Day 37 | Remember What He Has Done–He Forgave

day 37On the day of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, three women rose early.  They had a mission to do.  Law would not let them fulfill their mission until dawn.  They set out just as the sun began to rise in the east.  They took spices to anoint the bruised body of the one they adored.

Who were the women? What were their pasts? How were they redeemed?

Why were they the faithful ones chosen to be the first to see and the first to know?

Was it that God trusted that they would believe?  Can He trust me to believe?  Can He trust you to believe?

What did they see?

They saw an angel in a white robe. The angel said what angels always say: “Don’t be afraid.”  And then, as usual, the angel issued a call to respond, a command.

Go.

Go and tell.

And so it is with us.  We must overcome fear.  We must go.  We must tell. Who we tell depends on what He tells us to do.  But we all must go.  We all must tell.

Who were these particular women supposed to tell?  The disciples … and Peter.

Peter.  Poor, poor Peter.  Peter was still deeply wounded from the greatest failure of his life.  I’m sure the memory of the sound of the cock’s crow haunted him over and over in the waking hours and filled his mind with troubled dreams at night.  And yet the angel said:  Tell the disciples and Peter.

I envision the scene like this:  The women, amazed and overwhelmed, rush into the room where the disciples are hiding and grieving together.  They are talking all at once, laughing and crying, creating such a commotion that all are confused.  Peter, still filled with grief and shame, stands detached in the corner.  When he hears “He’s not there!  He has risen!” he rushes forward to hear more clearly.  But then, he hears something else—that same cock’s crow haunting his mind and spirit once again.  He turns, head down, back to the corner, thinking to himself, “Even if it is true, He wouldn’t want to see me.”  Shame and guilt and regret threaten to break his heart once again.

One of the other disciples finally halts the commotion of women laughing and crying, and men begin shouting at once the questions they all have.   And when at last there is a pause, he says, “Slow down.  Tell us slowly.  Tell us exactly what he said.”

One of the women rises to the position of spokesperson and says,  “There was a man in a white robe.  He said, ‘Tell the disciples and Peter….”

At the sound of his name, the cock’s crow became silent.  “He called me by name!  He wants me to know that He has risen.  Then he must forgive me.  He is alive!”  And with that we see the first recorded occurrence of the power of the resurrection.  He lives.  And He forgives.

And what was Peter’s reaction?  He took off running toward the Savior.  He searched for Him with all his heart.  And it was upon this forgiven rock that Jesus built his church.

The revival in Peter’s heart had begun.  And it would ignite revival throughout the world.  We need another revival, don’t we?

Do you hear him call your name? Listen carefully.  He is calling you.  And your name, whispered through His holy lips, will silent those horrible thoughts of sin, shame, and insecurity.  Let this truth bring revival to your own heart. Then go and tell.


Day 36 | Remember What He Has Done–Everything

day 36I have had the privilege of witnessing the beauty of the unity of the Body of Christ. When I was living in Costa Rica, we went for a weekend to a Young Life Camp called “La Vida”.  “La Vida” means “The Life” and what an accurate description that was. There was beautiful life everywhere:  in the indescribable beach setting, in the countenance of the people there, and in the message which they proclaimed.

The director of “La Vida”, Marv Asphalt, led us in a beautiful Sabbath service right on the beach.  I found myself surrounded by all different kinds of people, from all different walks of life.  There was a youth group from the United States, who had an incredible heart for worship. There were the Asphalts, who had committed their lives to missions and to leading young people to Christ. There were Costa Rican “La Vida” staff members who had also devoted their lives to spreading the gospel.  There was a Costa Rican Catholic priest, who ran the orphanage located next to “La Vida”.  And there were lots and lots of beautiful Costa Rican children, bound to each other because of a common lot…being an orphan.  We all came together with all of our differences, and worshiped in unity.  We were allowed the gift of witnessing a historic event…it was the first time that Marv, a Methodist minister, and the Catholic priest had come together to share the Sabbath.  They stood side by side and broke the communion bread together, reminding us of the broken body of our Lord.  Marv spoke of the Body of Christ….of the Unity of the Body, and of breaking down the divisions in the Body.  Together, they served the group.  Each person received a special blessing as they were served…it was if the focus was totally on that person.  It brought to mind the reality that the Cross was a personal gift to each one of us…if I was the only one that needed saving, Christ still would have died.  Impossible, yet true!  Before each of the orphaned children, Marv knelt, looking each one in the eye, explaining that the Broken Body of the King of Kings was a gift for each of them; that we are all orphans until we are adopted into the Family of God, whereby we cry, Abba!  Father!  Daddy!

When all had been served, Marv lifted the remaining bread toward heaven.  With tears streaming down his face, he said in a loud voice…. “It Is Finished!”

“It is finished!”  Those words were spoken from the cross, just before our Savior died for us.  “It is finished.”  There is nothing more, which needs to be done.  He did it all for us.  We don’t deserve it.  We can’t earn.  Jesus bought it for us.  And it is free.  The completed work of Christ offered as a gift to our weary, lost and orphaned souls.  The Body was broken once and for all.  Communion is a reminder of that.  We do not need to break the Body again, as we often do through our divisions and pettiness and self-righteousness.  In the High Priestly prayer, the last before his betrayal, our Lord included a call to Unity…

 

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me….

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:20,21, 23


Day 35 | Remember What He Has Done–He Called Us By Name

day 35My daughter loves names.

It’s so ironic because for the first 22 months of her life she didn’t really have a name.  She was more of a number in the vast orphanage system.  She was assigned a “name” in the orphanage, but part of that name was simply an abbreviated part of the name of the city where the orphanage was located.  Her last name was “Yang” because her orphanage was in Yangchun City.  For the first 22 months of her life she was identified by where she was, not who she was.  And where she was was a sad place.  I hate that she was identified by that sad place, instead of by the joyful girl she truly is.

