Wednesday, March 29, 2023

'Twas the Week before Easter!


Twas the Week Before Easter

Big Idea: How the week before Easter Sunday is valuable both for worship and as a teaching tool for God and His character.

‘Twas the week before Easter

Easter Sunday is a glorious day with tulips and spring dresses. The days are getting longer.

Easter celebrates new life. Eternal Life. It commemorates the day when Jesus, who paid the ultimate price, conquered death so all who believe might join this forever relationship with Him!

That week leading up to Easter is packed with drama and suffering in the life of Jesus, leading up to the grand finale. Some churches refer to that week as Holy Week.

Walking through the events of this week is a valuable teaching tool to learn more about Jesus God’s character through Him. Pondering these climactic events is worthy of our worship.

Palm Sunday

What it’s called: The Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday.

What it commemorates: Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem on a donkey, with people throwing palm branches down proclaiming “Hosanna!”

They hoped He would bring peace from Rome. His peace was not what they expected.

Churches: Children color palm branch scenes in Sunday School.

Palms are passed out at some churches to wave during the service. Sometimes they are dried and braided into a cross to remember through the year.

Spy Wednesday

What it’s called: Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday

What it commemorates: How Judas Iscariot emerged as a spy among the disciples, arranging to betray Jesus to the authorities the next day for 30 pieces of silver.

Maundy Thursday

What it’s called: Maundy Thursday (latin: mandatums, meaning instructions or commands)

What it commemorates: The Lord’s Supper where Jesus washed their feet, gave them His last instructions and broke bread together.

At the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, then Judas arrived to betray Him. Roman soldiers took Jesus from the garden to trial to condemnation, under the chief priests, Pilate and then Herod. Beatings were administered.

Churches: Sometimes they have a service on Holy Thursday to have communion and perhaps foot washings, and reflect on these events.

Good Friday

What it’s called
: Good Friday. How can a day of unspeakable suffering be called “Good” rather than “Bad.”

Jesus’ death was for our benefit. By becoming the perfect sinless sacrifice once and for all for all time, (Hebrews 9) He rescued us from the penalty of death we deserve. His death coincided with the Jewish holiday Passover.

Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 1 Corinthians 5:7c

What it commemorates: Jesus’ journey from court to the cross. It’s about what He said during the walk through Jerusalem to the cross, and while on the cross.

Churches: Good Friday services are appreciated. Sometimes local Protestant churches will have a community service.

Tenebrae Service: Reviews Jesus’ journey to the cross, dimming the lights as service progresses, leaving in total darkness at the end. It’s a powerful experience.

Via Dolorosa: a walk of Jesus through the city of Jerusalem to the cross sometimes re-enacted, also commemorated by the Stations of the Cross.

Personal practice: At our house we keep silence from 1-3 pm, to reflect the time Jesus was on the cross. No TV, no music, no talking. It is a good time to reflect.

Holy Saturday

We are mindful of Jesus’ body in the tomb.

Easter Sunday

What it’s called
: Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday

What it commemorates: That Jesus did not remain dead in a tomb, but by the power of God within Him, He was resurrected from the dead.  He is alive for eternity now, having conquered the sting of death, on the behalf of all who trust in Him.

Churches: Churches often sing about the greatness of God, victory over death, and that He is alive forevermore.

When our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”I Corinthians 15: 54-55 NLT

It is customary for one to say to the other, “He is risen!”

“He is risen indeed!” is the joyful response.

It’s a wrap

Perhaps this gives you a fresh idea for remembrance during the week before Easter Sunday.

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Holy week: 'Twas the night before Easter   Check in next week for a special poem of mine here, inspired by playing with the title Twas the Night before Christmas.  

Up next: ‘Twas the night before Easter
Previous post: Ten reasons Lent is beneficial



1. Do you have a remembrance of a meaningful time during Holy Week? When was it and why was it significant to you?

2. Take a day and reflect on it in your mind.


If you would like to receive Scripture Spy every Wednesday as an email, send your email address to

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Top Ten Reasons Lent is Beneficial

Big Idea: Observing Lent as a spiritual discipline can draw us toward a deeper walk with God.

During Lent our focus is Jesus

My husband introduced me to Lent 22 years ago. For many years I have followed it half-heartedly, if at all.

 "It’s not my thing,” I thought to myself.

Recently I began to realize how valuable Lent is to me. It makes me more intentional in meditating on Jesus and all He has done for me at the cross and why that matters. Here are ten reason I now realize why Lent is so good for me.

Top ten reasons Lent is beneficial

1. Lent builds self-discipline and self-control

It takes discipline and self control to focus on fasting, or memorizing or helping others during a six week period. Self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23.

