Aware

Aware – having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge

I may not be aware that I am tired until I sit down.

I may not be aware that I am holding my breath until someone who knows me says, “Breathe. Breathe.”

I may not be aware of the need to be held until I am hugged.

I may not be aware that I am scared until I notice my hands shaking.

I may not be aware of what my heart is full of until I pay attention to the words I repeatedly say.

And truth be told, no matter how much my knowledge or awareness increases, by virtue of being human, my knowledge will always be, “in part.”

But there is One who knows me completely:
When I sit and when I rise.
What I am thinking and what I will say before I speak.
The motives of my heart.
The intent and full impact of my choices.

My greatest need is not for more self-awareness but total surrender to and an increasing knowledge of the One who knows me intimately and loves me completely.

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for a weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s writing prompt is, “Aware.”

Free

Free.
How do you know that you are free?
The absence of visible chains?
The destruction of the slave master’s whips?

It begins with knowing that you were not born to be enslaved.
The words and actions of man may say otherwise
but it is the truth spoken by your Creator that matters.
Believe Him.

That is why the Word became flesh,
dwelt among us,
was crucified,
and rose again with all power in His hand.

No one has the right to enslave you, not even you.
Do not accept bondage.
Do not excuse bondage.
You were created to be free.

© E. W. Wright 2022

Celebrating Juneteenth. Celebrating freedom. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend Our Daily Bread‘s Documentary, Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom.

Spring Cleaning the Digestive System

This blog post is an excerpt of Episode 6 of Season 5 of the Written. Spoken. Podcast, modified for reading. You can hear the episode here.

The theme for this season is spring cleaning and, to date, we have focused on spring cleaning the heart, a benefit of doing so, and spring cleaning the mind. Today, our focus is on spring cleaning our digestive system, the gut.

Let us begin with some facts about the digestive system. The content that I will share about the digestive system is from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ website. As I read the information on the website, the words “fearfully and wonderfully made” came to mind. I will pause to share Psalm 139:13-14, where the words can be found. The Amplified Version reads, “For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” “Fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Now back to the digestive system. The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract—also called the GI tract or digestive tract—and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Bacteria in our GI tract, also called gut flora or microbiome, help with digestion. Parts of our nervous and circulatory systems also help. Working together, nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood, and the organs of our digestive system digest the foods and liquids we eat or drink each day. I am taking the time to provide details about our digestive system to remind us of the intricacies of our bodies, of how “fearfully and wonderfully” God made us, and my hope is that these reminders will help us to see ourselves as God’s marvelous handiwork and encourage us to take better care of ourselves. Digestion is important because our bodies need nutrients from food and drink to work properly and stay healthy.

As stated earlier, the focus of this episode is spring cleaning our digestive system or gut. Other words for spring cleaning are detoxing and decluttering. But how do we know when our digestive system needs to be cleansed or detoxed? What are the signs? In a blog post on the Metagenics blog, Dr. Deanna Minich, identified several common indicators that a detox may be needed: changes in the body’s immune system, such as increased susceptibility to colds, flus, and becoming sick; generalized joint and muscle aches and pains; food, environmental or chemical sensitivities; headaches; lethargy; weakness, and abdominal pain.

How do we detox our digestive system? I have read of various ways to detox naturally. These include fasting for a day or two and replacing foods with natural juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing your water intake, drinking warm water to which lemon juice has been added, and learning to properly manage stress. Not being a nutritionist or medical provider, however, I cannot recommend any detox methods and encourage you to have a conversation with your medical provider to determine what is the best process for you. It is important to note that the benefits of detoxing our digestive system will be short lived if we do not do what is necessary to promote good digestive/gut health.

How do we keep our digestive system healthy? A helpful resource that is free to access is the article, “Keeping Your Gut in Check: Healthy Options to Stay on Tract” shared in a monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health. You may want to bookmark this resource for future reference. Suggested tips include eating slower, enjoying smaller meals, setting a bedtime for your gut, managing stress in healthy ways (stress makes it harder to digest your food well). Other recommendations from other sources include keeping our weight in the healthy range, eating a balanced, healthy diet, exercising several times a week, and drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day.

Perhaps you are thinking, all of this information about the digestive system is interesting, even helpful but what does it have to do with my spiritual wellbeing? Everything. Listen to the question posed in 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV) and the instruction given in 1 Corinthians 10:31. First, 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Next, 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (NKJV). Our bodies are the temple of God so what we consume physically, what we feed our digestive systems, our digestive health, has implications for our bodies, our souls and our spirits.

