What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died – Triumphal Entry

{Read the previous post – an introduction to the posts I’ll be sharing this month as we lead up to Easter}

It’s midday on Monday, springtime in the city of Jerusalem. People bustle in the streets, preparing to celebrate the Passover. You’ve been observing the feast your entire life, commemorating the night the Angel of Death passed over the houses of your ancestors and killed all the firstborn in Egypt.

You hear a commotion in the street ahead and follow the noise and other curious people until you come to a place where the crowd has stopped to watch a man riding by on a donkey colt. Some of the people begin waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks into the road for the donkey to walk over. They shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed if he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, ESV). Your eyes widen as you realize the man is Jesus of Nazareth! You’ve heard about his miracles and his teaching, but you’ve never seen him before.

You watch him ride slowly by and continue looking until he’s out of sight. Then, you return to your work, too busy with your preparations to realize that something life-changing is about to happen…

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Readings for the first week of March

*As you read the various accounts of each event this week, note similarities and differences.  How does each writer describe the events?  How are they similar and how are they different?  How do the different perspectives give you a fuller picture of the event?

**Always pay special attention to the things Jesus said/direct quotes.

***When you’re reading, try to imagine the scene in your head: see the people, hear the sounds, inhale the smells. Visualize the events happening as clearly as something you’ve witnessed with your own eyes. For example, with the Triumphal Entry, see Jesus on the donkey, hear the crowd shouting Hosanna…imagine you are there in the scene as it happens.

Monday, midday – Jesus enters Jerusalem.  It is springtime, and the city is preparing to celebrate the Passover.

READ:

  • Matthew 21:1-11
  • Mark 11:1-11
  • Luke 19:28-44
  • John 12:12-19

Things to Consider:

  • Why do you think it was significant that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey?
  • Some accounts say the people shouted “Hosanna” as Jesus entered the city.  Use the Blue Letter Bible app, your Bible’s commentary or other source to look up the original Greek word for Hosanna.  What does it mean?  What were the people saying?
  • What is the overall feeling of “the people” or “the crowd” (not the religious leaders) in the city as Jesus entered?

Tuesday – After spending the night in Bethany, Jesus returns to Jerusalem and cleanses the temple*.

READ:

  • Matthew 21:12-17
  • Mark 11:15-19
  • Luke 19:45-48
Image Credit: hearthymn.com

*Just a little piece of geographical information – Bethany is roughly a 2-mile walk from Jerusalem (cited in John 11:18. It would have taken about an hour to walk at a decent pace). Details from several writers show that, rather than staying in the city, Jesus went back to Bethany at night to rest. Some speculate he may have even stayed with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, his dear friends, who lived in Bethany.

{Optional Event and Reading}

Wednesday, midday – Jesus enters the temple in Jerusalem to teach and is challenged by chief priests and elders. 

  • Matthew 21:23-22:14 (Chapter 21 verse 23-Chapter 22 verse 14)
  • Mark 11:27-12:12 (see above)
  • Luke 20:1-19

Wednesday, evening – Back in Bethany, Jesus is anointed by Mary at dinner and Judas conspires to betray Jesus.

READ:

  • Matthew 26:6-16
  • Mark 14:1-11
  • Luke 22:3-6
  • John 12:2-8
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During the week, reread the verses as many times as you can. Read them in different versions of the Bible. Listen to the verses on a Bible app that will read them to you. This will help you visualize everything and really write the events on your heart.

I pray the Lord will show you something fresh in these familiar stories as you prepare your heart for His resurrection.

What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died?

The triumphal entry. The Last Supper. The Garden of Gethsemane. The illegal trial. Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

Image Credit: bible.com

It’s likely you’re familiar with the events. You’ve been to church or Sunday school or Bible school or youth camp. You’ve heard the stories. But have you ever explored them on your own? Would you like to get a fuller picture of what happened to Jesus in the week before He died and after His death and resurrection?

We celebrate Easter in 4 weeks (Sunday, April 4, 2021) , so let’s start now to prepare our hearts.

