We Are Kept: A Prayer for Easter Sunday

Easter

Dear God,

We are adopted by you into your forever grace and our lives are forever changed because you rescued us once and for all through your son, Jesus … yet you continue to rescue us again and again by making a way for us to escape and to break free from strongholds that want to devour and destroy the peace and joy that comes with being a child of the King.

How thankful I am that you are my heavenly father. How thankful I am to be named a child of God. You are so gracious and so very generous with lavishing your love upon your children. You love us unconditionally, inviting us to sit with you around your banquet table. We come filthy and wearing dirty clothes; and you wash the dirt from our feet and dress us in clean and pure garments of righteousness. You serve us bread that is broken by you and we eat of it until we are full and we drink of the living water you pour into our cup until it overflows.

I am reminded that our children are comforted by the unconditional love we give them. They are kept. We will never let go of them. How much more awesome it is to thank you, gracious God for never letting your children go … we are kept.

With a humble heart I praise and pray.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

“Because of your resurrection, we’re neither afraid to die, or to live; we’re not hapless vagabonds on earth, we’re hope-filled children of God. We’re no longer enslaved to our sins; we’re now wrapped in your righteousness.” ― Scotty Smith

“The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”  ― Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

“Getting found almost always means being lost for a while … Easter says that love is more powerful than death, bigger than the dark, bigger than cancer, bigger even than airport security lines.” ― Anne Lamott, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” ― Mary Oliver

Easter post 2015

By His Wounds: A Prayer for Good Friday

Good Friday

Dear Lord Jesus,

Where do we begin to offer our gratitude, love, and praise in response to what you did for us on the cross? We refer to today as, Good Friday yet we cannot fully fathom nor comprehend the immense goodness of your love for us.

You cry out for God to forgive us as God forsakes you. The vast goodness of this day is that we are fully forgiven because you were fully forsaken. Open our hearts to see you as Savior, to believe quickly…receiving your grace and a living hope just as you promised the robber hanging on a criminal’s cross next to you.

You came to rescue us, to give us life by giving up yours. “It is finished”, was your cry. The old has passed away and the new has come. In you do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness, deliver me and rescue me for you are my hope, my trust.

Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.

In your holy and powerful name, I praise and pray.

Amen.

I’ve never understood why people call the day that Jesus died “Good Friday.” What was good about it? It looks like a tragedy to me. You’re right, up to a point: If all we had to celebrate was that final Friday when Jesus was put to death, there certainly wouldn’t be anything good about it. In that case, the term “Good Friday” would be a mockery. Instead, that final Friday would be the greatest tragedy in the history of the human race. Satan would have won, and any hope the human race might have had for the future would be ended.

But that Friday was not the end! Two days later, the tomb was empty, and Jesus was alive! And that’s why we can call it “Good Friday” … because on a day that first seemed tragic, something incredibly good happened … Christ gave his life for our salvation. [1]

Many of us, as we learn to know Christ in his sufferings, can only begin to have the moral imagination, the faith, to truly recognize that it was our sins that caused his death and necessitated the utter and absolute separation from his Father. Those of us who have been brought to the end of ourselves through life’s difficulties, personal failure and providential discipline can appropriate, by faith and repentance, the full measure of Christ’s redeeming grace. [2]

Still & quiet & bow slow & see Him now…
By His love — you are held,
By His mercy — you are washed clean,
By His relentless grace — you are saved.
And by His wounds — you are healed. [3]

DSC_0971[1] Billy Graham | [2] Adrienne Shore | [3] Ann VosKamp

The Day After Easter and The Finish of 40 Gifts of Lent

The Day After Easter

Forty-seven days ago, on March 5, Ash Wednesday, I made a commitment to read the New Testament from the beginning to the end, using the Lent Challenge (a daily reading guide) in preparation for celebrating Easter. (Go here to find out more about the Lent Challenge.) It was an amazing walk of faith and the renewing of my heart for the gospel of grace. It took a lot of discipline to rearrange my routine to have a daily devotional but it was so worth it!

The daily routine of reading those God breathed ancient words that are always living and always relevant kept me hungry for more. A few years ago, I asked God to keep me thirsty and to keep me empty, to never be satisfied so I would crave more of his grace. He is answering that prayer.

I began to write a journal about one or two exciting details I discovered in the daily reading. I named the journal, “40 Gifts of Lent” because discovering something new and exciting in God’s word everyday is like opening a new gift. You can read about 40 Gifts of Lent here.

40 Gifts of Lent became the online journal for my devotions and personal commitment to write everyday, Monday through Saturday, for 40 days. I particularly enjoyed posting a verse and a photo on Sunday’s for Sunday Respite. All in all, this equals to 47 days of consecutive journal entries on this blog, More Grace. Writing everyday was very challenging yet it’s been the most rewarding experience.

