Showing posts with label Advent/Lent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Advent/Lent. Show all posts

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Live the Light: Christmas Meditation

Big Idea: Jesus' birth into the world represents the light of God coming into a world of darkness; we as Christians should live as people of the light.

Out of Darkness

If you ever toured a cave, probably the guide turned off the lights for a few seconds. I remember not seeing my hand 2 inches from my face.

Darkness can be an oppressive, frightening thing.

Separated from Day One

The Bible says a lot about light and darkness, from day one.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. Genesis 1:3-5 NLT

It is a fascinating and lengthy topical study to look at light and darkness in the Bible.

Darkness is hard for humans. We stumble and find tasks difficult. Strange noises are frightening and even ominous. Though like the blind, one can become accustomed to it and compensate.

Light shining into darkness

God saw that the light was good (Genesis 1:4). But in the history of the earth, people have lived in a world of darkness and even found it normal.

How delightful when light breaks through the darkness. A Messianic prophesy says:

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2.

Light in the face of Christ

The coming of the Son of God, the Christ, into the world is our Christmas celebration. It is His light that penetrates our darkness. The Apostle Paul tells it so well.

For God, who said “Let there be light in the darkness” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT

I love that verse. To know the glory of God, looking to Jesus!

Paul also says to the first century believers,

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! Ephesians 5:8

Live the Light

This Christmas from the lights on the tree, homes decorated and even the backlight of your phone, remember the value of light.

Meditate on what it means to live as people of light.

Live the light.


Previous: Book Synthesis Bible Study Method
Up next: Verse by Verse Bible Study Method


1. What happens in the light? What are things you can do more easily in light?

2. What might it mean that Christians are people of the light?

3. What might you do differently in your life if you consider living as a person of the light?

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Most Remarkable After-Death Appearances

The Big Idea: We know Jesus died and came back to life from the many after death appearances and interactions with food and touch.

How can we know Jesus really died, and truly came back to life?

God has been real to me since I was a very young girl. For me, belief in Jesus and the Bible came easily. For many, belief is a struggle, and evidence weighs in with doubts. 

Consider these many after-death appearances from the New Testament. At one point He appeared to over 500 people (I Corinthians 15:6).

The multiple after - death appearances

Over ten appearances are recorded in the Bible. Not only did some touch Him feeling His wounds, some ate with Him. Here is a great chart from the book by apologist, Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

From Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell

The highest honor goes to… the women!

Jesus often gave honor to women. How crazy is that for that time period?

He appeared first to women followers. Mary Magdalene heard Him state her name. She KNEW that voice! (John 20:11)

It was the women’s honor to be the first to go and tell.

Not just seeing, but touching and eating together

Jesus found the disciples on a couple of occasions and he broke bread and ate with them. (Luke 24:16) Another day he cooked fish and ate with them on the beach (John 21).

“Doubting Thomas” wasn’t with the other disciples the first time Jesus showed up after the resurrection. Jesus came back later that week when Thomas was there and asked him to touch His wounds. Not. A. Ghost (John 20:19-29).

Shell game?

Some said the disciples had stolen the body. But if they did, the Jewish leaders would have arrested the disciples for defiling a tomb and an unclean corpse. They were very touchy about stuff like that.

In Bible times there was never a credible alternative place where Jesus’ body was laid like the famous tombs of other notable people.

There was no dead body. Anywhere.

And in the years following Jesus’ ascension to heaven, every disciple faced serious persecution and even violent death for their story that Jesus lives. It could not be a lie that eleven men decided to give their lives for.

Fully God. Fully man.

Jesus was fully man.

He was born of a woman. He grew up. He felt pain. He ate. He slept. He died completely convincing the soldiers at the cross.

He endured about as much pain as one could by torturous execution.

Jesus was fully God.

Jesus was miraculously conceived. God stated He was His Son by audible voice from heaven. He was God knowing, quoting and explaining/clarifying the Old Testament. He healed, fulfilling the Old Testament Messianic prophecies. And He was totally hated by Satan and the demons.

