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

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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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Beginning Lent

The first time I recall really noticing Ash Wednesday was several years ago when my husband had played for a service at a local church and came home with a smudge on his forehead. I still didn’t really understand it, I just knew it had something to do with the Lenten and Easter season and it involved repentance and sacrifice.

I was not raised in a church that observed Ash Wednesday or Lent, so I never really took the time to understand it.  As we moved around and attended various churches I became a little more up to par on what it was all about, but still most protestant churches do not observe Ash Wednesday or Lent.

Over the years I have known people who gave up something for Lent and it always seemed hard.  I mean who can really give up chocolate?  So, to be honest I’ve never really taken the time to consider how observing Lent could impact my life.  This year I have decided to embrace Lent and incorporate a few reminders of how I desperately need to cling to Jesus in all areas of my life. I have learned in much of life, especially when doing something that I want to have an impact on my life, that it is better for me to keep it simple.

For me Observing Lent is not about giving up something just to be giving up something.  I have felt the tug of several convictions lately in some areas of my life and I have come to realize that they all work together to make up the whole of me. It’s not so much what I choose to give up, or even what disciplines I may add, but it is more about the awareness that I need more of Jesus.  So, when I struggle to give up something I have become attached to, it will be a reminder that I need to rely on the Grace of Jesus.  The hope is that it will remind me to turn to him.

Turning to him is the ultimate goal for my spiritual growth.  So I have chosen a couple of food items that are not good for me, that I have become too attached to in recent months and I have also chosen a couple of attitude or character items that I have felt convicted about.  Those will be my focus during this Season of Lent.  In each case I have listed them in the form of substituting something good or positive in the place of the not so good. Additionally, in the spirit of reaching out to others I have a goal of reaching out to one person each week with an encouragement. This is my 1×6 goal.

I have made a little chart to encourage me in my endeavor.

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What about you, are you in the habit of observing a Lenten sacrifice or discipline?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

I am linking up with Elisabeth Esther for a Gentle Lent.

Also, you may find these two articles helpful in learning more about Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Observing in Grace,

Teresa