Preparing Our Hearts for Easter – Ritual or Relationship?

Easter is coming soon.

For Christians, this is the most important holiday of the year!

What is Easter? Yes, it is fun to play bunnies and baskets of goodies and hidden eggs. But No, that is not Easter.

Easter is God – Himself – physically dying a tortuous death, then conquering death itself, so I can spend eternity with Him. That is Christianity! That is the Love of God!

Therefore, Easter is something that we must prepare our hearts for.

My sin has built an impenetrable barrier between God and myself. Now is the time to face that barrier – admit that I have built it and admit that I cannot take it down by myself.

God is Love. As sinners we have cut ourselves off from all Love. Gossip, jealousy, slander, hate, perversion, cruelty, violence – these all come from a lack of Love in our lives. A lack of Love in our lives comes from keeping God at a distance; it comes from not investing in that relationship.

It is vital that we connect with God personally.

When we think of preparing for Easter, do we think of Ritual or Relationship?

The dictionary definition of a ritual is:

  • done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol
  • like handshakes and background checks
  • an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner

Lent can be a ritual, as can communion.

Ritual can blind us – making us think that we are preparing our hearts when we are really just going through the motions.

Ritual is not bad. It can be very good. However, if it becomes our goal, then it is getting in the way of our Relationship with God.  

Let’s move away from ritual – and towards Relationship.

  • Sit down and make a list on paper of all the sins you have ever committed. Be honest. Use a whole notebook if need be.
  • Read the list and soak in it. Let the heavy weight descend on you. Don’t push it away when you begin to feel uncomfortable.
  • Cry over that list.
  • Apologize to the Father, to the Son Jesus Christ, and to the Spirit. Spend time with this. Don’t rush.
  • Picture yourself wearing sackcloth and covered in ashes.
  • Beg the Father’s forgiveness.
  • Ask Jesus to come into your heart.
  • Pray for the Spirit to fill you with His Love.
  • Listen for what God has to say to you!
  • Listen some more.

Spend time with each step. Don’t make it a perfunctory ritual. “Okay, I did it.”

This should take at least two hours.

Do you feel God’s presence? If not, then commit to more hours of prayer in the coming week. Prove to Him that you are serious about this. Invest in building this relationship.

How do you build a relationship that is important to you? You spend time with that person. You talk, you laugh, you cry, you ask a lot of questions to get to know them better. You tell them a lot about yourself.

Revelation 3:19-20

        Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

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Prepare you heart for this coming Easter season!

Wait…and Listen

Insight for Living publishes a Daily Devotional. The following is their devotional for Sunday, March 22, 2012, yesterday. It touched me deeply so I wanted to share it with you. They also have a large Broadcast Library from which you can choose from Hundreds of broadcasts.

During the three days of waiting, there is a “white space” when nothing is happening—at least nothing visible. You could easily tell yourself at the time, “I’m waiting in vain. Nothing’s going to change.” That’s what the adversary wants you to think: “Waiting’s a waste.” Don’t you believe it! When the enemy’s message roams into your mind, you need to kick it out. Reject it. Look at another verse in Isaiah, just a few verses after the “eagle” verse.

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:1013)

It’s those kinds of thoughts that surely strengthened Esther while she was waiting, praying, and fasting for those three days. Mordecai did the same, as Esther had commanded. But now their roles were reversed. He was no longer in charge; she was. Or, better still, the Lord was. And as the Lord gripped her heart, she became unafraid of what she faced.

This may be one of those “white spaces” in your own life. Maybe it’s time for you to pray and fast and to call upon a few close friends to fast and pray with you. Maybe it’s time for you to say, “I’m not going to rush into this unpredictable and unprecedented situation. I can’t find the path to walk. So I’m going to wait. In the meantime, I’m going to give it to God. I’m going to listen with a sensitive ear and watch the Lord’s leading with a sensitive eye.”

God counsels us with His eye. The eye makes no sound when it moves. It requires a sensitive, earthly eye to watch the movement of the eye of God—God’s directions. All He may do is turn your attention in another direction. But that may be all you need. As you wait, listen. Pore over a favorite passage in His Word. Quietly give attention to His presence, and He gives you direction.”

The website is: https://www.insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/wait-.-.-.-and-listen1

God as Creator – the Source of All We Need

Our Needs

Teen-agers turning to drugs. Single mothers floundering in depression. High-ranking business men sneaking out for extra-marital affairs. Lonely people marginalized by society resorting to deadly violence.

We all hurt in one way or another. What is it that we do with that hurt? How can we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps? Where do we go for help?

Reach Out to God

God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Christians readily acknowledge this fact. However, we must come to the realization that God also created all the resources we need. He also created the principles by which we live – healthy principles that benefit everyone. He also created purpose for our lives.

God is the source of Everything.

God is the source of healing and help in every day-to-day situation. He has provided what we need, not only live, but to thrive throughout our life. When we need to be restored, we must go back to God. He is the one who created life in the first place and it is only He who can bring life back into dead circumstances. We cannot do it on our own.

In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God, and all the things we need will be given to us.

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Reach Out to Others

God has also provided the Body of Christ to lift one another up, to encourage one another. We need them: a support group, a Christian counselor, a sincere Bible study group. We need a place where we can share our deepest needs, fears, and temptations. We need someone to meet with regularly as well as someone we can call on at a moment’s notice. Ask God to provide this support for you.

Reach up and reach out. The God of hope will fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him. Romans 15:13

These thoughts come from the wonderful book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend titled How People Grow, What the Bible Reveals about Personal Growth.

The Passion of Jesus Christ

The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper is an amazing book. The subtitle is: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die.

Reason #6 is To Show His Own Love for Us.

Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25

[He] loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

John Piper writes: The death of Christ is not only the demonstration of God’s love (John 3:16), it is also the supreme expression of Christ’s own love for all who receive it as their treasure. The early witnesses who suffered most for being Christians were captured by this fact: Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). They took the self-giving act of Christ’s sacrifice very personally. They said, “He loved me. He gave himself for me.”

John continues: Surely this is the way we should understand the sufferings and death of Christ. They have to do with me. They are about Christ’s love for me personally.

This book has changed the way I view Christ’s death and his resurrection.

What does Christ’s death mean to you?

How do you see his resurrection?