RESURRECTION FASHION

Observation:  Just about everybody I meet is “broke down.”  Friends are worn out, frazzled, overwhelmed; strangers on the street just appear beat.  Half our church, it seems, is limping, and the other half snorting and hacking from the pollen.  Not to mention the ones with broken bodies and broken hearts. Life tramples us all at times.

Yet here we are at Easter, the time when we contemplate Jesus’ death and celebrate with wonder His resurrection.

If Jesus’ death and resurrection provide our victory, then why, pray tell, do so many of us seem on the edge of defeat?

Let’s explore this question together.

Day 1:  “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Rom. 6:11

Maybe one reason we’re all beat is that we’re dragging around a dead body.  Picture a butterfly with one foot hung in the cast-off cocoon.  That’s us.  We’ve been set free to fly, to soar to heights of victory on the winds of the Spirit, but we can’t quite shake off that dead cocoon. In Galatians, Paul exclaims, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) Christ in you is the butterfly; your sin nature is the cocoon.  Sure, in this world, we can never quite kick off the cocoon, but we can practice soaring.  Go outside, right now, and flap your arms in elegant butterfly motions.  This free-to-fly creature is the real you, the one you get to be for eternity.  Let that truth lift your heart one more day.

Day 2:  “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Rom. 5:5

And speaking of hearts, yours is overflowing, whether you feel it or not.  In fact, the more God empties His love into your heart, the lighter it becomes.  What happens is, we pack so much baggage around our hearts, that instead of overflowing with hope, they kind of ooze and mix with the garbage and become rank with hopelessness.  This time go to your sink and fill a clear glass with water, let it overflow continually.  This is your real heart, the way it will look in Heaven.  Walk more lightly today, Sister, knowing the full measure of hope that is yours.

Day 3:  “…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have access through faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Rom. 5:1-2

And speaking of feet, yours are shod in princess shoes.  Yes, they are!  You walk in hope and stand in grace and live in the rich shalom of God, where everything is as it is meant to be.  No, it may not feel that way today, but in the unseen Kingdom, it is.  You are, and forever will remain, the King’s precious and most-loved daughter.  Now I personally don’t own any shoes fit for a princess; maybe you do.  If so, put them on.  If not, cover your feet in flowers and pretend you’re wearing princess shoes.  Marvel at your true identity, and raise your hands to your Father, the only King!

Day 4:  “…in all these things, we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us.” Rom. 8:37

Speaking of hands, yours is holding a sword, which proves that you are victorious.  It may not feel that way—whether you’re going through a major difficulty or a minor annoyance, you just want it to end, don’t you? And when it drags on, you think you’re defeated.  But what does Paul say our sword is?  The Word of God. (Eph. 6:17) And what does our Word for today tell us?  Through God who loves me, and because of Jesus Christ my Lord, I am…say it out loud together…MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!

Day 5:  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Rom 8:18

On your head, you wear a glory hat.  I kid you not!  If you could only see the pictures from my childhood of my mother and her two sisters modeling their fancy Easter hats!  I don’t know where that particular fashion trend came from, but I do know that our promised reward is a shining crown of glory. (1 Pet 5:4) I’m not exactly sure what that fashion accessory means either, but I’m pretty certain it involves finally being transformed into the likeness of my glorious Lord.  You see, bonnets aside, Easter means that God’s wrath has been satisfied.  His justice, which demanded that the guilty be punished, rained down on the cross until Jesus, as Mark Buchanan put it, was totally obliterated.  His mercy deemed that you and I, the guilty, be declared righteous, and rewarded as such.  Our reward is this: Forever, we will reflect Jesus’ glory.  You can begin today.  Even though your feet may be dragging and your glory hat a bit askew, put that hat on today and shine, Sister, shine for Jesus!

May your Resurrection Sunday be most blessed!

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NEVER A WASTE

Just days before Jesus’ death, a woman named Mary emptied a bottle of perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet in an outrageous act of devotion.  Judas groused about it.  This week, a vocalist at church, introducing a song about this event, commented that Judas thought Mary’s act was a waste.

A waste.  I keep thinking about that word.  About all the believers who have emptied out hours of hard work and harder prayers only to have somebody tear it all down.  Was it a waste?

This week, let’s explore how we can anoint Jesus’ feet even today, even in the face of criticism.

Day 1:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Have you ever read all that the priests in Moses’ time were required to do?  It was hard, dirty work!  Today, He calls you to be a priest, and it’s still not an easy job.  It requires praising wherever you are, serving wherever He puts you, and praying over whomever He puts you with.  Begin to anoint Jesus’ feet today, on your knees, with your tears, if necessary, as you praise your wonderful Lord.

