Expecting Jesus

expecting JESUS

“It would make a difference to live with more of a focus on expecting Jesus.” This statement was part of a comment a fellow member of a writing community made in response to my recent post, “Expect.” Her words resonated with me, especially the phrase, “expecting Jesus.” I continue to reflect on the words and on one of the definitions of “expect” – to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of. “Expecting Jesus” – To anticipate or look forward to the coming of Jesus.

This anticipation can be connected to Him “showing up” in our lives, that is, accomplishing what we are incapable of doing ourselves. But as welcomed as such occurrences are, I turn my attention again to His return, which is a promise recorded in John 14:1-3,”…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (emphasis added).

The promise of His return is reiterated many times in Scripture; for example, in Acts 1:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and Hebrews 9:28. As I shared in the previous post, I want to begin to anticipate His return. But I do not want to long for His return just as a way to escape the pressures, pain, and tragedies of life (examples of which abound in the USA and around the world, just in the past two weeks).

More than wanting Him to return to put all things right, I want to long for His return because He has become the Lover of my soul. Because I believe in His love for me. I want to long for His return because I have come to love Him with my all of my heart, mind, and strength, because He first loved me. I want to long for His return because an ache has developed in my soul to see the One Who willingly laid aside His glory and became flesh for me. The One Who suffered incomprehensible agony, was crucified, buried and rose again for me. To see the One Who ascended on high and is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for me. For us. These are the reasons I want to live “expecting Jesus.”

I am not yet living, “expecting Jesus;” Oh, but it is the longing of my heart to do so. I know that when I begin to do so, this mindset will not make me so “heavenly minded that I am no earthly good.” Instead, among other changes, my priorities will change so that pleasing Him will take precedence over pleasing people and, what matters most to Him, will be what matters most to me.

What are some of the things we can do to develop and maintain this mindset of “living, expecting Jesus?” I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts in the comments.

 

Five Minute Friday: Expect

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Jesus is coming again. Not as a babe. Not as the Lamb. But as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is coming again. I believe this to be true and to this degree, you can say that I expect His return. But do I expect, that is anticipate or look forward to His coming? I have to admit that I do not believe so. Why? Because true expectation changes behavior.

I think of what happens when I am expecting something, for example, a call or a package. When it is a call, I keep my cell phone close. Make sure the ringer is on and I listen for the ringing even when I am engaged in other activities. When I am expecting a person, my behaviors are similar but I also make preparations for the visit. True expectation changes behavior.

And so I long to long for His return because I know when I begin to truly expect His return, my perspective on life will change. The choices I make will change. What I value will change. For true expectation changes behavior.

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I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community, at our new home, for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about the Five Minute Friday community, click here. This week’s writing prompt is, “Expect.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permission

NationalPrayer Day

Permission: the right or ability to do something that is given by someone who has the power to decide if it will be allowed or permitted

Whose permission do you need to be your best self?
To be bold instead of fearful or anxious?
Self-compassionate instead of self-critical?
Humble instead of puffed-up?

To forgive  yourself and others,
instead of being imprisoned by unforgiveness?
To go of the past instead of torturing yourself
with guilt,
regret,
and shame?

Christ has set you free.
Walk free.
Live free.
You have been called to liberty.

Give yourself permission to be your best self.
You already have God’s permission
and His enabling.
You do not need permission from anyone else.

Five Minute Friday: Future

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It is hard to imagine a future when you lack hope.

It is hard to have hope when everything you can experience through your senses give you no reason to believe that the current circumstances will change.

It is hard to reach for, look forward to a future that, to your knowledge, will be more of the same.

The same pain.
The same struggle.
The same loneliness.
The same barren efforts.

But if you are His
you may feel hopeless but you are never without hope.

For He is the source of hope.

And He has made this declaration,

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Did you hear that? He has plans to give you a future and a hope.

Not just a future but one that is hope filled.

And He is able to do just what He says.

So I join with the apostle Paul in praying, “Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy spirit.”*

You have a future, a glorious future.

future

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community, at our new home. To learn more about the Five Minute Friday community, click here. This week’s writing prompt is, “Future.”

*Romans 15:13

Montage of Memorial Day Images

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Roll Call
There at the Memorial Day ceremony
They accepted the invitation to call the names of the fallen
Known personally to each of them

Some, based on their attire, appeared to be ordinary citizens like me
Others based on their attire, were veterans of the Vietnam War
Some voices were clear and strong
Others choked with emotion
Calling out names, each representing one I will never meet

And I wondered
For how many was it the first time to break the silence
And in speaking a single name
Began to speak the unspoken

I wonder
Did speaking that name bring pain
But also release?

Together
They stood together
In combinations of red, white, and blue
He stood with shoulders erect
This white haired, broad shouldered man whose face I never saw
Head sometimes bowed

She stood close and, in the face of words such as
“Some placed their lives on hold to answer the call”
Gently rubbed his back
Her profile visible as she turned her head to look at him
Sometimes to smile
At other times to lay her head on his shoulder
Always rubbing his back
Offering comfort and affirmation without words

Thank You
He greeted me before the ceremony began
Dressed in a black American Legion cap
White shirt and hair
Black slacks
Warm smile
A gentle touch on my shoulder
As he said, “How are you?”
And paused long enough to hear my response

At the end of the ceremony
He turned to me and asked
“Are you a veteran?”
“No,” I replied
“Thank you, for your support,” he said
And it was hard not to cry as I responded,
“Thank you

© E. Wright 2015

This blog post was posted originally on my photography blog, fitlyspoken, on May 25, 2015.

