Handing over Jesus

Luke 23:23-25 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

This verse made me pause for thought all week long:

What if Jesus had been handed over to ME?
How do I imagine things would have ended?

In my mind I would never in a million years have taken Jesus to be crucified on a cross. But my actions tell me a different story at times when I lose my way.
During the trials of my week, I remembered this verse. I kept asking myself, what if Jesus was handed over to me right at this moment? This moved me to tears.

Jesus, what would I do with you?

Would I crucify you all over again by giving into weariness, letting it rule me?
or place a crown of thorns on your head by allowing feelings of confusion or doubt to dictate how I treat the rest of the world?
or beat you with a whip by refusing to love your people?
or mock you by forgetting those in need?
or spit on you through my angry words or pouting spirit?

When those most holy moments or turning points came, I knew I stood at the crossroads.

I wanted to take Jesus’ hand and fall on my knees before Him. I wanted to surrender to HIM and free Him to have full access over me.

Lord, you committed yourself into the hands of the Father. It’s what I do now with you. So many times, I simply forget that every decision I make affects so much more than just me; being too tired to surrender or being too overwhelmed to listen to your voice  or thinking thoughts like you’re asking too much of me ultimately causes more trouble and pain than if I had simply stopped and let your presence fully into my heart. Jesus, I want my life not to grieve you, but to give you pleasure. Thank you for your grace that covers my sinful ways and thank you for teaching me everyday more about following your sweet will.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Prayer of Awakening

A few years ago, I pinned these thoughts about the Son of God in the garden of Gethesame:

“Jesus pleaded with His Father; surely there must be another way than the agonizing cup He was to drink. 

Yet, in His final prayer in the garden, He won the stare down with fear; He grabbed rejection by the throat and tossed it aside along with His overwhelming panic, anxiety, and dread. As the bloody droplets of sweat prepared His brow for a puncturing of thorns, He turned to embrace and bear the pain of humanity and humiliation allowing the weight to cleanse His soul and bring complete obedience to his Father. He courageously (even somehow joyfully) marched toward His trials and stomped His feet in confidence atop the turmoil. He allowed himself no wasted moments to argue with the enemy who wanted Him erased from mankind. He knew with everything in Him that the outcome of the Devil’s slander and lies would be absolute, would be powerful and redeeming.
Jesus, unlike Peter, KEPT his eyes fixed on the Father. He succeeded in confidently walking on and over the ocean waves of the religious leader’s revenge, jealousy, and evil plans.
In the midst of His lost credibility, His rocky reputation, and what seemed like His awful failure, the Son of God did not cower or cringe at the shame but was free, solid inside what He knew to be true. 


As His follower, I don’t understand how Jesus was able to be so strong in the face of such terrible circumstances.

Personally, failure isn’t a place I like to be, but one good thing failure can provide is the downfall of my lofty arrogance and pride. (I love the humble quote from St Teresa of Lisieux: “O happy failure, from how many evils have you saved me!”)


The Father’s clear answer to Jesus’ prayer was, ‘no’, as is often His answer to me. There was no other way but death for my Lord.

And so the son of God rose from His knees in the garden. He went forward with strong resolve, and for the sake of God’s kingdom never turned back. After the cross He rose from the grave and then He rose to sit at the right hand of the Father. 


I am so far from coming close to Jesus’ ways. But my heart is grateful as He holds before me a light, an example to follow.”

Lord Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane you asked your closest friends, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
I want to take these profound words and apply it to my heart. T
here is a way out of temptation, and one of those ways is through my prayers. Help me not to fall “asleep” in your kingdom but to be awakened to the joy of serving you. There are these most spectacular moments when afterwards, I feel the bounty of the Father. Other times, the bounty seems to have slipped through my hands. And then I realize, dear Lord, that there is bounty that can never be taken from me and it is being in your presence for all my life.
Teach me how to carry my own cross with confidence and trust in you. Help me to follow your light.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Not My Will

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

If I had a favorite verse in the Bible or at least a verse that has helped me put things into perspective the most, it probably would be this verse.

It was the cry of the very heart of Jesus. It wasn’t some trite religious words that He said to impress anyone. It wasn’t a cry for approval. It was a heaving, grimacing voice that spoke those terrible words, words that spoke the depths of His truth.

He didn’t want to die on a cross. He didn’t want to take the sins of the world unto himself. In fact, He agonized over what was coming.