Jesus completely died

Jesus died as a complete human male. No fainting, then gathering enough strength to claw his way out of the tomb with a one ton plus door or stone.
John the Baptist called Him The Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the World (John 1:29). This Lamb of God fully died during Passover. Later the New Testament writers would make it clear He was the ultimate Passover sacrifice (I Corinthians 5:7).

Jesus completely reversed death

Jesus did not appear as a ghost like an apparition. He had a body and interacted in human activity with other human beings.

He came back to life permanently to be alive forever. It was a “staying alive forever” power.

He resurrected Lazarus from a dead state (John 11). He had that God-power over life and death. But Lazarus’ death-to-life was different. Lazarus lived more on the earth and died later in life, like any other person would.

Jesus did a more powerful work on Himself. Because He is God, He came back to life in a forever body, never to die again (Hebrews 7:24). He returned to His Father in heaven (Acts 1:1-10). He is the only human being to regain life and never die again (Romans 6:9).

Death could not hold Him

C.S. Lewis says it well! Death started working backwards. (C.S Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) He took control of it and reclaimed life because of His all mighty God power.

I love this line in the song from NorthPoint Worship, When death was arrested and my life began.

He reversed the penalty of death, by being killed as an innocent human man, a perfect sacrifice, and then conquering death’s hold by coming back to life forever (I Corinthians 15:57)!

What a nice thing He did

It is a nice thing He did for us human beings! As a human being He felt every strike of the whip and every nail. He experienced death. Tasted it (Hebrews 2:9).

Because He was God, He reversed the curse to life (Galatians 3:13)

You and I have the opportunity to seize this incredible benefit and escape the penalty of our deserved eternal death (Romans 5:21), by confessing (Romans 10:9). We cannot achieve this on our own, believing in what He has done for us.

He lives in me

There comes a point when you just have to believe. One of my favorite hymns states You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart (Alfred H. Ackley, He Lives).

I talk to Him and I know His voice in my being. He is real to me and my life. Even if it were for only His help and guidance in this life alone, life is all the better because of Him.

If you still have questions, check out books by Josh McDowell such as Evidence for the Resurrection.  

Here is a place to download all of Josh McDowell's books as PDF files for free. Explore the Faith.


Up next: Imagine not being able to read the Bible
Previous post: When hope is dashed


1. Have you or someone close to you had doubts about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Where does it stand for you now? What has made a difference?

2. Have you experienced God with you? If so, how does this touch you?

3. Think about sharing this post with someone and interacting about what you think about the realities of the resurrection and the power of Jesus.  Pray as you are in process, exploring. 


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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

When Hope is Dashed

The Big Idea: When our hope is dashed, God understands we need to process what’s happening, as His followers did on the Route to Emmaus, encouraging us to turn to Jesus who has faced death and overcome for us.

When Hope is Dashed

A friend was venting. She exclaimed, “King David didn’t speak so kindly about people either!”

Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Psalm 3: 7 NLT

But David always reaffirmed His trust in God when he vented. And David vented directly to God in his frustration, not to others.

The Bible is not full of platitudes

I LOVE the Bible! It is so authentically real!

  • It reveals Moses was a murderer first. So was Paul. And others too.
  • David talked openly about disappointment, depression and pain.
  • Paul spoke of unbearable cold and pain from beatings and missed his friends.

The Bible reveals people processing. It does not mince words revealing their journey, even after trusting in Him, many have suffered terribly. Life is like this.

The disciples didn’t think it would end like this

When Jesus died on the cross, his followers were upset. This was not what they expected.

Peter even denied knowing Jesus.

Two followers of Jesus walked outside of Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34).

They were talking about everything that had happened. (Luke 24:14) They talked and discussed these things.

Jesus goes incognito

Then Jesus showed up. But they didn’t recognize him. Wearing sunglasses perhaps? Ha!

They tried explaining Jesus’ death and the events that transpired.

We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. Luke 24:21 NLT

We had hoped

Have you ever felt that way?
  • I had hoped it would not come to this
  • I had hoped to make a career of this job
  • I had hoped this person was “the one”
  • We had hoped my dad would live till we had children

We had hoped.

We had hoped.