So here it is, the day after Easter and the finish of 40 Gifts of Lent. I found myself going back to the tomb and looking in. This is what I think… the stone that sealed the tomb was rolled away not for Jesus to get out but for us to look in! And Mary was one of those that looked inside and contemplated the emptiness and struggled with doubt and unbelief.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” (John 20:16) 

I love this! Jesus called Mary by her name! She immediately recognizes Jesus. She knows his voice. She hears him. She sees him. Mary believes! Jesus speaks in to her unbelief. Jesus paid the ultimate price for her unbelief. I think it’s okay and good to look inside the empty tomb over and over again. Whenever I doubt that God loves me, I look inside that empty tomb. Whenever I doubt that I can trust God no matter what, I look inside that empty tomb. And when I don’t believe, I pray for Him to help my unbelief while asking Him to forgive me for that unbelief. Jesus paid the ultimate price for that!

The day after Easter is everyday of preaching the gospel to yourself. There is really never an end to 40 gifts of Lent either, because the number of gifts will continue to multiply each time I hear God call my name and each time I am filled to overflowing and then some more.

The Day After Easter 2

He is Risen | Sunday Respite | 40 Gifts of Lent 2014

He is Risen 1

He is Risen| Sunday Respite | 40 Gifts of Lent

COME! And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

The resurrection of Jesus changes everything! His death is the death of death, and His resurrection is the resurrection of all things. He died for our sins and is raised for our justification. Oh, the wonder, marvel and gratitude that fills our hearts today. We are forgiven, we are beloved, and we are His!

He is Risen 4

He is Risen

About 40 Gifts of Lent

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Jumping Tandem
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

The Alpha and Omega: A Prayer for Silent Saturday of Easter Week

 

The Alpha and Omega 1 copy

The Alpha and Omega | A Prayer for Silent Saturday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 40

Today’s Reading:  Revelation 17 – end

It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  Matthew 27:62-64

Dear Lord Jesus,

I confess, that in the past, I’ve had a wrong understanding of grace. It’s not that I didn’t believe in grace, because I believed in grace a lot. I just didn’t believe in grace alone. My faith was built on a wrong belief. My faith in you was all about me…how much sacrifice can I make for you rather than the sacrifice you made for me. How much do I love you, rather than how much you love me.

Once again, I am astonished on this Silent Saturday when I remember your sacrifice of giving ultimate goodness and grace on Good Friday. You are the great “I Am”…the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You are the first and last and there are no other gods but you and in you we live and move and have our being. Grow my faith to be all about you and less and less of me.

The tomb was sealed out of fear that your words are indeed true. The seal was placed by finite men…it was all about them. How foolish when the promise from you, the infinite God is that your seal is upon us by your grace alone. How foolish we are to keep you inside the tomb with unbelief and doubt that your word is true.

Why do we continue to doubt that from the very beginning, before the reality of beginning ever existed that your plan all along was to rescue us, to give us life everlasting? Why do we continue to doubt that you broke free of the tomb to crush the head of the deceiver, rendering him dead once and for all?

The staggering truth is that you are the absolute Alpha and you are the absolute Omega. Our story begins with you and our story will end with you. Help us to continue to be astonished that you rescued us, for the full story of Easter to become a reality that our life is all about you.

In your infinite name, I praise and pray.

 

The Alpha and Omega 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

The Goodness of Good Friday: A Prayer for Friday of Easter Week

The Goodness of Good Friday

The Goodness of Good Friday | A Prayer for Friday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 39

Today’s Reading:  Revelation 8 – 16

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. Revelation 11:17

Dear Lord Jesus,

Where do we begin to offer our gratitude, love, and praise in response to what you did for us on the cross? We refer to today as, Good Friday yet we cannot fully fathom nor comprehend the immense goodness of your love for us.

You cry out for God to forgive us as God forsakes you. The vast goodness of this day is that we are fully forgiven because you were fully forsaken. Open our hearts to see you as Savior, to believe quickly…receiving your grace and a living hope just as you promised the robber hanging on a criminal’s cross next to you.

You came to rescue us, to give us life by giving up yours. “It is finished”, was your cry. The old has passed away and the new has come.

Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15)

In your holy and powerful name, I praise and pray.

The Goodness of Good Friday 1

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Worthy is the Lamb: A Prayer for Maundy Thursday of Easter Week

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb |A Prayer for Maundy Thursday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 38

Today’s Reading:  Revelation 1 – 7

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

Dear Gracious God,

This is my prayer today. To stand in awe of ultimate excellence—to admire Jesus Christ the Son of God—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Time is drawing near. Create in me a clean heart. Help me to believe. You were once dead but now you live forever. I would fall down dead to stand before you and gaze into your holiness, in all of your glory and brightness. Yet you welcome me to your throne and tell me, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). I repeat those four words, do not be afraid and I am overcome with worship and praise because you hold me firmly in your tender grasp until the final moments of my life. You have robbed the grave of victory and taken away the sting of death. Please free me from fears to live more fully for the praise of your glory.  

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

In your holy and powerful name, I praise and pray.

Worthy is the Lamb 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge