Today Is Important

Today seems important to me. Can you give me just a few minutes? (You may want to stop and go get that second cup of coffee!)

Today is September 30, 2018. In the One Year Bible that is the day for the assigned reading of Isaiah 60:1-3:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come the your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

It’s also the day for the assigned reading of Isaiah 60:21-22, which is the last verses of Is 60.

“Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swifty.” Is. 60:21-22

Following the prophetic words in Isaiah 60, are more prophetic words in Isaiah 61, which were Jesus’s first words in a public setting—his first sermon. After he read these words, he said, “Today these words are fulfilled in your hearing.” These were the prophetic words that Jesus fulfilled.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Is 61:1-4

Today, September 30, 2018, is also the last day of the Sukkot—the Feast of the Tabernacle, which is the remembrance of the desert wandering. Today is the 7thday of the Sukkot. Today, the 7thday of the Sukkot, is called Hoshanah Rabbah. It means “the great hoshanah”. It was considered the last and greatest day of the Sukkot. It was the final day to receive God’s divine judgement (verdict) concerning the fruitfulness of the coming year.

A hoshanah is a series of 7 liturgical poems calling on God to rescue and redeem His people. It is viewed as a mini-Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. It is a cry for the water of the seasonal rains to come—for Christians, we cry for the Rain of the Holy Spirit, to cleanse, refresh, and nourish our spiritual lives, so that we may be fruitful for God’s kingdom.

Today, after the seven poems, Jewish people will strike the ground with a willow branch 7 times in a symbolic attempt to rid themselves of any remaining sin. Now, let’s think for a moment about the branch that they will use symbolically to rid themselves of remaining sin, and let’s think for a moment about the Branch God has already sent to us. Look at what I wrote in my book, Stones from the River Jordan.

“Read the following vision, given to Zechariah, a beautiful, symbolic picture of our place before the judgment throne:

Then the Lord showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.  The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan!  The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!  Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.  The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’  Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’  Then I said, ‘Put a clean turban on his head.’  So they put a clean turban on his head, and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua:  ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.  ‘Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come:  I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.  See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua!  There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.  ‘In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree, declares the Lord Almighty.’

         (Zechariah 3:1 – 10)

This vision was given to Zechariah about his friend Joshua.  Just after this vision, another was given to describe to Zechariah the anointing that was about to come to Joshua and Zerubbabel so that they could serve the Lord in an extraordinary way. And all the power would come from God, not from their own feeble efforts, for God gave this word:  ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’, says the Lord Almighty’ (Zech. 4:6).But the initial vision had to be fulfilled first.  Work needed to be done to prepare the ordinary for the extraordinary.  Picture the vision as if it were a courtroom scene: Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord with Satan right beside him continually accusing him.  Were the accusations accurate?  Perhaps, but that is not the point.  The point is that the Lord himself stepped in to defend.  The Lord himself rebuked Satan, declaring that Joshua was a burning stick snatched from the fire.

What a beautiful description.  Joshua, ordinary man, was snatched by God himself from the eternal destruction of a fiery hell. That is me, too.  God snatched me from the fire when he graciously saved me. And to further bless my soul (and yours, if you are a believer), He declares in John 10:27-29 that, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  What a beautiful picture!  The Father will not let go of His people.  He will personally defend them, snatch them from the fire, and not let go!

Next, we see that as the accuser is forced to leave the scene, the repair work begins.  Joshua was standing there in filthy clothes.  Those clothes represented the priestly order, and taking them off represented removal from the priestly office.  Yet, this was also representative of the removal of sin. Perhaps Joshua was in all appearances a “priest,” yet God saw his heart.  In the same way, we often have an effective Christ-like appearance on the outside—we go to church, tithe, talk the talk, etc., but what about the state of our hearts.  I, too, have had times that God exposed my “filthy clothes,” only to reveal a heart that was in desperate need of revival.

What about you?  Is God calling you to the humbling position of admitting, even if only to yourself, that you too need to have your filthy clothes removed?  If so, there is good news to come!  Listen to what God says directly to Joshua just after the filth had been exposed: “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you” (Zech. 3:4).  What grace and mercy is displayed in those words.  Mercy is not getting the punishment and death that we deserve.  We could never get rid of our filthy clothes on our own merit.  Only God can take away our sins.

