Lent, Week 6: Gentleness & Kindness (A Palm Sunday Blog)

29 Mar

In some translations of the Bible, gentleness & kindness are almost interchangeable. Today we celebrate this gentleness/kindness as Jesus, our King, enters Jerusalem humbly and gently on a donkey. As Palm Sunday, many of us might imagine the crowds, the masses, the shouts of “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9), and a mess of palm branches on the road. But this time we want to invite you to think of the calm & quiet nature in which Jesus arrived this Holy Week.

Gentleness and kindness could mean “meekness”, but not “weakness”. Jesus was a perfect example of this as He obeyed and submitted to the Father, yet carrying out an eternal plan. While many on this day expected a militant ruler, warrior, or conqueror, our Savior came in riding on a lowly colt! Zechariah 9:9 prophesied, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

On one hand, gentleness is humility, grace, obedience… and kindness is an uprightness, a caring, a kindness of heart. We aim for these two as we strive to be like Jesus, who displayed gentleness & kindness in His life and death. It is this gentleness and kindness that God showed as He offered salvation to us – the same characteristic that is at work within us through the Holy Spirit… that we would offer up our own lives as well, especially during this Lent season, as we think about the life and death of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus has come today! As we embark on Holy Week, let’s think about the selfless sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation. He surrenders Himself to the Father’s will with gentleness (humility, grace, obedience) and kindness (uprightness, caring, gentleness) just as we should. For those who have given things up for Lent, how is that going? Do we allow the Spirit to guide us as we surrender ourselves so that all that we do is done with a spirit of gentleness & kindness?

In this final stretch, continue to be an example of Christ as He continues to be your guide in all things. May His gentleness and kindness carry over to you today.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 5: Love

23 Mar

We’re not talking about a worldly love but a Godly love – a love from the Father as we are of the Father, not of the world. Yet we often find ourselves loving things more than we should: food, shopping, games, March Madness… But Jesus says in 1 John 2:15-17:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Instead, just as God loves us we too ought to love Him and others with a Godly love. In fact, God is love and He says that we should love one another: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) But love is tough, isn’t it? We always revert to love the things we once did and hate the things we’ve always known hating. But because of Jesus Christ and the love He showed on the cross, we can put that behind us and strive to be more like Him who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

The old has gone away and the new has come. We no longer live because we have been crucified with Christ and He now lives in us only because of the love & faithfulness of God the Father and His one and only Son (Galatians 2:20). This changes everything! So while we continue to pave the way, keep at it! It may be tough and it won’t be easy but while earthly love is convenient and will be effortless to slip back into, it is not the true love that God set aside for us.

This week, remember that God is love and that He is with you so that you don’t have to love on your own as it’s portrayed in fairy tales, books, or movies. The love we give and show the world, as we become better disciples, is of the Father. It’s the kind of love that fills us even when other love fails us. God loves us & cares for us and as we draw closer to Holy Week, remember the massive love that will be displayed for us because He so loved the world.

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 4: Peace

16 Mar

When I think of peace, I instantly think of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” because of the first verse: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.

How confident are we in this peace that surpasses all understanding, that even when sorrows come in like sea billows we can still say it is well? Crises, trials, accidents, temptations, chaos… But the Bible says to focus on the Lord because He will give you peace, a calmness the world cannot provide. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And Jesus said that in Him you will have peace (John 16:33): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The story goes that the writer of the hymn, Horatio Spafford, experienced great loss and pain during an overseas trip. He sent his wife and four daughters to England before himself, later learning that their ship had a collision and only his wife survived… that’s when he wrote the first verse. Wow.

Being able to say those words even through tragedy! That’s the kind of peace God gives us, brothers & sisters. As we trust in Him in the good times and the bad, with steadfast minds, we place our faith in Jesus Christ who is coming back.

We’re already about halfway to Easter but are you continuing to look to and trust in God at all times? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In this fourth week of Lent, whatever is troubling you, whatever is comforting you, whatever your lot (defined as fate, future, or destiny…), I hope we will be able to look to nothing else but the Lord who guards us and leads us by still waters.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

Reflection Song: You Are Greater


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 3: Joy

6 Mar

Do you ever regret giving something up for Lent? Whether or not fasting is fairly new to you, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do it.