We are constantly ingesting things that directly impact our spirits and souls. Unfortunately, we can be careful about what we feed our bodies and careless about what we feed our souls and spirits. As a result, our spiritual immunity can be weakened, making it difficult for us to stand up against the challenges of life. Three of the primary ways we feed our souls and spirits are through our eyes (what we look at and/or read), our ears (what we hear and listen to), and our relationships (with God, ourselves and others). If we were to take an honest inventory of what each of us looked at, read, heard and listened to over the past 24 hours, would we find that our souls and spirits were nurtured, strengthened, cleansed or were our souls and spirits fed mostly junk food (things which tasted good but did not provide any nutrients or worst, infected us with discontent, envy, unbelief, judgment of others, or made it difficult for us to see the goodness of God?

What are the signs that a spiritual detox is needed? Signs included decreased or loss of appetite for the things of God: prayer, Bible reading and meditation, worship, participation in the community of faith; persisting negative emotional states such as irritability, rage, worry, bitterness; a pattern of negative behaviors such as complaining, constant criticism of self and others, gossiping, refusing to forgive others or ourselves. What would you add to the list?

What is involved in the process of spiritual spring cleaning? One step is necessary for spiritual cleansing, namely coming to God and asking Him to cleanse us. We are told in the epistle of 1 John 1:9, “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NKJV). Not some. ALL. God’s cleansing process is thorough because of the finished work of redemption. As stated in Isiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.” This is a step that we have to take repeatedly, not because the Blood of Jesus is not efficacious, but because we are imperfect human beings; however, there are steps we can take to strengthen our spiritual immunity. These include:
Daily prayer/conversations with God and daily reading God’s Word. Just as it is important to chew our food properly, so that it is digested correctly, allowing the enzymes in the gut to absorb the nutrients to produce good health, spiritual growth requires us to read the Bible carefully, prayerfully digesting the message, and allowing the Holy Spirit to bring it alive in our being.
Obeying God. We do not want to be the person spoken of in James 1:23-24. The New International Version of these verse reads, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” Instead, we want to be like the person described in verse 25, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
Loving each other as God commands us.
Forgiving each other and ourselves.
Remaining in a community of believers.
Giving thanks habitually.
Praising and worshipping God.
Fasting.

In the 3rd Epistle of John verse 2, we read, “Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]” (AMP). Second Corinthians 7:1 states, “Therefore, since we have these [great and wonderful] promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, completing holiness [living a consecrated life—a life set apart for God’s purpose] in the fear of God” (AMP). God wants us to be healthy in every area of life.

I encourage us to prayerfully reflect on the condition of our hearts, our minds, and our digestive systems. God wants us to be healthy and if we ask Him, He will show us the areas we need to declutter, the practices we need to establish and strengthen, and give us all we need to do so.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to You, the One who knows us completely and loves us perfectly. Our souls and spirits have become cluttered. You who are Light, show us the harmful thought patterns, beliefs, attitudes, habits, behaviors, and relationships that compromise our wellbeing. We acknowledge that some of our clutter, although not sin, are weights that keep us crawling when You would have us run, soar. You do not condemn us, but You are committed to transforming us into the image of Jesus. Great God that You are, help us, as stated in Hebrews 12:1-2, to strip off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, and run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity]” (Hebrews 12:1-2, AMP). Cleanse us so that we can again taste and see that You are good, so that we can hunger and thirst for You more than we desire anything or anyone. In Jesus Name.

Danger

The signs are not always there that danger is present. No skulls with an X over it. No flashing lights. No fences with “Keep out” or “Danger” marked on posts. No tingling “spidey senses.”

The signs are not always there that danger is present. Sometimes an ordinary daily activity can become dangerous, even life threatening or fatal. Like going to the grocery store in Buffalo, NY. Or being in a 4th grade classroom in Uvalde, TX. The signs are not always there that danger is present.

There would be steps that we would take if we knew that danger was coming our way. Like heed severe weather warnings and not drive on flooded roads. But earthquakes happen while we sleep and gas pipes burst and trains derail and accidents happen. Danger is often closer than we realize.// And we have less control than we would like to believe. These facts can paralyze us, if we let them. But we do not have to. We can trust the Sovereign Almighty God, who does not always keep us from danger but is always present, holds us firmly in His hands, and keeps His promises, including the ones in the following verses. 

“Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation]” (Isaiah 41:10, AMP).

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13, AMP)

I am joining (on a Sunday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt is, “Danger.” The content behind the // and hyperlinks were added after 5 minutes had expired.

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It is Memorial Day here in the USA. I honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of freedom.

But I cannot shake the grief of the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. And I should not. There has not been enough time since this violent horror was unleashed on innocent children and their teachers and their parents and other loved ones and the community. And on us. We are witnesses. A deep grief the kind for which there are no adequate words. Grief for which only lament is appropriate. It is too soon to speak of healing. Hearts and lives are shattered, and we must not look away. Children have been slaughtered. Again. Children have been traumatized. Again. It is too soon to speak of healing.

Gracious God, help.

Vision

For my siblings and I, eyewear is not a fashion accessory. Eyewear is needed to help us see for one of the things we have in common is impaired vision. I have worn spectacles from the age of seven. I need help to see clearly.

As in the physical world, so it is in the spiritual world. As humans, we are born with impaired spiritual vision. Thankfully, we do not have to remain in this state. The same God who healed blind Bartimaeus* of physical blindness when he called out to Him, will heal us of spiritual blindness or impaired vision when we call out to Him. He enables us to have a clearer vision of who He is, who we are, and who are the people He has placed in our lives for His purpose.//

I think of the prophet Isaiah’s experience (recorded in Isaiah 6). He saw “the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” and heard the seraphim crying out to each other, ““Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah then saw himself and his people accurately and cried out. God’s response was not to condemn Isaiah but cleanse and commission him. He is no less merciful to us.

This post serves the dual purpose as the entry for Day 5 of the #hopewriterlife Instagram Writing Challenge (hosted by Hope*Writers) and the Five Minute Friday weekly writing link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt is, “Vision.” The content after the // was added after five minutes were completed.
*Mark 10:46-52

Spring Cleaning the Mind: Our Thoughts

This blogpost is an excerpt of the content of Episode 4 of Season 5 of the Written. Spoken. Podcast, modified for reading. You can hear the episode here.

In today’s episode, our focus is on spring cleaning the mind. Residents of our minds include thoughts and beliefs. We will focus on our thoughts in today’s episode.

What we think is important, especially what we think repeatedly. As someone said, “Thoughts are like trains. They take us somewhere”, and, as author Bernard Malamud stated, “If your train’s on the wrong track every station you come to is the wrong station.” Pause for a moment. Reflect on a recent thought. Where would it take you, if you followed it all the way through? Would you end up in a healthy place? A God honoring place? Or a place from which you would need to be rescued?

Thoughts have also been likened to seeds. William Wordsworth, an English Poet, (1770-1850) wrote, “Your mind is the garden, your thoughts are the seeds. The harvest can either be flowers or weeds.” 

Thoughts are like trains and thoughts are like seeds. Umm. How many thoughts do you imagine the average person has in one day? In one study published in 2020, researchers in the Department of Psychology, at Queen’s University in Canada, estimated that the average person will typically have more than 6,000 thoughts in a single day.  That is a whole lot of trains and seeds. Clearly, we cannot give attention to every one of these 6,000+ thoughts. So how do we appropriately spring clean our minds so that we do not mistakenly keep what we should discard and discard what we should keep? To spring clean our minds appropriately, we need a way to evaluate our thoughts to determine which thoughts we need to nurture and which we need to stop making space for in our minds.  

Whose criteria will we use to evaluate our thoughts? God’s. He is our Creator and the only One who knows what is best for us. The only One with the authority to define what is good or evil, what is healthy and unhealthy. What needs to be nurtured and what needs to be removed. 

In Philippians 4:8 (AMP) we who are believers, children of God, are given clear instructions regarding the type of thoughts we are to center our minds on and implant in our hearts. Here is the list:

  • whatever is true
  • whatever is honorable and worthy of respect
  • whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, 
  • whatever is pure and wholesome, 
  • whatever is lovely and brings peace
  • whatever is admirable and of good repute
  • if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”

Whatever is true – How do we know if what we are thinking is true? The answer is, we know that what we are thinking is true if the thought lines up with what God says. For example, if I have the thought that I am worthless, perhaps in response to what others have told me or because of a mistake or a bad habit, I know that it is a lie because of what God says about me. A Scripture based article that beautifully and powerfully highlights what God says about us is, “What God thinks about you” by John Rinehart, the author of Gospel Patrons. The article was published on the Desiring God website, and I recommend reading it in its entirety. I will share an excerpt. 