But then He goes even further.  He does not leave us unclothed, in shame and embarrassment.  He then promises to clothe us with rich garments!  In fact, Romans 13:14 says “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”  No brand of clothing could ever compare to these rich garments!  That is the grace of God in action.  Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.  It is receiving far more than we could ever hope, or dream, or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)  God takes the ordinary man, removes the sin and obstacles that hold him back, then clothes him in preparation for the extraordinary work that God has planned for him.

As we see in the vision, a clean turban is put on his head.  This action re-instated him into the high-priestly order, only now with the purity and holiness and power that could not come from ordinary man, but only from the Holy Spirit.  Now he is ready for the extraordinary work.  But the experience was not complete without the acceptance of the charge laid before Joshua:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.  Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua!  There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree, declares the Lord Almighty.”  (Zech. 3:7-10)

This charge sounds very much like the charge laid before Joshua, son of Nun in Joshua 1:7-8:

Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  

You see there is a cause and effect in action.  There is a charge that we have to keep.  Though it clearly is not based on our own good actions, there is an acceptance of the charge.  There is a “if you, then I” principal.  God clearly says, “If you follow in my ways, then I will anoint you for extraordinary success.”  And as if that promise was not thrilling enough, God added something even more phenomenal!  God did not want the significance to be lost, so he prefaced it with the word, ‘Listen’.

When I am telling something important to my children and I want them to understand the importance of what I am saying, I will often use that preface of ‘Now, Listen!’  In the same way, God wanted Joshua and his associates to understand the importance of what was to come: ‘Listen…I am going to bring my servant, the Branch’ (Zech 3:7, 8).  That is a Messianic title.  He was talking about Jesus.  Note the comparison of Joshua, ordinary man, as a burning stick, and Jesus, the Branch, with a capital B!  We are nothing, He is everything!  Yet, He was sent for us!

God again prefaces his announcement with an attention grabber word, ‘See’. It is as if He is saying, ‘Don’t you see the significance!’  There is a stone set before ordinary man, Joshua; a stone with seven eyes, perhaps symbolic of the completion and perfection of the stone. And this same stone is engraved with an inscription and a promise for the instant removal of sin.  This sounds very much like what we find in Isaiah 49:15, 16: ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…’

We find in Exodus 28:9-12 that the names of the tribes of Israel were engraved on stones and fastened to the ephod of the high priest as a memorial before the Lord.  At the cross, Jesus, the greatest high priest, the Chief Cornerstone, engraved our names on His palms as a memorial and remembrance before the Lord. He will not forget you if you are His! No matter what happens, God will not forget His children. The removal of sin in a single day refers to the day that Christ died for us.  And what should our reaction be to all of this? ‘In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree, declares the Lord Almighty’ (Zech. 3:10).

After I began studying these scriptures, I came across the ‘vine and fig tree’ phrase many places in the Bible.  When these truths finally hit home, our reaction should be two-fold: first, ‘sit under his vine and fig tree,’ according to the NIV study Bible, is a ‘proverbial picture of peace, security, and contentment’.  And secondly, we should invite our neighbors to join us!  How are we doing in these two areas?  Have we forgotten what has been done for us?  Do we really ‘get it’?  If we stop and think, and remember, then we will be a ‘proverbial picture of peace, security and contentment,’ and that alone should be such a witness to our ‘neighbors,’ or anyone that we come into contact with, that they, too, will want to come and receive what we have so graciously been given.”

Hoshana Rabbah 2018 began last night and ends tonight. Each of the poems recited today begin and end with Hosha Na—“Save, we beseech Thee.” In between this beginning and ending prayer are words which indicate why we would be saved (eternally as well as from various situation which would thwart our fruitfulness) and who gets the glory for it. The words are: “For Your Sake, our God”, “For Your Sake, our Creator”, “for Your Sake, our Redeemer”, then “For Your Sake, O Thou who searches us”. These are good prayers and good words for us as Christians to reflect on. All we do, and all we are is for Him. He saves us for Himself, for he loves us with a jealous love. It is important to note that in the first three of these phrases we see the word “our”—our God, our Creator, our Redeemer. It is personal. He is ours and we are His and because of this most precious and intimate relationship with our God, we can feel safe as He searches us. In fact, we should invite Him to do so.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

On each day of the Sukkot, the priests walk around the altar 1 time, but on the 7thday (today!) they walk around the altar 7 times, carrying the palm and willow branches. We know the willow branch represented atonement, the finished work of removal of sin. But what about the palm branch? It is associated with praise. Specifically, the praise we give when we experience victory. This was also conveyed in the passage of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. After the seventh turn around, they shouted victory and “the walls fell flat.”

