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Remember (Easter Devo)

We might say we need to remember that Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska for the seven across answer on a crossword puzzle, or that in ‘1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ for a rousing game of Trivia – facts, mere facts.   However, remembering in the Bible is different.  Jewish culture treats remembering as a behavioral response, just as hearing and obeying are synonymous. Some 235+ times remember is mentioned.  In the Hebrew, it literally means ‘to properly mark, so as to recognize.’ The first mention is found in the story of Noah.  God puts Noah, his family and the animals in a big boat, while outside the rains are in a downpour, the waters rise and the boat stays afloat for many days. “But God remembered Noah and all… and He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.” (Genesis 8:1). God marked Noah.  His plan was implemented and in process.  Genesis 9, the ark now sits on dry ground, Noah and family are out, the animals disperse, God promises not to destroy everything with water again, sealing His promise, He gives a rainbow as a reminder:

“I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  (Genesis 9:13-16 NIV, emphasis mine)

The sign of the rainbow is a reminder to GOD – when the bow appears, He remembers, His response would be consistent with His covenant.  He remembers, He rescues and He acts. Remember.  Isaiah speaks on behalf of God, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25, see also Hebrews 10)    God’s response is consistent with His character.  His plan was implemented and in process.

God often directs His people in the Old Testament to remember their past and all that He had said and done for them: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you… Remember the Sabbath… Remember the law…”  Why?  So their behavioral response would reflect revelation, awareness of their God, and of relationship, they are His.

Remember.

Jesus also speaks of remembering.  The Last Supper, He instructs the disciples to take the bread and the cup, representing His body and blood and “Do this in remembrance of Me.”(Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 11) His plan was implemented and in process. We, who are heirs of all the promises (Galatians 3:29) are to remember.  The call to remember goes beyond mental facts, beyond partaking of the bread and wine, it is a call for response – of recognition – ALL that He is, all that He did, we remember His covenant, His character… He remembers, He rescues and He acts -invoking a response on our part of worship and of lifestyle.

This world is loud and crazy busy – as we near Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Happy Easter!) may we take pause of life, and of heart and properly mark Jesus!  His plan was implemented and in process – “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  Can I get an AMEN!

Remember.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

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HOSANNA – Palm Sunday Devotional

Before the hiding of the colored Easter eggs, unwrapping the coma-inducing sugar Peeps, we celebrate Palm Sunday, the Sunday prior to Easter.  Often at church, we sit with large smiles on our faces as the children walk down the aisles waving over-size palm branches. The worship leader steps forward as we bust out a hardy rendition of ‘Hosanna.’

Hosanna. What an amazing prophetic word. Looking at Mark chapter 11, it vividly explains the events of the day.  Jesus and the disciples are preparing to come into Jerusalem.  Jesus sends two of them ahead to get a young donkey, “Go into that village over there.” He told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” (v2) Further in the narrative, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, He sat on it.” (v7) Jesus steps up and sits down; I believe the colt knew, knew the King of Majesty now drapes his back.

As Jesus rides through the cobblestones streets, the crowd begins to yell “Hosanna… Hosanna in the Highest” waving palm branches with enthusiasm.  It was common practice in the ancient world to welcome home a king or war hero by laying down branches in front of them, liken to our ‘ticker tape’ celebrations today.

Hosanna is the Greek version of the Hebrew saying ‘yasha na’ (yaw-shaw naw) meaning ‘Save now we pray.’ This taken from what is known as the Hallel, (Jewish prayerful readings of Psalms 113-118) specifically here, “O LORD, save us; (HOSANNA!) O LORD , grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25, 26-emphasis mine)

Can we grasp the impact of what they are saying? Jesus was fulfilling the prophetic words of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (9:9)

However, just 4 chapters later, the crowd was again yelling, but this time; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:12-14). Little did they know they were basically yelling the same thing. Both times! For you see beloved, for Jesus to ‘save we pray’ they had to ‘Crucify Him!‘ He allowed it. He laid down His life for YOU, and for me. By this act and He resurrecting from the dead with all Kingly authority and power, He stood in the gap, reaching for your hand and placing it into the hand of the Father.  He is the Restorer of relationship, God, and mankind.

This weekend, as we sing our ‘Hosannas’ may we whole-heartedly consider the fulfillment.  Jesus riding an untamed colt in a King’s procession, the people crying out “SAVE WE PRAY!”  THAT He did!