Over the next 4 weeks, I’ll post guided readings from the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – as well as questions to consider that will help you survey the events of Jesus’ Passion week – the week before he was crucified – through His resurrection and ascension. We’ll get a fuller perspective of the events of his last days in the flesh by reading accounts of the events as described in three and sometimes all 4 gospels. This allows us to do a side-by-side comparison and to contrast the information – not to find contradictions, but to give us a more well-rounded look at what took place.

Image Credit: biblegateway.com

What to do before and during the study:

  • Pray to prepare your heart. Ask God to show you new information, something you haven’t seen before in stories that are well-known.
  • Read the listed verses. (Reread if you have time). If a verse or group of verses stands out to you, make note in your Bible or your journal.
  • Study words in the original Greek that catch your attention or that you’d like to understand better using apps like Blue Letter Bible.
  • Follow the cross references listed in your Bible.
  • Read commentary on the verses.
  • Pray some more.
  • Journal about what you’re reading and learning. About what stood out that you hadn’t noticed before. Note any questions you still have.
  • If you’d like to engage with me or other readers, comment on the blog or on Facebook when I publish the posts.
  • Reach out to me personally through the blog or through Facebook if you’d like to talk about anything.

As you read the gospels remember:

  • They highlight major events in Jesus’ life as he carried out his Father’s will.
  • They are historical writings – told by eye witnesses or collected from eye witnesses.
  • Most are organized topically rather than chronologically. (This is the way many people talked and wrote at the time. They grouped events together that were similar in topic – not necessarily based on the order in which they happened. This is why events aren’t always in the same order in the different books).

{The following are short introductions of each of the four gospels and their authors. Information is taken from the English Standard Version Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible}.

Matthew

Image Credit: Steppesoffaith.com
  • one of Jesus’ 12 disciples – an eye-witness to Jesus life. Matthew saw first-hand the things he wrote about because he was there – talking with Jesus, eating with Jesus, walking with Jesus, healing with Jesus, learning from Jesus.
  • a former tax collector – a Jew by birth – would have been familiar with Jewish law, the books we call the Old Testament, etc.
  • also called Levi
  • gospel written between late 50’s and early 60’s AD (after Jesus died)
  • Matthew’s purpose in writing down his gospel was to persuade Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Events are organized topically. Matthew’s gospel is known for not having events in the same order as the other gospels.
  • Although the exact way Matthew died is unknown, it is accepted that he was martyred (died for preaching and teaching the gospel). Many accounts say he was in Ethiopia at the time of his death.

Mark

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  • not an eye-witness to Jesus’ life, but a close friend and companion to Peter – one of Jesus’ disciples. Mark was Peter’s writer – he wrote down many of the letters and things that Peter dictated to him. He is mentioned in Acts and other New Testament books.
  • also called John-Mark
  • He wrote his gospel mostly for Gentiles emphasizing discipleship, having a relationship with Christ, trusting God, and letting Jesus be Lord and Savior of believers’ lives.
  • gospel written in mid-50’s AD – likely in Rome while working with Peter

Luke

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  • a Gentile who converted to Christianity (the only Gentile to write any book of the Bible).
  • originally a physician/doctor from Antioch
  • a close friend of Paul’s
  • His gospel isn’t a first-hand account as he was not an eye-witness to the events he wrote about. However, he was known to have researched by talking to people who had been with Jesus and had seen the things Jesus did during his ministry.
  • also wrote the book of Acts
  • gospel written in 60 of 61 AD in Rome at the same time as Acts was written.
  • Luke wrote his gospel for Gentiles. He wanted people to know that the Good News was for everyone.
  • {interesting side note – Luke emphasized the central role of women in Christ’s ministry – he talked at length about the women who supported Jesus ministry with money or other forms of assistance}

John

Image Credit: bible.com
  • one of Jesus’ 12 disciples (His gospel is eye-witness testimony.)
  • the brother of James – also a disciple. They were known as the sons of Zebedee.
  • known as “the beloved” and “the disciple who Jesus loved.” {side note – From the cross, Jesus requested his mother Mary be cared for by John}.
  • time frame of writing is hard to pin down – some scholars say between 70 and 100 AD. Others say between 80 and 90 AD
  • gospel written well after the other 3 – Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as the Synoptic Gospels
  • John’s gospel supplemented and complimented the other 3 gospels. His account of the events added a unique perspective and fill in other details that aren’t found in the synoptic gospels.
  • Most scholars believe John was the only disciple to die of old age although he did spend time exiled on the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel.
Image Credit: zazzle.com

I’ll send out the first official readings tomorrow evening, but I wanted to share with you an optional reading to provide some more context for the next 4 weeks of study.

