I have mentioned before on this blog how I am amazed when God reveals something new and fresh to me in the stories in His Word no matter how many times I have read them before. I can count on Him every Christmas, Easter, etc. to bring to my mouth a fresh and fascinating morsel for me to savor. Thank you, Father, that Your Word never becomes stale or stagnant. It is the living, breathing, Word of God!
This Easter I have been listening to a sermon series from our pastor Bro. Brent Summerhill in Cabot, AR. As usual, all of it has been wonderful and has ministered to my heart. One of the things I so enjoy about Bro. Brent is his ability to tell a story and the way he will bring in history and background into a verse/passage to make it more real and relevant. In his sermon "Betrayed", Bro. B brought to light for me SO many wonderful truths that I just have to share a couple of them.
Picture the night of Jesus' betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane at the hands of Judas. Prior to their arrival, Jesus and His disciples (as recorded by John) crossed over the Brook Kidron to get to the garden. It is the dark of night and these men are crossing this body of water in the valley east of Jerusalem. There is striking symbolism here that I have never taken note of before. It is this same Brook Kidron that 2 Samuel tells us David waded across as he fled from his traitor-son Absalom and the capital city. Jesus, too was dealing with a traitor; but God's son "went forward" (Jn 18:4) to face His traitor. Some theologians believe it was while journeying through that same valley and across that same brook that David wrote the beloved 23rd Psalm. Jesus, too, was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. For that night He would give himself over to be crucified.
After spending much time praying and talking with His disciples, Jesus goes forward to face the accusers who have come to the garden to besiege Him. He starts the conversation by asking who they're looking for (as if He didn't know!). Their reply was "Jesus of Nazareth". Do not miss the significance of what He says next. He doesn't raise His hand and say, "That's me" or "I'm Jesus". No. He chooses to state the very phrase that was spoken from the burning bush to Moses...the very phrase that nearly had Him stoned by the Pharisees and Saducees...He says "I AM" (the he in italics that is added is not there in the original manuscripts). That is NOT the equivalent of Him saying "I am Jesus". Again, no. He is unmistakably equating Himself with YHWH. Can you imagine what was fulfilled in that statement? Thousands of years of prophecy along with the hope of all mankind. The power contained in Jesus' words was enough to knock Judas and all those with him down on their backsides. To me, the significance of this is right up there with the time that Jesus stood in the temple for His first Scripture reading. What did He choose? Isaiah, of course. "...the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor..." Oh to have been there for both of those occasions! To have heard the Savior fulfill the Scriptures and declare His place in the trinity and at God's right hand! Yet what do Judas, the guards, and the temple priests do? They rise again, not in belief of who He is, but to continue in their unbelief and carry out their arrest. Jesus is unfazed by all of this and asks them once again who they are looking for. Still, they do not see. Still, they do not believe. Not even when face to face with Him. Not even after having heard His words and been affected by His power do they believe. It is no wonder we see so many around us who, inspite of up-close encounters with God, still choose to turn away from Him.
I am challenged this Easter to look at Jesus in light of His connections to the old covenant. The story of Easter is one with roots deep into the Old Testament. From Moses to David, Jesus reveals to us the master-plan of His Father. A plan that would cost Him His life, but give us back ours.
To my sweet boy…you have endured this hardship as a soldier. And still you have yet to come to the place where you have worked through and accepted it. As of late you seem so discontented, restless, unsettled. I long to see you satisfied and at peace. I wish I had the words to speak deep into your soul and tell you, "Daddy is coming home. Soon. All is well, you are loved." But alas, words are not enough for you right now. Each day you are on the prowl for "bad guys" at our house. You dress in your Army ACU's and your PT duds like a faithful soldier. If I give you one of something, you ask for two. If I suggest left, you insist right. You long to be the leader amongst your peers and you have a voice which you demand be heard. I too wish someone would whisper into my soul as well, telling me how to best love you and be to you what Daddy can't right now. So I place you into the hands of the capable Father, who watches over you night and day. Who sees your restless heart and knows your frustrations. He alone can satisfy the longings of your heart. He alone can protect you from the bad guys. And He alone can make you into the man you'll grow to be someday. I love you with all the motherly love within me, son. The times we have spent together doing projects, making crafts, cooking Jello Jigglers, reading Bible stories, building Lincoln Logs are like nuggets of gold, a value that will only increase with the years.
To my darling girl…you look like an angel! But I'm sorry to say that you often don't act like one. It is nothing that time won't fix, for you are nearing the dreaded two's. And those nasty colds which plague you often make you oh-so-cranky. You love your brother and can say his name with perfect speech. He is the first thing on your mind in the mornings and you call for him to come eat at our breakfast table. You are capable of SO many big girl feats, but you love to stretch your arms straight up to me – the signal to "hold me!" You seem less affected by Daddy's absence, but you are the first to point him out in any picture in our home. You are a joy to dress each day and your hair is your crowning glory. Not a day goes by that you don't touch my heart and make me smile. I find myself staring at you sometimes because you are truly beautiful. Anytime I plop down you see my lap as fair game for sitting. And you are deliciously ticklish. I think you have your daddy's arms, for those triceps did NOT come from me. When I drop you off at chapel or mother's-morning-out, you enter the room, turn around to give me a hug and kiss, and then turn back to your friends. Thank you for sparing me the Separation Anxiety Phase. That is incredibly sweet of you. And I mean that. I love you too with all my motherly love, lovely one.
Y'all, I know I'm prejudiced, but come on…SHE'S CUTE!!
This afternoon the Lord afforded me a few glorious moments to study His Word (I have officially begun referring to naptime as my personal "happy hour"!). Ashamedly I must admit that I have a tendency to go through "seasons of faithfulness" to His magnificent Word. I draw close to Him, get fed, full, and fat from the bounty of His wisdom and then for some strange reason I stray from His side…taking my newfound knowledge with me (Instead of hooking up an IV and staying close to the source!!). After a period of dryness and going my own way, I find myself seeking after Him again and wondering why I ever left this Book in the first place! Lord grant that I might be more consistently faithful to the Scriptures.
The Lord has led me to study the Armor of God at this time in my life (will likely be another post at another time J). It isn't because of any book I'm reading or Bible Study class I'm in. It is a personal journey that He has led me in. So as I spent time today learning more about the Helmet of Salvation in the great outdoors of my backyard, I paused for a brief moment to take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful season of spring. I could hear the call of a bird so I closed my eyes and listened more closely. It was then that I could clearly distinguish the sounds of four different bird songs. Letting my mind wander I asked myself, "in light of eternity and the heavenly realms, what could they be singing?" I know that ornithologists would tell us that they were calling for a mate, and likely many were. But something about their song on this afternoon spoke to me of more than just eggs and nests and finding a mate. So there with my eyes closed I imagined that their voices blended together to lift a song of praise to His name, to sing praises to his/her Creator. I listened as they proclaimed, "Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!"
Lately I've also been reflecting on this season of Easter. When I look around and behold everything that was once dead and dormant resurrected to life again with leaf and bud and vine, it is no wonder to me that the Lord chose the timing of spring to perform the greatest resurrection feat of all time. And since the death, burial, and raising again of Jesus corresponds with the feast of Passover (shortly after the vernal equinox) this great plan of God's stems back as far as the Israelites under the bondage of Egypt. Dwell upon this during this Easter season: As you savor the sugar of candy and treats, let it be a reminder to you of the sweetness of our Savior. And as you watch the blooming of a flower or tree, let it serve to remind you of the life and beauty Christ brings to each heart who accepts Him as Lord.
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