The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

Blank Slates and Clean Canvases

Many times Jesus spoke in a way that was so matter of fact, so very direct.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said,

If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke‬ ‭17:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬

I imagine them expecting some wisdom more than his reply of it’s up to you to embrace this powerful source, this thing you are to hold as evidence of me in you.

This mystery of a strength that no one can see, only can be known.

Jesus reminds me today as I read Luke’s recording of His words.

You know when your faith is waning, you know how to again believe.

You know you only need to begin, begin like tiny seed no one else can see; yet, can be fully and faithfully sort of secretively known.

It’s a thing between you and He.

So cup your little imaginary seed in the palm of your hand, Lisa Anne and then plant it on the blank canvases, open spaces and empty pages waiting for you to go and grow.

Maybe moving, uprooting, or seeing unusual or unexpected shooting ups of new living and new life.

Begin with your little seed.

Begin again to grow, not to chase, only go in the way you feel the sway of His answer to your longing, your prayer.

Lord, tell me what to say. Tell me what to create.

Begin because you know you are able and that you were made me to be capable.

You know that we can, God, it’s just we are not consistently obedient.

We are not always willing.

Like the apostles asked you to do it, to increase their faith, we do the same.

We must be willing to believe and begin and then to see the evidence of gifts we doubted we’d ever see.

We must wait for it, anticipate your glory!

Luke opened Chapter 17 with a conversation about temptations toward sin. Jesus told the disciples that temptation is a sure thing. He told them to be careful that their lives didn’t lead others to sin.

Then He healed ten lepers and only one came back to give praise, to thank God for the healing.

In response to the question about when and how they would see God’s kingdom, Jesus cautioned them all in their trying to figure it out, told them to spend less effort on being informed of the mystery and more on being prepared for it.

For not all will see the Kingdom, only those who follow, leave behind their questions and simply continue on, those who don’t turn back to what they left behind, their lives before.

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Choose to stay on your different way.

Be the one who holds tight to the faith like tiny seed.

Be the one who chooses moderation over selfish satiation. Be the one who turns back from yet again grace to honor the one who makes hope and healing.

Be the one who surrenders and believes God created you for more and that more starts often with the tiniest of seeds.

Be the one who knows it is okay to ask for help. To sit without words as the warmth of a tear puddles in your eye’s corner, to say, I am here again, God. I can’t find you nor can I find the words.

Change me from the inside, so that my outside is the one you know I was created to be.

Blank slates every morning, clean canvases waiting to bring you glory, Lord, let it be.

Let it be you through me.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:18-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus-An Advent Experience

Believe, Now

The 16th chapter of Luke’s book is not so gentle a read. It ends with Jesus telling a rich man who refused God that there’d be no need in a miraculous sighting sent to warn his family of Hell. Jesus tells the regretful rich man, they didn’t believe in Moses, it’s likely they may never believe.

“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭16:31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I stood holding hands with family yesterday and prayed. I was asked by my cousin to pray.

It felt a little awkward, family can be that way; but, also a sweet answer because I’d actually thought about it, thought about it on the drive to the gathering, what would I pray if I were to bless the food, to pray?

I consider this God. I consider the way this all fell into place truly sweet, a God thing.

I thanked the Lord for the tradition of our get together, for the good things he’s brought us over the past year, the good things he has brought us to and through, and for the food.

As we released our hands, a circle so wide it covered four rooms, intersected by a kitchen and a hall, everyone was quiet and then our Georgia Christmas meal began.

This morning, I’m remembering intercessory prayer. I’m thinking with certainty how God hears our prayers and how I most likely won’t know how my words offered up a little awkwardly will impact my family members.

Somehow and somewhere, they will.

God hears us when we say them, He always hears our prayers.

The rich man lost his opportunity. He ignored the needs of a poor man who inherited heaven as he focused on his wealth.

“And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭16:20-23, 25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I sat last night making lists and making plans, most of them revolving around money and the assurance over the lack of enough of it.

I thought of how I love giving, love listening and then providing, how I more than anything love giving what is perceived as a “way too generous” surprise.

I’ll review my list today, I’ll squeeze in a shopping trip this week, wrap some new boxes and rearrange them under our tree.

I’m hoping my gifts to my family will be an evidence of my faith, of my peace, of my hope and my finally really believing in mercy and grace.

Talking less about it, acting it out more.

As I sit in my spot, I’m remembering my family, the love, laughter, good fortune and misfortune in the room.

Family can be tough. Everybody knows. All coming from the same people and place, all knowing all our stuff and still, loving one another, even if skeptical over the bumps in our roads and how still, we grow.

I’m thankful for them. I believe I told Him and them so.

Thank you, God, that we are all here.

This year, my hope, my purpose is that my family sees more clearly, that they see me being who I say that I am.

That they see, Jesus.

That they see “why I believe”.

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus-An Advent Experience

Found and Found Again

Chapter 15 is a collection of parables. One, well known and no more relatable than the others, just more often told.

