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<< Encouragement for Today

Encouragement 2-24-04

  • 2004 Feb 24
  • COMMENTS




February 24, 2004

Encouragement for Today

 

Sandaled Feet among Sunday Pumps

Rebecca Ingram Powell

Author and Certified Speaker

 

 

Key Verse:

 

“Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28)

 

 

Devotion:

 

It was a Lutheran girl, Linda, who started the whole thing. “You’ve never heard of Lent?” she asked us incredulously. We were gathered for an interfaith Bible study in our dorm. The room was packed with curious Protestants. “Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter,” she explained. “You’re supposed to give up something—something you like—until Easter.”  Practically in unison, we asked her why.

 

“Well,” she said gently, “I give up something I like to remember that Christ gave up everything for me.”

 

The room was silent as we each considered Linda’s words. Moments later the decision was made to practice Lent that year, most of us choosing to fast from chocolate!

 

I had never taken Easter more seriously. As a typical, middle-class American I had been deprived of little. Now I was depriving myself of something seemingly insignificant. After all, chocolate is a “creature comfort.” Some of you may disagree, but it is truly not necessary for survival! However, in the weeks following my decision, my thoughts were turned toward the Easter story—Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, death, and ultimate resurrection--every day. Because of Linda’s testimony, I realized my sacrifice was little, but I knew it would count. I believed God would honor my heart’s desire to experience Easter in a deeper way.

 

The Old Testament concept of sacrifice was expressed in the practice of presenting an offering to the Lord. The “first fruits” of the harvest were given out of gratitude to the Lord. This was a way of recognizing and honoring God’s faithfulness in providing for every need. In addition, an animal sacrifice was made once a year as atonement for sins. This was necessary because under Old Testament law, there was no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. We don’t make animal sacrifices anymore because of Jesus Christ. As New Testament believers, we understand that because of His death on the cross and His resurrection three days later, “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28). Does your heart sing to hear those words? Or have years of the “old, old story” bred a familiarity in you that no longer fully perceives the truth of His sacrifice?

 

In the hustle and bustle of lives grounded in 21st century convenience, it’s hard to be still and hear the tread of Christ’s sandaled feet on the dusty roads of Jerusalem. My pastor once remarked that if a day to the Lord is like a thousand years to us, then Jesus Christ died and rose again a mere two days ago! Where’s the excitement? Where is our sense of urgency to tell our friends, family, and neighbors that a sacrifice has been made once and for all?

 

If it has been a long time since you considered the power of Easter, I invite you to join me in giving up something for Lent. It might seem a bit silly, but if by this act you are brought to the cross each day, then how foolish can it be? If it causes you to think on Christ and His passion for you, if it causes a renewed passion in your own life for Him, then I believe it’s a good idea.

 

As we concluded our first Lenten season, several of us girls walked from the dorm to church together on Easter morning. It was a beautiful day. The sun shone brilliantly on our campus. Everything was in bloom and seemed to shout with dazzling colors, “He is risen!” We sang hymns as we trekked to church, somber in worship yet joyful in praise. Our hearts were full with a fresh knowledge of Christ, and indeed, as we walked down that paved road in our Sunday pumps, we seemed to hear the sandaled footsteps of our newly risen Lord among us.

 

 

My prayer for today:

 

Dear Father, I am longing to experience a fresh knowledge of You this Easter. You have given up everything for me in offering your Son as payment for my sins. Show me if there is something I can offer You--something I like--that would cause me to bow more deeply at Your throne this season. In the Name of the One who loves me so, Christ Jesus, Amen.

 

 

Application steps:

 

Now go for it! Could you give up chocolate, sodas, or (gasp!) cigarettes for the next six weeks? How about giving up gossiping or a negative attitude? Ask the Lord to show you; He will!

 

 

Reflection points:

 

Christ died for me.

 

Ponder the memory of the moment you first realized that Jesus died for you. If that moment is right now, rejoice!

 

How eager am I to share this life-changing news with others?

 

 

Power verses:

 

2nd Samuel 24:24b, “I'm not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice." (Msg)

 

Romans 12:1, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” (NLT)

 

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)

 

Luke 24:6a, “He isn't here! He has risen from the dead!” (NLT)

 

Luke 24:46, 47, “And he said, ‘Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day.  With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’” (NLT)

 

 

Additional resources:

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

 

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/newsletter.html

 

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