John 11 tells the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. The chapter ends with the Pharisees plotting to kill Jesus as the Passover week is about to begin.

John provides the only account of this event.

How To Be A Godly Woman

I want to be a godly woman, a woman whose life has been visibly impacted by the gospel message. This type of life brings glory to God, and that is a Christian’s purpose.

I want that for your life as well.

Let’s be women whose lives please God. Let’s be women who respond with humble obedience to the Good News that Jesus gave His life for our salvation…

Ok, whoa. Time out. Let’s stop here. This sounds great and all, but what does it mean? HOW do we live godly lives? It’s great to want to, but how do we live it out?

We’ll look to God’s word for examples. Jesus’ mother Mary, called “favored one” (Luke 1:28) by the angel Gabriel when he came to tell her about God’s plan for her life, is an exemplary model of a godly woman.

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Gabriel said, “the Lord is with you! You have found favor with God…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (excerpts from Luke 1:28-33)

Man!!! That’s some overwhelming news to get from a stranger as you’re going about your daily business.

{Plus, Mary was probably about 14 or 15 years old at the time}!

However, Mary showed herself to be a godly woman in her response to the news from Gabriel. She said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a)

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Basically, she said, “bring it on. I’m gonna do whatever you say.” 😉

But seriously, this is what we learn from Mary about how to be godly women: godly women submit to God’s will for their lives.

We yield to what God has planned for us.

We say yes to where He leads us.

We turn away from the things He says no to.

Submitting to God involves trust in who God is. It involves confidence that He is sovereign and good and just.

Again, this sounds good, but how exactly do we get to this point?

Pray. Ask God to help us to do this. Ask God to have his way in our lives. (Then be ready to yield when He directs you).

Listen. How does God respond to your request? Where does He say to go? What does He say to do?

Read. Go to scripture and read about other godly women for more examples of holy living.

Talk. Seek out women who are leading godly lives. Consider why you think they’re godly? What about their lives leads you to believe they are living a life pleasing to God? What behaviors do they model? Ask them to describe times in their lives when God has required them to submit. Find out what obedience to God looks like and feels like in their experiences.

This isn’t something that will happen in a day or two. This will take repeated time alone with God in prayer and in reading His word. This will mean praying daily for God to help you submit to His will…even after you think you’ve submitted, pray each day that God will help you submit to Him that particular day.

I passionately encourage you to pursue a deeper relationship with God in this way. Submit to His will for your life. Adorn the gospel with your behavior. Let the world see how your faith has impacted your life.

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Guided Prayer:

Father,

Thank you for sending your Son to die for me. Thank you for making a way for me to have eternal life with you. Thank you for pursuing me and for bringing me to yourself. I want people to see that your sacrifice has impacted my life. I want people to see that you have changed me. I am your servant girl, Lord. May it be to me as you have said. I am blessed because I believe you will fulfill your promises to me. You have shown me that I can trust you. I want to submit my life to you, Lord. I don’t know what that looks like, but you do. I don’t know how to do it, but you do. Help me to do it, Lord. Help me to yield my plans and my agenda and my schedule and my to-do list to you. Make me humbly obedient. Make me your servant girl every day of my life.

Amen

What To Do if You Want to Hear From God

Have you ever asked any of these questions:

  • Does God have anything to say to me?
  • Is God trying to tell me something?
  • How do I know if God is speaking to me?

The short answers are:

  • He does.
  • He is.
  • Learn to hear His voice.
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Yes. God speaks to His children in a million different ways and about many different things.

Why should we care about hearing from God?

That’s easy…so we can bring glory to His name by being obedient to His will.

How do we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, when He speaks and what He says?