Jesus told the tax collectors and the Pharisees, a captive but cynical audience, three stories about loving lost things, maybe hoping they’d all see themselves, realizing they may be caught in a similar story.

They were condescending and doubtful, remarking that he’s the one who welcomes sinners, has dinner with them.

Jesus had their attention. He told of a man who had a hundred sheep and lost one and how he refused to stop looking until that sheep was back in the fold. He told of a woman frantic over losing one coin of her ten, how she swept every corner of her home way into the night until she found it, found that lost coin.

He used both parables to compare God’s joy when one person, just one comes to Him, or decides it is time to come back to Him.

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He told about a brother, one of two, who squandered his share of the father’s riches. That father longed for his son’s return and when he returned, the father ran to him. He ran to him!

“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Every morning, I return to my morning place. I wait for a moment sometimes or I might just sit. I find Him there quite often.

In the way a word from one book or an email will correlate, complement another.

I wait. I listen to His voice through His Spirit in me.

I sometimes find my eyes wet with tears, others I have to let sink in, the important true lessons for the progression of my faith.

I’m awakened and I’m humbled gently over changes I should make.

It’s a good space, my quiet spot.

I’m found here by Him.

Found and found again.

May you find Jesus this Christmas or may you return to one who’s looking for you, arms wide open saying, “Come back home.”

We are all “the one”.

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

The Time of Becoming

Advent: arrival, appearance, emergence or occurrence, the arrival of a notable person or thing.

What are you waiting for, still?

What is the light at the end of the way that you keep pursuing, going towards?

Like the shepherds followed a star, is there a possibility you hope to see still?

My word for 2018 has been “still”. In the beginning, it represented a courageous decision to pursue a certain writing goal.

That I could still, it wasn’t too late.

I’m still writing; but, changes came my way and my book idea will never be the same.

I’m in the phase of stillness, resting and listening to know, which way God, do you want me to go?”

Tell me what to say, Lord.

Continuing in the Book of Luke today, another chapter full of guidance and illustration, historical retelling of what Jesus did before he died.

My spirit has been a little weary, thoughts around trauma trying to take over. I’m recalling today that this is the year I, with the help of some strong therapy, decided I could live healed, that I could let go and be healed.

The year it became my choice to forgive.

My friend said yesterday, that evil still comes back to try to play.

I think she’s quite right, it’s Advent, the season of light and peace, it’s only natural evil creeps in, shows up even louder, harder, mean and determined.

Has to, it is harder now than before to take my peace away. I’m no longer disabled.

“When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Able to seek light and freedom, to not revisit the darkness.

To God be the glory for my emergence year, still.

Becoming me.

I’m linking up with others here at Five Minute Friday, prompted by the word, “Still”.

http://fiveminutefriday.com/2018/12/13/fmf-link-up-still/

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

No Fear Now

Yesterday, the birds were gathering outside the window. I saw their shadows and the way they intersected the sun, a flash and dimming of the light coming in.

I didn’t turn to watch them, I missed their morning dance.

Instead, I was intent on the details, I was recording my fear. There were three nightmares and three pages of journal, trying to decipher the power and realistic terror of each of them.

Now, they’ve faded away, their scariness has passed and their power over my day, finally waned.

Jesus, God’s Son came to eliminate our fears. There’s no fear in love and His love came to take away our fears.

He told the disciples to fear one thing, evil, the authority that keeps us in fear, tries hard to keep our thoughts from heaven, to cast us into Hell.

To keep us kept by our nightmares, our minds pulling out the bad stuff in our sleep and it dancing dirty dances all night long. It is crazy, evil’s power making buried stuff come out to play, to mess with our peace , to derail our good days.

It is evil.

Jesus said fear is never from me, be assured, you’re worth so much to me.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke‬ ‭12:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s no fear in love.

Grief, like a terrible nightmare makes me afraid, a different and try as I might, unavoidable afraid.

Christmas comes with grief. It would be wrong not to long for those we lost; yet, that longing turns to sadness. We imagine times when we’d all love to just sit around and laugh and be happy over our happy times with those we miss, those we loved. It’s not that simple, that simplifying of grief.

All the more reason to draw near to Jesus, no masks are worn in His presence. He alone sees our anxious and sad, pretending not to be, hearts.

Do not be afraid. He knows grief sometimes feels like fear.

“”Fear not, little flock.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

No one ever told me grief felt so like fear. C.S. Lewis

I avoided the dancing birds. I was hoping not to see the red bird. I longed to see them most days, but, for a little while I felt different than before.

The bird rushing past my work window, a flash of brilliant red or the subdued female hue, I looked away.

This time avoiding the reminder that it’s not really you, only symbolic of you, my father and my mother.

I’ll see them again I know and I’ll accept the gift of their appearing.

A gift of love, a gift that holds no fear.

If I listen closely I might hear “Stop being afraid, Lisa Anne” and I may see my daddy looking over at her before nodding a yes, quietly and simply nodding “yes”.

Always, yes.

