This is Easter Morn

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)

As many of you know my mother wrote poetry.  She was never formally published but I wish we had pursued that while she was alive. She was in a poetry writing group for a while and had a few published in a couple of newspapers.  She also generously shared poems with others when she felt a poem had a message that could encourage the person in whatever circumstance they found themselves. If you have a handwritten copy of one of her poems I hope you keep it as a treasure.

I promised her when she was in hospice that I was going to see that her poetry was published for the whole world to read.  I have published a few on my blog, but I have plans, God willing to do a book of her poetry.  Most of her poems were written in the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties.  They were actually quite good; some, a little rough around the edges, needing some final editing.

In 1975 during Holy Week, on Good Friday, she wrote an Easter Poem and titled it Hallelujah. Because of the repeating refrain of This is Easter Morn I thought about changing the title of the poem but decided that the whole concept of Easter is definitely one big Hallelujah and that must be how she felt about it, so I left her title. I’d like to share it with you:

Mom's Easter Poem

Happy Easter! I hope you find a church and attend on Easter Sunday to Worship our Risen Savior!

Celebrating in Grace,

Teresa

If you haven’t read it yet, I shared a whole series about losing my Mom to Alzheimer’s. I shared a few of her poems throughout the series. You can click here to check it out.

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Into Your Hands

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’

When he had said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46

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The verse we read in Luke 23:46 as part of the Easter story is also referenced in Psalm 31:5. Several sources I came across while researching indicated that the phrase “into your hands I commit my spirit” was how the Jewish people ended their evening prayers.

I would imagine that like other Jewish children, Jesus was taught this prayer as a young child. It was a familiar practice that was an act of trust. To commit something of value to another is not a small thing.  By definition commit means to entrust something to someone; it also means to put into a place for safekeeping. (Merriman Webster).

By committing their spirit to God each evening they were submitting their soul for safekeeping.  What a beautiful picture of complete submission to the will of the father. We know that Jesus had prayed on the Mount of Olives asking for this cup to be taken from him but he surrendered by concluding his prayer with “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). This too would line up with committing his spirit to Father God.

Then, we have the account in Mark 15:34 of Jesus crying out asking God “why have you forsaken me?” According to Mark, this was at 3 O’clock.  Luke’s account begins at noon, followed by three hours of darkness and then right before Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Luke mentions that it is 3 O’clock.  This would imply that only moments after asking why God had forsaken him, Jesus then acknowledges that he is committing his spirit to the father.

In his darkest hour, burdened by the weight of my sin and the sins of the whole world, sins that had not yet been committed, sins that God in his holiness could not look upon, Jesus felt the crushing despair of complete and utter abandonment.  But yet, he still trusted that his spirit would be safe with the father.

His loud proclamation of “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” tells us all we need to know about God’s faithfulness.  It tells us that a daily practice of committing our spirit (soul) to him is how we develop trust in him, it is how we surrender to his will, not ours, and it is how we can face our own mortality with confidence.  When the time comes, just as Jesus did, we can breathe our last breath knowing that we will be united with our Father eternally.

Maybe you are facing insurmountable trials that are shaking your very foundation.  Maybe you feel that God has turned his back on you and your world has gone dark. Maybe you are crushed under the weight of despair.  I urge you to remember that if you are a born again believer you have hope and even when it seems that all is lost, you can confidently say, “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit.” You can trust him with the safekeeping of your soul.

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior I can’t think of a better time than during the Easter season.

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen”

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Committing with Grace,

Teresa

Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2

Last year I decided to give up some things for Lent.  I even came up with a graphic to post on my refrigerator based on a suggestion from an online post I had read.  This was my formula: water instead of cola, gratitude instead of complaining, prayer instead of worry, 1 x 6 = encourage, which meant I should encourage at least one person each week of Lent.

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They were worthy goals. However. . . .