When the people waved palm branches when Jesus entered Jerusalem during His triumphal entry, they were shouting out that He was the victorious one. They would have learned this significance by celebrating the 7thday of the Sukkot. (Which, may I remind you is today!)

Little did they know that their announcement of his victorious title would not come about as they imagined. However, Jesus would indeed wear the Ultimate Victor’s Crown when 7 days later he defeated sin and death forever when He rose from the grave.

Tomorrow, October 1, is Shmini Atzeret, which is the Jewish holiday which commemorates the answer of God for the coming rain in the coming year. It is observed because of Numbers 29:35, which says, “On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly.” The Sukkot—the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles was over, but God asked his people to tarry with him one more day, so that they may continue to ask for the coming rains and hear His reply. For Christians, we too, need to tarry with the Father for another day and ask for the “rain” of His Holy Spirit in the coming days, that we may be fruitful for His kingdom.

John 7:37, 40-42 is the account of when Jesus, Himself, was celebrating 7thday of the Sukkot—the Hoshanah Rabbah. It was on this day, even as the people were praying for the water of the coming rains, that Jesus said:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

May we all praise Him who is the giver of the water which cleanses and satisfies our thirty souls—the One who sends rain in due season to cleanse us, nourish us, and make us fruitful. And may we tarry with Him another day as we look for His answers to our heartfelt prayers. May we receive mercy to help in our time of need. May we have ears to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 


My Dad is Crazy

I have a guest writer on my blog today–someone I adore, writing about someone else I adore.  My sister, Nan Williams Green, is writing about our dad.  He is Kenneth Williams, businessman, to many.  And to many more he is Koach.  To us, he is daddy.  We have had a front row seat to watch him for 40 years, day after day, put on his running shoes and push himself with perseverance. My sister and I, along with our brothers, have learned many lessons–both practical and spiritual–as we have watched our Dad. And… well … I will let Nan explain.

 

My Dad is Crazy
A Daughter’s Thoughts on her Boston Marathon Dad

Every child thinks that their parents are crazy at one time or another.  I accept this as true about my parents and I know my children and grandchildren will feel the same way about me – if they haven’t already.  Wink wink.  And while my mom has had some crazy in her life, my dad has worn the “crazy crown” for as long as I can remember.  Yesterday, I watched one of his crazy days, and I must say, it was one of the best days of my life.

You see, my dad is a runner.  Other runners call him “Koach” because his first name starts with the letter K and he has coached ALOT of people around the world.  He started running long before it was cool.  He began back when running was still called “jogging”, and he has never stopped.  Yesterday, he finished his 17th Boston Marathon!  I have to stipulate “Boston Marathon” because he has run a total of 67 marathons all over the world.  To run in the Boston Marathon, one needs to qualify, which means running another marathon at a certain pace based on age.  In other words, no one can just decide to run the Boston Marathon.  There are rules and requirements and one has to meet those requirements to be eligible to run.  So….Dad just ran his 17th Boston Marathon as a qualifier.  He’s a little north of 76 years old.  He’s definitely crazy.

Over the years, I must confess to an eye roll or two when Dad’s running adventures have come up.  I accepted his running as part of who he is and what makes him tick, but I’m not sure I embraced how much he loves the sport until these last few years.  I believe my thinking changed exactly 5 years ago when he should have been at the finish line of his 12th Boston Marathon, but a knee injury had slowed him down. A bomb, heard around the world, changed the way I thought about Dad’s crazy addiction to running.  Before that point, running was just his pastime…the thing he did for health, stress, and the camaraderie of the act.  But that day I caught a glimpse of something else…something stronger and more powerful in him, and in others like him, than I had given him credit for.  Something even crazier than I had first thought.