2. Lent helps evaluate life habits

I read an article from USA Today that even some atheists have observed Lent to evaluate and improve their life.

Search me oh God and know my heart. (Psalm 139:23)

3. Lent explores where you may be out of balance.

Our world is becoming more and more polarized, and our fixations heightened. Jesus told Mary and Martha that one thing is necessary. That is, sitting at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10: 38-42)

4. Lent provides opportunity to help others

During Lent we might sacrifice time to reach out to others, give to those in need, and empathize with the hurting and the poor.

A good woman of God is known for her good deeds and help to others. (I Timothy 5:2)

5. Lent draws us out of self-absorption

We are a self absorbed people with nose in our cell-phones, rushing from one thing to the next. Lent draws us to God and others around us.

6. Lent reveals our sin and frailties

We hide our sins well, but God knows better. Lent is a good time to search our heart, and draw near to God. Examine yourself and confess your sins.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. I John 1:9 NLT

7. Lent helps us to grow and learn

Lent provides many opportunities to learn through reading the Bible more, reading about the cross, or helping others. Learning is part of growing in faith.

You will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:10 NLT

8. Lent shows us, through Christ’s suffering, how to walk through life’s difficulties.

Sometimes Christians give an impression we should always be happy. We have access to a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a joy from within, not circumstantial (I Peter 1:8). But lament and pain in the desert are very real concepts in the Bible, and Lent is a good time to explore how it strengthens us.

Take up your cross and follow me. Matthew 16:2

9. Lent encourages us to dwell in the Bible

Psalm 119 is all about the benefits of God’s Word for our lives. If we read Easter accounts, meditate or memorize verses about the cross and the resurrection, or find a daily devotional on Lent, we are soaking ourselves in the Bible. It's gotta be good for us!

10. Lent makes us appreciate Easter Sunday all the more

Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:56

Lent as a Spiritual Discipline

A spiritual discipline is a practice or tool used to draw closer to God (i.e. Bible memorization and meditation, fasting and soaking prayer).

Lent can be a tool to draw us closer to Jesus and prepare our heart and mind to be glad for Resurrection Sunday.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23

Holy week: 'Twas the night before Easter


Up next: 'Twas the week before Easter
Previous post: Get Ready to be Thrilled this Easter


1. How do you think fasting, or observing Lent, is good for you?

2. Make it your intent to be intentional and thoughtful in this period leading to Easter.


If you would like to receive Scripture Spy every Wednesday as an email, send your email address to

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Get Ready to be Thrilled this Easter: 27 Ideas to get there

Big Idea: 27 ideas for anyone to spiritually prepare for Easter by reflecting on Jesus’ death and character, to be thrilled for His resurrection.

Get Ready to be Thrilled this Easter!

I’m making a list and checking it twice for Easter Brunch. We have the extended family at our house. It is a big job but I enjoy it.

However, preparing for Easter should be more than preparing a meal and deciding on my Easter dress.

I am learning the value of heart preparation, reflecting on the death of Christ so I can truly be thrilled celebrating His resurrection. We can do this through the 40 days of Lent.  (Find out the dates for 2023 here).

Becoming more in love with Jesus

My husband was a military Chaplain for 30 plus years. He is a methodical kind of guy. He is a Protestant minister, raised as a Catholic, who embraces the spiritual disciplines.

I’ve learned a lot from him.

We strive to become more in love with Jesus, our Savior, as we reflect on His death and resurrection, and not follow formulas or rules but what is helpful for the soul.

27 Ideas to Spiritually Prepare for Easter

Here are 27 ideas to spiritually prepare during Lent, six weeks before Resurrection Sunday. Prayerfully consider something that is good for you to nurture. They are listed here in 6 categories.

Spiritual Reading

1. Read one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John)

2. Read the Passion of Christ narrative in each of the gospels. Note similarities and differences.

3. Read a Lent devotional each day. There are many available. (i.e. American Bible Society Devotional)

4. Read a book about the Passion of the Christ ( i.e. And the Angels were Silent by Max Lucado)

5. Read a book on suffering (i.e. Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elizabeth Elliot)

6. Memorize verses or a chapter that pertains to the Passion of Christ. I like Isaiah 53.

7. Meditate (mull over in your mind, reflect, pray) on passages or words related to the Passion.

8. Use a Lent calendar. Many exist for adults and children. I like this one with a word to meditate on each day. 


9. Keep a Lent journal of thoughts or activities related to Lent. Or make a scrapbook. This is especially nice if you include your family in various Lenten activities.

10. Send a card a day, or a card a week to a different shut-in, someone battling illness, or a missionary. Or write a note or letter to them.

11. Write a Bible verse about God’s love or Jesus’ saving act and tape it to your bathroom mirror where you look every day.