Yet, Lent is a time to fast with joy. There may be times where you feel like you are fasting grudgingly, reluctant to continue or maybe even start! But remember why we are are doing all of this as we make our way towards Easter: preparing a way for the Lord. This isn’t a time to be somber or grim – it’s a time to find joy in the cross! A joy that brings freedom by the power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. (“Shout for joy, Hallelujah! He has overcome!”)

I imagine it this way… Say you are burdened with carrying a ton of heavy textbooks in your backpack. This weight, this burden, is then lifted and you experience walking like you’ve never felt before – that release, that freedom, that joy! The same is with our sins or the things that detract us from Jesus. When we let go of these things and know that the power of the cross releases the hold of sin and death in our lives, our walks are forever changed and we are set free! That ought to stir up some joyful response in us!

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18 about fasting: “…do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father… who sees what is done in secret…

This week, try to tap into that joy in your life and walk with the Father. He knows what you’re doing and wants the best for you as you strive to resemble Christ. Lent isn’t about feeling sad or regretful – be joyful as you fast and prepare with spiritual gladness this Lenten season as you are with God and as He is with you. Keep going strong with the joy of the Holy Spirit!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:10-12

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Shine A Light On Slavery Day

27 Feb

P6 (enditsquare)

Shameless Plug is #InItToEndIt. Today is Shine A Light On Slavery Day. You may have heard of the #ENDITmovement – perhaps from TV, online, from Passion… but what they started this year is called 27×7 to help put an end to modern day slavery – about 27 million people are trapped today: children, women, and men all around the world. This isn’t a third world problem. Join our team of 27 and give $7 that will go to 16 coalition partners to help END IT. And then you can create your own team of 27 and watch the ripple effect! Make an impact, join Team Shameless Plug, be FREEDOM FIGHTERS!

https://secure.enditmovement.com/team/shamelessplug

Lent, Week 2: Patience

26 Feb

Whether you’ve given something up for Lent, like chocolate, or you’ve added a new spiritual practice, like praying more, we all need patience. The Hebrew word for patience means to wait for, to look for, to hope, to expect… So in this second week of Lent, it’s the perfect discipline to look at as we seek and wait for the Lord.

Consider Psalm 37:7 which says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” What we love about this Lenten season is that as we give up or take up things for 40 days, it isn’t just the act of giving/taking them up but the patience behind them as we think about the Lord and wait patiently for Him. And in these days leading up to Easter, it isn’t an apathetic waiting but an expectant waiting – an active waiting.

But we all know that it isn’t easy. Many times, we’ll be tempted to give up and lose our cool. Hebrews 12:1 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance (or patience, or endurance) the race marked out for us…

Do we run a race calmly and nonchalantly? No. The kind of patience we need in our walks is an active and dynamic patience as we face difficulties, endure trials & temptations, and trust in God’s promise and timing. It’s already been 8 days since we started and I’m sure many of us are having a tough time but instead of letting impatience and restlessness overcome us, let’s try resting in God’s perfect timing and strengthen our patience. Continue to be in His Word so that when you feel lost or anxious, you will have a better idea of the course of action needed to actively wait for Him and endure.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. -Romans 2:7

Reflection Song: Christ Is


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 1: Dirty Foreheads (An Ash Wednesday Blog)

17 Feb

“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:9

…a verse that we often hear on this day to remind us that we came from dust and will return to dust. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the day where we mark our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. It also marks the beginning of the 40 days of fasting many of us tackle each year – from junk food, to shopping, to the internet, to games… we usually fast something to imitate Jesus in the desert.

And though Ash Wednesday isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, we follow this tradition to reflect and prepare for Easter. You may or may not be attending a church service for it but as you think about the countless number of dirty foreheads going around the world today, consider the significance and meaning of it. In the shape of a cross, some may leave it on for a moment, and some may even leave it on all day as a public profession of faith.

And soon (about 40 days), we’ll contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Let today be a reminder of that as you see the foreheads around you. We were once dirty but made clean because of Jesus, continually being made more like Him. And during this Lenten journey we will post weekly thoughts like last year so that we can prepare the way of the Lord together for Easter.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

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