Monday Joy

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
– Lamentations 3:22-26

I often think of how gracious God was in giving us something new every morning. The new expression of sunrise, while the rhythm remains steadfast. The new song of the birds, though the familiar melodies. The new breath in our lungs and the new beats of our hearts…that have never before been expressed!

Every moment of every day is an unfolding of something new God is creating. While that “new” is being discovered and lived one hour at a time, there is also a steadfast presence that does not change. The love and grace of God is always available and ready to be offered. The peace that only God can give, is accessible in the humble asking.

However we come into this Monday, God is right here with us. On game or not; feeling it or not; scared to death or celebrating your greatest accomplishments…the presence of the Creator is standing at your side. Listen for that voice as you walk through this week. It is far beyond the opinions and noise that swirls around with hope of distracting us from God’s wisdom that comes in the pause. Listen.

God, this morning we pause to reconnect and remember your presence and faithfulness. We embrace the mercies you give for this day. We give thanks for the compassion and love you hold; ready to come quickly and abundantly as we seek. It is our desire to honor you with the gift of life you have provided today. Help us, Holy Spirit, to do it well. We welcome your JOY into our lives. We love you, LORD, and we trust you completely. Amen.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:11

Moments of Faithful Risk

“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. “ – Matthew 26:6-7

Bethany is the town where Lazarus and his sisters lived, but in this situation, the meal is at Simon’s house. It is the most unexpected house to host a meal. Simon was known as a “leper” until he was healed by Christ. Now he is hosting a meal for Jesus.

The woman that comes with the expensive perfume is named as “Mary” when John writes his account of this story (John 12:3). She must have been saving this perfume for just the right situation and time. It is valuable. Somehow she knew (by God’s grace and a nudge of the Spirit?) that this is the time, this is the moment, for her to give it. She chooses to give it all to Jesus. She doesn’t know why, she just knows she is supposed to offer it.

The disciples – the followers of Jesus – are appalled. It is too extravagant; a waste. Jesus is pleased; she obeyed the nudge of the Spirit and did something that involved her in his story of redemption. God’s plans are fulfilled. This woman’s offer of love and devotion prepares Jesus to offer his greatest gift of love: to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)

We know Christ’s sacrifice is near; and we know resurrection is coming. His preparation and her involvement in his journey of obedience…these are moments of faithful risk. In the kingdom of God we take risks to love across societal norms, boundaries that limit access to Christ, and even fears whether they are real or imagined.

We return to the neighborhood today and knock on doors to invite the children to come out for “Bible Club”. Some will say yes. Some will wait for another day. We will teach the Bible stories, play games and sing. Love, friendship and joy will be shared, if even for a few short hours of the day.

I do wonder… Is it possible that we, who are so deeply distracted with our busy lives, are bringing “perfume” to the neighborhood? Or is it much more likely that Jesus finds us in Simon, the Leper, and asks us to come into the neighborhood and be healed so we can serve others with him?

Jesus is grateful for the woman’s lavish love. He says this moment is so important that every time this story is told, her act of faith and love will be shared. He wanted us to know this. She took the risk of walking into a setting where women were not typically welcomed. She gave her greatest gift and it prepared him for his. How are you giving your best for Christ?

God help us to walk humbly as we go through your neighborhoods today. Heal in us whatever keeps us from loving and serving you freely. We have no good apart from you so please come near. We love you. We trust you completely. Thank you for trusting and loving us enough to bring us here with you.

Bible Club lot #streetreach
Bible Club lot #streetreach

Serving with our youth group in Memphis. The joy of witnessing what God is doing in our teenagers is a gift. Being with children in the neighborhood is just finding where Jesus is already and joining the miracle. Grateful.


By the Desert Road

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.  
– Exodus 13:17

Sometimes the way we go doesn’t make sense at all, but it is God’s provision. And perhaps a grace in helping us become who God created us to be. 

I still remember quite well what it felt like to be a young adult in my early twenties trying to figure out the road and way ahead.  There were seasons when I could not see well, if at all.  There were curves I didn’t expect or know how to navigate. On more than one occasion I found myself in the ditch! And there were glimpses of signposts every now and then that were enough to keep me moving ahead, one step at a time. It was not very pretty. Definitely not smooth. I have the healed over scars to make sure I never forget from where I’ve come. They have become beauty marks.

God has a way of taking us by the road that not only saves us from disasters we cannot see; the journey shapes us for a future that only God can vision. 

The Israelites were on the wilderness road a very long time. They started out prepared for war, but the real battle seemed to be the one of surrender, trust and learning to be a community that follows God together.  They received miracles, like manna and quail for food.  They walked in circles and got sick and tired of the journey.  They cried out for water and God provided.  They failed and God restored them.  When they followed God revealed more to them. They became a holy nation. Not perfect, but an identified people of God with a story of redemption.  We are still telling the story!

What about you? Take a moment to look back to where you started. Maybe you will also see how the road by which you’ve come, somehow helped shape you and grow you into the person God created you to be.  What safeguards kept you out of danger?  What challenges reminded you of God’s faithfulness?  What impossible things became possible, even though you didn’t see it unfolding?  

I do wonder… as a community of faith, if we too can look back and see how God has shaped us as the body of Christ?  How has that journey prepared us to be a reflection of God in the world right now? Is it possible that in this very moment, we also are being led by a road that helps assure we keep moving forward into the kingdom of God? 

Whether you are looking back on the road you’ve traveled or wondering about the time to come, rest assured:  there is so much more ahead!  The same God who walked with you all this time will guide and prepare you for what is to come. You are not journeying alone. 

The disciples walked through this week, what we call “Holy Week”, with Jesus…at least up to a certain point.  It didn’t make sense. How could a journey to a shameful death ever make sense…

God, thank you for never leaving us on the journey alone. Thank you for guiding us by the road that will prepare us for your future.  We trust you completely because you are faithful in all generations! Amen. 

Farther Along. Leslie Jordon, Chris and Morgane Stapleton