Hearing these words from His lips, I can view my own troubles in a way that helps me to know that I am not God; I am human; my ideas and desires aren’t always the best choices, no matter how passionately I believe them or think of them as highly intelligent!

Jesus’ words in my own heart remove arrogance; they teach me to yield to my Father; they help me to be humble.

For me, this is a prayer of relinquishment, surrender, contentment, worship and honor. To say the words helps me to stop and be unhurried, intentional and quiet.

What He said in the darkness brings a reverence deep into my soul.

Everything around me becomes hushed.

“Father, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Such profoundness reaches far passed all the junk inside me. I am encouraged to keep my thoughts and eyes fixated on Jesus and not on the things I desire and so passionately pursue. My passions turn to fixate on Him alone.

With a different twist to the words, I also realized that there are truths I must pray about, things I know would be right, yet are hard to swallow. I want this, yet I don’t. And I know I am supposed to pray for this thing to happen.

So the prayer of Jesus to let this cup pass from me encompasses all of life, all of what should be and should not be.

The prayer of Jesus is not something I can speak on my own. I have to have a Father who helps me to pray what I need to pray. I wrestle in my life through the struggles it gives me. Yet, in the end, like Jesus did, when the events of my life must go a certain way for purposes I may never know or understand, I set my face in His strength and take my step forward.

Father, the deepest cry of my heart is to please you in every way. Sometimes I feel like I know better than you and my prayers and pleas reflect an arrogance I want destroyed in me. Take me and use me for your kingdom. Not my will but yours be done. 
In Jesus name, Amen.

After the Fall Comes Grace!

 Last week, my blog was about Jesus’ comment to Peter that Satan had plans for him. But Jesus prayed for him that his faith would not fail. 

Peter’s response to Jesus comes next from Luke 22:33-34:
He replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Despite his enthusiastic loyalty, Peter is told what is about to happen.

I am also told in Rom. 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

John 1:8-9 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

In Peter’s response, his desire to be good and to do right were simply words. When it came down to it, he was proven to be a coward through and through. Did his denial hurt Jesus deeply? Maybe, but more than that Peter lost something valuable in those moments of fear and loss of faith. Perhaps these things had to be unearthed in him for him to rise up and be a star in God’s kingdom.

I have mixed feelings as I contemplated this verse all week:

  1. Peter ended up becoming a pillar in the church, despite his colossal mess-ups and never denied Jesus again in such a drastic way. I’m sure he made mistakes and failed in many ways in his lifetime, but in the end he would be martyred for his faith. He would withstand the test and die for Jesus. Peter learned from his mistakes.
  2. I have to ask myself the question, how might I deny that I know him even today? How might I enthusiastically vow to do what is right and then find myself failing, as did Peter? Would it be my lack of faith or trust? Might it happen when I’m too tired, too hurt or overwhelmed? Does it come through my wayward thoughts, actions, attitude or motives?
  3. I hear myself making commitments to do certain things. Yet, life comes in and steals my energy and my ‘want to.’ I have the best intentions, but really, I never quite live up to my own expectations.
  4. We don’t know what we’re capable of. We don’t know what we would do in certain situations. We may fail Jesus terribly today. It teaches me compassion for others who are in trouble.

 

The main take away from this lesson is the knowledge that we have sinned in the past and we will sin in the future. Then we will get up, we will confess it and learn from it and grab hold of God’s mercies. For He still has a job for each of us to do.

Father of mercies, come and cleanse my wayward heart. Fill me with your joy and with the energy and strength to live my life for you this day. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for a life that holds all sorts of possibilities in your kingdom, even after I have proven myself to be weak. I love you Lord Jesus. Take my life and let it be consecrated, holy to thee.
In Jesus name, Amen. 

 

Which Way to Go?

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:32

Jesus knew Peter would betray him. He knew what men were capable of, even His own men. And He told Peter that he was praying for him.

The King of the universe was praying for one of His own disciples! I love thinking that maybe He is praying for me, too.
How might He pray for me? For Peter, He prayed for his faith not to fail.

It makes me wonder if perhaps Jesus considered the possible outcome that would soon happen to Judas because of his terrible betrayal. Judas was so overcome with grief at his sin, that he hung himself. He lost his faith.

Jesus paved the way ahead of time for Peter to know that faith is what would push him through, and He wanted Peter to push through his sinfulness and make it to the other side.

When I am convicted for whatever reason, Jesus wants me to rise up and follow him, even in my weakness. He forgives me and still wants, even me.

He wants me to choose His straight path.

Notice how Jesus speaks of Peter’s prodigal return: “and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus wanted Peter to be outward looking. Enough time would be spent on regrets and weeping over sins; there would come a time for Peter to take his place as a leader. He would be a leader who knew the depths of his own failure and sin. He would also very much know the power of God’s grace and forgiveness.

Father, I thank you for praying for me today. I ask forgiveness for anything I’ve done against you and your people and your kingdom (in my own way of betraying you). Give me eyes to see that you are still present and still waiting for me to lead others in service to you. I worship your most holy name. I choose the most holy way to travel and that is with you.
In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Safe

Be on watch and pray always that you will have the strength to go safely through all those things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36

As I continue through my study of Luke, remember that Jesus had just spoken about some horrible times that were coming in the future and also about His return at the end of time. Then He encourages them to be alert and to be prayerful about what was coming, that they may have the fortitude they needed to meet each situation.

At first when I read the verse, it surprised me that He was so clear in His instructions: “You are my disciples and I’m telling you ahead of time that bad things are going to happen. I’m not rescuing you from the bad this earth has to offer, I’m equipping you with a way to deal with it. Remind your thoughts to be aware, to look for these terrible times. They will come. PRAY…ALWAYS….that you will have strength through it all.

What a fabulous verse for today. Jesus wants us to come to the Lord for everything we need to face. He wants us to come safely through it. We do that by listening for the voice of God (He is my lighthouse, the light that leads me to my safe place). We are saved by following His instructions (safe doesn’t always mean that my life is spared; safe may mean that I am coming to join Him).

This week, a picture came to my mind: in this pretend situation, I was among a group of people and something evil was coming towards us. There were children around me and I had a choice to fling my body over as many as I could to save them. Would I do it? Would I lay down my life for them?

You say, “Of course you would? The question is rhetorical!”

Okay, readers, here are my thoughts. I’m going to be very honest.

I am a slow reactor. Most things going on around me aren’t followed by an immediate response or action. I’m not an ER kind of person who can access facts and act at the same time.

In the above scenario, I would hope that without blinking an eye I would just go for the children without even think about it.

But I am weak and don’t always understand situations accurately. I NEED the Lord’s mindset and His wisdom to know what I would do in a situation like that or what to do in my every day life.

It’s one of the reasons why the verse meant so much to me. I don’t have to rely on myself in these days of trouble. I don’t have to be smart or intelligent enough or some know-it-all. I just have to be willing to ask HIM for help. I don’t have to be physically capable or spiritually profound or emotionally 100% always solid. I just have to be willing to ask for HIS strength.

God does His best work when He is allowed full access to work in my weakest state.

That is a marvel to me.

Would I save the children? Yes! God, if anything like that were to ever happen, HELP me to think fast and do the right thing.

In the meantime, Father, I pray that you would give me a sharp awareness of your presence in times of trouble. I come to you in prayer to ask for your help and your strength to get me safely through all the circumstances of my life. I depend on you. May it be to me as you have said. 
In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Preoccupied

“Be careful not to let yourselves become occupied with too much feasting and drinking and with the worries of this life, or that Day may suddenly catch you”  Luke 21:34 (GNB).

The NIV says it like this: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”

All week this verse has captivated me. I’ve stood at my window and have said out loud, “Today, the Lord may return; this day could be that day!”

When my spirit has felt the weight of the world, I’ve remembered to put my thoughts back in place, back to being ready for His return.

 

There are good and fun times in this life and there are bad moments or seasons, but mostly there is Jesus and His calling for me to be prepared. He is the ONE I must learn to turn to in times of anxiety and concern.
My life is not my own to do just as I please.
So much here on earth seems so important in the moment, but really, when it all comes down to it, what is most valuable to me will be what I concentrate on and will become the thoughts that preoccupy my mind.

The Bible says: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? Psalm 121:1

May I be one to lift my eyes to the Lord in the good times and in the bad. May I be prepared for His return.
Lord, help me not to be so preoccupied with the things of this earth that I lose sight of the real purpose of the journey this life holds. Keep my sights on Jesus at all times.
In Jesus name, Amen.