As late as February of this year, I found myself thinking that my husband and I should go with Dad to Boston for the 2018 marathon.  My mom has been faithful to support her husband of 55 years as he ran everywhere.  Together, they have had wonderful trips centered on running, including most of Dad’s Boston adventures.  Illness has prevented her from traveling in recent years, so it was our turn to go.  And April 16, 2018 was the day!

To say the weather was bad is a massive understatement.  Many seasoned runners said the conditions were the worst they had ever experienced.  The temperature was around 40 degrees at its highest point, with constant headwinds often reaching 30 miles per hour.  Oh and it rained!   And it poured!  And it never stopped.  Fears of hypothermia, dehydration, what to wear, and how to keep feet dry were the pre-race dinner conversations with fellow runners for the days leading up to the race.  But it didn’t matter…every runner was wet and cold before they crossed the starting line.  Finishing became the real fear!

Let me back track a minute and let you in on a small secret!  My dad is a marathon Rock Star! Not an “elite runner” as far as running times go, but a celebrity none the less.  He has the years of his runs stitched onto the back of one of his Boston jackets – all those years taking up the entire back of his jacket.  I’ve watched people stop and point.  I’ve seen them count out loud, adding up the total.  I’ve seen people high-five him, take photos and videos, and ask for advice! I mean he has 12,000 followers on Twitter!  This weekend, people took his photo and moved aside as he passed.  It was crazy!

Dad began running his 17th Boston Marathon at 11:22 am yesterday morning, a part of the fourth wave of runners.  A marathoner doesn’t just get to the starting line, fight for a spot and start running when the gun goes off.  No!  First, all the runners gather at a specific location in downtown Boston.  Based on their running number, they line up, and board “yellow dog” school buses and are transported to a small Massachusetts town called Hopkinton about 26 miles outside of Boston.  Runners are herded into the “athlete’s village”- basically a big tent and a lot of port-a-johns.  The conditions of the athletes village yesterday was referred to by one runner as a “refugee camp” with acres of mud, trash and personal items abandoned and discarded everywhere you looked.  In this area, they wait for their starting times.  I don’t want to think about the nerves and butterflies, the fear, the concern, the nasty port-a-potties, and the constant “what ifs?” my dad must have had before he could line up.  The fourth wave of runners started their journey at 11:15 am, and there were so many runners that it took Dad a full seven minutes before he could even cross the starting line to begin his race.

Monday was not a great day for him. In fact this race was the slowest marathon he has ever run by over an hour.  The conditions, previous injuries, and maybe his age were all factors in a disappointing marathon time.  But, my father is my hero!

He ran for hours longer than average runners half his age.  He withstood the elements in very little clothing, wet feet, and a couple of borrowed garbage bags.  He smiled and hugged us at mile 17 and asked to borrow my phone so he could call my mom and assure her that he was okay.  He cracked jokes about being an “old man” who would not be receiving the whoops and hollers as usual from The Wellesley College girls who weren’t crazy enough to stay outside in the miserable conditions.  He climbed hills, ran though commercial and residential areas, ran in big groups and totally alone.

He turned right on Hereford Street only to be met by a road littered with thousands of garbage bags and ponchos all of which were discarded by other participants.  He turned left onto Boylston Street where more rain gear had been thrown to the ground and caused many runners to slip and lose their balance.  It was still pouring rain, but as the end was in sight, runners were anxious to lighten their loads – or maybe they just wanted to look good when the professional photographs were taken at the finish line.

He crossed over from the left side of Boylston, through the debris to where my husband and I were cheering him on…just 300 yards from the big blue and yellow finish line.  We followed him up the street until we were assured that he had crossed that painted line to finish the race and receive his Boston Marathon Finisher’s medallion. (Each of his medallions will go to his 15 grandchildren and with enough left over for some “greats”.) My eyes filled with tears as strangers encouraged him, clapped for him, and rang cowbells as he wobbled past them.

