The Promise of Spring

Spring is my favorite season of the year.

The winter days are cold,  nights are long.

The vegetation appears dead and lifeless.

Then, one day, it happens.

Warmth.

Tiny green leaves bud from skeletal twigs.

Flowering daffodil bulbs pop up in the sleeping flowerbeds.

Life.

Longer days of Light.

Resurrection.

Just like my life.

Spring brings hope.

“Our Lord has written the promise of the Resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.” –Martin Luther

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Just last week, beautiful little daffodils popped up out of nowhere in my yard. This is my first spring in this new yard. It’s so fun to see what other perennials will spring forth, producing life and beauty.

God looks at us as perennials. We may have our personal wilting, decaying periods, but He sees our potential. He knows we will grow and bloom again and again, adding life and beauty to our environment.

If you are feeling wilted or discarded, be encouraged today. God will resurrect the dead places in our life. Believe in the Resurrection. Spring brings Hope.

Reflect:

–What is your favorite season and why?

–What part of your life needs resurrecting like a perennial? Please comment.

–How can I plant seeds of encouragement?

Renew:

–“I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –John 10:10

–“‘Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?'” –John 11:25

–“Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”  –1 Corinthians 3:5-7 NIV

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Different Season, Different Fire, Post #31

This glorious spring weather invigorates me. Invigorates me so much so that I felt the urge to clean out my fireplace this past weekend. It’s the annual spring rite of passage. Many life lessons learned in this tradition…

I love my fireplace. I love even more the warmth and beauty of a wood-burning fire roaring and flickering in that fireplace. After a long, cold winter of cozy fires, all that is left are the ashes, ash-covered iron grate, and the sooty, tiled walls inside the fireplace.

The wonderful spring sunshine and breeze on my face whisper gently. . .winter is over. It’s a different season, time for a different fire.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time.” –Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 NIV84

I prepare myself for the mess. Placing gloves on my hands, I gather a few plastic bags and double them. Carefully I use the metal ash scooper (you know, the one that comes in the fireplace tool set) and begin scooping the gray, dusty ashes, dumping them in my bag. Gross.

Next comes the heavy iron grate. It fits awkwardly into a plastic bag, and I walk it clumsily outside to the backyard shed, closed away until next autumn. It had done it’s job well.

Scoop by scoop all the ashes are removed from the fireplace.  The blackened, sooty tiled walls and floor of the fireplace remain. With my cleaning spray and cloths, little by little the true color of the tiled walls and floor peak through. The fireplace is ready.

Years ago I bought a mirror and had it cut the dimensions of my fireplace back wall. Retrieving the mirror from the hallway closet, I clean it off, and gingerly place it in the back of the fireplace. It fit perfectly, reflecting the light pouring through the windows across the living room.

My favorite part comes next. Inside the fireplace I insert my old, multi-tiered wrought iron fireplace candle holder. I place the fresh, white pillar candles on each pedestal and commence to lighting each one. Setting the torchiere down, I get off my knees and sit back a few feet. Glorious. Breathtaking. Different season, different fire.  

Oh, how I love candles, not just at springtime but all year. So romantic, so symbolic of God’s Light, of shining, of hope. The candles take my breath away when their sweet light is reflected in the mirror behind them…

Is that not what we are called to do, to shine God’s Light, to be His reflection?

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through him a men might believe. He himself was not the Light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  –-John 1:4-9 NIV84

Are you still sitting in the ashes of the winter’s fires? It’s a different season, time for a different fire from the same Source.

May your soul be reinvigorated to reflect the Light of our Lord. Shine, my friend, Shine!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives Light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. –Matthew 5:14-16 NIV84

Reflect:

–What can you learn from today’s “spring cleaning” story? Please comment.

–How do you or will you shine and reflect God’s Light?

Renew:

–“The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” –1 Samuel 2: 7-8a NIV84

–“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” –1 Thessalonians 5:19 NIV84

–“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heart, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” –James 1: 23-25 NIV84

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to “let your light shine?”

