Sow & Gather

john

Palm Branches Swaying

John, Life Of ChristMarci Anthony1 Comment
#sowandgather #palmsunday #lifeofchrist

The great crowd heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel! John 12:12-13 NIV

One of my favorite things about the beach is the tall and slender but noble palm trees. They are usually in a cluster or lined up along the road beckoning you to the glistening beach. Often the palm branches gently flutter in the breeze until a large wind arrives and they stand straight up like your hair on a windy day. 

Interestingly, similar palm branches were used by a great crowd on one particular day to honor Jesus as He was riding a donkey through Jerusalem. The people began to spread their cloaks on the ground in front of Him and wave palm branches shouting, “Hosanna! Alleluia!” which means save or rescue. They were praising Jesus with loud and ecstatic voices using that ordinary icon of victory, the palm branch. What joy!! 

So, as we move through this Lenten season waiting impatiently for Easter, we, too, should be praising and singing to our dear Lord and King, Jesus. Why? Because we know He has already rescued us by dying on the cross and forgiving our evil deeds. And, we know He has given us victory by rising from the dead after three days so we can live with Him forever. 

So…Hosanna and Alleluia!! Thank you, my God! Praise Your name, O my soul, and sing to Him a new song! 

Dig Deeper |

Mark 11:1-11; Psalm 149 

Action Item |

Praise the Lord using Psalm 149 as your guide.

Prayer |

Lord and King of Israel, Blessed is Your name. I glorify You and thank You for saving me and giving me victory to live with You forever. In the exceptional name of Jesus, Amen.  

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Treasure God's Word--John 8:12

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is Freedom Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose?

freedomMarci AnthonyComment
#freedom in Christ #sowandgather Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. I Corinthians 6:12 (NLT) 

I've been pondering the lyrics of songwriters Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster – Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. They penned those words of a lost relationship and innocence in the late 60's.  The song "Me and Bobby McGee" has been performed by many, but perhaps the most famous version is by Janis Joplin. She recorded the song only a few days before her death. 

That one line makes me consider whether I truly consider freedom as a positive to be gained. Or, do I view freedom through the eyes of the lyricists, as what's left after I've lost it all. Does freedom mean I can do anything I want without consequences, or does it mean I have choices and must be ready to accept the consequences? 

If you have been in the church world, you've heard the expression "freedom in Christ." I guess that phrase makes me feel good, but I don't completely understand the depths of that sentiment.  

What does "freedom in Christ" mean for me and you?  

I have to recognize that I'm a sinner and need a savior. I was not put on this earth to do everything right and to earn my salvation. I can't. You can't. We can't be good enough to earn our way to heaven or to earn the respect of man in this life. Freedom in Christ means accepting that I'm simply not good enough . . . and that's okay, because Christ is. Ephesians 2:8   

I get to make choices and I must accept the consequences. The world measures success by nice cars, big houses, high-powered jobs and perfect kids. Maybe you have all of those things and more. There's nothing wrong with having things. So often I find myself making choices to reach goals that are good goals, but not God goals. They are goals that the world says I must achieve at all costs if I want success and happiness. True freedom occurs when we don't need those things and when we know that our satisfaction and joy comes from Christ. Jeremiah 29:11

I know who I am in relationship to Christ. Christ is master and I am servant. It's simple. I have to serve something or someone. Either I'm serving my own needs or wants, or I'm serving Christ. Yes, I feel the rub. How can I be free and be a servant? So long as I am not a slave to the world, I am free in Christ. I Corinthians 7:22 

As a Christ follower, I fight the paradox of true freedom: doing what I want versus living a life following in Christ's example. 

Dig Deeper |

John 8

Action Item |

Write down one thing you are "serving" that is getting in the way of fully serving Christ. In your prayer time, ask God for forgiveness and to help you be His servant. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You today for allowing me to be born and raised in a country that is founded on freedom. I think you for the freedom I experience by accepting you as Lord and Master. To serve you is to gain freedom. Amen. 

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Mother May I?

