What If You Had Been There?

Imagine you’re Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, Mary the mother of James, or any of the woman who closely followed Jesus and were there in Jerusalem during Holy Week.

Image Credit:
WordPress Blog

Focus on Jesus, the one you followed, talked to, learned from, believed in, loved…

Now see him snatched from the garden by torchlight.

See him dragged around the city and subjected to illegal trials.

Now he’s beaten and spat on. See his bloody and broken body.

See him on the cross.

Now he’s dead. See his body wrapped in cloth and laid in a cave in the side of a hill.

All is lost. How can this be? You don’t understand. Were you wrong to follow him? You were convinced he was going to save you, but he couldn’t even save himself.

Now, the angels say he’s alive!

Now he appears before you – whole, healthy, breathing, eating, speaking!

Now he tells you to go, teach, baptize, and make more disciples.

See him lifted from the mountain and watch him be carried into heaven.

You have been saved. Everything he said is true. He is alive. He is the Christ!

Now you are sure.

Now you will tell everyone you meet about what he did to free people from sin.

Now you will live the rest of your life for him.

Then, you will spend eternity with him…

On this Maundy Thursday, spend time in quiet with Jesus thanking him for the sacrifice he made for you. If you haven’t been following along with us as we focused on Holy Week during the month of March, here are the reading lists:

What Happened the Week Before Jesus Died

What Happened The Week Before Jesus Died – Triumphal Entry

What Happened the Day Before Jesus Died

What Happened the Day Jesus Died

What Happened Three Days After Jesus Died

What Happened Three Days After Jesus Died – Resurrection and Ascension*

{If this is your first “What Happened” post, go back to the introductory post for the survey of the major events of Holy week that we’re doing together on Servant Girl Stories during March. Then, read the post detailing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Next, read the post about the night before Jesus died. Finally, read the post describing Jesus’ trials and crucifixion. After that, you’re ready for this post}.

The women find Jesus’s tomb empty. Image credit: 1stbiblical blog

As early as possible on the first day of the week, you gather with the other women to take more spices to the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed.

Nicodemus and Joseph already covered his body in myrrh and aloes before binding him and laying him in Joseph’s tomb three days ago. But the women agreed to take more spices as soon as the Sabbath was over, and you want to go with them.

One last chance to be near Jesus.

It seems right that he should be honored this way.

The sweet aroma of the burial spices forces you to confront the truth – their scent is meant to cover the stench of a dead body as it decomposes. Jesus is dead. You are going to anoint his dead body with these spices. You have helped anoint dead bodies of loved ones before, but you never really noticed how the spices smelled. Not so keenly as you do now. But the odor is overwhelming. Your eyes burn, and your nose and throat sting.

Thinking of him and how much you loved and were devoted to him, hot tears pour from your eyes again. You haven’t stopped crying since Friday. Since you witnessed his gruesome death. Something you will never forget for the rest of your life.

You still cannot believe the teacher is gone.

Quietly, you and the other women gather the spices and make your way to the tomb. You don’t look at each other. You don’t speak to each other.

How can he be dead? You ask yourself for the millionth time. How could someone that good… be gone?

On the day he removed the demons that possessed and tormented you for so long, you vowed to follow him to the ends of the earth.

You just never expected the end to come so quickly…and in Jerusalem.

“How will we move the stone?” Someone asks, snatching you back to the present.

You’d been blindly following the group in a trance of disbelief, despair, and devastation.

How will we move the stone? You wonder, your forehead furrowing. Panic begins to rise. We must be allowed to anoint his body! You think as your heart begins to race. Blood pounds loudly in your ears.

From the front of the cluster of your friends, Joanna gasps loudly and stops so quickly that Salome bumps into her and you bump into Salome. The other women behind you crowd close.

“Look!” Joanna’s voice is barely above a whisper.

Glancing past the women in front of you, you see it. But you don’t believe it. You squint and blink against the sun just beginning to rise over the tombs.

The stone has already been rolled away…

The empty tomb/Image Credit: istockphoto

Readings for the fourth week of March

*As you read each account, 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 arrest in the garden, see the soldiers’ torchlight dancing off their armor, hear the worried voices of the disciples as they realize what the soldiers have come to do…imagine you are there in the scene as it unfolds.

Sunday – Jesus resurrects and appears to various people. 

READ:

  • Matthew 28:1-20
  • Mark 16:1-9
  • Luke 24:1-53
  • John 20:1-31

Other Accounts of Jesus’ Appearances after His Resurrection

Optional Reading

READ:

  • John 21:1-25

The remaining 11 disciples speak with Jesus before he ascends.  Soon after that, the disciples return to the upper room (where the Last Supper was held) for a prayer meeting. 

Jesus ascends into heaven. Image Credit: pinimg.com

Optional Reading

  • Acts 1:1-14

Everything we have read about Jesus’ Passion week should point us to Jesus, the cross, salvation, and penitence. It should make it even more grateful for what he did and what it means in our lives.

During the week, reread the verses as many times as possible. Try to read them in different translations as well. Also, read commentary on these verses. Listen to them on a Bible app that will read them aloud. This will help you visualize everything and write the events on your heart. Journal your thoughts on the questions to consider above. Share our survey of events with a friend so you can discuss together what God is showing you as you pray and read.

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

Image Credit: elevatechristiannetwork.com

How have you been impacted by studying accounts of Easter events in the 4 Gospels? I would love to hear about your experience reading about Easter week.

