"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 8, 2017
March 1st marked the first day of Lent. Jon and I don't generally do much for Lent. Growing up, it wasn't something that my church really talked about or encouraged people to observe. I've heard many people who will say that they are giving up (fasting) chocolate or caffeine or Facebook or various things during the 40 days of Lent. Sometimes they persevere and will be able to hold to their resolution; while other times what they chose to give up seems to be too difficult so they go ahead and break their fast.
This year, Jon and I are doing something different. My nephew's wife had recommended a book that we are reading entitled, "40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast." (Author Alicia Britt Chole) There is a devotional every day that Jon and I are reading together. There is also something that we focus on that goes along with each devotional to do as a fast. For example, one day we were to fast regret. Do not feed it, give it space; but let it go. Hindsight helps us learn from the past, but regret beats us up with the past.
At the end of each devotional, we are given a passage of scripture to read and meditate upon, beginning with John chapter 12. Our daily readings began with Jesus arriving in Bethany, and Mary anointing His feet with expensive oil. The daily scriptures will continue up through the resurrection of Jesus. As we read about the journey that Jesus and the disciples went through during those days leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection, we are to try and put ourselves in their place and to feel what they were feeling and to imagine what it would have been like.
Jon and I are finding out, as we are slowly reading the scriptures together and discussing them, that we are seeing details that neither of us had noticed before. It's interesting to listen to one another and hear the insight or perspective that the other person has. We are seeing things in a different light and it's making us think.
Perhaps you would read this same chapter and see or think about things differently than we do. When we use our imaginations and try to place ourselves in a story, different things will stand out to each of us; and we may see things or make observations that someone else doesn't notice. Someone else may see or read about the exact situation as we do, and in their imagination have a completely different viewpoint. The Holy Spirit may also reveal different things to different people as they read the scriptures. It's amazing that you can read the same scriptures and stories in the Bible many times, yet still glean something new over and over again.
Here are just a few observations that we've made thus far:
In Luke 10:38-42 we read a story of Jesus visiting the home of Lazarus and his sisters. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to what He taught. Martha was distracted by the big dinner that she was preparing. Martha was a little put out that she was doing all the work while her sister sat listening to Jesus. Jesus told her, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."
John chapter 12 begins with the story of Jesus once again showing up in Bethany at the home of Lazarus. A dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor. We see Martha and Mary in the same roles as they were in before. Martha served. Mary, on the other hand, took a 12-ounce jar of expensive perfume that was worth a year's wages, and she anointed Jesus' feet with it, wiping His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
Here are some thoughts that Jon and I had while reading this story and considering it:
From what I've researched, women in those days wore veils, so Mary's hair would have been hidden. So for her to have wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair would have meant that she would have either taken her veil off, or would have pulled her hair out from underneath its covering.
It seems as if Mary had pre-planned this act of anointing Jesus' feet. Perhaps for many months she had been cutting corners in household expenses and selling handmade products in order to save up the money to buy the expensive perfume. As a woman, I can imagine her washing her hair in preparation for honoring Jesus in this special way. Afterward Mary's act of anointing the feet of Jesus, the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Mary's hair must have carried that same fragrance for quite some time, too. Also, with her veil rubbing against her hair, it likely smelled of the perfume. Each time Mary got a whiff of that smell, did it remind her of Jesus and that moment when she knelt before him anointing his feet? After His death, did her veil still carry that sweet odor, reminding her of the last time Jesus visited the home of her and her siblings?
Regarding veils in those days, I read this: "The only time women displayed their hair in public was on their wedding day." In Revelation 19:7-9, we are referred to as the bride of Christ. When Judas complained about Mary "wasting" her money on anointing Jesus, saying that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor, this is what Jesus replied: "Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me." Perhaps Mary really had a deep understanding of who Jesus was and His purpose. Jesus knew this, and may have realized that Mary's act was one of preparation of not only His burial, but also in preparation for becoming His spiritual bride. The removal of her veil and using her hair on the feet of Jesus may have been symbolic of her spiritually committing herself to Him wholly and completely; recognizing the fact that He was the bridegroom.
The second thing that we noticed in this passage of scripture is in reference to Lazarus. The previous chapter (John 11) is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Some time had passed between that happening and this visit, although I'm not sure how long. But it was recent enough that the resurrection of Lazarus was still fresh on the minds of the people.
John 12:9-11 says, "When all the people heard of Jesus' arrival, they flocked to see Him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus."
Can you imagine what Lazarus must have been thinking and feeling? He had already died once... was wrapped in grave clothes... and was in his grave for 4 days. Then Jesus called him forth and Lazarus was raised from the dead. Now, he is somewhat of a sensation. People not only came to see Jesus, but also want to get a look at Lazarus. The miracle of his resurrection had caused many to believe in Jesus. That caused much distress to the high priests, therefore, they had decided that they now wanted to kill not only Jesus, but Lazarus as well. Was he thinking, "Good grief! Did I have to leave heaven.... get called back to earth... only to get killed?!?!" On the other hand, maybe it didn't really bother him that much, because he had gotten a glimpse of heaven and knew what he had to look forward to!
I encourage you to read this passage of scripture, John 12:1-11. What do you imagine and think about when you read this story? What stands out to you? In the upcoming weeks leading up to Easter, I encourage you to take the time daily to read about the journey of Jesus leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and give you new revelations. Let us all prepare our hearts for the awe and wonder of celebrating Easter!
Many times, I've heard the scripture in which Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?", while He was on the cross. It's one of those scriptures that can be hard to reconcile. We are taught again and again that God will never abandon us. So how could He forsake Jesus? I've heard a lot of explanations, like that the Greek word Jesus used doesn't mean 'forsaken' in the sense that God turned against Jesus, but just that God looked away for a moment.
But in Sunday School, we did some digging. The verse is actually in both Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. The two verses and several translations do translate the Greek a little differently. But we found a reference that makes far more sense. The same phrase (but in Hebrew) is also in Psalm 22. The song begins, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? 'Why are thou so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring?" [King James Version], or "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I groan in prayer, but help seems far away." [New English Translation].
Later, it says, "They divide up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice for my garments.", which is exactly what happened to Jesus. Several verses in the song are obviously prophesies of Jesus, and some seem more like David ranting.
After reading Psalm 22, it seems more obvious that Jesus wasn't in despair, thinking God had turned against Him. He was singing a psalm!
The psalm turns to rejoicing later, and ends with "They will come and tell about his saving deeds; they will tell a future generation what he has accomplished." [NET]
I am a huge fan of trifle desserts!! They are pretty, look like you've spent a lot of time working on them, and are delicious! You can basically use any type of cake, fruit, pudding to layer. Or instead of fruit, you can used crushed cookies or candy bars. Very easy to make and tasty!!
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Trifle
1 chocolate cake (9x13 size)
2 small boxes cheesecake instant pudding
4 cups milk
1 tub Cool Whip
Chocolate almond bark
Bake cake according to instructions; cool. Cut the cake into cubes.
Make the pudding, according to package instructions. Whisk in the Cool Whip, until fully incorporated.
Stem and slice the strawberries, leaving a few for garnishment, if desired.
In a pretty serving bowl layer cake in the bottom; layer strawberries; then layer pudding/Cool Whip mixture.
Repeat layers: cake, strawberries, pudding mixture.
Optional: Melt chocolate almond bark according to package instructions. Dip 5-6 whole strawberries into the chocolate and place on waxed paper to cool. Once the chocolate has hardened, place the dipped strawberries on top of the trifle to garnish.
Cover and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours until ready to serve.
This is unbelievable!!! Our first newsletter was published on March 12, 2007. Wow!!! That means that we've been doing this for 10 years! Therefore, this is our 10th anniversary; our 522nd edition; and (if the counter on our website has worked correctly at all times) we've had approximately 6,775 hits on our website. How crazy and amazing is that?! I feel blessed beyond measure to be able to do something that I enjoy so very much each and every week, and have people who actually read what I write. God has incredibly blessed us!
Reminder: Time change begins this weekend -- spring forward an hour!!
Our biggest struggles can become the greatest doorways to experiencing God. - Lysa TerKeurst
We love you!
Loretta & Jon