Posts filed under: Life

 

As the Passion Week rolls on, we find ourselves at what has been called Tuesday.  Because of the difference in Jewish, Roman, and even our calendars today, being sure that the days of Passion Week line up today as they did back then is difficult.  The Gospels of the New Testament are also not written in a chronological manner, so this makes placing certain events on certain days even more trickier.

Even with all of the difficulties at hand, it is believed that the first “Holy Tuesday” was a busy one for Jesus Christ.  Tuesdays have always been interesting to me.  You are over everything from the weekend, but not close enough to the next weekend to really count.  It is believed that this Tuesday so many years ago held many confrontations with the religious leaders of the day (the Pharisees and Sadducees) over various topics for Jesus.

While those are important, there is yet another event that is attributed to that Tuesday that stands out like a flashing neon sign.  It is found in both Mark and Luke’s Gospels.  I would point to Mark’s account here.

Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little.  Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had ​— ​all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 CSB)

Jesus is sitting by watching people come and go as they bring their monetary offerings to God.  This is a practice that is still done some twenty centuries later.  The time of giving is a time of worship and devotion as one brings a portion of what the Lord has given to them for the use of Kingdom work.

Jesus notices those who were considered “well off”.  These are the ones that did not have to worry so much about how to pay the bills or where the next meal was coming from and so forth.  Jesus never condemns their giving, but He did make an interesting observation.  He noticed that as the large sums of coins were placed into coffers there was a notice that was sought.  It could have very well been that these people had deliberately brought many coins to be noticed as they “gave unto the Lord.”  I can almost see Jesus sitting there just shaking His head.

But then a “poor widow” came to give, and everything changed.  Jesus did not let this moment escape with teaching His disciples the principle here.  I can see Him rise to His feet and even point towards the widow (I know, pointing isn’t polite, but it’s Jesus…so).  He makes the statement to His disciples that this poor widow has given “all that she had to live on.”

God does not need our money.  The truth is it all belongs to Him anyway (Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1).  God gives us an opportunity to express our faith and trust in Him by giving to Him.  We see this poor widow teaching all who would take notice a great lesson: It is not about the amount you give; it is the faith attached to it that matters.

Widows during this time period were seen as some of the most needy people in the world.  They were at the mercy of family members and friends to care for them.  This woman had a faith in God that moved her to action.  She understood that all that she had belonged to the Lord and came from Him.  She used this moment to express her dependence upon God… and God took notice.  God has this way of seeing what no one else can (or wants to).

As we proceed through this Passion Week, what is the motivation behind what you do for the Lord?  Is it to be seen (by Him and others) or is simply a way to say ‘thank you’ for what He has done for you?

Today is what has been commonly called the “Holy Monday” of the passion week.  It refers to the Monday that follows Palm Sunday where Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the final time before going to the cross.

One of the biggest events that took place on that Monday was a visit that Jesus made to the Temple that day.  Here is what happened:

Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves! ” (Matthew 21:12-13 CSB)

Not your typical visit to church, eh?  Jesus didn’t go into the Temple for the ordinary worship.  He was on a mission.  Sadly, the worship of that day had become somewhat of a show.  There were those who were buying and selling materials that were used in the worship services, but these people many times took advantage of the worshippers by inflating prices and such.Jesus was not pleased with what was going on in the house of worship.  It was to be a place that was for people to come and draw nearer to God not be taken advantage of.

I often wonder if Jesus were to come into the doors of our churches today, would there be some “overturning of things”?  Would Jesus find what He intended to be there?  I certainly hope so.  I also hope that if He didn’t like what He would see that He would do the necessary “rearranging” that was needed.

As we draw nearer to the celebration of the resurrection, let us do an inventory of what is present not only in our churches but our own lives.  It may be time for some spring cleaning to take place.

 

I am one that does not like to forget things. Sadly, I feel my hand on my head many times as I suddenly remember something that was to happen earlier. It is embarrassing at times. It is frustrating most of the time. 

I can remember when my wife and I got married, there was a moment that I forgot something. No, I didn’t forget the rings or to say “I do!”

No, what I forgot was so much different. I remember that I was so nervous that day.  I wanted to make sure that everything went off exactly like it should. I was looking out a window from the worship center of the church that overlooked the parking lot. I was trying to see if there was anything I had forgotten. 

As I looked out the window, I noticed that something was wrong: my truck was missing! 

I knew that I had parked it in an exact spot, but my little 2000 Chevy S-10 was nowhere to be found. I quickly felt my pockets and searched through my things, and my keys were nowhere to be found. Suddenly, I realized that I had left my keys in my truck. It didn’t take long to realize that two of my groomsmen weren’t to be found (truck thieves).  They had taken my truck and filled it with packing peanuts. 