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

Seeking the Light

Not so long ago, I didn’t understand the Gospels, the separate but similar books written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

I read through them all confused over the lack of order, like a collection of short stories when I thought should be read like like a book with an understandable flow.

I thought it was just me who lacked in my grasping of meaning of the powerful recordings, the retelling of the life of Jesus from different perspectives. It confused me to read and then to turn to a new place and read again. I’m not a biblical scholar; but, I am literate, and was once called an “English honor”.

I thought I might never understand the Books of the Bible, the Book itself.

Until I was given my current Bible, four years ago, for Christmas.

In the back, each book and its writer has a description of their perspectives of the significant story of Jesus.

I’m not who I was back then.

Back then, I was thrilled to read about Martha, the sister who was pouty and pitiful and obsessed with her home being presentable.

Someone in the Bible who was just like me. I loved the account of their relationship. I still do. Me, the martyr of a mother, friend and sister, yes!

I’m more Mary now than then; but, still quite often, Martha.

“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:40-41‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know it is important to sit with Jesus.

And so, I do. I sit in the dim early morning light and I practice being quiet with Him.

Everyone morning, it is hard for me to leave, the corner on the couch dedicated to sitting before work or whatever. I worry people think I’m lazy and my husband has named me “late Lisa”. I simply long to linger, I long to know more.

Because, by evening I’m afraid, I’m more Martha again.

I don’t have words for my husband, or conversations for others. I rush to get my house back in order, the pillows fluffed, the bed just so, the kitchen counters wiped down and free of crumbs and the mail and newspapers neatly sorted and then tucked away.

Then, I can rest; but, surely not before.

Advent, is for slowing down, to look for meaning in the shuffle, to be focused enough on the birth of Jesus to see at least hints of His light.

Seeing more clearly what Christmas is for, for me, it seems to be speaking surrender, rest, quiet resignation to the light.

To see His light when exhaustion creeps in, when worries over money will not go away, when you’re rushing and reevaluating the gifts you bought, questioning, do my gifts amount to enough, is it ever enough and maybe, why is it that always I am the one who has to give more?

Martha was that way.

I bet she swept the kitchen floor for hours awaiting the visit of Jesus. Mary sat waiting, waiting for His arrival with a quiet expectation and a worshipful readying of her heart.

She was at peace.

Peace is what we need.

To stay there longer in the moments we know it or look for it amongst the clamor and see your change in demeanor, your sense of season. It is to glow.

I keep peeking around the corner, I want to see it again, my gumdrop tree. I keep going back to it, the light, the peace of it, the childlike joy.

The child in me, or maybe the Mary, revisited an old tradition, did a new thing and in the process I’m closer to Mary, close to the baby’s glow.

The Book of Luke, 24 Days of Jesus – An Advent Experience

To Be Satisfied

“And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭9:17 ESV‬‬

Jesus fed five thousand, multiplying a meager amount to more than enough. He was a mystery to many.

I read of his ways and wonder if there’s more, search for more, like needing evidence of what I already know.

I confuse staying humble with what is me being afraid, unwilling to let go.

Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Jesus Christ Luke 9:24

I hunger and thirst for attention when God is waiting to attend to my every need and to show me what my life could be.

What abundant life would be for me.

Someone said “Surprise me.” when I asked about the background color of a commission canvas.

I started bold magenta, now to a subtle rose, I think I was thinking love.

During these days before Christmas, I’m challenged to continue through Luke, each chapter growing more difficult to convey what is meaningful, what is like Christmas. What is typically written when it comes to Christmas.

The challenge is a parallel to my present transformation. I volley between an exhilarating yes to possible change and same old same no to staying the same.

It is not pleasant; but, it is good.

He is not safe. But, He is good. C.S. Lewis

Jesus sees fear of moving forward. He sees settled states of just enough.

He watches as we wither on our vines because we resist the pruning of the choking weeds, the choices we make over choosing Him and His ways.

Self-denial makes no sense today.

We have an abundance of ease, we gloss over wrong choices we make. We are permissive with ourselves and have learned to take advantage of grace.

I woke up aware of my need to be closer to God’s design of me. It is not a pleasant revelation, one that keeps coming back, revisiting me in the mornings.

I’d love to let it go, to consider it unhealthy guilt or a product of my background and shame.

Instead, I welcome its return, this stirring in my core that won’t let me go, this strong captor intent on drawing me closer, intent on being an agent of change.

Christmas is different for me this year.

There’s a change coming, a change that is determined to see me live more fully.

This pursuit of me growing more evident, it will not let go.

Jesus wants us involved in His miraculous ways!

Like the hungry people he fed after telling the disciples to “set the table”, He looked up to heaven and asked for multiplication of good and God answered and there was enough, abundantly more than enough!

When I think of the abundance I do not yet know, I’m intrigued, a little afraid but, enthused.

I have a new hunger that won’t let me go. I don’t fully understand, sometimes it’s a miserable feeling, knowing I’m not yet all I could be.

More often than before, it reminds me of a gift unexpected, a surprise when it’s finally opened.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.