12. Keep a Lenten prayer journal.

13. Choose someone you know in need, or a ministry, and pray for them throughout Lent.

14. Walk your neighborhood and pray for your neighbors as you walk, even if you don’t know them. Pray for your town, your mayor, the local schools, etc. as you walk.

Help others

15. Volunteer for a church program, such as the nursery during Lent so others have a break.

16. Volunteer at a food bank or shelter during Lent.

17. Do a random act of kindness each week or each day.

18. Save some money (i.e. from skipping diet cola, daily cappuccino, etc) and give it to a ministry or service project. It doesn’t need to be from a sacrifice. It could be a gift in love.

Give something up

19. Give up a bad habit (i.e. smoking, snarky social media site, a raunchy TV show) for six weeks and consider giving up the bad habit long term.

20. Give up a time consuming activity (i.e. a TV show, playing Sudoku, reading novels) and use the time for a spiritually uplifting focus like Bible reading.

21. Choose a fast from food, deciding on the specific way you will follow it. Fast one meal one day a week. Fast a full day of the week except for liquids. Fast from eating red meat. Reflect on our Lord and use some of that time for prayer.

22. Take a fast from eating in restaurants. Consider donating money saved to a ministry need.

Use your hobby

23. Put up a reminder in your house like a meaningful picture on the fridge, or a cross figurine on your dining room table.

24. Make a craft with a candle, wreath or other decoration with a cross, a lamb, or something else spiritual related.

25. Use your hobby to create something. Write a poem or make up a song. A photographer or a painter may create a special image. A woodworker may make a special cross for the wall.

26. Love listening to music? Make a playlist of hymns or worship songs related to the Crucifixion and Resurrection and listen to them over the course of Lent.


27. Attend a Lent related activity in your area. Ideas:

That was a long list!

This long list should have something for everyone! Choose something and start practicing it now, in the middle of Lent, to become accustomed to it and reap the benefits on Easter Sunday!

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4 NLT

Thank God for what He has done in sending His Son to rescue us! Meditate on that and be ready to celebrate Eternal Life on Easter Sunday!

Blog schedule for the month of March.

Holy week: 'Twas the night before Easter


Previous post: Giving something up for Lent and eating fish on Fridays


1. Have you ever spiritually prepared yourself for Easter? What was it? How was it beneficial?

2. Do you have another idea to add to the list? Have you seen someone else do a Lent activity that you’d like to try? 

3. Take a moment to pray that God gives you a desire to reflect on His wonderful sacrificial act. 

4.  If you have a suggestion of something that you have done that helps you, email it to me at or post it at the scripturespy facebook page! I may include it next year!


If you would like to receive Scripture Spy every Wednesday as an email, send your email address to

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Giving Something Up for Lent and Eating Fish on Fridays

Big Idea: Explanation why many give something up for Lent and eat fish on Fridays, both pointing to the ancient concept of fasting before Easter.

"What are you giving up this year for Lent?"

Did you know that both giving something up for Lent and eating fish on Fridays are both related to the ancient practice of fasting forty days before Easter to prepare one's heart to focus on the mind-boggling crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus?

Fasting is nothing new. 

People fast before certain blood tests and surgery. Some practice a regular fast with specific drinks for purging or detox.

Muslims. Jews, the Baha’i and other religious groups fast for certain periods. Catholics fast especially during Lent. Some other Christian groups do too.

Evangelicals, if they fast, they tend to fast personally, especially if a decision or issue looms with a need for serious prayer.

Jesus fasted for 40 days before the start of His ministry on earth. We see corporate and personal fasts in both the Old and New Testament.

What is spiritual fasting?

Fasting is a deprivation (often from food) for a spiritual purpose.

It could be specific like no red meat for a period. One could fast for one meal or one day a week. Or fasting with 2 meals off and one meal a day. It takes on various forms.

Can one give something up that’s not food?

Giving something up for Lent, such as diet Coke, television or social media is a form of fasting. During Lent the fast is usually suspended for Sunday, resumed on Monday.

Fasting is valuable for the Christian in whatever form it takes. In respect to Lent, it gives us more time and attention to reflect on the whole meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Benefits of giving something up

1. More time for spiritual enrichment

Instead of spending time to eat, or watch a TV show, we have more time for spiritual enrichment.

2. A trigger to think on higher things

Hunger, thirst, or desire can trigger us to turn our focus on God. During a food fast I view my hunger for food as a signal to hunger for God.

3. Participation in Christ’s suffering

At the crucifixion of Jesus He endured intense pain and shame.

The Apostle Paul says to enter into His suffering. Fasting from something reminds us that Jesus endured horror for us.

