Joy

My son has been complaining of developing headaches whenever he reads or looks at something close.  Since entering my 4th decade of life, I completely relate to this feeling.  What used to be easy and comfortable to focus upon up close gradually has become a headache-giver.  But, when we look further away, things adjust into focus and the eye strain soon dissipates. Lighting the third candle of the Advent wreath, the Joy candle, has gotten me thinking about the whole concept of joy.  So often we have heard that joy and happiness are not the same.  People tell us that joy is something that we can have despite our circumstances, something we can be assured of in the midst of trials and sadness.  And, this is quite true.  But, it does such a disservice for those in the midst of those tribulations to speak of this as if it were simple.

When a baby has died, when a teenage child has run away, when there is a terminal diagnosis  or when you are overwhelmed beyond words...oh, these are real and raw and ugly.  I ache with friends who are dealing with these very issues.  My own trials are not as significant and yet can still threaten me to despair.  Anxiety, resentment and fear can grip us in these circumstances and we may feel there is no hope.

And, yet...the pain of these up-close situations is put into a different kind of perspective as we look outward and elsewhere.  Not upon self-help, not upon alcohol, not upon rejecting the Lord, but when we fix our eyes upon things above, not on the things of this earth, we will find relief, hope and, even joy.

I can't grasp how it all works--joy is not something I can honestly drum up.  I can put on a fake smile and make it through a difficult circumstance, but real joy is not conjured up by my own means.  It is supernatural; it is Christ's work.

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.  Psalm 61: 1-4

The One whose birth we will celebrate next week, the One who is fully God and fully man, is the One who hears our prayers in these weakest of moments and who supplies us richly with every need.  This is joy inexpressible.

Love, Wendy

 

Re: flect-Ing on Jesus as King of Kings

 

On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:16

 

This past school year, my ten-year-old had to write a paper on a great ruler in history.  Together we read and studied about Catherine the Great who was one of Russia's unlikely rulers. She was of German descent and was born to an impoverished Prussian prince.   At the age of sixteen, she married the Russian prince Peter Fedorovich, the rightful heir to the Russia throne. After a series of events, Catherine usurped her husband's authority with a detailed coup, stole the throne from him and even imprisoned him. During her reign as the czar, she advanced Russia by westernizing the culture and expanding the land. Her people, however, were living in deep poverty while she had removed herself from the day to day life of the average Russian. Her officials were required to hire local serfs to dress up and  to cheer for her as she drove by in her coach.   As a czar or queen, she wasn't understanding of her people. She had lost touch with them and she lived for herself, her power and prestige.

Now how does this relate to Easter? Well, today we celebrate Jesus, the King of Kings. If we compare Catherine the Great  to  Jesus,  we quickly see the absurd  differences. First,  Jesus IS the rightful heir to the throne.  He has the bloodline of God the Father as He is part of the Trinity. Jesus is God. Second,  unlike Catherine, Jesus humbled Himself by serving His people. He hasn't removed Himself from His people.  He actually did the exact opposite. He humbled Himself and He came down to an earthly level to serve and even die for us.  Third, Catherine is mortal.  She died in November of 1796 at age sixty-seven. Even though a museum stands in her honor in Moscow, she is dead. Jesus, our King is eternal and everlasting. Lastly, Catherine's reign lasted a short thirty-four years. The King of Kings is ruler over all and His reign is from now into eternity.

Today we celebrate the most important day in a Christian's life.  As we celebrate Easter, we celebrate THE King!  We celebrate His rule, His reign and His righteousness. As subjects in His Kingdom, we owe our complete allegiance to this King of Kings. How are you living for the King today?

 

As we finish up our 40 days of Lent by thinking and meditating on the Names of Jesus,  we pray that your heart has been changed by these daily posts.  Was there one that was particularly challenging for you?  If so, pray that God will help you change or grow as you dwell on who Jesus is.

 

Love, Julie

Re: flect-Ing on Jesus as Passover Lamb

Hanging above my kitchen sink is a yellow post-it note. On it is the name of a friend’s son whom I desire to pray for. I hung it there over a year ago. In the beginning months I was very diligent to pray each time I looked at it. But today, as I passed a note hanging on our garage door that says, “Take out the trash” I realized that I no longer see the name hanging, and it has been awhile since I have consistently prayed for him.  

 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the door frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

Exodus 12:23

 

I am sure that every Israelite who killed the lamb, smeared its blood on the top and sides of their door and watched as the angel of death swept through, killing the firstborn, would have thought they would never forget that day. Yet, we all forget what we at one time think is important. It doesn’t matter if I see the yellow post-it twenty-five times a day; it is useless if it no longer prompts me to pray.

 

The author of Hebrews speaks of Moses acting in faith when he trusted God to see the blood and pass over, and as a child of God it is by faith that we believe Jesus is our Passover Lamb--that His blood has covered our sins, enabling us to escape death.

 

God will never forget the blood shed by His Son. But sometimes I forget it. I go through my day, thinking and acting in ways that show I consider Jesus’s blood a cheap sacrifice.  I yell at my kids out of frustration or anger, I despise in my heart something my husband asks of me, I think that in myself I can accomplish all that I need.

 

Daily, I forget the blood of Jesus, my Passover Lamb.

 

Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.

1 Corinthians  5:6b-7

 

I must remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and value it in such a way that His costly blood causes me to put off sin and put on righteousness.  Remember Jesus this Easter. Remember His blood shed for you. Remember in such a way that prompts you to change.

 

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!

Revelations 5:12

Love, Cheryl