April 24, 2012

Jelly Bean Prayer


Did you know that the colors of jelly beans are colors that have meaning in the Bible?

RED is for the blood He gave: ~when Jesus was dying on the cross for us, the nails in His hands and feet made Him bleed. "...the blood of Jesus, [God's] Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

GREEN is for the grass He made: ~God wants us to enjoy His wonderful creation. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:2

YELLOW is for the sun so bright: ~Like a new sunrise, Jesus rose from the grave on Easter morning. We believe that Jesus died and rose again. 1 Thessalonians 4:14

ORANGE is for the edge of night: ~The Holy Spirit's fire burns within us and leads us. He [God] guided them with light from the fire all night. Psalm 78:14

BLACK is for the sins we made: ~Our sins darken our hearts and make us live in darkness. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light. Acts 26: 17-18

WHITE is for the grace He gave: ~We can become pure as snow when we let Jesus' blood wash us clean. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Isaiah 1:18

PURPLE is for the hours of sorrow: ~Purple is the royal color, a reminder that Jesus is our King. They put a purple robe on him [Jesus], then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. Mark 15:17

PINK is for a new tomorrow: ~and for every day God gives us. 

April 7, 2012

Saturday

Saturday by Steve Thomason

Saturday must have been a long and dark day. Not only did they hide in fear of their lives, but even worse, they grieved deeply. Jesus was gone. His disciples had watched the soldiers carry him off to his execution the day before. Now it was Saturday, their master was dead and the grief cut deeply, leaving them utterly hollow.

They had not signed up for this. Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah. He was supposed to lead them to victory over their oppressors. He was supposed to establish Israel as a strong nation once again and allow them to bask in the joy of sweet justice. Pain, grief, and sorrow were not part of the package.

Perhaps you have felt like the disciples that dark Saturday. I know I have. Over a fifteen-month period in my life I experienced the deaths of a friend, two grandmothers, my father-in-law, and the church that we had planted, as well as the near death experiences of a sister-in-law and a niece. Wham! There I was. It seemed like everything around me was dying. I didn't sign up for this. I thought the way of following Jesus was one of victory and peace. All I felt was pain and despair. Actually, I had lost the ability to feel. I wish I could say that I handled it with poise and dignity, quietly nodding and smiling, quoting pithy platitudes about God's sovereignty. I didn't. I toggled between numb denial and irritating doubt. I wondered if perhaps I didn't measure up. Perhaps God was punishing me for something. Perhaps I'd been duped all these years and the universe really was a cold and empty place.

I have to think that the disciples had similar feelings on that dark Saturday. It seemed as if all hope was gone. We feel this way because we forget an important truth. The way of Jesus is a way of pain, grief, and sorrow. Jesus suffered much in his life - even before his arrest and execution. As a child he knew what it meant to be hidden in Egypt in fear for his life. He knew the loss of his stepfather, Joseph. He wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus. He grieved over the blindness of the citizens of Israel. He agonized to the point of blood in the garden of Gethsemane. He screamed out in the words of his ancestor, David, as he hung on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?"

But Jesus told us it would be this way. In John's account of Jesus' final teaching Jesus said that God would prune the branches that clung to the Vine (John 15:1-17). Pruning hurts. To have large parts of your life severed from you is not a pleasant experience. There is no joy in the sensation of shears cutting into your flesh. Yet, as the Great Gardener knows, without pruning there is no life.

That is the way of Jesus - the way of God's love and grace. God purifies us with pain. The disciples learned this and went on to write to the churches about it. James said to consider it pure joy when we suffer various trials, because in the end it makes us complete and strong. Peter told us that suffering refines our hearts like fire refines gold. Then Paul, as he described the painful process of working through persecution and breaking down the walls of prejudice, reached the climax of the whole process with one word - hope.

Saturday was finally over. On Sunday the disciples came face to face with a reality that is deeper than grief. They met hope. Jesus plowed through pain and grief and came out the other side alive once more. Saturdays will come. Of that you can be sure. They will come and they will be painful. They may last a day; they may last twenty months. When they come, remember this - without Saturday we don't get to Sunday. The love of Jesus is our hope for today and forever. We will grieve, but we can grieve with hope.

Hat Tip: Devotions for Lent from Holy Bible: Mosaic (www.youversion.com)

April 6, 2012

My Lord . . .

My Lord,

Your son has suffered so much, shed so much blood. I was born with so many faults and my nature is so full of weakness, and yet your son Jesus has died on the cross. For me, I know your grace has the power to cleanse me of my many sins and to make me more like your Son. Thank you for your goodness and love for me. I ask you, Father, to watch over me - always.

Read: John 19:38-42 & 3:1-21

April 5, 2012

Loving Provider . . .

Loving Provider,

You gather me in this upper room with your son, to be fed by your love. At that supper, Jesus told us to "love one another" and I know that is the heart of his gift, his sacrifice for me. I ask that I might find the source of my own heart, the meaning for my own life, in the love of Jesus. Guide me to the fullness of your love and life.

Read: John 19:38-42 & 3:1-21

April 4, 2012

My Savior . . .

My savior,

Please stay with me as I struggle to see how accepting the crosses of my life will free me from the power of the one who wants only to destroy my love and trust in you. Help me to be humble and accepting like your son, Jesus. I want to turn to you with the same trust he had in your love. Save me, Lord. Only you can save me.

Read: John 19:38-42 & 3:1-21

April 3, 2012

God of such unwavering love . . .

God of such unwavering love,

How do I "celebrate" the passion and death of Jesus? I often want to look the other way and not watch, not stay with Jesus in his suffering. Give me the strength to see his love with honesty and compassion and to feel deeply your own forgiveness and mercy for me. Help me to understand how to "celebrate" this week. I want to be able to bring my weaknesses and imperfections with me as I journey with Jesus this week, so aware of his love.

Read: John 19:38-42 and 3:1-21

Loving God . . .

Loving God,

I am just beginning to realize how much you love me. Your son, Jesus was humble and obedient. He fulfilled your will for him by becoming human and suffering with us. I ask you for the desire to become more humble so that my own life might also bear witness to you.

Please, Lord, guide my mind with your truth. Strengthen my life by the example of Jesus. Help me to be with Jesus in this week as he demonstrates again his total love for me. He died so that I would no longer be separated from you. Help me to feel how close you are and to live in union with you.

Read: John 19:28-37