More Hope Resurrection Sunday: Easter 2018

Easter

Photograph by Donna Harris

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.

He is Risen 1

Photograph by Donna Harris of Lake Wylie, Charlotte, NC

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!

Easter post 2015

Photograph by Donna Harris

“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

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Photograph by Donna Harris

“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

An Easter morning painting  

Maundy Thursday: Easter 2018

Help Others--Help Yourself

This is a repost of the original written in 2013. I thought it was important to share again this Maundy Thursday of Holy Week because Jesus is the supreme example of servanthood — Loving and Helping others. He served before he was served, he gave before he received, he listened before speaking, he showed compassion without boundaries.

Somebody once made the observation that the person who is wrapped up entirely in himself makes a very small package–and the package contains an unhappy person. Think about this: Have you ever known a genuinely happy, self-centered person?

Research indicates that those who consistently (help) show kindness to other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health. They may even live longer. Students who performed five acts of kindness a day increased their happiness and providing emotional support to others significantly decreased the harmful health effects of certain kinds of stress.

Everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s about being helpful and showing kindness to other people.  As Luke records it, Jesus told this parable in the context of a teacher of the law who, “wanting to justify himself,” asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus confounds him by suggesting that God requires us to love our “neighbors” in a way that transcends ethnic boundaries.  (Luke 10:25-37) Sadly, we often fail to meet Jesus’ ideal of neighbor love.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”  Philippians 2:3-4 (The Message) 

When helping people, find out what’s actually valuable to them. Make an effort to ask them where they need help, and keep that in mind when you see an opportunity. And there are many opportunities to help others. Just don’t make it all about you.

The more you make helping others all about you, the more disappointed, dry and weary you’ll become. And the more you understand that this is about Jesus, and his kingdom, and his crown, and his glory, the more freed up you are to help others. To love others.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:16-20 (NIV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

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“Family” Photograph by Donna Harris

The humility Jesus showed by disrobing to wash the disciples feet, was just a preview of the humiliation he would endure—being stripped naked, publicly shamed, and nailed to the cross… all for the washing of their hearts, and ours. What wondrous love is this, indeed—how wide, long, high, and deep (Eph. 3:14-19). “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NLT). Thank you, Lord, for loving us extravagantly, fully, wondrously. ―Scotty Smith, TGC

 

Tuesday of Holy Week: Easter 2018

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“My Father’s Garden” Watercolor painting of camellias by Donna Harris Art

Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; then you shall cry and he will say, “Here I am.” Isaiah 58:9

Your brokenness and sin are not something you can overcome so that you can walk with God. They are the occasions for you to cry out for the life of God in you to rescue you. Not God outside you, up in the sky somewhere. Christ in you, your only hope of glory. Let this sink in: Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence in your life. [1]

The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is regardless of our circumstances, we get God, and he’ll be enough. On the day of trouble, we’ll cry out, and we will hear, “Here I am.” When marriage is difficult, and we cry out, we will hear, “Here I am.” On the day the doctor says, “Can you come in? We need to talk,” we will hear as we cry out to God, “Here I am.”

He will not abandon. He will not quit, and he will not cut out his children. He is ever present, ever chasing, ever hoping, ever putting his Holy Spirit’s power into us to sustain us and hold us up regardless of life’s circumstances. This is how he blesses those who are saturated in grace. He is present. He is enough. [2]

We bless you, Father, for the gift of Jesus—for his perfect life lived for us, and his judgment-exhausting death on the cross. Thank you for forgiving us, and for declaring us righteous in Christ, and for promising to finish your grace-full work of salvation in us. [3]

Isaiah 58:9

Photograph by Donna Harris 

[1] Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldridge, p. 207   [2] Matt Chandler, Grace Made Visible, Part 1 [3] Scotty Smith, The Convicting, Liberating, Transforming Work of God’s Grace, TGC   

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

 

Kept in God’s Love: A Prayer for Wednesday of Easter Week

 

Kept in God's Love 1Kept in God’s Love |A Prayer for Wednesday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 37

Today’s Reading:  1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1

Dear Heavenly Father,

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.

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.

I pray for my children and grandchildren to comprehend the love that you have for them. For the gospel of grace to be deeper and deeper into their hearts, transforming them into the likeness of Jesus; and freeing them for a life of caring, serving, and worshiping you.

I pray for my friends and family who have yet to discover your safe haven of grace. I pray that you would create situations to help them discover their need of Jesus, the magnificent beauty of being kept by you.

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 joyful and humble heart I pray.

Kept in God's Love

 

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
 

 

Blessed Be God : A Prayer for Tuesday of Easter Week

To set my hope on Christ

Blessed Be God |A Prayer for Tuesday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 36

Today’s Reading:  1 Peter and 2 Peter

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,   1 Peter 1: 3-4

…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…through the living and abiding word of God 1 Peter 1:18, 23 

Dear Lord Jesus,

I begin this prayer by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” I am moved by your great mercy in saving me. Blessed be God! How thankful I am that you are the living hope in my life of trusting you as savior. “Blessed be God!” is my response to you today and should be everyday, moment by moment. What a gift you have given! An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. Blessed be God! … You are keeping this inheritance secure…for me.

When I comprehend this amazing truth, my heart kicks in with gratitude, praise, brokenness, gladness, joy, repentance, wonder. Blessed be God! My soul explodes with worship when truth about God settles deep into my mind.

I place my hope in too much of the wrong things. Wrong things that will perish, fade away and will never satisfy. You are my living hope…never dead, because you are alive. I have done nothing to deserve your favor of mercy and grace. I have done nothing to receive a living hope of eternal life, it is all because of you, God.  Blessed be God!

Because I am made alive through Christ, I have a living hope and a living faith. I set my gaze and hope upon your glorious grace. Blessed be God!

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

To set my hope on Christ 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

To Be Nearer: A Prayer for Monday of Easter Week

Near to GodTo Be Nearer |A Prayer for Monday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 35

Today’s Reading:  James 1 – end

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8

Dear Lord Jesus,

Just yesterday I was waving a palm branch high over my head…melodies we raised. I felt overwhelmed with the reality of your love and my soul was flooded with the bitter sweetness of you giving yourself…an extreme sacrifice for me.

I pray now that I would not forget the yesterdays of holding a branch of praise and singing hosanna’s to the King. Please help me to want more of you. Show me what it means to “draw near to you.” Help me to love you for no other reason but for your own sake. Please give me the faith to constantly believe that you are drawing nearer to me, you fill the void, you fill up the emptiness to overflowing.

Please do not hide your face from me when I forget the yesterdays of waving that branch, worshipping you with abandon. My life easily becomes an “all-about-me” existence. Help me to draw near to you and to make this day, all-about-you. Please God, constantly reveal the chasm of our separation from my unrepentant heart. Please fill me with hunger pangs to feast on your word. I pray to want nothing more than to draw near to you.

In your holy and loving name, I pray.

Near to God 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