Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

Holy Week: 7 Sayings of Christ with B.C. 2001

A few years ago, I came across an inspiring cartoon in my "Easter" file (See enlarged image below).  I think my husband John, who had been the family reader of the Sunday funnies in years gone by, cut it out and gave it to me back in April 2001.  So there in my file, this little treasure has been tucked away for all these years.

For those of you who have been following the Lenten Meditations on a branch in the Vine, this piece serves as a fitting climax during Holy Week.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Reunion

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

So goes a traditional nighttime prayer taught by American moms to their children for generations. It may seem odd to us today that there would be the mention of death in a child's prayer.  But scientists say that sleep is the closest we come to death while still alive.  The Greeks even had a proverb,

Sleep and death are brothers.

However, in the first century, Jewish moms taught their children a different bedtime prayer...quoting Psalm 31:

Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Completion

Tetelestai!* It is finished! The death of Christ on the Cross is the HINGE of human history...and nowbefore He breathes His last breath... a cry of victory,It is finished!

What's finished? It must be something BIG,...look at what happened when Jesus died:

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Personal Need

Thirst is a primal need in all of us humans...more demanding even than hunger!  We can go quite awhile without eating, but a very short time without drinking. Jesus on the Cross had refrained up to this point from satisfying His thirst.  Instead He drank the Father's cup to the very last drop! He became sin for us...the Sinless One!  Jesus took our place, and the Father turned His back.  The punishment for sin had been accomplished...spiritual separation from God....for US!

Now in fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus expresses His own physical need:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. John 19:28-29 ESV

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Abandonment

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Abandonment

Abandoned!  Left on the "doorstep of Life"...but with no Rescuer in sight! What happens next in the unfolding drama of the crucifixion of our Lord is incomprehensible!

It's an abandonment so profoundly mysterious that it boggles the mind...but ravishes the believing heart! Let's watch it unfold...

It is noon. By this time, Jesus has already forgiven ... 

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Starting from Scratch: a Retreat Meditation

Starting from Scratch: a Retreat Meditation

This past weekend I had the joyful opportunity to join with a lovely group of ladies from my church with the express purpose of experiencing our God on a deeper level. The group was comprised of women of all ages who were at different stages in their walk with God. Yet despite the differences, an amazing oneness prevailed. How like the Holy Spirit to join us in Christ and allow us to sense Him in and through each other!

On Friday evening, I had the privilege of sharing the opening meditation. If you were at that retreat, you may like to revisit our focus by reviewing the meditation. If you weren’t able to join us for whatever reason, please join us here now as we explore the rest we are called to in Christ, who is our Focus, our Ground Zero, our Foundation, our All!

Actually HE IS the Christian Life! Amen!

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)

Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Salvation

Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43

Jesus seems to have a special love for lost people.  I love the stories He tells in Luke 15.  The first is the beloved story of the shepherd who has a hundred sheep but leaves the ninety-nine to look for the one that is lost.  Then when he finds his lost one, he calls in his neighbors and friends to rejoice with him.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Forgiveness

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Forgiveness

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet, once said,To err is human; to forgive, divine.

So true...but we humans more readily echo what someone else has said,

To err is human, but to get even? THAT is divine.

We struggle so, with forgiving our offenders!  Perhaps that's why we are amazed and awestruck to realize that Jesus' first words from the Cross were ones of forgiveness.

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Lenten Meditation: Last Words and Conversations

Lenten Meditation:  Last Words and Conversations

The last words of a dying person are important.  They can communicate good or ill to those left behind.  Why?  Because the last words are so final...and so revealing of what was uppermost in the person's mind as he was leaving this earth to face his Maker. I've never been at the bedside of a dying person.  But I have been with a few people just days before their death.

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Lenten Meditation: Dust to Dust

Lenten Meditation:  Dust to Dust

I grew up in a liturgical church.  So from my childhood into my early adulthood, I observed the church calendar.   Ash Wednesday marked a real turning point in the calendar year.  It was a turn from comfort, frivolity, and enjoyment (think Mardi Gras) to a time of repentance, self-denial, and mortification called Lent. Ash Wednesday was a day when we all remembered that someday we would each die and face our Maker.  The priest would put the sign of the cross on our foreheads in black ashes and say,

Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. [based on Genesis 3:19]

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Celebrating Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village...

Celebrating Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village...

February is American Heart Month. How appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the heart’s favorite emotion — LOVE.

Well, "February, American Heart Month" has taken on new meaning because the “love of my life” had a heart attack more than seven years ago.  So this brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his.  And cardiac rehab played a big part in those weeks after.   As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village

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A Winter Deep Freeze is Perfect for Hybernating in God's Word

A Winter Deep Freeze is Perfect for Hybernating in God's Word

Baby, it's cold outside. Sub-zero temps; ice-covered ground; more white stuff on its way? A great time to hibernate. 

But it need not be cold inside ... especially inside your soul, as you bask in the warmth of God's loving truth. The Scriptures are ever old and ever new, and never out of reach. So the fire of God's Word is always accessible.

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4th Week of Advent: I Wonder as I Wander

4th Week of Advent:  I Wonder as I Wander

My friend Penny is a walker (a very serious, fast walker, by the way).  But Penny doesn't just walk for exercise, she also "walks" closely with the Lord.  So when Penny shares, I listen. And when she shared about a favorite Christmas carol, it made me take notice. Why?  Because while walking, Penny has been doing what this song describes.

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Advent Devotions: Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

Advent Devotions:  Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

We would give up everything we've ever written to have penned this one verse, a stanza that comes as close as is humanly possible to capturing the splendor of who Jesus is. 
Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, p. 173-174

What is that one verse? that one stanza?  Authors Sweet & Viola are referring to the last stanza of the well-known carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.

In my opinion, however, it isn't just the last stanza that is all glorious with the splendor of Christ...it's the entire song. In fact, even the stanzas that were removed* from the older version are splendid indeed.  But I'm getting ahead of the story.

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3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

3rd Week of Advent:  EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life.  We struggle to make sense of all the violence, suffering, and injustice we see all around us.  Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels our current struggle with us too!

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Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

Jesus Christ the Son of God became one with us, so that we could be one with Him! 

This glorious truth is at the heart of the Incarnation.  God became one of us!  One with us!  Why?  So that we could experience union with God.

And that takes us back to our 3 Greek prepositions for with:  (see previous post:  The WITH-ness of our God (prepositions):

  • para, meaning beside, nearby, in the immediate vicinity or proximity, alongside
  • meta, meaning with, in close association with, in companionship with
  • sun, meaning together in intimate union, inseparable from
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Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Isn't it wonderful when someone wants to spend time with us?  Not just a token, obligatory, "showing up" to either fulfill an obligation, salve guilt, or ask for something...a real wanting to be with us.

As special as it is in human relationships, think how amazing it is when we realize that the Sovereign God of the universe has wanted to be with us!  Yes, US!  and according to the Bible words used, we see that in Jesus, our Emmanuel, He is with us on every level possible.

In the original language of the New Testament, there are three Greek words that can be translated with

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Advent Devotions: The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Advent Devotions:  The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Joy is the flag that flies over the soul when the King is in residence!
Chuck Swindoll

Years ago, I was leading a small group of ladies through Paul's letter to the Galatians.  In chapter 5, we came to a familiar passage:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self control. Galatians 5:22-23

Julie was in that small group that year, and Julie was from Great Britain.  I asked her about Chuck's metaphor.  She assured me that it was true.  When royalty is in residence at the palace, the flag flies. It's the signal to the "subjects" that their monarch is present.

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2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

2nd Week of Advent:  the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

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