Hosanna, the gospel in one word, good news for today!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


Kingly Perfumed – Easter Devotional

Six days before the Passover…” Mary took a pint of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet, the house filled with the fragrance, (much to Judas’ dislike).   This was one day prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry (John 12).

The narrative describes the triumphal entry, “The next day…” it is safe to say, Jesus still smelled quite fragrant from the oil.  This being of Jewish telling, in Jewish culture, whilst Jewish people stood on the street as Jesus passed by, they (potentially) smelling the fragrance, resonated the Kingly procession, as they shouted: “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the King of Israel.

Anointing was a priestly and kingly custom: “He (Moses) poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.” (Leviticus 8:12)  “Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head…” (1 Samuel 10:1) “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the presence of his brothers…” (1 Samuel 16:13)   “… they acknowledged Solomon son of David…anointing him before the LORD to be ruler…” (1 Chronicles 29:22) Interesting, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.  Could it be, (just an observation) yes, the custom was washing the visitor’s feet from the dusty paths but could the anointing of His feet, (not His head) display the declared Majesty of God on earth, His Kingly walk among man, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One & Only, who came from the Father, full of grace & truth.” (John 1:14)

The word John uses, as Mary’s perfume is ‘myron’ a form of ‘myrrh.’  Sound familiar? What is the divine significance of myrrh? It was an ingredient used in the anointing oil of the Tabernacle and the priests.  (Exodus 30:22-23) The perfumed oil poured over Jesus’ feet.  (John 12:3)  It was also an ingredient in the spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.  (John 19:39-40) And we can’t forget the gift given to the toddler Jesus by the Magi (Matthew 2:9-12).

Could the people on the street smell their King coming, perhaps, perhaps not, but what beautiful imagery of the thread of anointing oil through biblical history as it wraps its way around Jesus.

“Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord Blessed is the King of Israel.”

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


It’s About the LAMB

Remember as a child sliding the crayon from one dot to another until getting to the last dot, excited to see a picture form?  Often, this is how we come to understand certain things, connecting the dots.  Have we considered the ‘dot connection’ (if you will) of the Lamb of God? As we draw near to Easter, let’s pick up our crayon and begin connecting as we see the progression of the Lamb.

Genesis 22: God declares to Abraham to take his son Isaac, his only son to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. As Abe and son begin their hike up the mountain, father placing the wood on the shoulders of the son, Isaac says “The fire and wood are here.” Then asks, “But where is the lamb …” Abraham confidently responds, “God Himself will provide the lamb…”  As the story progresses, Isaac willingly climbs up on the altar. Abraham obeys to the fullest, God knowing his heart, stops him and provides a ram for the sacrifice.   The Lamb … provided.

Exodus 12: (in short) God prepares the Israelites to leave the captivity of Egypt. Instructions were given, as the Angel of Death would soon be unleashed, “… take the lamb…” slay and place the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of the home.  The blood now over them, death avoided. The Lamb … protected.

John 1: John the Baptist, known as an eccentric evangelist, sees Jesus approaching; he openly declares, “Look, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John purposely points to Jesus, the shift of attention.  The Lamb … proclaimed.

Revelation 5: The angelic choir sings before the throne, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” THAT verse! Read it again as Holy Spirit breathes on you with His Majesty! (Let’s all stand to our feet!)  The Lamb … PRAISED!

As we enjoy creamy milk chocolate filled Cadbury eggs, (I SO love Easter candy!) let’s take these next few days building up to Easter, our dots connected and wholeheartedly consider the Lamb of God, the empty cross, the empty tomb – may we see, understand and participate in the celebration of Jesus.

Move over Easter Bunny, it’s not about the bunny – it’s about the LAMB! 

Worthy is the LAMB! 

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


Leveling

Our car has this fantastic ‘heads up display’ feature, where a projector thingy shoots transparent info up from the dashboard onto my windshield directly above the steering wheel.  I can adjust the settings and the height just for me; the speed, gear, outside temp, even radio channel, all so I don’t have to look away. BRILLIANT!  No one else can see it, it’s kinda (Psst… come closer to the screen) my secret stealth maneuvering gadget, (SSMG – I’m sure 007 had one!) OKAY, okay… maybe not, but I love it!

