April 7, 2019

Final Week

A Deliberately Reckless Response

Day 1:  Are you observing Lent- the 40 days preceding Easter? Traditionally, Lent provides a time for preparation and focus, reminiscent of Jesus' time in the wilderness before he started his public ministry (See Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, and Luke 4:1-13). Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to set aside the distractions of the worldly life and focus on God, and God's will, for him. As we draw nearer to Jesus’ last days, what steps can you take to refocus your eyes on God’s will and desires for you? These weeks are a time of readying ourselves to experience the death of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us. How can we prepare to receive this afresh, and not miss or pass through another Easter season? 


Day 2: This week Cory taught on a genuine encounter with love. Read Matthew 26:6-13. The woman enters the home of Simon the Leper to anoint Jesus with expensive oil. She receives much criticism from the disciples for her extravagance. However, Jesus recognizes the woman’s actions as that of love, worship and sacrifice. Having felt a deep love and acceptance of Jesus, she offers a response. How can we come to a place of gratitude and worship Jesus with similar passion? How about others in your life? Have you sacrificed for those you love (spouse, child or loved one)? What might be a loving sacrifice you can offer today? How about during the next worship service you attend?  


Day 3: Matthew 26:8, “When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. Why this waste?” Perhaps you identify more with the disciples in this story.  They willingly express loving gratitude to Jesus in calculated ways that are purposeful and intentional. Some of us may want to show our love to Jesus only in ways that are controlled, make sense, fit into a plan, and are not too costly. Where are you on the scale of spontaneous love to controlled love? To express any love, we must first open our lives to Jesus and receive this type of love from Him. How has Jesus shown spontaneous, extravagant love to you? Consistent, steady, controlled love? Spend some time reflecting on how you are loved. Just rest in that for a while.  


Day 4: The woman in the story (Matthew 26:6-13) provides an example of reckless abandon in her worship. Several ago, at a Casting Crowns concert, my husband and I observed a man attending alone, but totally engaged in the show, singing and dancing. You’ve heard the phrase “dance like no one is watching.” This guy was! He was truly in the moment. He was fully open to worship and spontaneously showing his joy. My husband said, “We should be that guy.” We often still say, “Be that guy…” completely and utterly able to exhibit praise and love without regard for those who misunderstand or misinterpret our actions. Based on your relationship with Jesus, whatever that might currently be, what would it look like to express your love for Him? Like the woman pouring out oil on Jesus or the guy at the concert, what would an unashamed act of love toward Jesus look like for you? 


Day 5: As we near Easter weekend, spend some time reflecting on the depth of God’s love toward you (the price He paid; the suffering He endured; the fullness of God’s love on display toward you). Did you do it or just keep reading? Seriously, pause and collect your thoughts on his final moments of his death. Revisit the last days of Jesus life leading up to his trial, crucifixion and sacrifice. Over the coming weeks, consider reading Matthew 26 and the rest of the book. What is your response to Him? Does love for Him stir up inside you? If so, how can you express it to Him?  


Dear Lord: Please give me the receptive heart to hear your word in me. Let your light shine through me in my daily life. We know the great sacrifice you laid out for us when you sent your son to suffer on the cross. May we live each day to your glory - and to honor that sacrifice. With your love we offer our love, both to you and to others, always. Amen. 

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