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death. Philippians 3:10 NLT

4. An opportunity to take the focus off of self

We are selfish creatures. Fasting reminds us it is not all about us. We shake off our selfish desires re-focusing on serving God and serving others.

What’s up with Fish on Friday?

Some explain that a Catholic leader in the Middle Ages was trying to boost the fish market.

Much earlier than that, though, First Century Christians fasted, but broke fast one meal a day with non-meat options. It started with grains and milk products and later it was decided fish was fine.

How I see it

I like a good Friday night Fish Fry during Lent. But I do not feel bound to follow this tradition.

I appreciate the opportunity to prepare my heart for Easter. I'm inspired and uplifted spiritually by taking time to focus on God and practice spiritual exercise during Lent.

Blog schedule for the month of March.

Holy week: 'Twas the night before Easter


Up next: 27 Brief Ideas to Spirtually Prepare for Easter
Previous post: The When and Why of Lent


1. Have you had a Lent tradition in your family or your church growing up? What was it like? Do you continue to follow it now or not? If you did not, how was it viewed?

2. Have you experienced a spiritual benefit to fasting? If so, how?

3. What can you do this week to say no to yourself and reflect more on God?


If you would like to receive Scripture Spy every Wednesday as an email, send your email address to

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The When and Why of Lent


The When and Why of Lent

Big Idea: An explanation regarding when Lent is, why it is on a different day every year and the real purpose behind Lent.

Easter Must be Coming Up

Remember those plastic beige “Hot Lunch” trays in elementary school? My favorite meal was Chicken a la King! How about you?

Looking back I am pretty sure Fridays during Lent featured fish patties or fish sticks. But at the time this little elementary school girl was unaware. My church tradition never mentioned Lent.

But we pulled out the stops on Easter morning!

When is Lent?

Lent starts about six weeks before Easter Sunday. Precisely, forty-six days. It starts on what is referred to as Ash Wednesday, and finishes right before Good Friday on the cusp of the Crucifixion.

This year Lent is from February 22 to April 6, 2023. Easter Sunday is April 9, 2023.

Why is Easter on a different date every year?

Easter coincides with the Jewish calendar and Passover. It is based on the Pascal Moon. Jesus was crucified in sync with the Passover Feast, so the church calendar follows that too.

Who came up with this?

The Early Church (only a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion) started following a period of fasting before Easter.

If you’ve recited the Nicene Creed in your church, it was at that Council of Nicea in 325 AD (a worldwide church council) that adopted that there be forty days of fasting before Easter as a spiritual discipline.

It’s been seen as worthwhile for a LONG, long time as a means to prepare one’s heart annually to ponder the significance of the Crucifixion/Resurrection.

What’s up with 40 days?

The word Lent, is quadragisima or fortieth, in Latin. Forty days of preparation is a repeated theme multiple times in the Bible.

Moses was on the mountain forty days to pray and fast before receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:28). Elijah fasted and prayed forty days before meeting with God on the mountain (I Kings 19:8-9).

Jesus fasted and prayed forty days in the wilderness too, to prepare for ministry.

Sunday is not usually counted in the forty days of Lent.

What is the purpose of Lent?

My husband and I love to travel. I start getting ready for a big trip at least a week or more out, making packing lists, shutting off the mail, buying what we might need, double checking travel itineraries…

Preparation is the purpose. These weeks before Easter are like getting ready for a big trip or event. 

We get ready spiritually to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Heart preparation should be as important, or even more important, than preparing Easter baskets for the kids and arranging an Easter Brunch.

Check your attitude

We check our attitude. We review our mindset and behavior. We ask God for forgiveness. We think about God and Scripture. Scripture, prayer and meditation assists us to evaluate our attitude, mindset and behavior.

We reflect on all God has done for us. As we think of Jesus’ attitude of self sacrifice, we too should reflect on opening our heart to others with a servant attitude.

Moving forward this month

I have adapted a Lent calendar for reflection from the Billy Graham Library. I have a word a day that I think about, reflect on and pray about during the forty days. It is pretty simple. Consider following it and singing, or looking up verses in a a Bible search for word of the day in the Bible. To download and save, right click and follow saving instructions

40 day Lent Calendar 2023

Blog schedule for the month of March.

Holy week: 'Twas the night before Easter


Up next: Giving up something for Lent and eating fish on Fridays
Previous post: Five Astonishing Qualitites of Agape Love


1. If I had asked you a week ago "what is Lent,"? what would you have said? Does this blog post give you a better understanding?

2. Why might the Lent period be helpful to any Christian? How might it be helpful to you?


If you would like to receive Scripture Spy every Wednesday as an email, send your email address to