stepping-stones. I’m going to put them behind me and look ahead at what the Lord desires to do in me and through my life in the year ahead. Then I’m going to step out in faith, believing I CAN in His strength and wisdom.

As each year passes I find that much of life is a choice. Circumstances will happen to us but how we will respond is our choice. We will sometimes struggle and won’t always choose the best way but we can learn from those experiences and choose differently the next time.

Most years I don’t make resolutions but I set goals. This year I am going to do both. I’ll share more on the goals in a later post but I wanted to share my resolutions with you now.

In 2018 I resolve:

  • To choose to see the best in others even when I have to look past perceived faults.
  • To choose peace and joy in the midst of life’s puzzle, grounding myself in the truth of God’s promises even when I can’t understand how the pieces fit within the circumstances around me.
  • To believe in the person God made me to be without doubt or compromise and to help others do the same.

What are your hopes and dreams for the new year ahead? Leave a comment below and I’ll pray for you!

Join me in resolving to believe in your dreams and make them happen!

 

Blessings and peace to you in this new year!
Paula

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JESUS IS OUR HOPE

In his name the nations will put their hope. Matthew 12:21

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. The world will be filled with hope and anticipation of what lies ahead in 2018. Resolutions will be made and joy will ring out all over the world.

There aren’t too many times when the world comes together to agree in hope but New Year’s is one of those times. Somehow if only for a few moments most of us can set aside our cares and concerns and look ahead with hope. We believe that good can outweigh evil and that this brand new year will bring better times than the year behind.

Sadly the hope of New Year’s is often short-lived. The news will report stories of sadness and tragedy that occurred while we were asleep. Our hopes can easily be dashed if they are placed in the things of this earth.

Thankfully Jesus came to give us hope that the world can’t take away. When we trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord we have the hope of eternal life. Regardless of what this world throws at us we know that Heaven is our forever home and we live in hopeful assurance of that day.

The hope that Jesus brings can also be ours each day. When we choose to look for the good things of this world instead of allowing the bad to weigh us down we hold onto hope. This is my prayer for each of us as the new year dawns. Hope.

Happy New Year!

 

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JESUS IS IMMANUEL

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  Matthew 1:23

Have you had enough of Christmas yet? I love Christmas and almost all that comes with it but as an introvert I will admit that once in awhile throughout the holiday I just want to be left alone! For me some of the activities, parties and shopping among crowds can be overwhelming. I need some space to regroup and move forward.

DSC04242

Jesus came to earth to be Immanuel, God with us. It has been said that Jesus is God with skin on. God became man, born of a woman and raised by imperfect parents. He knows the struggles we face and the sorrows we bear and loves us in spite of those struggles and imperfections.

When we argue with another person sometimes one or the other walks away from the argument. Sadly sometimes people walk away from relationships all together. There is no chance to explain or reconcile.

I am so thankful that Jesus is not like this! He is with us and will always be. While he doesn’t love our sin He continues to love us in spite of our sin. If we turn our back on Him Jesus will always be there waiting for us to turn back to Him.

Most of us know the story of the prodigal son who walked away from home and squandered his inheritance. When he hit bottom and had been left all alone by his friends he turned back to the one he had left. He went home.

The prodigal son was welcomed home by his father, not grudgingly or as a servant but with fanfare and rejoicing because his son was home. This is a picture of how Jesus feels when we turn back after being away for a time. He will always have arms outstretched waiting for our return.

I am thankful that if there are times when I’m angry at God or disappointed by His decision I don’t have to worry that I will be left alone. He will give me the space I desire, but will keep after me until I turn back to His welcoming arms.

I praise God that He sent Jesus to be Immanuel, God with us!