Hope deferred is sickening

It’s hard when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Proverbs 13: 12a NLT

We grieve. We feel pain. We lament. We are human.

But this is not the end of the story.

Jesus has overcome

The stranger who turned out to be Jesus explained.

Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24: 26-27 NLT

Jesus, who lives yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 ) wove together how the Old Testament pointed to His life, death and resurrection. I would have loved to listen in on that conversation!

Jesus has overcome even death

But Jesus has overcome.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT

We have trials. We suffer. We experience grief. Often days get better but life is hard. Jesus wants to give us peace in the midst of pain, and HOPE for eternity.

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 15:14 NLT

We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. Titus 2:13 NLT

Vent to Jesus

You can vent to Jesus. (Matthew 11:28 "Come to me all you who are weary...") Leave it with Him. Fix your eyes on Him and remember He has overcome.

In the midst of your doubts, your grief, and disappointments that overwhelm you, walk with Jesus. He has risen from the dead and will walk with you on your journey.


Up next: The Most Remarkable After-Death Experience
Previous post: ‘Twas the Night before Easter



1. Think of a time you struggled with God, if He cared, or His existence. What were your questions for Him? Is it resolved or do you still have doubts?

2. Read these 3 verses several times slowly and reflect on them. Pray about what they say.

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 15:14 NLT

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18 NLT

We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. Titus 2:13 NLT



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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

'Twas the Night Before Easter

‘Twas the Night before Easter

by Diane Wido     (Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16:8, Luke 23-24, John 19-20)

‘Twas the night before Easter and all through the land

People were stirring in the dark night at hand.

The chief priests and Pharisees ran to Pilate to say,

“Jesus told his disciples He’d arise the third day.”

His disciples might steal His body, they exclaimed!

“He arose from the dead” will be surely proclaimed.

“Put a seal on the tomb as secure as you can.”

Soldiers went to the tomb to protect this dead man.

Now Jesus was a man who had vexed all the leaders.

He healed folks on the Sabbath. He forgave even cheaters.

“He speaks like a man who has God’s authority!

Why He implies He is God, the I AM, to a T.”

This man must be killed! He is not to be trusted!

“Crucify Him” cried the masses! "Let His body be busted!"

The deed was accomplished; He died on the cross.

Nicodemus and Joseph wrapped him gently in cloth.

Laid in a new tomb that was completely empty,

A stone weighing a ton or more covered the entry.

‘Twas the night before Easter and every disciple

Had scattered with fear, confused and in denial.

When they found each other they grieved in dismay.

They talked and they wondered. Were they able to pray?

Did they eat? Did they sleep? They must have felt numb.

Before dawn John and Peter made a plan for a run.

Mary Magdalene saw the men. “They have taken the Lord!

His body’s not there! Where’s it gone? Where’s it stored?”

John and Peter started running but John got ahead.

Peter barged in the tomb. Cloth was folded instead.

They left deep in reflection. Mary stayed in the garden.

She started to weep. “I don’t know where they took Him!”

“Why the tears?” said the Lord. “Who are you looking for?”

"Just say where you put Him. I’ll take care of His corpse.”


”Teacher!” she exclaimed. And he gave her a message.

“Tell my brothers I go to the Father! Have courage!”

‘Twas the night before Easter and the women who served

Jesus tirelessly in Galilee gathered in a herd.

Jesus’ mother was there and some others I’m sure.

They were grieving but planning this caring venture.

They bought burial spices to anoint and to honor.

“Who’ll roll away the stone?” they wondered; they pondered.

At the tomb they were shocked to see the stone rolled away!

So they entered the tomb, where a man in white stayed.

“Don’t be scared!” said the angel, “this man Jesus you seek

Is not here! He is risen from the dead! Take a peek!

Now go! Tell the disciples that He is not dead!.

He will meet them in Galilee just as He said.”

The ladies ran bewildered, their hearts pounding fast!

They were frightened, yet joyful at what had surpassed.

“Listen Peter, and Andrew and James and John,

Nathanial and Matthew, Simon and Tom,

James, the younger, and Philip, oh Judas, the other,

He is risen! He is risen! He is risen, my brothers!”

