Day 3: Mount of Olives

Today our journey with Jesus through Holy Week takes us back to the Temple in Jerusalem and then to the Mount of Olives.

On Tuesday morning, Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem. They passed the withered fig tree on their way, and Jesus taught them about faith.

At the Temple, the religious leaders aggressively challenged Jesus’ authority, attempting to ambush him and create an opportunity for his arrest. But Jesus evaded their traps and pronounced harsh judgment on them: “Blind guides! … For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness…Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?” (Matthew 23:24-33)

Tuesday afternoon Jesus left the city and went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives, which overlooks Jerusalem due east of the Temple. Here Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse, an elaborate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. He taught in parables using symbolic language about end times events, including his Second Coming and the final judgment.

Scripture indicates that Tuesday was the day Judas Iscariot (iss-carry-ut) negotiated with the Sanhedrin (san hēdrin) to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16).

 Read more – Matthew 21:23–24:51, Mark 11:20–13:37, Luke 20:1–21:36, and John 12:20–38.

What I learned today…Even Jesus had false friends and ones who would betray Him. Even knowing what Judas would eventually would do, He still loved Him and taught Him up until the moment of betrayal. I need to love ALL others better. Not just the people who are nice to me.

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Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple

Today, we continue tracing the footsteps of Jesus, as Monday morning he returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit. (Matthew 21:18-22)Some scholars believe this cursing of the fig tree represented God’s judgment on the spiritually dead religious leaders of Israel. Others believe the symbolism extended to all believers, demonstrating that genuine, living faith is more than just outward religiosity. True faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life.

When Jesus arrived at the Temple he found the courts full of corrupt sales people.

He began flipping over their tables and clearing the Temple, saying, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46)

On Monday evening Jesus stayed in Bethany again, probably in the home of his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Matthew 21:12-17New International Version (NIV)

Jesus at the Temple

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[c]?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

 Read more here- Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45-48, and John 2:13-17.

What I learned today…Jesus showed us His temper when He was frustrated with the people in the temple. I love that He did that. It helps when I feel righteous anger!
AND I need to make sure my house and temple stay holy, asking God to test MY heart in all I do.

Day 1: Palm Sunday’s Triumphal Entry of Jesus in to the City

On the Sunday before his death, Jesus began his trip to Jerusalem, knowing that soon he would lay down his life for the sins of the world.

He sat on the young donkey and slowly, humbly, made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling the ancient prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. The crowds welcomed him by waving palm branches in the air and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

Read more here –  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19.

What I learned today…I can’t possible begin to imagine what Jesus went through riding in to the town, hearing the love…knowing what was about to happen.

Holy Week is Coming!

As we head in to Holy Week preparing for Easter. Let’s take a look at what the week looked like for Jesus each day.

Take time in your day to pause and reflect as you read. If you find yourself with a few more moments, go to your Bible and look up the “Read More” verses at the bottom of each daily blog.

This is what our week will look like –

Sunday – Day 1: Palm Sunday’s Triumphal Entry of Jesus in to the City

Monday – Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple

Tuesday – Day 3: Mount of Olives

Wednesday – Day 4: The Bible is quiet about this day…was it a day of rest and anticipation for Jesus?

Thursday – Day 5: Passover, The Last Supper…if you haven’t taken part in a Passover supper, find one in your area or Click here for directions as it is a VERY moving experience.

Friday – Day 6: Trial, Crucifixion, Death, Burial

Saturday – Day 7: A day in the tomb

Sunday – Day 8: Resurrection Sunday!!!

Moving through this exercise for this week, I pray God speaks to you through the verses. I pray He prepares your heart by helping you get one step closer to Him.

I pray that as you walk through the week, you remember Jesus Christ died and rose for YOU. That you are loved and can have hope that you will be able to thank Him when you get to heaven.

I pray that you are so firm in your faith that you reach out to invite others to go to an Easter service with you. I pray those people find a connection with Jesus and give their lives to Him.

What I learned today…we need to walk through this week every year. Slowly and intentionally.

 

Who? Me?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you have walked in to a situation and thought, “What in the world am I doing here?”.

I do that at work, a LOT. I look at God incredulously a LOT and ask Him, “Do you REALLY think I belong here?”. You know, those days were you feel SO different.

Not smart enough. Not young enough. Not old enough. Not thin enough. Not “Holy” enough. Not male enough. Not female enough. Not “hip” enough. Not quiet enough. Not “soft” enough.

I do alllll the time. Now, I know you can say, we need to remember God created us all beautifully for a specific purpose! And I hear what you are saying because I get it. I just feel completely under-qualified 85% of the time. The other 15% of the time, I think I’ve got it.

Last night Chad and I were invited to a function. It felt like a hush-hush deal so I didn’t bring it up much at work. I felt privilege to have been afforded an invite. I was excited to see who would be there.

When we arrived, it was a small, narrow building and I saw some familiar faces right away. (Now remember, I am VERY socially awkward with small talk, even with people I love.)  I saw wonderful people from the worship and production teams and only a few others. People that I REALLY like and admire…but rarely have words to use around them in my awkwardness, so Chad and I were thankful to have a couple faces that we could connect with.

