Preparing my heart
Here we are a few weeks from Easter...and I wanted to share how I am preparing my heart so the time doesn't pass without reflection and awe of what this celebration really is to me, you and the world.
There is purpose for the time Jesus spent on earth. There is reason He did not simply descend and go straight to the cross. There is a reason He took on the vulnerability of being human. There are probably thousands of reasons, but here are a few that I have found inspiring lately:
John 14:7: "If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
When Jesus took on flesh, He SHOWED us who God is. With Jesus, we know God's character; how loving and beautiful our creator's heart is; and how perfect He is. He was the living Word - so that we may see, through His life, what God has intended through his Old Testament teachings that much more clearly.
1 John 1:8: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
Hebrews 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."
He magnified our need for a savior. Jesus is the only one on this earth who has effectively lived and kept God's law - he lived a PERFECT life. His perfection magnifies my imperfections. I am reminded of how my selfishness and idolization of things of this world are all an affront to God. Every negative thought I have about someone (whether assuming their intentions are bad or holding a grudge for example) or perhaps my temptation to cut someone down because I am upset or gossip because it's interesting, but may not even be true; how about when I am not content or I find myself envious of another or I am grumbling about my trial or situation...it's all sin. I break God's law every single day in a myriad of ways. I cannot earn my salvation with anything I do. Jesus was given every opportunity to fall short during His life and - simply put - He didn't.
John 11:33-36: "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!"
Being fully human, he felt pain, anguish, worry, fear. He lived a life where He lost loved ones. He grew tired. Our God is a God of empathy - because He dwelt among us, you can bring anything to Him and He can relate. He has been human and knows the struggle and the suffering that living in this broken world brings. He truly knows what my heart feels and can counsel me through it.
2 Corinthians 5:21: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
1 John 3:5: "But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.And in him is no sin."
He suffered what we deserve to suffer. He lived a perfect life, yet was crucified to satisfy our sin. God loves us so much that He was tortured, ridiculed, humiliated and hung to die...for EACH OF US. And His substitution for us was undeserved and we did nothing to earn this - His grace is a gift to us.
And because of this, He deserves my everything:
I feel like this New City Catechism Devotional quote exemplifies this perfectly:
"A woman once said to me, 'If I knew I was saved because of what I did, if I contributed to my salvation, then God couldn’t ask anything of me because I’d made a contribution. But if I’m saved by grace, sheer grace, then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.' ....Jesus gave himself wholly for us. So now, we must give ourselves wholly to him."
Looking at what Jesus did for our relationship with Him encourages me. It encourages me to live with my heart outpouring for Him that He may be glorified through my life. It makes me strive to live in obedience; not because "I have to follow the rules", but because I truly want to delight in delighting Him. It makes me want to praise His name because he conquered death for ME.
And, most importantly, I am filled with true joy in that I will one day meet Him, see His glory in the fullest and praise Him for the rest of eternity.