Us or Them

Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with His disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to Him, so He stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” He asked. “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I am He,” Jesus said (Judas, who betrayed Him, was standing with them)…- John 18:2-5

Just days before, Judas had been part of “us,” among the closest companions of Jesus. What a thrill it must have been to walk with Jesus as He entered Jerusalem for the Passover celebration; to witness the procession as an insider. Suddenly, Judas stood with “them” – on the other side – the outside. How empty he must have felt at that moment – separated from his friends, his Master, and surrounded by strangers. When Jesus “stepped forward to meet them,” Judas could have run into His arms, but his choice to remain among “them” sealed his fate and set in motion the final miles to the cross. We must each consider whether we want to be “us” or “them.” Now is the time to decide.

Prayer Starter

Lord, my God, I choose You. When my journey comes to a moment of decision, I choose You.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Joy

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

After days of sorrow, despair and disbelief, Jesus returned to say cheer up! All is well and exactly as planned. Ours is a God that inhabits the best things in life and wants us to enjoy His bounty. We can respond by sharing His joy and His abundance – celebrating holy days with His contagious love, demonstrating how in even the most difficult of circumstances, the joy He brings can overcome it all.

Prayer Starter

Thank you for Your joy, the happiness that comes from within, not from a world of outward circumstances. When troubles attack, nothing can steal the joy that You have instilled to sustain me.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Question of Commitment

Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” – John 13:37-38

Peter’s heart was in the right place, however, it takes more than good intentions to be a follower of Christ. Our impulsive, impatient character often ignites zeal for the moment, but only as far ahead as we can see. Jesus wanted to be clear that the commitment required of a Christian would extend far beyond what could even be imagined. We must consciously decide daily whether we are willing to sacrifice our very lives for Him.

Prayer Starter

May I weigh my commitment each day against the passion of my heart. I pray that my love will take action, that I will not only serve You in what I say, but also by what I do.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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The Sixth Sunday of Lent – Hosanna (Holy Week Begins)

And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, “Hosanna; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!” – Mark 11:9

“Hosanna” is a very familiar word in Christendom, yet it is only used a handful of times in the New Testament Gospels as Jesus came to Jerusalem. From the Greek and Hebrew translation, the word is both a cry for salvation and a declaration of praise. We know that many in the city who shouted “Hosanna” on that day were simply caught up in the excitement of the crowd and the heat of the moment – their adoration was short lived. What about us today? We still sing our Hosanna’s to the King with our mouths, but is Hosanna in our hearts? Do we really long for Him to save us on a daily basis from the challenges of our lives and praise Him for His faithfulness to respond? Are we really in touch with the King or just waving our hands in His direction? Let us acknowledge His power and His worthiness with our authentic lives, shouting “Hosanna” from our hearts today and every day!

Prayer Starter

Hosanna to Your name! I join in the chorus of praise throughout the ages glorifying Your power, Your love, and Your grace. Thank you for making my life sing when I’m in harmony with You.

Delve Deeper

Singing praise to God is found throughout the Bible. Music often has the ability to reach places in our mind and spirit that words alone do not. This week, particularly explore Christian music by listening in your free time, with your prayer time, or even in the background as you work. Sing if you like, but listen with your heart as well as your ears. Whether you like rock, country, gospel, contemporary, traditional cultural music or hymns, you can find Christian messages in any genre of music. You may have a Christian radio station in your community, or you can use Pandora internet radio (www.pandora.com) to find a broad taste of Christian artists for free. If you prefer, you may want to browse iTunes (www.apple.com/itunes) or your local music store for Christian artists and purchase music that will continue to move and inspire you for years to come.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Balance

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, He was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that God will give You whatever You ask.” – John 11:17&20-22

Martha would have been overwhelmed by the demands of the funeral for her brother, the needs of the mourners, the financial burdens and desperate circumstances of the future, but upon this visit, she dropped everything and went out to meet Jesus. She had learned that He alone was the answer to all her well-known worries, not the least of which was the death of her brother. Like Martha, we must balance the concerns of life with the care of the Savior. Go to Him.

Prayer Starter

So often the worries and responsibilities of life weigh heavily on me. You can bring lightness of spirit back into my step. As You bring balance to the universe, You can bring balance to my soul.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Service

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:28

Jesus was an uncommon child, an unlikely leader, an unfathomable sacrifice. Service would be the theme of His loving existence. The greatest gift to mankind would inspire the greatest mission for man: to love, serve and give.

Prayer Starter

Show me how best I can work in Your service. May the gifts You have given me be used for Your glory and to serve others as You did.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Without Delay

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. – Isaiah 6:8

We live in a “wishy-washy” world today. It seems like everything is disposable, nothing lasts forever, no one stays in one place for very long. The concept of loyalty is waning, vows are easily broken or we just avoid making promises altogether so that we always have “an out.” Through all this, our God stands firm: constant, consistent, committed to His children. How sad He must feel when His children choose to live by the world’s example instead of His. God forgive us – we commit ourselves to You this day! When you make a vow to God, delay not its fulfillment (Ecclesiastes 5:3).

Prayer Starter

God, help me stand firm in my faith even when others may fall.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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IF

For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, “The stone that you builders rejected, has now become the cornerstone.”– Acts 4:11

Hind-sight is 20/20. “IF” is in the middle of “LIFE.” If only we had done this, or said that, what may have been the outcome? We make mistakes, we make wrong choices, but this scripture inspires us to believe that God can still make it right. Just as Jesus was rejected, underestimated, battered and brutalized and yet rose to be the most influential individual of all time by the power of God, we can surely pick ourselves up, brush off the disappointments, and choose a new path toward a better tomorrow. Laid off from a job? Lost investment value in the stock market? God’s will for us can still win out when we take the “IF” out of “LIFE” and get an IV infusion of His Spirit so that we can fully “LIVE” by faith.

Prayer Starter

Life can be so full of regrets. Lord, help me put the past behind me. I cannot undo what I’ve done, but I can have faith that a better future lies ahead.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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The Bargain

When Judas, who had betrayed Him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. – Matthew 27:3

Judas had made a bad deal and there was no way he could “undo” it. As we know, this bargain led to a negative conclusion for Judas. Yet, how many of us have made “bad deals?” Has anyone ever traded a bit of integrity for popularity, or perhaps to keep a job? Some have sold Christian convictions for anticipated financial success (is a tithe better invested in the market than in the church?). We get the best deal ever from Jesus Christ and you can be confident that it is a bargain you will never regret.

Prayer Starter

So many things sparkle and shine, drawing my attention away from what is important in Your eyes. Help me to remember that the most valuable possession I can own is only found in You.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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Unheeded Warning

“… but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Abraham 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 16:30-31

In a large crowd, Jesus told the story of a beggar named Lazarus who died and went to a heavenly reward. This could be seen by a rich man who also died, but he had been sent… elsewhere. Since it was too late for him, the rich man asked that Lazarus be sent back to earth to warn his brothers of the fate that awaited them if they didn’t change their ways. We see the response in today’s scripture. How interesting that, not too long after telling this story, Jesus’ real-life friend, also named Lazarus, was actually raised from his tomb (John 12:1). As Jesus predicted, bringing Lazarus back to life did not change the minds of those in the crowd that called for Jesus’ death just a short time later. It is not the power of our eyes, but of our hearts, that changes lives.

Prayer Starter

As I try to travel with You on this journey through the cross, may my faith grow with every step.

-Sue Breland, Journey Through the Cross: Meditations for Lent ©

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