As the evening began, I was YET AGAIN in awe of the leader of our worship team. He truly has a heart for God. I am not close enough with his wife, but I can safely assume she does as well. As he started the evening, he took time to thank each and every person that had helped with the release of their first EP (“First” ironically is the name and you can click here to purchase it on Itunes now). As he walked through each name, you saw each person feel honored and hold their head a little higher because they were SEEN and Valued.

As I was looking around thinking, what am I doing here, I was praising God for such amazing people. We were in a room full of people that use their time, energy and gifts pouring their talents back out to the Lord who provided them all of those things.

And then, the leader said MY name. What?!?!? He said he was thankful for my support. Through the thick and thin they new I was always cheering for them and praying for them. Soooo, I teared up, because I couldn’t believe he’d point that out!!! Isn’t that what we are suppose to do? Love and support each other? Pray for each other? I felt like it was a privilege and honor to have a position where I can support and pray for them. Shouldn’t we all be doing that for each other?

So as I stood there praying my heart out, asking for God to show people His love and His mercy. I felt God strongly say there is someone here that NEEDS to know THEY ARE SEEN. I looked behind me and thought WOW, God must love her a LOT to be having me awkwardly step over and give her a big hug in the midst of it all. He wanted HER to know that she is KNOWN. Did I have a chance to truly explain that? Nope. But I am hoping she felt it through my look and hug. Sadly, she left before I could get to her again. I prayed God would stay with her.

Who in your life are you not SEEing? Who did He put in your life that you can support and pray for. Not in a big way, but in a way that says YOU MATTER.

What I learned today…Be thankful for those in your life. Acknowledge and honor the gifts God gave them. I need to always thank God for the opportunity to work for Him. And to constantly ask Him to show me who He needs me to tap on the shoulder, hug and let them know they are SEEN.

 

Old Friends, Rock’n Roll & My Big Butt

Saturday night we were invited to a party and a friend’s house and another friend’s band was playing their yearly St. Patty’s Day gig.

I would love to say I was having a hard time deciding which one to go to, but I wasn’t. My heart wanted to attend both and have fun like the “good ‘ole days”, but my mind was saying…NOOOOOOOOO! Have you seen your butt?!?!?

I have already written about my insecurity about my size. I have started the road to becoming healthier. I have NOT gotten my self-esteem on track with the issue. Did I REALLY want to go to two different parties and have a BLAST with old friends, catching up with them and their lives, hearing about their families? Of course I did. Was I going to allow myself to be stopped by my own insecurities? Of course.

That played in to the tantrum I wrote about yesterday as well.

We went to our church service, and as I walked in, I realize how much of our lives have changed. Do I miss going crazy and partying each weekend? To be honest, yes, sometimes. Do I miss hanging out watch friends get crazy and dance around? Yes, sometimes. But I realized, we were sitting in service with our best friends. They have been a constant for the last 3 years. They know the new redeemed and transformed Julie and Chad.

I sat there asking God if I would ever feel comfortable with my size. He reminded me I am working on it and with His help all things are possible. I told Him I was sad I wasn’t able to go see old friends perform…and then an old friend walked on to the stage. At church. To sing. I almost giggled out loud as my eyes welled with tears. emily b She sang a beautiful song that went straight to my heart. Even these lyrics that were on the screen as I took the picture… It reminded me, If God is with me, who can be against me?

I don’t have to worry about my big butt. Jesus loves me right where I am. He wants me to be healthy, but I shouldn’t stop going places and doing things because of how I look. I have nothing to prove. I can enjoy life knowing that I have no one to prove myself too.

What I learned today…My God loves me, unconditionally and will be with me wherever I go. I need to kick my insecurities to the curb and keep THAT fresh in my mind. No more excuses or big “buts”.

 

 

Pouting and Praise

Yesterday I threw a GINORMOUS tantrum. Yelling, guilt-throwing, crazy-lady tantrum. I was in an extreme pout mode. All I could think about was “What about me?”. I hadn’t been feeling good all week, but that is no excuse. I was tired, but that is no excuse. Felt behind on housework, school work and work work, but that is no excuse.

My frustration, when I boiled it down, came from my shame over the feeling I am a horrible mom. With one struggling in school, not enough time to really have  quality time with my boys, a house that is in constant disarray, meals that are generally take out, etc…etc… I, personally, was feeling down. What is the easiest thing to do? Lash out at those around me and point the fingers at everyone but myself.

Thankfully, after my husband reacted poorly to me reacting poorly, we were able to connect. It started with more finger pointing and tears, and all that goes along with these types of conversations. Thankfully, we have learned, over many successes and even more failures in communication, to KEEP talking.

After we started feeling that we were getting back on track to understanding each other, we were off to church. (Have you ever found that your craziest times are right before church?!?!)

When we arrived, I went in the row, with our friends following me, and then my husband capped the row off at the end. It was a strange feeling as usually we are always sitting together, but I blew it off.  I looked up to see an elderly couple walk it. I always love watching them come in as she is generally dressed beautifully and he is known to come in wearing sweats and flip-flops using his cane to help him keep up with her quick pace.

