Tag Archives: Christain Faith Traditions
Serving Jesus with a joyful heart is one of my greatest passions in life. I have come to realize though, that having a joyful heart is not always a given. There are times when serving Jesus can bring much pain, criticism, and ultimate rejection. Of course, this is exactly what Jesus experienced while living among us, as he demonstrated his sacrificial love toward all mankind. The following passage of Scripture is a vital reminder of this.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3). Praise His Holy Name.
For me, this puts everything into perspective. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, contemplated the pain and suffering he would experience long before he went to the cross. And yet, the love Jesus has for the Father, and for sinful man, gave Him the power to persevere under the most severe circumstances (death on the cross), in order to redeem the human race from eternal death and hell.
When I begin to consider the scorn and severe suffering Jesus endured for me, my temporary trials and testing of my faith grow dim in comparison.
I believe God helps us to persevere in our faith as we serve Him with a joyful heart in our everyday activities. For instance, our church is preparing for Vacation Bible School. And as the children’s ministries director, I decided that we needed to distribute flyers in our area, inviting children to our VBS. Prior to this effort, a good number of our church family gathered together to work on decorations and props for our event. Included in this group, was my 9-year-old granddaughter, Ella. Afterwards I encouraged everyone to take some VBS flyers to hand out in their neighborhoods.
The following week, I received a text from Ella’s mom, (my daughter, Janée), telling me that Ella had went door-to-door in their neighborhood, delivering the VBS flyers. Joy filled my heart. This past weekend I planned to meet some people at the church to distribute the flyers in our church neighborhood. My daughter, her husband, Seth, and their two youngest children showed up at the church and off we went to distribute VBS flyers.
Do you know how blessed I am, in realizing that my daughter and her family are living out the same passion that I have…..to serve Jesus with a joyful heart. We don’t have to look too far, to experience joy in serving Jesus. God is good…..all the time!
Parents and Grandparents, you can realize this joy as well. Faithfully serve Jesus daily, during the good times and not so good. Our children and grandchildren are watching!
Recommended to Men — A new blog site for dads written by my son-in-law, Seth. http://www.daretodad.blogspot.com
Why does Christmas get so much more attention than Easter? While out shopping the other day, it dawned on me I hadn’t picked up any Easter cards. I thought to myself, “Well, at least it won’t cost me too much since I’ll only be mailing a few.” At Christmas I spend a small fortune on cards and postage. Wow! What a comparison. Is the notable difference between Easter and Christmas the cost?
When it gets right down to it, I’m beginning to think Christmas gets much more attention because the “holiday season” has become all about us and not all about Jesus (the reason for the season). Just think about it. Why do we get all worked up and worn out during those several weeks before Christmas? Is it because we are like Mary, who chose to sit at the feet of Jesus while her sister, Martha, ran around the house dusting away the cobwebs…and nearly missed spending precious time with God? Nope! Most of us are more like Martha. At Christmas, we run around town trying to buy the perfect gift for everyone on our list, often not even counting the cost; well, that is, until January rolls around and the credit card bill comes in the mail.
By the time we recuperate from the “frenzy” of Christmas shopping and all the hoopla that goes along with making Christmas the most recognizable day of the year, Easter rolls around, and we find ourselves becoming a little more like Mary. Well, kinda. We approach Easter with a little less anxiety. After all, no one is expecting the perfect gift in their Easter basket…no, just a few chocolate bunnies, and maybe a ham and deviled eggs for Easter dinner. So, we can simply relax a little and enjoy the true meaning of Easter, right?
Easter is all about Jesus! God is definitely not concerned with how much Christmas costs us to celebrate the birth of His son. God is, however, immeasurably concerned with the attention we give to the One who died on the cross for the sins of the world, who was raised from the dead, and who is now preparing a place in heaven for those who know Him as their Lord and Savior. (John 14:2-3)
Easter (Resurrection Sunday) is the exclamation mark in the life of every true believer. Our salvation cost Jesus everything. “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).
I challenge Christian families to celebrate Easter with an EXCLAMATION MARK!
Disclaimer: I am not saying that Christmas is unimportant in the life of a Christian. Of course it is….otherwise there would be no Easter. My point is this, let’s be sure Easter is all about Jesus, and let’s celebrate His resurrection from the grave with exuberant joy!
Resources to celebrate Easter: Resurrection Eggs (Make your own, or purchase them from a local Christian bookstore, or from Family Life Today at: http://shop.familylife.com/p-1717-resurrection-eggs.aspx )
The Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible DVD (ages 4-11), Peek-A-Bible: The Easter Story (Tracy Harrast) (ages 1-6) (Purchase these and many others Easter resources at: http://www.christianbook.com/)
Reenact the Easter Story. Recently, our three-year old grandson asked his daddy to play the part of Jesus so they could act out the Easter story as a family. His daddy was pleased until his son asked him to take off all his clothes! The week leading up to Easter, spend time reading the Holy Week stories as a family. (Use all four Gospels, to glean the amazing eye-witness accounts), and then act out a different scene each day leading up to Easter. On Easter morning, celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death by attending a Resurrection Sunday worship service. Having an Egg hunt is a fun tradition. We hide several “empty” (golden) eggs, symbolizing the empty tomb. Kids finding the empty eggs win a special treat (kite, sidewalk chalk, etc.). The rule: Hide an equal amount of golden eggs per child and tell the children they may only claim 1 empty (golden egg). This way all the children are winners!