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Waved Palms To Pierced Palms, Post #24

Note: So much happened in those few days, few chapters of the Bible between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Day. Too much inspiration for this small blog post.  With that in mind, if you would be so kind as to read two extra “Pure Inspiration” posts this week, one on Good Friday and one on Easter, Resurrection Day, I pray you will be encouraged in your faith.

What a week. What a Holy Week.

Scene 1: The week started out with us waving lush green palm fronds, led by the children parading down the aisle, as we all waved our palms singing “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  (Matthew 21: 9b NIV 1984). Palm Sunday is a joyful, respectful celebration of  Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

We are fickle. The same crowd who waved palms at Jesus that Sunday before, yelled “Crucify!” on Good Friday, just five days later. Lord, forgive our two-mindedness, our waffly, indecisive hearts.

Scene 2: Then came Thursday night. Jesus wanted to celebrate Passover with His disciples. During His ministry, including the last days before His horrible death and glorious Resurrection,  Jesus optimized every moment trying to teach, train and empower his dense, yet teachable disciples. What a Leader, the best Leader of all time. Jesus wanted to ensure He conveyed all He could. In His mind and heart, he knew it was the Last Supper.  In our minds and hearts, it was the First Communion, the first Lord’s Supper. He taught His disciples that the bread is “My body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19b NIV 1984) That the wine is His “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28 NIV 1984).

How do you feel when you take communion?   Do you take it for granted?  May we prayerfully savor the bread and cup with deep gratitude each time we are blessed to take communion.

Scene 3:  In a poignant scene in John 13 of unconditional love and humility, Jesus stooped down low to wash His disciples’ feet. They didn’t want Him to, mind you. Feet are gross. He was teaching them, sweetly, softly, tenderly, what it means to be a servant leader. To stoop down low to raise others high.  The upside-down leadership pyramid.

“I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16 NIV 1984).

Scene 4: Gethsemane. Moments after the Lord’s Supper, Jesus took his three closest disciples, Peter, James and John with him to pray. It is so difficult on my heart to see Jesus’ total transparency when He says, almost begs “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38, NIV 1984).  Sadly, His three most reliable disciples all fell asleep, not even praying on Jesus’ behalf or showing support.  Jesus prayed three different times asking for the cup to be taken away if possible, for God’s will to be done.

Scene 5: Judas betrays Jesus and has Him falsely arrested, in exchange for 30 pieces of silver, just a day’s slave wages.  Jesus was in total control and knew this was God’s will.

Scene 6: Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin. Even with false witnesses, they couldn’t find evidence to convict Him.

Scene 7: Peter, also known as the “Rock,” denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, just as Jesus had prophesied to Peter. Peter wept bitterly and repented.

Scene 8: Judas said he had betrayed an innocent man. Notice he didn’t call Him the Messiah or Son of God. Judas still didn’t recognize Jesus’ sovereignty. He threw the silver into the temple, left and sadly hanged himself.  There would have always been an opportunity for him to repent, but Judas didn’t.

Scene 9: Jesus was then brought to Pilate, whose wife knew Jesus was innocent. The chief priest and elders gave the crowd a choice–to release Jesus or the notorious criminal and sinner Barabbas. Pilate thought Jesus would go free. The crowd wanted Barabbas released and yelled “Crucify!” to Jesus.

Guess what Barabbas means? “Son of Abba.” Barabbas means “Son of the Father.” Each of us is a son (or daughter) of the Father. That means all of us. We are Barabbas. Jesus was our substitute.

From the waved palms of the crowd singing “Hosanna!” to the peer pressured crowd crying “Crucify!” on Good Friday morning, resulting in the pierced palms of Jesus’ hands, may we deeply feel the matchless love and sacrifice God has for us, His children….

 Reflect:

–Where do you fit into this Easter story? Please comment.

–What influence does a crowd make on decisions? Is the majority always right?

–Have you considered symbolically washing others’ feet? Are you a servant leader?

Renew:

–“But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” –Matthew 26:64 NIV 1984

–“All the people answered, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children!'” –Matthew 27:25 NIV 1984

Recharge:

–How may we live more deeply for Jesus and show love to others?

–How will you embolden your Christian faith, even if you aren’t in a crowd or in the majority?

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