Last night, he had a bit of a hop in his step. He was wearing a black golfers hat and had dressed up a bit. As he walked, he was almost passing his cane in his hurry to sit down! At one point I though we’d have to pick him up if he fell!

The worship team started singing. Now worship is a bit different for me, as I am not very eloquent with my prayers, so I listen to the songs and sing them up to God. I happened to glance over to my favorite couple, and the man was doing every thing he could to praise God. He was immersed in the song, singing at the top of his lungs. That is when I noticed his hands. His right hand was holding his left hand as high as he could. It looked like his left hand won’t work on it’s own, so in order to praise God, he had to physically assist one side of his body. I know I am not describing the beauty of it in the right words. All I know is that I was bawling like a baby. I sang to Jesus at the top of my lungs captivated by this man. Thanking God for the opportunity to watch someone in a much worse physical predicament then me,praising God with all his heart!

It reminded me of where God has me now. Through the craziness of life, I need to continue to praise him in all circumstances. I need to be thankful for the intentional time I do get with my family, for the ability to work and go to school. For a house that is messy with items we have been allowed to buy to provide.

What I learned today…I shouldn’t concentrate on the past or the future. I should remember to constantly praise God through all circumstances and do the best I possibly can in each moment.

How To Read Your Bible

Okay, now that I am back in Seminary (after a short break) I’ll have to share with you a couple of the things I am learning, on occasion.

This week I learned a FANTASTIC way to read the Bible. You see, when I read it, I usually get stuck. I’ll read a couple of verses and freak out because there is so much in them to teach me. I usually will then tell the closest person around me how excited I am about those couple of verses and then move on.

What I learned this week…is I haven’t been letting God finish His thought! I haven’t been letting Him speak to me through the WHOLE chapter.

My new way of reading through the Bible will look like this –

  1. Read the whole chapter, straight through.
  2. Read the chapter again underlining the thoughts that the Holy Spirit is leading you to pay attention to.
  3. Read through it, again, reading all that you had underlined.

So far, I haven’t tried this BRILLIANT strategy. I keep just opening the Bible and asking the Lord to show me what He’d like me to read.

BUT, I will try it tomorrow. Because it sounds like a good way to really see what God has to tell me in a complete way.

Memorization Is Miserable

I don’t know about you, but I am HORRIBLE at memorization. From songs, to movie lines, to school work, my brain shuts off the second I reallllly want to memorize something.

I remember sitting in my cousin Tracey’s car, listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana 100 times trying to get the words correct. She would just laugh and say, “Again?!?!”

The inability to capture information and make it stick is frustrating. I absolutely love hanging out with those of you can that remember a movie line to fit any situation or hear a couple of words and start belting out a song that used the same words. It is such a great gift to be able to do that. Share it with others! We are greatly entertained by it!

When it comes to memorizing the Bible, I have gotten really good at paraphrasing. I remember the “gist” of the verse, but not the exact words. I remember the point, but not the “address” of where it is located in the Bible. This all is fine when I first started out on my journey of faith, but at this point, I need to step up my game.

Quick example – I use the verse “Jesus wept” a lot when I am talking with others. I truly want them to see that Jesus was sad, too. It is okay to mourn the loss of a loved one. It is okay to mourn, period. Well, in using that verse, I could never answer the question, “Where is that in the Bible?”. I couldn’t for the life of me remember.

Than I heard how the enemy doesn’t want you to remember verses and/or where they fall in the Bible (we talked about it on an earlier post). Now, I am determined to know “Jesus wept” is found in John 11:35. Now, we have a verse written on my whiteboard to learn each week.

Well, it’s on my whiteboard, refridge, bathroom mirror, etc… to make SURE I memorize them.

Now YOU know, “Jesus wept” can be found where? John 11:35

And this week….

“We are not trying to please men, but GOD, who tests OUR hearts”. 1 Thess 2:4b

(I put in the caps as that is what I see when I read it, TODAY).

What I learned today…Keep studying. Don’t give the enemy a foothold. Learn as much of the Bible as I can so I can recall not only the verse, but the address and context as well.

Get EXCITED About Jesus

Okay, Easter is coming. Working at a church, we are going through the process of branding, preparing, messages, projects, ministry opportunities, etc…

That does NOT negate the excitement we feel over why we celebrate Easter. We wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for Easter.

Jesus rose from the dead after three days!!!!!

I leave myself little reminders each day that point to Jesus and all He did for ME. It is mind boggling.

As you walk into making plans for your Easter, where you will celebrate, where you will go to a church service, who is bring what food, what you’ll put in Easter baskets, if you’ll take a Spring Break, etc… Let Jesus settle in to your soul.

Remember, HE is the reason you have an opportunity to make all those plans.

He came and faced even more than you will ever face. Because He chose to. He chose to because He loves you that much.

He was ridiculed, beaten, deserted, mocked, etc…for Y O U.

Make sure you say a pray of thanks, then GET EXCITED ABOUT JESUS. So excited that people ask you about it.

Today I learned…To try and be the best reminder I can, helping people see Jesus in me and remind them what Easter is about.

READ THE STORY OF EASTER HERE!