I did not expose myself beyond the still pictures of the 21 paraded across the beach. The power of my imagination is enough to turn my stomach inside out and cause nightmares.
I need to remember. We need to remember. There is real evil in this world.
The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy. It is Jesus, Good Shepherd, who came to bring life abundant and full. Paraphrase of John 10:10
For several years, I've heard Holy Spirit whispering, "Wake up, Church. Wake up!" He's whispering into my heart so I will repeat. His words back to Him.
And so it has been, as I have talked with Jesus, many of my prayers for the Church, the Body of Christ, have been centered around this awareness. Especially in America, we (the Church) have been asleep, complacent, and apathetic.
In the last few years, Holy Spirit has been whispering, "Get back to the basics. God's Word and His Spirit...in balance." He's whispering into my heart so I will repeat His words back to Him. And so it has been, as I have talked with Jesus, He's been leading me back to the gospel...the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ.
The Church has been asleep leading up to these pivotal times, and yet our Sovereign God has been faithfully fulfilling His plans. He doesn't need our participation. God has not been hampered by the state of His Church. Amazingly, He just doesn't want us to miss out. As the best Father, He really wants our participation in what He is doing at this great mile marker in history.
Just like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus' friends were in the garden with Him as He asked the Father to remove the cup from Him. Jesus knew the gravity of the moment and asked His friends to pray with Him. They were sleepy, apathetic, and uninvolved; completely unaware of their place in history.
While Jesus struggled before His Father to the point of sweating blood drops from His brow, Jesus' disciples slept. The disciples' participation in prayer wasn't necessary for Jesus to succeed in the task for which the Father sent Him. Jesus alone submitted His will to the will of Father God, but He desired for His friends to have the opportunity to participate for the building of their faith.
In the dramatic moment of Jesus' betrayal, suddenly everyone was awake and taking action. Chaos, confusion, and fear overwhelmed the unsuspecting friends of Jesus.
They ran. They scattered. Everything had suddenly gone all wrong. Surely evil was taking over. Nothing made any sense.
And yet, God was not caught off guard. He was fulfilling His perfect plan to bring redemption to His rebellious creation. The ashes of evil and death were breathed upon by the life giving Spirit of God, and in there place rose beauty. Our Savior, resurrected, championed men and women who would lay down their lives for His name and because of His finished work on the cross.
On this first day of Lent, this Ash Wednesday, I am spurred on in faith to take up my cross and follow Jesus. The 21 martyrs for the cross remind me to wake up and stay alert, know God's Word and pray in the Spirit on all occasions.
Be ready! Decide now! Pray for boldness. Speak truth in love. Love the Lord, my God, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and then love my neighbor as myself.
My first conscious thought this morning was of a tiny cross and fish tattoo on my wrist. I don't have any tattoos. I've never really thought about getting one, and this isn't a commentary on tattoos. Perhaps I was dreaming. It doesn't matter, I understood the significance.
When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13 hcsb
When our youngest son was in elementary school he told me he wanted to get a tattoo.
I responded, "OK, when you are 18 we'll talk about it." This son enjoyed provoking his mama. I continued to respond undaunted.
Finally, he asked me, "Mom, would you ever get a tattoo?" I told him I had no plans for one, which began the process all over again. This son was relentless, "What if it was the law? What if someone was holding a gun to your head?"
That was it. I had an answer. If I were to live to see the day when a life or death decision for Christ would be required of me, I would have a small cross and fish tattooed on my wrist. It would be visible marker of my stand for Christ should my flesh falter.
On this first day of Lent, 2015, whether physically with ink etched into skin or a seal visible only in the spirit realm, I ask Jesus to place His mark of the cross upon me as constant reminder to me of my commitment to follow Him.
I will ponder through these days of Lent, the cost of following Jesus, and I will pray for strength, for boldness, for an awakening in me and in the Church, and for the Bride to be revived - eager to be made ready for our coming Bridegroom!
Blessings of GREAT JOY, Church, on your amazing journey following Jesus!
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach 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 gladness
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.
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe righteousness,
as a Bridegroom adorns His head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make
righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.
Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11 niv