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

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


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Lent, Week 3: Joy

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


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Smiling Galaxy Cluster (SDSS J1038+4849 from Hubble)

You may have heard on the news of the recent finding by the Hubble Space Telescope… a smile found on galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 seen here :

hubble
(Taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope)

Much like last year’s Hand Of God, you can’t help but think of God smiling down at us. It’s funny how all the “stars aligned” to bring us this image. But it’s a great reminder to know that we give God pleasure and make Him smile.

How do we make Him smile/happy? Some ways are by making Him a priority, obeying and serving Him. We should have faith and hope in Him, revering and honoring Him. Psalm 147:11 even says “the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

God created all and it is for His pleasure that everything exists and was created. How are you doing in your walks with Him? Where can you grow in your life to continue giving God reasons to smile? Remember that He takes delight in His people (Psalm 149:4) so as you live faithfully and humbly for Him and His glory, worship Him and enjoy the close & intimate relationship He offers us all!

To quote our song Here Today: “His love is intimate, His power is infinite”! We get to know this mighty and awesome God and He wants to be a part of your life. We hope today you are reminded of His faithfulness and presence in your life as He smiles on you and makes His face shine upon you (Numbers 6:25)!

Reflection Song: Here Today

Lent, Week 5: Humility

We started the Lenten Season this year by admitting the things that distract us from God, giving them up because we remember that Christ died for unselfish reasons: Jesus humbled Himself and even died a humiliating death for us on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). So we make Lent a time to practice humility as a way to follow after Jesus… not humiliating yourself but humbling yourself, recognizing what has been done not by yourself but with God.

As we shared in Week 1, Pope Francis chose a Lenten message theme of “He became poor, so that by His poverty we might become rich”. That means nothing else gives us more fulfillment than Him. Do you still cling onto the things you’ve given up? Maybe you’ve even slipped up once or twice. But as we give up these distractions, we’re doing so knowing that self-satisfaction is out the door.

We can’t do it on our own!

Following Jesus is not an easy task. But our own prideful attempts, desires, and solutions won’t cut it – Matthew 23:12 says, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” In context, Jesus warns His disciples and the crowds to be careful of hypocrisy and of what you do. We aren’t to build our own selves up but rather remember that there is one God who’s here for us and deserves all the acknowledgement & praise.

Let’s continue to make way for the Lord, fix our heart attitude before Him, and be humbled beneath His mighty hand. This week we want to encourage you as you drop the things that are keeping you from seeking God humbly and whole-heartedly because our humility will make room for Him to guide us… C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Are you using this time for extra time in prayer and deep reflection towards Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection?

Reflection Song: Only You


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