I am the Creator and you are my creation. I breathed into your nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). I created you in my own image (Genesis 1:27). My eyes saw your unformed substance (Psalm 139:16). I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). I know the number of hairs on your head, and before a word is on your tongue I know it (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:4). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

We are not prisoners to our thoughts. We are enabled by God to choose one thought over another, to redirect our thoughts, to unclutter or spring clean our minds by replacing thoughts that are false with thoughts that are true. We are enabled by God to replace thoughts that are dishonorable and not worthy of respect, with thoughts that are honorable and worthy of respect. To replace thoughts that are wrong and contradict God’s word with thoughts that are right and confirmed by God’s word. To replace thoughts that are impure and unwholesome with thoughts that are pure and wholesome. To replace thoughts that are ugly and cause strife and discontent with thoughts that are lovely and bring peace. To replace thoughts that are deplorable and corrupt with thoughts that are admirable and of good repute (noble, trustworthy). To replace thoughts of mediocrity with thoughts of excellence. To replace thoughts that are not praiseworthy with thoughts that are worthy of praise.

Some thought patterns have been present for so long, they have become automatic but we know that it is possible for our minds to be renewed, a process that transforms us as we are told in Romans 12:2. One of the ways we renew our minds is to change the way we think and two essential strategies for changing the way we think is focused and regular time in prayer and in the Bible, the written Word of God. Time in prayer and in the Word, two essential strategies for changing the way we think. Other strategies include thinking about what we are thinking about and being selective about what we feed our minds and spirits. This may require changes in what we read, listen to, and watch. Spring cleaning our thought life is a process that requires commitment and effort as does the maintenance that is necessary to keep us from re-cluttering our mind. But we have help. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength* is not just a verse to memorize and quote. It is a truth to live by.

*Philippians 4:13

“… and Peter.” (and me)

(Re)sharing one of my favorite blog posts.

A drowning person’s life flashes before his or her eyes.
Or so I have been told.
And if there is truth in this statement,
I wonder if Peter’s life with Jesus flashed before his eyes
as he drowned in an ocean of shame, horror, pain, and disbelief
after doing what he had sworn he never would,
that is, abandon Jesus, the One he had left all to follow.

I wonder if he saw the moment when Jesus called to him and his brother Andrew
as they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee, and said,
“Come follow me and I will send you to fish for people”?
And when He touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law as she was lying in bed with a fever, and the fever left her?

I wonder if Peter remembered vividly the moment his feet touched the water after he asked, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus responded, “Come”?
And when he responded to Jesus’ question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” with the revelation given to him by the Father, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.

I wonder if he saw the thousands being fed with a little boy’s lunch, and Lazarus coming out of the tomb after he had been dead four days, and Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount?

I do not know but the One Who knew Peter would deny Him, not once but thrice in a short space of time, and loved him still, He made sure that Peter knew that there was forgiveness, and redemption, and restoration for Peter.

First, He sent the message of His resurrection through the angel, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
“… tell his disciples and Peter.”
“ … and Peter.”

Later, He would pose a question to him three times, “Do you love Me?”
And by the end of the conversation had commissioned him and, as He had done in their first encounter by the Sea of Galilee, called him to follow Him.

Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him,
Sometimes with my words.
At other times with my silence, behavior and choices.
Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him.
Perhaps you are too.
Thanks be to God, we can all be certain that,
no matter what we have done,
the same forgiveness,
redemption,
and restoration that Peter was given,
is also available to us.

NB: This post was first published on this blog on 4/17/17 and reposted at least twice. It is one of my favorite posts and for that reason as well as the fact that the content still is true of me, I wanted to share it again.

Celebrating the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus

This blogpost is the content of Episode 3 of Season 5 of the Written. Spoken. Podcast, modified for reading. You can hear the episode here.

We are taking a break from the theme of Season 3, “spring cleaning,” to focus on the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, the One who is the Word. The One who was in the Beginning and through whom all things were made.  The One who is the Lamb and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The One who became flesh to redeem us. The One who was a willing sacrifice for our sins and died a brutal, agonizing, substitutionary death in our place and is our High Priest.

