Lent Day 25 Pride, Humility and Surrender

Lent – Day 25

Pride, Humility and Surrender

“All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him — those who cannot keep themselves alive.” Psalm 22:29

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Many years ago I attended a women’s retreat at the beach. The library in the reading room was expansive. So I took advantage of a few days of respite to refresh my spirit. I finally landed on a book of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons. It wasn’t long until I was swept away not only in the manner of his words but the wisdom therein.

His paraphrase of Psalm 22:29 tugged deeply at my heart. In it, he says, “No one can keep their soul alive, not even for an hour.”

I was truly swept up in imagining the work of the God of the universe keeping me alive — body and soul.

At the end of the weekend, I had learned so much about myself. The speaker was a woman of grace, wisdom and humility. I was inspired to evaluate my own life that weekend. There were many things I had gleaned from the lessons, the other incredible women and my time lingering among the words of Charles Spurgeon.

When we think of pride or self-righteousness, we often conjure up images of the ultra-religious, who must do everything perfectly and believe that is their salvation. But, in truth, pride is more than that. It’s any desire to have control over our lives, rather than trusting them to God. Humility is realizing that God is the one who keeps our heart beating moment by moment — and He controls everything else as well.

In the years since, I have experienced the realities of my inability to control, manage, change or improve many things in my life. I continue to learn how to trust fully; to surrender control to the One who holds it all.

Reflect and Respond

Take a few moments now to sit in silence with God. As you close your eyes and breathe deeply. Notice what feels unmanageable to you. Imagine bringing yourself to Jesus, who has a look of compassion on His face. Rest a while with Jesus, knowing you are loved and you are safe with the One who keeps your soul alive. Talk to Him as you feel led, or simply enjoy being with Him in silence.

Bristol Motor Speedway Easter Celebration

MRO Community

Coming to Bristol?

Bristol Motor Speedway is hosting an Easter Celebration outside of the track @ 4pm on April 17.

In order to accommodate those in our industry space to enjoy the event, there will be a special area designated for you. With that said, if you will be attending, please let me know. The track wants to make sure there will be ample space for everyone. There will also be an area for golf cart parking.

Simply reply to this thread or send me a message if you will be attending!!

https://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/events/food-city-dirt-race/easter-celebration/

Lent Day 24 Have It Your Way Lord

Lent Day 24

Have It Your Way, Lord

“Humble yourselves … under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’” Isaiah 45:9

The season of Lent occurs during springtime, when, in much of the U.S., bare ground appears after the snow has melted away. Has the lifeless soil ever reminded you that God formed Adam, the first human, from dust?

Imagine the Lord bending down to scoop up fine clay. Now, imagine yourself in the hands of God.

God says several times in the Bible that you are like clay in a potter’s hands. He is making you into an object of beauty to display Christ to the world.

But if you’re like me, you often resist God’s molding.

Isaiah 45:9 explains that opposing God’s shaping is as absurd as clay that talks back to the potter. God created you, loves you and wants what’s best for you, but you resist because of your sinful nature.

God told the prophet Jeremiah to watch a potter at work. The potter began spinning the clay, carefully but firmly shaping the lump of clay into a beautiful vessel. Through observing a potter at his craft, Jeremiah could understand the importance of God’s people submitting to God’s gentle, forming power. Jeremiah received this message from God for the people: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand” Jeremiah 18:6

In the same way, Jesus speaks to you. You don’t have to grasp for control. You’re in the hands of a potter who has proven with His own life that you can surrender without risk of harm. “Learn from Me,” Jesus says, “for I am gentle and humble in heart” Matthew 11:29

Respond

Watch a potter transform lifeless clay into a useful and beautiful vessel. Think about how the form adds to its function and consider how God’s artistry is at work in you. Choose a verse to write on a card and keep it with you, reminding yourself that you are clay in a faithful potter’s hands.

Lent Day 23 Steady In The Storm

Lent – Day 23

Steady in the Storm

Soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40, New Living Translation)

I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8, New International Version)

Few experiences produce as much suspense, uncertainty and sheer panic as being on the deck of a ship in the middle of a sudden storm, like in the scene from Mark 4.

Perhaps this imagery stirs up memories of experiences you’ve had. The vast ocean, like the circumstances and situations of your life, can change underneath you without warning. Your boat is completely rocked, taking on water, while you desperately try to keep your footing to steer toward safety. 

The disciples in this passage could certainly relate. Jesus asked them to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee — this was His mission they were on — when they were caught off guard by a sudden storm. They scrambled to handle it on their own, which makes sense, since there were experienced fishermen in this group. Likely, they thought they could get through with enough strength and skill. 

When did the panic start to sink in? My guess is when their own efforts failed and they realized the fierce waves were simply too much. 