The answer to that question is both simple and complicated. The simple answer is – we have to be familiar with His voice.

The complicated part is HOW we become familiar with His voice. (But it’s only complicated because we make it that way).

We become familiar with His voice the same way we learn anyone’s voice: by listening to Him speak.

  • Walk and talk with Him.
  • Pray to Him.
  • Read His Word.

You probably know about those. If you’ve been to church or to a Bible study or Sunday school, it’s likely someone has told you those things. But there is another way to learn to hear from God, to familiarize yourself with His voice:

Work with Him.

That’s what Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3:1a – “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli”. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what Samuel was doing, but we know he was helping in the temple in some way. And one night, the Lord called to Samuel by name…

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I want that. Don’t you? I want to hear God calling my name. So, I want to know, How do we minister to God?

When we minister, we give help, serve, offer ourselves or our services. When we minister, we are sent to others, we supply something to meet a need, provide something, attend to someone, take care of someone, show care or concern for someone…

That tells me, if we’re ready to hear from God, we need to be in His service – attending to Him, caring for Him, helping Him. This means that we serve others. In serving others, we serve God. In ministering to others, we minister to God.

When we are God’s hands and feet in the world, when we work with Him, we will start to hear from Him. We will hear from Him and talk with Him so much, we will know His voice when He calls us.

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How can you serve God where you are right now? In your family? In your circle of friends? At your job? At your child’s school? Ask God to show you what to do, where to go, and how to minister to Him by ministering to others. Then, be ready to listen to what He has to say to you while you work.

Guided Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you for choosing me and making me your child. Thank you for desiring a relationship with me. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent your Son to die for me.

Forgive me when I don’t honor that sacrifice. Forgive me when I don’t glorify your name with my life.

Help me to bring you glory, Lord. Show me what it is you want me to do to minister to others. Show me how to care for you by caring for others. Show me where to serve. Show me where to help. Show me where to minister. I want to hear your voice, Lord. I want to be in service to you.

Amen

God Desires a Relationship

Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t figure out what. I stared at my reflection in the mirror. Furrowed my brow. Turned my face to the right and then to the left to look at different angles. Something was off…

Oh! No mascara! I’d been putting on make-up and stopped to eat breakfast with my daughter when she came downstairs dressed and ready for school. I must have stopped before I got to the mascara – the last step in the morning put-on-make-up-routine. I’m in the habit of putting my make-up on in the same order, and I guess since I stopped before I got done, I was thrown off. I didn’t stick to the routine, and it completely messed me up. I didn’t realize I missed a step, but I knew something was wrong when I looked in the mirror.

That’s how routines work. You do certain steps in a prescribed order. You follow a procedure. There’s a formula. Many routines become internationalized to the point that you don’t think about them – you’re on autopilot when you do them. Can you think of some of your daily routines that are like this? The only time you think about the routine is if you mess up somehow, like I did when I forgot my mascara 😉 Then you have to focus on the steps, really think about the procedure, to figure out where you went wrong.

Routines and rituals and procedures and formulas get us through life, don’t they? They’re helpful. They’re effective. They work. They’re safe.

It isn’t bad to have them and to use them…but our relationship with God can’t be like that. If we’re doing rituals or trying to follow a formula to get to know God, we’re going about it the wrong way. Focusing on the wrong thing. A ritual is all about the ritual. The formula is all about the steps. We’re trying to make something happen in a certain way for a desired result. When it comes to our relationship with God, though, our focus has to be on God. Who He is and what He’s done. We shouldn’t try to follow a set protocol to get to know Him. He isn’t interested in something we memorized to say to Him. He’s interested in our hearts. He’s interested in having a relationship with us. Relationships are more important to God than rituals.

Again, I’m not saying rituals are wrong of themselves. We have plenty of them in the Christian church. Tradition has its place – to help us remember. But, if all we focus on is the formula, we’re missing the friendship. If we relay on ritual, we miss out on the relationship – on the genuine, life-changing encounters with our Lord.

And I don’t want to miss that. Do you?