Day 2:  “’I am giving you the service of priesthood as a gift.’” Numbers 18:7

If serving Him as priest is a gift from His hand, then don’t you think He intends you to find joy in it?  Yes, serving Him is a privilege, an honor, a supreme responsibility.  But it can also be a hard, thankless job. Can you even measure the hours you’ve expended teaching the Word, add up the dollars you’ve spent feeding the hungry, or count the tissues you’ve consumed wiping little noses?  He can; He remembers every second, every penny, each snotty hankie.  Take the gift He hands you; then empty it on His feet as you joyfully serve as priest for Him today.

Day 3:  “’I myself have selected your fellow Levites…as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work…” Numbers 18:6

Okay, so you’ve worked hard at something…led the music at worship, started a ministry, worked at a job you felt was your calling…and now it’s over.  No matter why it ended, it’s tempting to look back and ask, was that just a waste?  Listen, if you only learn one thing from me, hear me well:  Your God will put the people you need in your life at exactly the right time.  Look back at that “waste” now; do you see them?  Your fellow Levites, your sister-warrior-priests, working alongside you? They were, and still are, a gift. Now anoint the feet of the Giver with your gratitude and your prayers over these, your priestly sisters.

Day 4:  “…they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Rev. 5:8

And what about all those “wasted” prayers?  You’ve prayed hard over something, someone, and nothing has changed.  Were those prayers a waste?  No, your earnest petitions are, and for eternity will be, a sweet savor before your Lord.  Go ahead and lavish the feet of Jesus with your most intimate prayers.  He hears and is blessed by them.  Even though His larger purposes are at work, and you may not receive the answer you desire, He will remember your prayers, and He will bless you bountifully in surprising ways.

Day 5:  “When the disciples saw it, they were indignant.  ‘Why this waste?’ they asked.” Matt. 26:7

Be advised:  even well-intentioned people are going to hurt your feelings.  In another story, the whole crowd ganged up a woman with a perfume jar.  Even so, she received Jesus’ nod of approval.  His approval is still all that matters; in fact, criticism from the peanut gallery may very well be a sign that you’re doing the right thing.  Consult with trusted believers, if necessary, then go ahead and break that perfume jar for your Lord!  Nothing that you do for Jesus with a pure heart is ever a waste. It’s never a waste, and that’s a promise.

LINT…AND SO FORTH

We once had a pastor who explained the season of Lent during the children’s sermon by bringing the overflowing lint trap from his clothes dryer.  Mostly I remember the chagrined expression on his wife’s face, but I think the point had to do with Lent being a time when we trap and dispose of those unrighteous things clinging to our lives.

Hold that image as we consider the lint we may be carrying around.

Day 1:  “Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind…” Jer 20:12

Do you think by this time in the Lent season you’ve pretty well brushed yourself off and are lint-free?  Closer examination may prove otherwise; in fact, notice whom the Lord examines:  the righteous, lint-free you.  Much as a doctor pokes around to diagnose what’s ailing you, God probes your deepest self to extract sin-particles you’ve overlooked.  This Lent, hand over the lint-brush and let Him have at you.  Perhaps on Resurrection Sunday, wearing your Easter best will take on new meaning!

Day 2: “’But Lord,’ said Martha, the dead man’s sister, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’” John 11:39

I love the way this reads in the King James:  Lord…he stinketh! Do you have any lint that’s been buried so long it stinketh?  I’ll bet you do.  Might be a grudge, disappointment, bitter memory, deep hurt.  Never mind what the fragrance commercials tell you…if something stinks, it needs to be aired out!  Dig that lint out of the muck and bring it to the Light.  Then do what the Father of Light tells you to with it.  Whether His command is to release it to Him, or be proactive in forgiveness or to seek professional counseling, whatever the call, do it as your Lenten obedience.

Day 3:  “’And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”  Matt. 28:20

My husband is a woodworker, so lint at my house can be particularly stubborn.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to un-stick wood chips from a microfiber sofa with a sticky lint roller!  Stubborn lint can be compared to a stubborn attitude; both require work and patience to remove.  Might be haughtiness, cavalier manner, stinginess, impatience.  There is one sure remedy for bad attitude:  stick like a burr to the heart of the One who sticks with you.  Your heart will change, and so will your attitude.

Day 4: “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” Psalm 24:3-4

“Hands” implies our actions; “heart” involves our motives.  Lent provides a time to examine both.  Just when I think I can pat myself on the back that I haven’t “done” anything unclean with my hands lately, the Spirit reminds me that my motives have been self-serving.  Rub some mud on your hands and picture a mud-splattered heart.  Which is easier to clean?  Consider your motives; then thank your Lord that because of Jesus, you can march right up to the throne, lint-free hands and heart held high!

Day 5:  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Ps 51:10

Self-examination is hard work, and it can get disheartening.  It helps to remind ourselves of the purpose:  Resurrection Day is coming!  Our Lenten obedience allows the Spirit to re-create us all-new—not just scrubbed-over, but brand-spanking-new—so we can worship and serve.  This week, ask the Lord for a bold assignment, one that pleases Him.  Then serve Him well, with pure heart, and willing hands.

Please share about your assignments—I’d love to hear what He gives you to do!