You’ll notice their question to Jesus, “Don’t You care about us?” Their panic reveals two lies you might also believe:

  1. This storm is not only out of your control but out of God’s control.
  2. Because of what’s happening, He must not care about you. Maybe He has abandoned you.

In the moment, it can feel impossible to entertain anything other than lies like these. The disciples likely believed them because their eyes were on the size of the waves and strength of the storm. They forgot who was in their boat. 

When your focus is on your circumstances, no matter how overwhelming or dangerous, it can be easy to forget Jesus is right there with you. 

As the storm disappeared with just a word from Jesus, the disciples realized He was sleeping because He was in complete control the entire time.

Reflect and Pray

Spend time reflecting on a situation in your life that feels as hopeless or overwhelming as this storm.

Ask Jesus “Where are You in this situation? How can I focus on You and not the storm?”

Invite the Holy Spirit to remind you, as the disciples were reminded, that Jesus is greater than the storm. Even if the boat feels rocky, with Him right beside you, you’ll be unshakeable.

It’s Sunday Ya’ll

It’s Sunday — a day to rest.

Did you know that ever since Jesus died and rose again, each Sunday is like a mini Easter? In addition to resting, like God commanded in the Old Testament, the first Christians remembered and celebrated Christ’s resurrection every single week.

Today, God invites you to celebrate and rest in the finished work of Christ — for you and for everyone who trusts in Him.

Lent Day 22 Lyrics For Your Life In Christ

Lent – Day 22

Lyrics for Your Life in Christ

Every Saturday during this study, you will learn about common spiritual disciplines that many followers of Jesus practice during Lent. Today you will learn about reading, studying and memorizing Scripture. These disciplines are valuable tools to draw near to God when they come from a heart seeking to do just that — rather than a heart which hopes to justify itself through these works or simply check a box on its Lent “to-do” list. We hope these insights will encourage you and help connect you to the Father throughout these 40 days.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11, New International Version)

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. “Psalm 119:105

As soon as the first note dropped, I knew the song. Memories of junior high flooded my mind — the friends, the fashion and the emotions. I sang along without missing a word.

“Alright stop, collaborate and listen.” You know the rest.

When is comes to music, my brain works like a steel trap. Decades of useful and useless facts accumulate like boxes in an attic. I only need a small nudge — a song, a movie or a photograph — and everything comes tumbling out.

I don’t think I’m alone. I believe most of us can rattle off the lyrics to a song we haven’t heard in ages and then sit back in wonder at what just happened.

If you’re like me, you have hidden away the lyrics to dozens and dozens of songs because you spent days rewinding the cassette, hitting the back button on your CD player, or setting iTunes on repeat so you could perfect the most complicated rhymes.

You’ll find your relationship with Scripture is no different. As you spend time reading and studying what God has revealed in the Bible, He will open your eyes, that you may see wonderful things in His law. Psalm 119:18

As you treasure it and hide it away in your heart, you will love what He loves more and more. You will do what He does. You will go where He goes.

Your life will be transformed because you’re not just hiding away silly lyrics in the back of your mind. You’re meditating on God’s own words, and they pierce your heart.

Respond and Pray

Ask God to increase your love for His Word so you might know and love Him more.

Read Psalm 119 and write down all the ways God’s Word blesses and transforms those who delight in it.

Commit to hiding God’s Word in your heart by memorizing important verses or passages.

Lent Day 21 Why You Need To Relax In The Lord

Lent – Day 21

Why You Need to Relax in the Lord

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.” Psalm 62:1

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9

“I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say ‘hello, goodbye,’ I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” So said the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland.”

The last four years of our lives has been wrought with loss, medical challenges, unexpected burdens, personal tragedy and side roads that we would have never chosen. Opportunities to serve our family and friends. Being pulled in a million different directions for all the good and right reasons many days felt like we were continuously rushing about. Our brains swirled with appointments, the needs of our family and little time for self-care. Life-altering diversions with a hectic pace can lead to exhaustion.

In all of that we learned so much about the character of God in the middle of challenging circumstances.

Truth: God has a better idea. David writes in Psalm 62:1 that he waits for God’s deliverance from his enemies. This waiting involves being silent before God, expectantly waiting to hear from Him and meditate on His Word. While the world would tell us to hurry, to get more done and take charge, often, like Mary in Luke 10:38-42, the Lord wants us to just sit and be with Him. Totally depending on God’s timing and wisdom leads to confidence in Him and a rest you cannot experience anywhere else.

Jesus offers rest when you are feeling weary. Just as you don’t achieve eternal life through anything you do, the Christian life cannot be lived by your own efforts. The rest Jesus promises is not just freedom from uncertainty, anxiety, fear and despair, but it is a peace of heart and mind.