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Shift the Focus

A panicked shriek broke through the den of otherwise happy sounds bouncing off the gym walls. I turned to see two boys sprawled on the floor, one of them red-faced and screaming. As I walked toward them, one boy picked himself off the floor, shot a half-concerned half-confused look at the other one (still lying on the floor and screaming) and walked off.

I crouched down beside the boy on the floor. He was clutching one hand tightly in the other. He was so upset, he could barely make a sound although his head was thrown back, his mouth was open wide, and tears were streaming down his face. I gathered him in my arms. “Did you hurt your hand when you fell?”

“I…want…mommy!” He managed between gulps of air. I hugged him tightly and sat in a nearby chair. The rest of his classmates played jubilantly around us. (I teach a 4-year-old preschool class, and it was very cold and wet from a few rainy days in a row, so we had our play time inside our gym).

We sat on the chair together while he gasped for breath and cried. I rubbed his back. He continued to hold his hand so tightly the end of his fingers turned purple.

“Let me see your hand. Can you show me where it hurts?”

“I want mommy!” He insisted.

From what I could tell, nothing was terribly wrong with his hand. I didn’t see the accident, but I saw the two boys running at full speed around the gym earlier, so I assumed they’d somehow collided and fallen. This little guy had put his hand out to catch himself or maybe the other little guy landed on this one’s hand. Whatever happened, he worked himself into a tizzy about it.

We continued to sit. Me rubbing his back and him crying, although not as fiercely as before.

After a while, I noticed one of his classmates (the same little boy who’d gotten tangled up with him just a few moments earlier) skipping past us singing, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Valentine’s Day! Do-de-do. Do-de-do”.

Taking the opportunity to distract the upset kiddo in my lap, I said, “Did you hear what he’s singing? I think he made that up. Have you heard that song before?” I made an exaggerated confused face.

My friend in my lap giggled.

The classmate made another loop. Still skipping and singing his made-up Valentine’s Day song.

“That is so funny!” I grinned at my injured friend. “Listen. He’s STILL singing his made-up song!”

The little boy giggled again, this time with his eyes and his face 🙂

The singing boy caught on to the fact that we were listening to him. He skipped in a tighter circle around us and sang louder, “Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Valentine’s Day! Do-de-do. Do-de-do”. He watched us watch him and giggled mischievously.

I sang along and bounced the little boy on my lap. He laughed loudly. His eyes were still wet, but his face was lit with a smile. He hopped from my lap and ran off with his friend, starting another lap around the gym.

Most anyone who has experience with children will tell you, if they’re upset, distraction is a good strategy. (If they aren’t seriously hurt, of course).

If you can get them to focus on another person (another kid playing and having a good time or doing something silly), many times, they’ll forget their minor scrap or bump or pouty attitude, and voila! They’re off playing again.

This is what God wants us to do when we get bogged down in our own lives – focus on someone else. He wants us to take our attention off ourselves and our circumstances and put other people and their needs first.

Image Credit: Knowing Jesus

When we focus on others, we forget about our own problems – just like my friend forgot about his hurt hand when he focused on the other little boy’s song. And that’s part of the point. So many verses tell us to love our neighbors, love our enemies, put others above ourselves, love because God loves and love because He told us to do so. (This is just a small taste of the verses that tell us to put others first). So there’s gotta be something to this logic, right?!

Image Credit: dailyverses.net

More importantly, putting others first puts God first. When we look to the interests of others before we look to our own, God is glorified. And that’s the WHOLE point.

Hearing God’s Voice

Did you know that Almighty God wants to have a relationship with you? It’s true. He wants to walk with you and talk with you. Actually, He already does, but if you aren’t familiar with His voice and how He reaches out to His children, you might miss His still, small voice.

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I’m not an expert, but I know He reaches out to me. I am much more familiar with His voice than I was a decade ago. I can point to specific experiences in my life when I know He led me in a certain direction toward something or away from something.

The first time I know for sure God was reaching out to me was when our older child was just a few months old. It happened over several months, so it wasn’t just one “conversation” if you will, but a series of little nudges from God. At that point, I wasn’t familiar with His voice, so although I knew something was going on, I didn’t know what it was or what to do about it. I only knew I had this wild idea to leave my full time job and be a work-from-home mom so I could be with my child. It took time and wise counsel to realize God was speaking to me.