JOHN 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Yesterday, we celebrated my husband’s 32nd spiritual birthday. On February 8, 1981, Jeff surrendered his life to Jesus, and at the same time he received eternal life, Jeff was instantaneously delivered from the bondage of alcoholism. Now thirty-two years later, our family is a living testimony of God’s amazing love and forgiveness. Last Saturday, we also celebrated our oldest granddaughter’s 5th spiritual birthday, by taking her to one of her favorite KC restaurants. I had the wonderful opportunity of praying with Ella to receive Jesus when she was four years old. Then, this past Sunday, we held our 5th annual Fletcher Family Legacy Day (click-on link above to learn about Family Legacy Day.) Jennifer, our oldest daughter, led our family with an amazing devotional, speaking about the theme verse, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1-2). Jen passionately elaborated on the fact that so often we forfeit our rest in God, by living a life that replaces our true rest in God with “stuff.” In our culture today, “stuff” can include spending too much time on social media, along with other forms of busyness, such as running from one activity to the next. Bottom line, our true rest comes only from God and resting in the assurance of knowing His Son Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and then living a life that exemplifies this rest. Ways to insure our rest in God alone: Spending quiet time with Jesus, reading His Word, praying, sharing our faith in Christ with others, and resting in knowing that God loves us.
I praise God for His great love for me and our family, and for His salvation that is found in Christ alone. This peace-filled rest can be yours today, by believing that God loves you and desires to have a personal relationship with you, through His Son, Jesus. Not “just” believing, because the Bible says that even the demons believe, and shudder, but you won’t see demons in heaven (James 2:19). One must receive Jesus as the Lord of their life. Here’s a simple prayer that you can pray, to receive Jesus into your heart and life.
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and haven’t been living a life that pleases you. Please forgive me of my sins. I do believe that you sent Jesus to die for me on a cross, and I also believe that on the third day, He was raised from the grave, and He is now preparing a place for me in heaven. I love you Lord, and I want you to be my personal Savior. Please help me to live a life that pleases you. Thank you for loving me so much, that you sent your one and only Son to die for me.
Once you have said this prayer or one similar (in your own words, and from your heart), you are now a child of God and have received eternal life.
What to do next: 1. Find a Bible teaching church, so you can grow in your new faith in Christ. 2. Share your salvation experience with your family and friends. 3. Begin reading your Bible daily. Start by reading the Gospel of John. 4. Spend time talking to God–daily. 4. Surround yourself with other Christians. 5. Avoid those things in your life that cause you to stumble and can lead you to sin against God.
Remember growing as a Christian is a lot like growing as a new-born baby. First the baby craves his mother’s milk, then as his body begins to grow, he requires a heartier diet of nutrients found in meats, vegetables, and fruits. After those first few baby steps….he starts to run, peddle a tricycle, drive a car, ..and so on it goes, until the child is fully grown. As a babe in Christ, you will begin to crave “spiritual milk,” (God’s Word) so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Peter 2:1-3). When you first receive Christ, you are “born again.” To learn more about the term “born again,” read the story of Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. Begin to grow as a babe in Christ by digesting pure spiritual milk, God’s Word….then as God’s Word gets into your heart and mind, you will begin to crave more of the nutrients that will help you to become fully mature in Christ. Of course, this is a life-long process, which will ultimately be complete when we meet Jesus face to face.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Find rest in God alone!
The season of Lent will begin two weeks from today, on Ash Wednesday. This is a notable time for Christians–to bow their hearts before God, with true humility, repentance of sins, and a determined desire to seek God’s presence without ceasing. It is also a time to eagerly anticipate Easter Sunday, as Christians around the world celebrate our resurrected Lord. How are we doing, Christians? For me personally, I desire to spend this time (40 weekdays and 6 Sundays) by intentionally surrendering my time, talents, and thoughts to Jesus. You say, “Shouldn’t this be the norm 365 days a year?” Of course, but as we study the life of Jesus, there were “special” times set aside to pray and prepare one’s heart. Jesus knew the importance of reading and teaching God’s Word in the temple (Luke 2:41-49). And there were many times when Jesus reminded his disciples to pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1-8). One of the most touching examples of Christ’s humility, with exception of the Cross, is when he “wrapped a towel around his waist…and began to wash his disciples’ feet” (John 13:1-20). Jesus not only demonstrated a servant’s role through foot-washing, but he also illustrated the Father’s forgiveness towards others (see also Matt. 5:23-24; Eph. 4:32). There are so many other instances in Scripture where Jesus intentionally set aside specific times to show His genuine love and obedience to His Heavenly Father. The significant ones I’ve listed are just an inkling into what I believe God wants us to emulate.
Families, take some time during Lent to intentionally follow the example of Jesus. Set aside some”special” time to bow your hearts before God, in true humility, repentance, and with a desire to fully seek God’s presence.
There are endless ideas on the internet to help families prepare their hearts for Easter. Here’s a couple that you may find helpful. The most important way, however, is to spend time together as a family, reading the Gospel accounts of Holy Week. I’ve included a link to the Christian Resource Institute (CRI), where you can read more on the Season of Lent.