We are told in Hebrews 9:11-12, “But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come [that is, true spiritual worship], He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not a part of this [material] creation. He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior]” (AMP). And 1 Peter 3:18 (AMP) states, “For indeed Christ died for sins once for all, the Just and Righteous for the unjust and unrighteous [the Innocent for the guilty] so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit;” 

I realized several years ago that my celebration of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus did not have the focus, the intentionality as my celebration of His birth. But the truth is, it is the Resurrection of Christ Jesus that gives Christmas its true meaning. As author and podcaster, Lisa Jo Baker, noted years ago, “Christmas makes no sense outside of the context of Easter. Because it was a ransom that was delivered on a dark night, under a stark white star, all those years ago.”

Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6 declares,
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (NKJV).

Christ Jesus, the Child who was born and the Son who was given (John 3:16), came to redeem us and our redemption required His brutal death and His glorious Resurrection. We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:14-20 (AMP) that, without His Resurrection, our faith is “vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth]” and “worthless and powerless [mere delusion].” Furthermore, “ If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hoped only in this life [and this is all there is], then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied.  But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, [and He became] the first fruits [that is, the first to be resurrected with an incorruptible, immortal body, foreshadowing the resurrection] of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. “

I pray that the truth of Christ’s Resurrection will permeate our daily living. That we meet every challenge and celebrate every victory with this truth, “But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead …” “Christ has in fact been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).

What does the Resurrection of Christ Jesus mean? It is a critical question that each person must answer personally because what we believe about the Resurrection of Christ Jesus changes everything.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to [that which] the Scriptures [foretold], and that He was buried, and that He was [bodily] raised on the third day according to [that which] the Scriptures [foretold], and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians, 15, 3-5, AMP).

When I reflect on what the Resurrection of Christ Jesus means to me, several things come to mind. I will share four of them:
1. The Resurrection means I am redeemed completely and am a dearly beloved child of God.
2. The Resurrection means I am forgiven and His Blood cleanses me from all sin.
3. The Resurrection means I do not have to fear death because He conquered death, hell and the grave.
4. The Resurrection means I have a High Priest.

I find myself dwelling on the fact that I have a High Priest and on all the benefits of this truth, as highlighted in Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP), “Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].”

The Resurrection of Christ Jesus, is a historical fact with personal meaning. What does His Resurrection mean to you?

“The Gospel is centered in God’s Son, a descendant of David by human genealogy and patently marked out as the Son of God by the power of that Spirit of holiness which raised him to life again from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4, PHILLIPS).

“For the love of Christ controls and compels us, because we have concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and was raised for their sake” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, AMP).

Prayer: Father, may the love of Christ control and compel us, so that our lifestyles reflect the fact that we no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died and was raised for our sake. In Jesus name.

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Every Step

From the moment of His birth, every step Jesus took brought Him closer to Golgotha and the Cross, where He would willingly pay the incomprehensible cost to redeem you, me, the world. Every step.

The trip to Jerusalem at age 12, where, after searching for Him for three days, Mary and Joseph “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions,” astonishing all who heard Him (Luke 2:41-47, NKJV). To the Jordan River to be baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17). Into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-11).

Every step. By the Sea of Galilee on numerous occasions such as when He called the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). Up on a mountain where He taught his disciples many things, including what we know as “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12). In Capernaum, where He spoke the word that healed the centurion’s servant and drove the fever from the body of Peter’s mother-in-law with a touch (Matthew 8:5-15).

Every step. To the country of the Gergesenes, where He set two demon-possessed men free (Matthew 8:28-34). To the house of Jairus where He raised his daughter from the dead (Luke 8:41-56).

Every step. Through Samaria and to the Samaritan woman who came to draw water and met the Messiah, the Living Water (John 4). To the tomb of Lazarus where He demonstrated that He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44). Every step.

And every step you and I take moves us closer to the purpose for which God created us, or away from it. Every step. Every choice, every decision matters. May we heed more than ever the instruction in Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP):

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

And with the assurance that He directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9) may we pray like David, the psalmist and king, “Establish my footsteps in [the way of] Your word; Do not let any human weakness have power over me [causing me to be separated from You]” (Psalm 119:133, AMP).

As we continue walking through this Holy Week, may we see with fresh eyes, hear with open ears and hearts, and worship.

NB: Versions of this blog post were published on 4/3/17 and 4/2/2021.