My dad never stopped running!  He’s crazy like that!  Crazy mixed in with just enough stubbornness, stamina, determination, perseverance, grit and love for his sport.  He earned a “Crazy Crown” years ago from those of us who know and love him, but yesterday, it was as if a gold laurel wreath crown had been placed on his head.
My daddy is crazy!   And I want to be just like him.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31


Day 40 | Remember What He Has Done–the Substitute Lamb

day 40One beautiful example of revival took place twenty years ago, and its story began with one ill-equipped couple, Mark and Gloria Zook.  Ironically, their story began with a call heard only by them.  No one else seemed to hear it, nor to believe that they had heard it.  Mission board after mission board refused to accept their applications, saying they were too old and not healthy enough to be missionaries.  Finally, their home church responded to their call and sent them under their leadership.

Once they began living with the New Guinea tribe, the Zooks spent months chronologically telling the stories of the Old Testament, pointing out all the foreshadowing moments of Christ.  When they got to the part of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, they ended the day’s storytelling with Isaac on the altar.  They waited to the next day to tell the ending.

The people pondered and discussed what they thought would happen.  Four different men came to Mr. Zook and said, “Abraham was a godly man, so he must obey God.  God promised a savior through Isaac, so Isaac must be spared.  God will send a substitute lamb.”  It was this story that made the connection when the Zooks taught the New Guinea tribe about the crucifixion and resurrection.  They understood that Jesus was the substitute Lamb.  When this truth sank in, something truly amazing happened.  All among the people, various ones began to shout “EE-Taow,” which means, “It is true!  It is very true and good!”  Though normally a reserved people, spontaneous celebration broke out among the people, which lasted for two and a half hours.  They laughed and shouted “EE-Taow” over and over.  They picked up Mr. Zook, the one rejected by mission boards as “too old and too sick” for ministry, and they carried him in celebration on their shoulders.

EE-Taow!  It is true!  The story of Jesus and His love is true!  We may not react in the same way, but we, too, can experience revival!  We may be too reserved to jump up and down, but I at least want you to feel that on the inside.  EE-Taow!  It is true!  And what are we going to do about it?  We can be used to ignite the fires of revival in our country.  As my friend the Reverend Maxie Dunnam says, “It is not great men who change the world, but weak men in the hands of a great God.”  Are you willing to bring your weakness to our great God?  Are you willing to be revived?

I shared this at a women’s retreat last year.  As I spoke, I pictured the scene in New Guinea and felt myself getting emotional and thought I had better end it quickly.  I quickly ended by saying, “EE-Taow!  It’s true!  And what are we going to do about it?”  Then I invited anyone who wanted to pray to come to the hallway to pray with one of the prayer team members.  I watched an eighty-year-old woman hobble over to one of the prayer team members, and fall into her arms.   She was crying and saying over and over, “What are we going to do about it?   What are we going to do about it?”  Eighty years old and still pressing on, wanting to be used, wanting to be revived.

We need to know:  It’s not over till it’s over.  And it’s not over until God says it’s over.  And until that day comes when He calls us home, we should spend all of our best energy doing whatever He calls us to do in reaction to the truth that He lives and He forgives.

Just as Paul prayed for his beloved Ephesian brothers and sisters, so I pray for you, my dear friends, this verse:

 

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

                                                                                 Ephesians 1:17


Day 39 | Remember What He Has Done–Wore the Thorns

day 39My grandmother was a precious and godly woman. One of her greatest pleasures was growing a yard full of beautiful roses, the majority of which she gave away to others. I remember seeing buckets and buckets of roses in her kitchen, as she prepared to give them away. Only recently I learned that my grandmother went a step further than just being generous. She spent hours removing the thorns of every rose she gave away. She wanted her friends and family to enjoy the beauty without the pain of the roses. She endured all the pricks for them.

As we celebrate—and grieve—the great gift sacrifice of Jesus, we should remember that He took the curse of thorns on His Holy head so we wouldn’t have to.

We find from Genesis 3:18 and Numbers 33:55 that in the Holy Land, the ground was cursed with prickly thorns.
Often, we become aware of thorns in our lives. These may be “thorns of the flesh” like Paul had:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12: 7-9

Do you have thorns to deal with right now? We all will at one point or another in our spiritual journeys. These can be a constant source of irritation or temptation or pain. As Paul discovered when he asked for his “thorn” to be removed, God is enough. God’s power is made perfect in our weak, thorn-filled situations.