Don’t be dismayed! He’s alive it’s decreed!

Happy Easter to All! He is Risen, indeed!



1. Of the people in this poem (and the Biblical story) which one do you identify the most with? Why? If you could be a fly on a wall where would you like to be in the story?

2. In a word, what does Easter morning means to you?

If you are experiencing doubts, that is OK.  God is patient with questions and a seeker's heart. 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7


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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.


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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.


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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!


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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?


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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?


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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Mary: The Dark Days of Winter

The dark days of winter,black with lantern

Big Idea: Christmas and winter can be a difficult, dark time, but as life goes on, reflect on the Light of the World who brings us comfort in the darkness.

No More Christmas Lights

So Christmas is over. With the tree down, that spot in the room was dark last night. 

I have cleared out the Christmas decorations already. The nativity set is out of mind. Baby Jesus is tucked away. Life goes on. 

Three days after Jesus was born, Mary still had baby Jesus on her hands. He cried when hungry and needed to be changed.

The shepherds had come and gone. 

Christmas can be depressing

Mary was thinking about upcoming circumcision on the eighth day. Little Jesus would surely cry, she worried.  Jesus was her first baby. It was all new to her. She was far from family, far away in Bethlehem.

Joseph was worried. How would they eat? Where would they stay? A baby and his mother gotta eat.

Christmas can be hard. During the holidays there are those who have recently had someone who died, left the family, or moved away.  Holidays are hardest alone. Where is peace on earth?

For some, the parties, gifts, and upbeat music have been fun. Now gifts and bills ring hollow. Is this all there is to life?

Unwed mother gives birth in a barn

When will a baby be born? You might have a good idea but it is not predictable.

As a mid-wife in West Africa, cultural taboos prevented women who had not given birth yet to attend a birthing. First time pregnant women get no information what to expect.

One year I had four wives of pastoral students who were 15-16 year olds with first-time pregnancies. One sharp gal was really scared to give birth and had lots of questions. I coached her on what to expect. She was wide eyed.

About two weeks later after birth, she showed up on my front porch with the other 3 pregnant women.

“Mademoiselle can tell you what to expect when you have your baby,” she said as her baby cooed on her back. “Listen. It will help.”

What about Mary? Did anyone prepare her? Was there a village midwife available or did Joseph deliver the baby? Why do births happen mostly at night? Many nights I delivered a baby by kerosene lantern!

Unplanned pregnancy

A year prior Mary would not have guessed she’d be pregnant.

The angel just showed up. “God thinks a lot of you,” he said (Luke 1:28).

Poof. She was pregnant. No one understood. Not Joseph. Not her parents. Not her neighbors…

Jesus was a little surprise. But oh what a surprise!

Mary’s experiences gave her a lot to think about. (Luke 2:19, 51)

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2;19 NIV

Take-a-ways for Mary

1, God never changes. In our surprising life situations God knows and can be help us. He has not changed and able to do what He has done others.

2. God is with us. Emmanuel, a name given to Jesus, means God with us. He gets us. Jesus walked this earth in sickness and in health. In hardship. In broken relationships. He is with you in this.

3. Take time to ponder. Contemplate. Meditate. Read the Word of God. Ponder. Pray. Like Mary.

Mary’s Light

Mary gave birth in the middle of the night, in an animal shelter. It must have been smelly, dusty and unfamiliar. But the morning light came. Mary had light. The Light of the world. 

What do we have in common with Mary? We too find ourselves at times in a dark and dirty place. It feels especially brutal to the human spirit on the cold, dark days of winter. 

But there is hope and light to comfort us in the form of Jesus, son of Mary, son of God. Seek Him in your dark and dirty winter days. 

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness a light will shine.  Isaiah 9:2 NLT

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 NLT


Up next: Breathe
Past: Advent: Bathsheba’s Love


1. How do you find Christmas? Joyful? Harried? Quiet or perhaps too quiet? Depressing? Have you ever had a really hard Christmas? Why was it hard?

2. What gives you peace from God in the Christmas story? Ponder on that and treasure it.