As I gained more experience hearing from God and recognizing His voice, I realized sometimes He tells us no. Yes, you can go your own way and continue to do what you want, but that doesn’t mean God changes His mind. When God says no, He means no, and eventually, we have to learn to submit our lives. But life in His will is better than living in our own. I am definitely coming to understand and accept that.

If you are unfamiliar with God’s voice, I pray that some of the posts I’ve linked here will help you start to learn different ways you can experience God. These aren’t the only ways – I’ve had other types of encounters as well, but these are some of the most memorable ones for me.

As you learn God’s voice, you also learn to differentiate the enemy’s voice as well. I found this graphic that clearly illustrates some of the differences between God’s and Satan’s voices.

Image Credit: FortifyMyLife Blog

I pray you will seek Him. I pray you will listen to Him and talk to Him as well.

I pray you will learn to recognize and respond to His voice and submit to His will for your life.

Have you experienced a time when God reached out to you? What was it like? How did you know it was God? What was His message? What was your response? I would love to hear from you. You can leave a comment on the blog, on the Facebook thread, or email me at heather@heatherhooks.com

When Satan Tries to Lie 2

It’s 3pm. I’m standing in the kitchen mentally scrolling through my to-do list and comparing it to how much time is left before I need to get Ethan from school. 

One of the tasks that should be done ASAP is meal prep – there is chicken to cut and marinate for tonight’s and tomorrow’s night’s dinner. 

There isn’t time.  You’ll have to do that after you get Ethan. The message in my keeps repeating.

I look at the clock again.  It’s 3:10. I need to cut the chicken.  But I tell myself again, You don’t have time for that. 

Quickly, I shook my head, grabbed the chicken, and started to work. Guess how long it took to get it done?

About 15 minutes!

Fifteen minutes to prepare the main course for two separate meals.

AND there was still about 5 minutes left before it was time to get Ethan!!!

When I realized how quickly I completed the task but how hard I fought to put it off, I thought, what the heck?  Why tell myself I didn’t have enough time when I had plenty? 

I also realized I have been repeating similar phrases for years: 

There isn’t enough time to do that.

You don’t have enough time.

You need to leave in a little bit.  No need in starting something you won’t get a chance to finish.

And it hit me.  Man! These were lies from the devil, the king of liars!  Satan will lie to us and try to lead us astray and distract us even with simple things. He doesn’t always try to tempt us to do big, bad, sinful things. He’ll lie to you about anything and everything.

When I buy this lie, rather than getting started on what needs to be done, I open Facebook or Instagram or check my email or whatever else…anything to fill that space…and many times it isn’t healthy or productive.  I’m not being efficient with my time.  I’m not being a good steward of the space God has given me.  Then, a chunk of time has gone by, and I honestly could have done the task that needed to be done. 

But, Satan convinced me that I didn’t have time.

Does this happen to you?

The same thing happened the next morning.  There was about 45 minutes before time to get in the shower.  When I thought through my to-do list, I remembered the introductory video series I needed to watch for Flourish Writers Academy

Guess what the first thing was that popped into my head?  You’re exactly right.  I thought, I don’t have time to do that before I take my shower.

But the video series was 30 minutes, and I had 45 minutes before I needed to get in the shower! (You can do that math, right?!)

(It didn’t occur to me yet how similar this incident was to the “chicken cutting incident” from the day before).

I sat there a minute longer and decided to try to squeeze in one or two of the videos in the series. 

Well, I ended up watching all the videos in the start-up intro series for the academy.  Every.single.one.of.them.

If I’d bought the lie that I didn’t have time to watch the videos, I probably would have wasted that 45 minutes.  Maybe I would have gone ahead and taken my shower.  But, it’s more likely that I would have checked my email or gotten on Facebook and gotten caught up watching some crazy movie clips or scrolling around and reading all the mean things people were saying to each other about the inauguration and getting all bent out of shape about it.  More than likely, I would have done something that wasn’t life-giving or wouldn’t help me prepare for my day.