You already know what the however means, don’t you?  Of course, I didn’t last through Lent.  When a friend suggested that I could probably take weekends off, I gave myself permission to have a cola on weekends which led to a cola at other times.  I am still struggling to give cola up completely.  I still struggle with the whole gratitude thing, but I think I’m getting better.  Worry? Me? The answer to that is for another reflection.  I don’t know if I was encouraging to anyone during that time or not.  I hope so, but I didn’t keep track.

I failed to succeed because I failed to prepare my heart for the true purpose of Lent, which is “to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.”  I got on the bandwagon on a whim; so, I was doomed to failure from the beginning. As with most things in life, there was a lesson to be gleaned from my failure.

I learned that sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control; it is an acknowledgment of His sovereignty.  Obedience sometimes requires sacrificing and changing plans.  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

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If I need to stretch and grow in my walk with the Lord (and I do), Lent is a good place to start because it puts the focus on Christ and His ultimate sacrifice.  He was obedient to the will of the Father because He knew it would be our salvation.

During this Lenten season, whether you have a list of things you are sacrificing or not, I hope you will “turn your eyes upon Jesus [and] look full in His wonderful face, and [allow] the things of earth [to] grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  My prayer is that you will surrender your life to Him in total submission during Lent and beyond.

Looking to Grace,

Teresa

This Lenton reflection was originally shared with my congregation at First Baptist in Morehead, KY as part of their Lenten Season Reflections on Sunday March 22, 2015.

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The Day In Between

Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. Luke 23:56

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In the gospels what we refer to as Good Friday, or crucifixion day, was referred to as the day of preparation. It was a day to prepare for the Sabbath. Likewise, the day we know as Easter Sunday, or resurrection Day, was the first day of the week. The day in between was the Sabbath.   In Luke 23:56 we read, “They returned and prepared spices and perfumes [the women at the cross]. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

I find it interesting that in the journey to resurrection the day after the crucifixion and the day prior to resurrection was a day of rest. Usually when we talk about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ we skim over “the day in between”. It is rarely mentioned.

I think “the day in between” has great significance and can teach us a valuable lesson about rest and waiting. Rest is mentioned throughout scripture. In fact our first encounter with the word of God tells us that on the seventh day he rested. A cycle of work and rest marks our own journey towards resurrection. After a day of resting, we are able to grasp the beauty of a new beginning.

God in his wisdom knows we need to rest and he commands us in scripture to do just that. He knows that if we stop on the day between crucifixion and resurrection to soak up treasures at his feet we will find refreshment and we will find joy. We will be better ministers for him.

Richard Foster has said, “that in contemporary society our adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds…the seeking out of solitary places was a regular practice of Jesus. So it should be for us.”

Jesus’ ministry had been profound. He often found himself exhausted and at times would steal away to rest. In the fulfillment of the death on the cross his final words “it is finished” were an acknowledgement that he had done all that he could and now it was up to God to take over and fulfill the promise of resurrection.

Did God purposefully plan the crucifixion so that there was a day of rest following? If so, what were his reasons? I don’t presume to know why God does things the way he does, but I do know that he always has a plan and his plan is done on purpose. Maybe he allowed that day of rest so that those close to Jesus would be able to get away from the brutality of the cross; maybe he wanted them to exercise their faith while they waited; maybe he wanted them to have time to process all that had happened before they welcomed the joy of resurrection.

Sometimes we are called to do a particular work and even though we know it is our purpose, it can at times become wearisome. That is why we have to take those interludes of rest. Sometimes the day of preparation is tiring at best, and horrible at worst and we need to rest on the day in between so we can be refreshed on the first day.

In Isaiah 40: 31 we read, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”   The song based on that verse ends with “teach me Lord, to wait.” That is what “the day in between” is for – to wait and rest.

PRAYER

Dear Father, Teach us to take time to rest. Teach us to wait on you. After Friday we need you more than ever. Let the breeze of your refreshment be a soothing balm to our souls on the day in between so that we may meet the first day with joy and anticipation. Amen

Resting in grace,

Teresa