While we laugh about that now, it reminds me that there are some things that are forgotten so easily and are not so funny. 

I just celebrated my 38th birthday on March 28th. I have been a follower of Jesus since I was about 12 years old. If my math is working right, I’m about 26 years into following Jesus. That would be twice as long as not being a follower of Jesus. 

I think that the tragedy of forgetfulness comes when a follower of Jesus forgets what it was like to not have Jesus. 

How quickly do we forget what it was like to not have any real hope? How quickly do we forget what it was like to not have peace?

I have crossed paths with many people who have been following Jesus much longer than not. There is a great temptation to forget the past and move forward. I believe keeping that past that we were delivered from in close remembrance can go a long way in helping us be faithful in the new life we’ve been given. 

How?…

When we remember what it was like to have no hope, no peace, no life, then it will drive us to share the “good news” with as many people as possible. We should want to share this wonderful gift that is far better than any sports team or grandchild (and we all loving sharing about those, don’t we?).

Let us not forget what D.T. Niles shared: “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” 

How quickly do we forget who we were when we were rescued by God’s grace? Remember where you were… who you were… and what God did. This might just help you see others as God does. 

We have come upon one of the great seasons of the Christian faith.  The Lenten season is one that is celebrated by Christians around the world.  It is a time where Christians choose to fast from certain things in order to focus their attention more on Christ and what He has done for us through the cross and the empty grave.

Different people choose different things from which to fast (give up or not partake in for a time).  Some people choose certain types of food or drink… others may choose to lay down social media or TV…

Our family has chosen to partake in a “Daniel Fast” for the Lenten season. We are doing this to help our family not only grow closer to the Lord, but also to help clean up some of our eating habits.

Whatever one chooses to “give up” during Lent, I have learned from times before that just giving something up for a while doesn’t do what this season is intended to do.  Lent is for us to purposefully draw closer to the Lord and refocus on what He has done and is doing in our lives. This is not done by just giving up something.  We have to purposefully redirect that attention towards Christ.

While it is not necessary that a Christian partake in Lent, I would encourage any follower of Jesus to take part in this wonderful season. I would encourage you to spend some time finding out what is one thing that takes your attention away from God, and then give it to Him in this season.  Fill that time with prayer and study of the Bible.  I have found some good resources that would help one refocus on Christ as we approach the greatest season of the year.

He Reads Truth / She Reads Truth

These are some really good websites that come with Bible studies and devotionals to help followers of Jesus spend time in God’s Word.  They have apps for your smartphones or tablets also.  Some of the plans do cost (the Lent devotionals are $2.99 and well worth it), but they also have free studies.

YouVersion

YouVersion is an app for smartphones, tablets, and computers that allows you to access the Bible in just about any translation you could imagine.  It also has many devotional plans (FREE) that help followers of Jesus in their time in the Word.  They have a multitude of devotional studies for the Lenten season.

Whatever you do, my prayer for each of you is that you draw closer to Jesus and what He is wanting to do in your life this Lenten season.

I was reading in the Old Testament book of Job recently. You know, the guy who was on top of the world… and then it all came crashing down around him? Yeah, that Job.

The story of Job is one that always gets me. You have a guy who is enjoying a great life. He has pretty much anything that he could want. He was not snobby about it though. He knew that his blessings came from the Lord. He was a God-fearing man.

With this man doing “what was right,” all of the sudden his world falls apart as he loses everything in the matter of a few days. All of his wealth…gone. Children…gone. Support of his wife…gone. Job was not having the best of weeks.

In Job 2, we see three friends enter the scene to comfort Job during his time of trial. A good portion of the book of Job is these friends trying to comfort and counsel their friend. For the most part, the advice that these friends give is what we might hear from our friends in time of need. Sadly, most of them thought that Job was lying and hiding sin in his life, and the pain he was going through was punishment for that.

While the book of Job is filled with much advice from the friends, I think that the best counseling that they did came at the end of Job 2.

“And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” (Job 2:13)

I am one that does not like to see people hurt. The only thing that might bother me more seeing someone hurt is not being able to do something about it. I have been told that I am a “fixer.” I want to fix the problems that I see when I see them. Sometimes, in my “fixing”, I can make things worse. This is what happened with Job’s friends. They started out great but didn’t leave it there. They tried to do more.

One of the best ways we can help those who are hurting around us is to do what Job’s friends did at the end of Job 2 – just sit with them for a while. The best comfort we might be able to give someone is to let them be reminded that they are not alone. You don’t always need words for that. Presence speaks volumes. 

As you see those around you hurting, take the time to be a good friend and remind them that they are not alone. You may never know the power of just being there with them through those times.