Instead, I ignored that voice telling me I didn’t have time and watched the videos. 

You see, Satan wants to steal from us, to distract us.  One of the ways he steals from us is by convincing us that we don’t have time to do the things we need to do.  Many of the tasks we need to do honestly do not take a lot of time.  They could be checked off the list in 30 minutes.  15 minutes.  10 minutes even.

I want to learn, and I want to help you learn, to recognize Satan’s lies. 

He does not have your best interest in mind.  He doesn’t care what you end up doing with your time, but he wants you to get your priorities out of line. He doesn’t want you checking off your to-do list. Instead, he wants you to waste your time doing something meaningless so later you’ll feel rushed, frustrated, or stressed and snap at your children or your spouse, for example.

And, Satan isn’t picky about what it is you’re trying to accomplish.  It could be something to build your faith; it could relate to Jesus or it might not.  But, it could also be something your family needs you to do, something you need to do for work, an errand you need to run…or any number of things. 

The thing is, if Satan distracts you from your tasks and get on Instagram and see pictures of your friend’s kids dressed all cute in matching outfits, then you’re going to be upset because you can’t get your kids to take pictures like that.  Now you’re distracted.  Now your mind is off God and into comparison-mode, and comparison will steal your joy.

Or you see a post about what someone’s husband built her or bought her.  And you feel hurt and jealous and think, my husband never does anything like that for me.

There goes that joy. Right out the window.

Or you see all the pictures from a friend’s recent trip, and you can’t remember the last time you went anywhere…

Do you see where I am going with this?

It’s all a distraction.  It’s all lies.  It all sends you down the same dark path.

The best way I can think of to learn to detect and combat Satan is to know God.

People who are trained to spot counterfeit money don‘t spend much time studying counterfeit money.  They study real money.  They become experts at what the real thing looks like, what the paper feels like, and where watermarks are hidden. 

If you study the real thing, you recognize the real thing but you also learn to recognize the thing that is fake. 

That’s what I’d rather do.  I’d rather know God’s voice and know when something comes into my head that is different from God’s voice.  Then, I know – this isn’t God.  God isn’t going to say things like this to me.  God isn’t going to make me feel this way.  God isn’t going to lead me down this path. 

So, we can figure out we’re being lied to and take that thought captive and hold it against the truth. 

Let’s not do Satan’s job for him. 

But we also can’t blame everything on Satan. Some is our own doing.  He has gotten into our mind, yes, and a led us astray at first.  But then he backs off, once he’s convinced us that the lie is truth, and we do his job for him from then on.  We continue to do the things he’s put into our heads.  We’ve listened, bought into the lie and now we’re on autopilot telling ourselves we can’t do something we need to do because we don’t have time. 

How does Satan have you on auto-pilot?  What are the lies he’s taught you to tell yourself? 

What thoughts run through your head every day? What are the negative, unhealthy ones? They probably start with a phrase like “I can’t,” “I don’t,” or “I won’t”…

I can’t do that job.  I wouldn’t get hired.

I don’t know enough about this.

I won’t ever get a raise.

I don’t have enough friends.

I don’t have enough time.

I don’t have enough money.

My kid’s don’t ever act right.

Bring those into the light.  Call them out.  Name them what they are – lies from Satan meant to distract you from what’s true and what’s important.  Meant to keep you confused. Busy. Behind.  Tired. Frustrated. Stressed. Sad. Angry.

The next time you hear those negative thoughts in your head, start talking to Jesus.  Out loud.  Satan has to flee when he hears Jesus’ name.  So, start talking to Jesus.  Say His name and ask Him to expose the lie and replace it with truth from His word. 

You’ll be surprised at how quickly He answers.

Struggling Believer… I See You…I Am You…Together Let’s Discover What It Really Means to Be Servant Girls

So you believe in Jesus.

You know He was God’s Son, and you know He came to earth and lived among us as a man, as one of us. You know He taught about God and performed some miracles. You know He died on the Cross so the sins of those who believed could be forgiven. You know the tomb is empty because He rose and is in heaven with the Father. You believe. You’re a Christian, maybe even a member of a church somewhere.