God wants you to enjoy what is called a “Sabbath rest,” which is taking time to step away from the daily schedule and have some downtime with Him. Some people spend part of a day focused on the Lord every month or so to do just that. He also gives us a reminder weekly to rest in Him on the Sabbath day, which for Christians is usually Sunday. Our vocation demands weekend work, so we have to be diligent and committed to an alternate and strategic time for rest because our service is atypical for the Christian community. Finding the rhythm for your life is crucial to navigating the most difficult times when soul rest seems like something tou will get to “one day”.

This rest involves an awareness of being in the sacred presence of God to worship and praise Him for who He is and the creation He has made. This time of rest points you to the eternal rest He’s promised for all who trust in Him.

As Augustine prayed, “My heart, Lord, does not rest until it rests in Thee.”

Reflect and Respond

Choose rest when you’re feeling weary and exhausted. Today, thank God for two specific things He has provided so you might have a forever relationship with Him. Or consider planning a day when you can get away for a few hours and spend time in the presence of the Lord.

Lent Day 20 Difficult People

Lent – Day 21

Difficult People

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Have you ever experienced a situation where you have to spend time or work with someone who is difficult to get along with?

Someone has hurt you in so many ways that it actually affects your character. While we’re responsible for our own character, the effect others have on us develops our character. For example, if you’ve experienced abuse, you may be distrustful. Maybe you have a competitive personality and it has left wounds on your soul. Sometimes, you wonder if they hurt you intentionally or if it’s just second-nature for them.

Jesus, hanging on the cross, looked down and saw soldiers — the ones who had beaten and ridiculed Him and who nailed His hands to the beam. They were gambling to see who could get His only possessions: His worn out clothes.

In that moment, Jesus’ character — who He was at His core — rose above unimaginable pain. Seeing beyond the rough exterior of foreign, dirty soldiers, Jesus peered deep into their souls. He saw their pain from the past. He also saw their pain in the future. It all hinged on His forgiveness.

Would He be able to forgive these men? Would He be able to take on the sin of not only these people but of all mankind? Would He take on my sin?

Even in His weakened and vulnerable state, Jesus did not give into anger, self-centeredness, self-righteousness or revenge.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” he pleaded, requesting forgiveness from His Father, who had the power to rain fire on the soldiers.

In that moment of human weakness, Jesus didn’t sin. He selflessly laid down His rights to grant others something they didn’t deserve: forgiveness.

If you have been hurt so deeply that you still struggle to forgive? Please hear me. That is fair yet an unhealthy thing in the long run. But just as Christ forgives me and those soldiers, we have the choice to look at the person who hurts us and pray, “Father, forgive them, for they really don’t know what they are doing.”

Reflect and Pray

Who is the person you struggle to forgive? Why?

What is a past situation or harm that is difficult for you to forgive?

What is something Jesus has forgiven you for?

Pray that Jesus will give you the grace to forgive your difficult person, just as He has forgiven you.

Lent Day 19 Where God Sets The Lonely

Lent – Day 19

Where God Sets the Lonely

“Sing to God, sing in praise of His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before Him — His name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:4-6

“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3, English Standard Version)

In the early 1990’s, Monty and I left behind cherished friends for Muncie, IN. We unloaded our car full of belongings into an empty room. In a few days we would move in our furniture and the things that help us create our home. Yet even all the things familiar did not fill the gap that spanned the gap between friends and family who were half way across the country from us. More specifically, I quickly found that the wave of transition and loneliness were inseparable. We struggled to find a church that met our needs. That connection has always been the difference for our family and it was a so very challenging. It took almost a year before the sadness slipped into a sense of belonging. Over time, we would find friends that remain as true as any we have ever known. There will be seasons like this where God becomes our closest, dearest friend.

The start of a new season might feel isolating, or maybe you sense a missing connection with people in your day-to-day life. Maybe the recent pandemic has made connecting regularly with people difficult for you. You feel it deep in your soul: God made you to be among others.

At the very beginning, in the book of Genesis, God said it was not good for Adam, the man He created, to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So He crafted a companion: Eve. Human community comes in many forms. For me it came in the shape of a new church family, friends and co-workers who kept me from hiding my struggles and encouraged me to get help when I needed it.

But even more than the physical presence of relationships, humans need a spiritual connection. The Scripture readings today point to where you can ultimately find a home and the dearest friend. God meets His people in their need for family and community. The fatherless have a father because God draws near to them in their loneliness.

You were once separated from God. After Jesus died on the cross to bring forgiveness for sin, He came back to life so that you could live forever with Him. Every person who accepts this gift experiences never-ending togetherness with their Creator and will one day live in a home that Jesus has prepared. Have you accepted Him?

Respond

If you feel alone, sometimes it can seem impossible for your situation to change. But you can take a small step forward. Try writing down your thoughts to God and sending a text message to a friend. Community requires a jump to enter in and faith that God will provide.