We must realize that every thorn allowed in our life is filtered through His great love. Every thorn has already pierced Him before it ever reaches us.

What are we supposed to do with these thorns? Turn to Jesus. He took the curse of thorns on Himself when he allowed the crown of thorns on His holy head. And when the curse is gone, the healing can begin.

The Thorn
by Martha Snell Nicholson


I stood a mendicant (beggar) of God before His royal throne

And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart

I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.

This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”

He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”

I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,

As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,

He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.



Day 38 | Remember What He Has Done–Crushed the Enemy’s Head

 

day 38I once heard a sermon which mapped out the last journeys of Jesus.  Do you know where his last stop was before he entered Jerusalem, which He knew would lead to agony and death?  He went to see his dear friends, Mary and Martha and Lazarus.

 

Why did He want to spend his last days with these three?  Think about where you would want to go if you knew you were about to die.  You would go where you knew you were loved.  Jesus went where He would be loved extravagantly.  And that extravagant love would usher in the resurrection power of the risen Christ.

 

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.  Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year’s wages.’  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. ‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied.  ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              John 12: 1-12

 

Looking at the above passage, we must ask ourselves what extravagant love looks like.

 

They showed their love for Jesus by welcoming and honoring Him.

 

They showed their love for Jesus in the way they spent their money.

 

They showed their love for Jesus by their willingness to be misunderstood and ridiculed because of Him.

 

They showed their love for Jesus by being willing to serve Him in humility.

 

Mary fell at Jesus’ feet, a sign of respect and awe.  And she ceremonially washed His feet, which was the job of a servant or slave.  Mary wiped His feet with her hair.  In those days a women’s hair was her personal glory.  When Mary let her hair down to wipe His feet she was communicating two things. She was saying, “Lord, I give all my glory to you, for you alone are worthy.”  And she was saying, “I don’t care what others think.  I am willing to appear foolish in expressing my love to my Lord.”  That is extravagant love.

 

Others, also, experienced and enjoyed the fruit of Mary’s extravagant love.  Note that “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).  When we love Jesus in an extravagant way, the overflow of that love spreads to others.

 

Most significantly, we see that Mary showed her love for Jesus by anointing His feet.

 

It was more customary to anoint the head.  In many passages of the Bible, we find that the head was anointed to signify a prophet, like Elijah or Elisha.  And anointing of the head was especially important in anointing a King, like David or Solomon.  But nothing could make Jesus more of a King. He was already King of Kings when He was lying in a manger.  He was worshiped as a King by the shepherds, and the wise men brought him King-worthy gifts.

 

What needed anointing were his feet, for he had a long, painful journey ahead of Him.

 

He had to walk the hill of Calvary.

 

He had to have those anointed feet nailed to a cross.

 

But most importantly, his feet were anointed for burial, because through death, His anointed feet would fulfill the very first prophesy of the coming Messiah.

 

“So the Lord God said to the serpent [Satan, who had tricked Eve], ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  [Here comes the first prophesy!]  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [Eve’s future offspring, Jesus!] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”                                        (Genesis 3: 14; author emphasis added)

 

You see, Jesus would use those anointed feet to spiritually stomp Satan’s headship, forever giving victory to all who believe!

 

We will spend a lot of our time in eternity at those anointed feet, falling down at His feet, casting our crowns at His feet.  Why don’t we just go ahead and start loving Him extravagantly like that now, worshipping Him with all our heart and souls and mind and time and resources and homes.

 

After I thought all about what it looked like to love Jesus extravagantly, I had to ask myself: Would Jesus have come to my house?

 

Do I show extravagant love for Him?

 

Would He have come to your house?

 

It is significant that Jesus stayed in Bethany for six days.  On the seventh day, He entered Jerusalem.  Remember that seven is the biblical number for completion and perfection.  Everything was fulfilled which needed to take place before the ultimate sacrifice began.  And the last thing needed was the anointing for burial which Mary fulfilled through her extravagant display of love.  Once we come to the place of surrender and extravagant love, then we are prepared to see an extraordinary God work mightily in our ordinary lives.