But something is missing.

You aren’t growing. Or, you haven’t changed.

You took the big step: you believed.

But you don’t walk every day in what you believe.

You know stories about Him but haven’t experienced Him for yourself.

It is time to walk in what you say you believe. Every day. Be a servant girl. Live in it every day.

It is time to serve.

It is time to respond to the Good News, to God. To what He’s offering.

It is time to discover God’s will for your life and obey it.

It is time to recognize His voice and respond to it.

It is time for an intimate relationship.

It is time to pray and listen.

It is time to open your Bible.

It is time to live the every day details of who you say you are.

(I’m talking to myself, too).

Maybe you’re asking: How do I walk as a servant girl? How do I serve God? How do I respond?

I can’t answer those questions for you personally. God has to tell you that.

But I can tell you how to seek the answers.

I am learning to walk daily.

I am learning to recognize His voice.

I am learning to obey.

Image Credit: challies.com

I have to stop here because this is where Satan is telling me that I don’t do these things that I’m saying I do.

And he’s right. To a point.

I don’t do them every day, all day.

I get full of pride.

I get lazy.

I get distracted.

I get on the wrong path.

I am human, so I make mistakes and try to go my own way and do things in my own power.

But very soon God calls me back. I hear His voice. He shows me my sin. I repent and get back on the right path.

Yes, I still sin. Yes, I still make mistakes and get my eyes off God.

But I know His voice. I have a relationship with Him. We are always talking so it isn’t long before He gets me back where I should be. It isn’t long and I don’t go very far before He corrects me.

Because I know Him. I recognize His voice. I talk to Him and listen to Him.

I walk with Him. I read His word. I obey Him. I submit. I serve.

I want to share with you what He’s taught me about being a servant girl.

In 2021, I want to help you discover how to daily walk with God.

If you don’t already, please subscribe to Servant Girl Stories by clicking the “Follow” button at the top right corner of the blog’s homepage and leave your email address. New things are coming this year and further in the future, and I want to share them with you. As a whole, I hope to offer practical information, action steps, people to relate to and examples to follow as we learn to lead godly lives.

I’m looking forward to the journey.

Image Credit: A Bloomin’ Mum

Prayer of Affirmation

Lord, you have told me that you go behind me and before me and that you hem me in on all sides. You have assured me of salvation through your Son and of a relationship with you through your Spirit. You have shown me that I can always trust you. In these assurances from you, Lord, I am blessed. I will fix my mind on these things and receive your comfort. I will fix my mind on you and what you have already done and already given. I will yield to you. I will trust you. I will rest in you and be at peace.

Amen

A Letter for My Friends Reading Servant Girl Stories

Dear Friend,

With much anticipation, we left 2020 behind and rushed forward into 2021. Many are so anxious for this year to be different…better than the one we ended a week ago.

What are some of your dreams for the new year? Your goals? Did you make resolutions?

My husband and I have been talking about family goals for 2021 like possible DIY projects in our home or maybe even refinancing. At work, our director and staff continue to make plans to reopen our preschool since closing in March 2020 because of the pandemic. On a personal level, I’ve been praying and journaling about my writing goals.

I am part of a writing community called Flourish Writers and will participate in their year-long Flourish Writers Academy. My goal is to get clarity on why God made me a writer and take action on a writing project that has been on my heart for several years.

May I ask for your help in this venture?

First, please pray for me to listen to God and to submit to His will for my writing and my life.

Also, I want to know more about my readers. There are certain things on my heart to write, but I want to serve my reader as well. I want to write the things you need to read as well.

Would you help me do this by answering some questions about yourself? I would really appreciate it. Please click on the link below to take a short survey. There are 9 questions that should take you 4 minutes or less to complete.

Click here to take the survey.

Finally, if you haven’t subscribed to Servant Girl Stories, would you consider doing so? Subscribers get email alerts each time a new blog post is published. On the homepage of the blog, click on the “Follow” button on the right side of the screen. Leave me your email address, and I’ll send you blog posts 🙂

Thank you for your prayers and for your support. I look forward to this new year and seeing how God is going to work in our lives.

With gratitude,

Heather