King David too had such stealthiness, when maneuvering his LIFE, he writes, “I have set the LORD always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)  He continues, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set Your rules before me.”  (Psalm 119:30)  Set.  The word is shavah (in the Hebrew) its meaning is to level, to equalize, to resemble, the context here, is to focus.  David is stating he puts God and God’s word before him, right where he can see – but he doesn’t just see, he balances! Seeing the standard of God and seeing himself, he then faithfully makes adjustments – leveling, a focused endeavor of aligning. David follows with “No wonder my heart is glad and I rejoice…” (Psalm 16:9)

Following David’s example, placing God and God’s word in front of me, (with a boatload of adjusting). THE guide, all I need right there, with no need to look away.  BRILLANT!  THE ultimate ‘heads up display.’

Y’all try being in my head, driving down the road, seeing the ‘speed’ staring at me and first thought, “OK! Now isnt THIS a shavah of sorts!”  (And yes, the speed was adjusted).

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

LORD: In scripture, we often see Lord in all caps, this tells the reader this is the covenantal name Yahweh (YHWH – “I AM”) the name given to Moses (Ex. 3) when he asks of God, when I go to Egypt demanding Your people set free, WHO am I to say sent me?  Tell them, I AM has sent me to you.”  God replied. (v14)  LORD.


A YOU Focus

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Psalm 63:1-4

Each night before my husband and I go to sleep, he reads a Psalm over us, his loving voice and the rhythmic sound of scripture, especially the Psalms is gently soothing – so poetic, so honest – so declaring, so full of praise! The Psalmist starts as if standing on a hilltop and echoes of majestic relationship, “O God, You are my God!”   He then states early I seek You.  This early isn’t just a time frame mentioned, but a declaration of discipline.  Literally, EARNESTLY I will seek YOU!  Painstakingly I will set aside all things and YOU will be my focus. My in the moment – first thing YOU!

This world is so full of me, we, us and I, it really is refreshing to take a step back and see what is BIGGER than us, BETTER and worthy of our focus and pursuit. SO WORTHY – His power and glory, His lovingkindness! Our lips praise HIM, our hands raised in HIS name!  Morning or night it’s a YOU focus!

O God, You are my God!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)


If it is Possible

We are list people, whether we write it down or attempt to contain it all in our head, we love us some lists.  We list what needs to be done, our goals and items to pick up at the store.  Paul too loved his lists; the nine Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23) his ‘think on these things’ (Phil. 4:8) and of course ‘Love is…’ (1 Cor. 13). There is yet another list, a list full of practical lifestyle responses, ‘in view of God’s mercy…’  found in Romans chapter 12.   We are told to be devoted, joyful, patient, hospitable and faithful, we are to love, cling and honor and in no way are we to lack zeal, curse others, and repay evil.  My favorite of this list is verse 18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.”   ‘If it is possible.’ Hm, interesting, there is no if …it hangs low enough, to where I can reach it and cling to what is good or if …you can muster up some patience or devotion.  Nope, you just get those done through the Holy Spirit (in Jesus name).

The fact remains, there are times, peace does not reign in relationships, it takes a ton of work and an abundance of divine intervention.   ‘Peace’ (Eirene in the Greek) which literally means ‘set at one’ – the word picture conveys something that was once erected, has either been removed or toppled over.  Chaos, frustration, strife and even war can be the result of the deep crevasse left behind.  Peace is putting it back in its place – set at one! The ultimate example; the Garden activities in Genesis; All things are good, then man messes up, the God/man relationship is broken [leaving a hole].  Fast forward – Jesus comes [Prince of Peace] the glorious Son puts things back in its place, things made right, He fills the chasm, we now have… Peace. (Ro. 5:1)

When there is strife or any evidence of some toppling over, do we do our very best to identify, pull up and reset what is missing?  Do we invest ourselves in seeing peace restored?   Paul gives a simuliar list to the Ephesians, yet wraps it up with a divine-like bow: “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”  (4:32 MSG) I love his direct prodding and not to mention (but I will) hint of admonishing.  He plays the holy tag-team card, God forgave – ‘your turn.’ What a challenge!  How painful!   How risky – but worth it.  Putting God and God stuff back in the center, THAT is seeking peace with my brothers and sister.  ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.’

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)