*Along with the Bible verses listed above, the following articles helped inform the narrative at the beginning of this study:

https://www.gotquestions.org/anointing-spices.html

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/678-the-sweet-fragrance-of-a-subtle-argument

https://godasagardener.com/2016/03/25/aloe-and-myrrh-wrapped-body/

What Happened the Day Before Jesus Died – Passover and Prayer in the Garden*

{Read the introductory post for the survey of the major events of Holy week that we’re doing together on Servant Girl Stories during March. Then, read the previous post – detailing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.}

The Jaffa Gate – Jerusalem/Image Credit: holy-landpilgrmage.com

Two things made it clear that the Passover Celebration was at hand in Jerusalem – extra Roman soldiers and extra sheep. The increased presence of soldiers was to quell uprisings that threatened to flare up as the number of people in the city swelled close to 2 million (and since Jesus had made his presence known earlier in the week). Pilate didn’t want to have to deal with any overzealous Jews.

As for the sheep, they would be ritually sacrificed and eaten during the Passover meal.

When Peter and John arrived in Jerusalem Thursday morning, the streets were jammed with people making their last-minute preparations for the evening’s Passover meal. With the city’s population at about 6 times more than normal, the two men were concerned they wouldn’t be able to find the place Jesus had chosen to eat the meal. He had sent them into the city early to prepare it, giving them instructions about who to find and what to say.

Fortunately, it did not take them long to locate the person Jesus told them to look for: a man carrying a water jug. This man stood out from the bustling crowd since it was usually a woman’s duty to fetch the water.

Peter and John followed the man through the packed streets until he entered a three-story house. Once inside, they greeted the owner of the house and said, “The Teacher wants to eat the Passover meal in your guest room.”

A Proposed Site of the Upper Room – Jerusalem/Image Credit: steemit.com/travel

The owner showed them up the stairs to a large, furnished, upper room. There, Peter and John began preparations for the meal.

Readings for the second 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 arrest in the garden, see the soldiers’ torchlight dancing off their armor, hear the worried voices of the disciples as they realize what the soldiers have come to do…imagine you are there in the scene as it unfolds.

Thursday, morning – Jesus and his disciples prepare for the Passover meal in the “Upper Room.” 

READ:

  • Matthew 26: 17-19
  • Mark 14:12-16
  • Luke 22:7-13

Thursday, after sunset – Jesus and his disciples eat the Passover meal in the “Upper Room.” 

We see the Last Supper in our minds with the men sitting in chairs at a table (because this is how much of the artwork depicts it). However, the Bible describes the men as “reclining” at the table. The above image is more like how they would have sat to eat the Passover meal. This was customary for this culture at this time. Image Credit: lessonsnblessings.com

READ:

  • Matthew 26:20-29
  • Mark 14:17-25
  • Luke 22: 14-23
  • John 13:1-30 – John’s gospel does not describe the meal in the Upper Room, but it provides the only account of the Master washing the feet of his disciples after supper. 

Consider this:

  • Scripture and prophecy predicted Jesus’ death, so we know God ordered these events. However, Judas is still responsible for his part in betraying Jesus to the religious leaders (see Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21 and Luke 22:22).  How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty with human responsibility – the fact that God is in control of all things, but we are still held responsible for our actions?  (Read also Genesis 50:18-21; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28, Acts 18:9-11, and 2 Timothy 2:10 for other scripture references that affirm God’s sovereign ordering of events while at the same time pointing to human responsibility for those events).

Thursday, late in the night and into early Friday morning – Jesus and some disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested.

Olive grove in the Garden of Gethsemane – Jerusalem/Image Credit: beinharimtours.com

READ:

  • Matthew 26:30-56
  • Mark 14:26-50
  • Luke 22: 39-53
  • John 18:1-12

Consider this:

  • Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ arrest give details about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.  (ESV translations are used here) – Matthew 26:37-38 describe Jesus as “sorrowful and troubled” and “sorrowful even to death.”  Mark 14:33, 34 uses the terms “distressed and troubled,” and Luke 22:44 describes him as being in “agony.”  These are strong descriptions, but maybe the original language can give us an even clearer picture of Jesus’ state of mind in the garden.  Use the Blue Letter Bible app, your Bible’s commentary or other source to look up the original Greek words for “sorrowful,” “troubled,” distressed,” and “agony” as they were used in these specific verses.  What do these words mean?  What insight do they give you into Jesus’ emotions at that point?  Why does he feel this way?
Jesus arrested in Gethsemane – Image Credit: biblestudy1.com

During the week, reread the verses as many times as possible. Try to read them in different translations as well. Also, read commentary on these verses. Listen to them on a Bible app that will read them aloud. This will help you visualize everything and write the events on your heart. Journal your thoughts on the questions to consider above. Share our survey of events with a friend so you can discuss together what God is showing you as you pray and read.

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

*Along with the Bible verses listed above, the following articles helped inform the narrative at the beginning of this study:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-jesus-celebrated-passover-11555685683

https://www.agapebiblestudy.com/documents/Jesus%20Last%20Week%20in%20Jerusalem.htm

https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/passover-in-israel-past-and-present/

https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney1/6-jesuss-last-journey-to-jerusalem/the-last-supper/

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…

Image Credit: pinimg.com

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
Image Credit: pinterest.com

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.

How To Be A Godly Woman – Mary’s Example

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.

Image Credit: Olivetree.com

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)

Image Credit: (incourage)

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.

Image Credit: pinimg.com

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.
Image Credit: tounearth.com

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…

Image Credit: bible.com

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.

Image Credit: pinimg.com

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?

Image Credit: weheartit.com

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.

Image Credit: pinimg.com

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