Five Minute Friday: Visit

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I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Visit.”

GO

One of the most powerful visits recorded in the Bible, at least that is my opinion, is Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. At the time, Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant with the forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist. Mary, herself, had recently learned that she was chosen to be the mother of the long promised Messiah. It was in her womb God would hide Himself in seed form, grow, and then be birthed, like an ordinary baby, when He was anything but.

It was an amazing visit. From the time Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the Bible records, her baby leaped in her womb. Listen to some of Elizabeth’s words, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me? Mary responded in worship, with words that we have come to know as “The Magnificat.” “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. “

Yes, it was an amazing visit.

STOP

I pray that in my ordinary, everyday encounters, when I “visit with someone,” before the interaction ends, even when it is brief, in some way, and somehow, He will be exalted.

For the least of these = for Him

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Yesterday, May 21, 2017, was the Global Day of Prayer to end Famine. It was declared the day of prayer by the World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance and All Africa Conference of Churches and several other organizations. Here are some facts shared by World Vision about this humanitarian crisis:

  • More than 20 million face famine
  • Famine has been declared in areas of South Sudan, with Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen on the brink of famine.
  • Millions more in Kenya and Ethiopia are suffering from drought and food shortages.
  • 1.4 million children are severely malnourished. If left untreated, more than one-third of these children will die from starvation and disease.

What contributed to this humanitarian crisis? A combination of conflict, recurring severe drought, and high food prices.   

The need is grave and help is needed immediately. The magnitude of the need can create the sense that there is nothing one person can do to make a difference. Not so. Each person reading this post can do three things: pray, give, and encourage others to do so. Pray for those in need and for organizations such as World Vision that are working effectively to meet immediate needs and facilitate sustainable change.  It is true that the Global Day of Prayer to end famine is over but prayer is not restricted to one day. And neither is giving. No amount is too small.  Please click here to give. Every dollar can make a difference. Thank you.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40, NIV; emphasis added)

 

Like a weaned child with its mother

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“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

(Psalm 131:2, NKJV)

I read Psalm 131:2 and drew the following from it: There is only a need to calm and quiet my soul when my soul is agitated, storm tossed, uneasy, anxious, railing, raging, swollen with distress, or experiencing a similar emotional state.

I turned my mind to list the things or circumstances which can trigger and sustain these emotional states in me. But before I could name them I realized that, regardless of the diverse nature of the things or situations, they all have this in common – the way out is to turn my attention from the thing or situation, to my Father. The only way to truly calm and quiet my soul is to turn my attention from the thing or situation, and focus on my Father. And doing so sometimes requires me to wean myself from self-reliance or dependence on others.

And I think of Jesus’ words, recorded in Matthew 18:3, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (AMP).

Then I read these words from Charles Spurgeon (as cited on the blog, Mortification of Spin):

David… was like one who was able to give up his natural food, which seemed to him absolutely necessary, and which he greatly enjoyed. The weaned babe has given up what it loved. By nature we hang on the breasts of this world, and only sovereign grace can wean us therefrom, but when we give up self-righteousness, self-confidence, the love of the world, the desire of self-aggrandizement, when we give up trusting in man, trusting in ceremonies, trusting in anything but God, then has our soul become like a weaned child. It has given up what nature feeds upon, that it may feed upon the bread of heaven (8).

I read Charles Spurgeon’s words and prayed, “Abba, help me to become the weaned child described here.” 

for the days when you’re in over your  head, in rough waters, and/or between a rock and a hard place

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“Don’t be afraid.”

These were the words handwritten after my name, beneath the bright yellow smiley in a card I received recently. The card was from a fellow participant in Round 11 of Five Minute Friday Snail Mail. (Also know as #fmfpartysnailmail; see link at end of this post for a description).

I read it and had two simultaneous thoughts. (Okay. Not actually simultaneous but they occurred in such rapid succession that they seemed to occur at the same time).

One thought was, “I am not aware that I am afraid.”

The other was, “But there have been times when you did not know you were holding your breath until you exhaled.” Point taken.

And I have lived long enough to know that HE can send me resources and truth before the trial comes. And it is only after the fact that I realize something that came to me in a season of relative quiet, turned out to be the rope I needed to hold onto, the firm place I needed to stand on, the safe place I needed to hide when the storms hit, and my world is shaking.

The handwritten note contained most of The Message translation of Isaiah 43:1-3. I read the verses and was encouraged. So, just in case you can use some encouragement right now, I want to share the portion of this passage which was shared with me. Even if things are going well, perhaps you can hide it in your heart for the days when  you’re in over your  head, in rough waters, and/or between a rock  and a hard place.

” …Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God…”

(As promised, here is the link which explains the hashtag fmfpartysnailmail.)

 

 

 

His Resurrection: Historical and Personal

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Two weeks have passed since I joined with millions around the world to celebrate Easter. I realized, sometime ago, that I have not celebrated the Resurrection of Christ Jesus in as similar a manner as I celebrate His birth. But the truth is, it is the Resurrection of Christ Jesus that gives Christmas its true meaning. Isaiah 9:6 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.

Christ Jesus, the Child who was born and the Son who was given, 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 desire that the truth of Christ’s Resurrection permeate my daily living. That I 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 …” Upon reflecting on what the Resurrection of Christ Jesus means to me personally, four things come to mind:

1.     I am redeemed completely and am a dearly beloved child of God.

2.     I am forgiven and His Blood cleanses me from all sin.

3.     I do not have to fear death.

4.     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):

14 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]. 15 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. 16 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, a historical fact with personal meaning. What does His Resurrection mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!