Friday, April 1, 2011

Lent, Why Do We Observe it?

Every spring we go through a time of preparation for celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. What would we tell someone who asked us what lent was all about?

The custom of observing Lent stems from a desire to draw closer to the Lord. For forty week days we deny ourselves something that we like in order to understand what Jesus endured in the desert before He started His ministry.

It was explained to me that the Sundays in the Lenten season are “little Easters”, in that we can end our self denial and celebrate, as we would on Resurrection Day.

Certain Protestant groups and the Roman Catholic Church observe this special event of the Christian year. A thought that came out of our Ash Wednesday service is that we are not only to abstain from an action but we are also to fill the void left with something positive.

Another facet of the Lenten observance is some groups ask those in their flock to think about something they may want to change about themselves. I had become soured about an issue in my life; I chose to give it to the Lord. During this Lenten season I have begun to see myself as how I think God sees me. It has been an eye-opening experience for me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just As He Said

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know you

are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen,

just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.’”

Matt 28:5-6 (NIV)

Two women approached the garden tomb where they saw the men lay the Master. Their mission was to complete the burial procedure. They believed it to be disrespectful not to finish the work.

Matthew records a violent earthquake followed by an angel who moves the rock away from the tomb’s door. This must have caused the women fear. The angel’s first words are, “Do not be afraid.”
With the next words, “He is not here.” The women could have panicked. Their first thought could have been of someone stealing the Master’s body. But how?

The angel knows why they came to the tomb. He continues, “. . . he has risen, just as he said.” He invites them to see the place where the men had laid Jesus’ body.

Jesus Christ had shared with his disciples what would happen to Him in the future. The angel reminded the two women of this.

We have recorded information about Him telling them He wouldn’t be with them much longer. The disciples didn’t (didn’t want to?) understand.

In today’s world we know some people learn from being told about an event and its consequence. We also know others have to experience that circumstance or its outcome before they might learn a lesson. The disciples seem to belong to the group that has to suffer through the ordeal.

The key words I see in this passage remind me of Jesus’ genuineness: “. . . Just as He said.” I praise Him for that.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Being a People of Prayer

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions

with all kinds of prayers and requests.

With this in mind, be alert and always

keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

In a recent blog post, I mentioned I prayed for a friend whenever her name came to mind. One of my followers left a beautiful comment, something about how this was a wonderful way to pray for people.

I emailed her, thanking her for the kind words. The next day, I had an appointment with our pastor to try to confirm where we were in the process of getting the preliminary work done for the Easter Drama. At the end of our meeting, we prayed-he, for the drama and the cast and the crew. When he finished, I prayed for his wife, who had lost her mother two days before, and daughter and his wife’s father and sisters, When we finished he told me I had prayed as someone who had been through the grief process, as well as one who spent time in prayer. I have never been so complimented in my life.

I related the story of praying for a friend who had an issue major, so that she couldn’t talk about it, in her family. I then told him about the comment I received. I further shared something that happened to me while we were recently on a trip to see our son.

We drove six hundred miles across Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, and into Kansas. The terrain across Illinois and Missouri is rather flat. The interstate goes by very few towns, causing the trip to seem long and hard. When we did go by a small town, I’d see a church. I felt led to pray for God to draw that congregation closer to Him and for the Holy Spirit to give that pastor or those pastors the words the people need to hear.

Why do we pray?

1. To converse with God

2. To seek His guidance

3. To discover His Will for our lives

4. To be in His Will

5. To obey His leading

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...