On March 9, 2012 she officially became our daughter, a US citizen, and was officially given a new, real name.

My daughter loves names.

Most every sentence she says, she adds the name of the person she is addressing.

“I’m hungy, Mama.”

“I go play, Mama?”

“Mama, mook at me!”

“Who’s dat, Mama?”

“What’s dat, Mama?”

She wants to know the name of everyone and everything.  And once she is told the name of anyone or anything, she usually remembers it, too.

My daughter loves names.

So does her Heavenly Father.  I can’t wait for her to be old enough to understand that He calls her by name.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

                                                                                                                     Isaiah 43:1

 

I can’t wait for her to be old enough to learn that in heaven God has a delightful surprise for her.  He will give her a special gift—a beautiful white stone.  And with that gift, He will give her a holy nickname, known just between the two of them.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

                                                                                   Revelation 2:17

She will love that!  She loves names.


Day 34 | Remember What He Has Done–He Said Yes

day 34Driving down the road, I kept hearing the same muffled noise over and over.  Sally had my cell phone and was replaying her favorite video clip.  It was a video of her and her brother Joshua.

 

“Sally, what does Mama say?”  Joshua asked over and over.

Her response was always the same, “Honey, no!”

With each question her answer was more exaggerated.  This little Asian has mastered the art of a Southern accent.

“Hooonnneyyy, nooooo!” she said, with her Asian eyes disappearing into tiny slits, as her facial expressions supposedly mimicked mine.

 

I had to laugh.  It’s so funny that out of all the things I tell her each day that is what she remembers.  Every day, countless times throughout the day I tell her I love her.  I tell her she is beautiful.  I tell her she is my angel and she is precious to me.  I know she hears those things, as well, but the first thing she remembers is “Hoooonnnneyyyy, noooooo!”

 

Many Christians view God the Father in the same way.  We think of the all the no’s He says.  We focus on the don’ts instead of the do’s.  And yes, He often has to tell us, “Honey, no.”  But, just as I say no to Sally because I love her and want her to be the best she can be, so God the Father tells us no because He sees the end from the beginning.  Father knows best.

 

But today, I want to focus on all the many ways He says yes to us.  In fact, I bet His yes’s far outweigh His no’s.

 

He says yes to accepting us as we are, while gently leading us to higher ground.

He says yes to forgiving our sins over and over and over again.

He says yes to countless blessings, though He knows we may not even notice them.

He says yes to redeeming our worst to make it our best.

He says yes to making us, the bound up slaves, into His treasured sons and daughters.

He says yes to all the promises in His Word offered to an undeserving people.

 

He said yes to sacrificing His one and only Son.

He said yes to watching Him suffer and die in agony.

He said yes to His Sacrificial Lamb being the payment for our sins.

He said yes, so does it not make sense for us to say yes to Him?

Will you say yes today?

 

 

 


Day 33 | Remember What He Has Instructed–Be Hospitable

day 33After one of our Saturday Bible Schools in Los Guidos, Costa Rica, we found ourselves in the home of a precious Costa Rican lady named Alicia.  When she walked with her children to the great big tree in the center of sector 8, where we held our weekly program, she pulled me aside to invite us to come to her house after Bible school.  We gladly accepted the invitation, although I must confess that I was a bit nervous.  We did not know the lady very well, and at that point, we had never been invited to enter any of the dilapidated shacks, which covered the mountainside.

As soon as all of the other children had walked back to their own homes, we walked to Alicia’s home with her 3 children.  My eyes had to adjust a bit when we first entered the dirt-floor dwelling.  There was no electricity, so therefore the only light was from the doorway, and from a “window” which had been cut from the tin and wood-scrap walls.  The home was just one room, which was partitioned by sheets hanging across rope, which was attached to the ceiling.

Alicia excitedly welcomed us to her home.  I noticed that the dirt floor had been neatly swept, and all of her meager belongings were in order.  On the table, I noticed several broken glasses from several different patterns, a small plate full of saltine crackers, and a chipped pitcher of lemonade.  There were no chairs for us to sit, so we simply stood around the table and listened while she talked of her life and her love for the Lord.  Such sweet fellowship of believers we experienced that day!  She offered us the crackers and lemonade, which we received with a gratitude that had nothing to do with what was offered.  I was overcome with her pure hospitality.  Although we had been repeatedly warned against eating or drinking in that area, I took what was offered, and silently prayed the prayer that my missionary friend, Ben Pierce, had once shared with me:  “Lord, I’ll get it down, if You keep it down!”

When we were thanking her for her invitation and hospitality, she joyfully responded, “Este es mi fiesta!”, “This is my party!” a party given in honor of us; A party given with grace and elegance, yes elegance, despite the resources that she had to work with.  Such pure hospitality and generosity I have rarely, if ever, seen since that day.  And such conviction it brought to my soul.

How many times do I resist reaching out to others because my house is not perfect, or my dishes don’t match, or I don’t have time to create an extravagant meal?  And how many times do my guests leave my house feeling the joy of being honored, and the warmth of sweet fellowship.  After that day in Los Guidos, I am without excuses.  I need to share my “party”.  The kingdom of God is a party, to be shared by all that we are privileged to come in contact with.  And scripture tells us that when we do it for “the least of these”, we do it unto Him.  So whenever you reach out to anyone with a pure, loving heart, you are reaching up to Jesus. That shows extravagant love for Him.

 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

                                                                                                            1 Peter 4:8-10