MothersMarci AnthonyComment

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24(NIV)

When I was a kid, I constantly bombarded my mom with questions. “Mom, can I have a piece of candy?” “Mom, will you buy me that toy?” “Mom, can I go play with my friend next door?” Sometimes when I asked my mom for things the answer was “yes,” and sometimes the answer was “no.” Of course when the answer was “yes,” I would do the happy dance and tell my mom that she was the best mom in the whole wide world. If the answer was “no,” well, you might have thought that world as we knew it had ended as I went into a total meltdown on the floor in the middle of the store.

The look on my mom’s face was total and complete embarrassment and failure. I often think that’s how we are with God. Sometimes when we ask Him for things and He says “yes,” we are overjoyed, but when the answer is “no,” we pitch an embarrassing fit of self-pity. Other times, we don’t even ask and instead take matters into our own hands. Usually this doesn’t end well and we are forced to admit that we should have asked God first.

What I’ve learned, having been on both sides, is that sometimes we think we need something that will make our lives more complete, but in reality, God is all we need. We petition God for whatever our heart’s desire is at the time, not really searching our hearts for what He wants for our lives. John 16:24 tells us that God wants us to ask Him for things. He wants to provide for our needs. Notice I said, “needs,” not “wants.” God wants us to have our heart’s desires, but He also wants us to recognize those areas of our lives where we need Him. He wants us to depend on Him to provide those things.

As a mom, I recognize those areas where wants versus needs seem to be mixed-up. We must teach our children that our “joy” comes not from our wants being fulfilled, but from the needs of our hearts being filled by the One who know us best and makes our joy complete. When we ask for things in His name we are humbly acknowledging that He is Lord over our life. When we recognize God as our provider and ask with a heart that is pure, God will answer and we will be filled with His unending joy.

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 21:22; John 14:13-14

Action Item |

Are you in the habit of asking God for your wants and needs? Do you struggle with what to ask God for in your daily prayer life? Ask God to examine your heart and help you to determine those areas that need to be fulfilled.

Prayer |

Most Gracious Heavenly Father, please help me to establish a life that is not based on my wants but on Your needs for my life. Allow my heart to be filled with the joy that only You can provide by allowing you to fulfill those needs in my life.

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From Death To Life

TransformationMarci AnthonyComment
if-it-dies-it-bears-much-fruit #sowandgather #transformation

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

Standing in my 12x12 garden, my thoughts weave together past memories of planting with my present experience. As I lay the kernels in the ground, my mind's eye pictures my dad's hand guiding my little fingers to place each seed in a furrow. I remember the excitement of seeing the plants emerge. It still thrills and surprises me even now when I see them push through to the surface. Same as then, I feel the hope that if I care for these plants, they will most likely yield me something in return. 

So what has changed? Well, my dad often has said that the garden is one of life's greatest teachers about God. Though when I was little, I could not understand comparisons between growing plants and spiritual things of God, I do now. There are many lessons from the garden, but the one that came to mind on this day was John 12:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

As I laid the seed in the ground, I knew that it would have to die in order to become what God had created it to be. From one seed would come many plants. 

It is difficult to give up being concerned about what people think of me. If I'm really honest with myself, I like accolades. I like it when my children are perfect (or at least look that way). I like it when people think I have the perfect marriage. I like it when people like my house. I really just want to do what I want. But, my life is not perfect. I am so often a mess! My home, marriage, and kids all have struggles. 

When I surrender to the Master Gardener's hand, I begin to see that these struggles help me die to my own personal desires. Then I am often surprised and thrilled to see Him working in me. He is making me into something far greater than I could ever be by myself. There is a hope that does not disappoint because that which has been dead in me can be brought to life through Christ. It speaks to my weakness and His greatness multiplies life through death. 

Dig Deeper |

Mark 13:1-23 

Action Item |

What is one thing God is asking you to give up in your life? Practice giving it up and filling that space with something God wants you to do. 

Prayer |

God help me to deny my own wants and give me the strength to be yielded to Your will. Use me to tell more people about You so that they too may know the hope of Your saving grace. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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Treasure God's Word--John 14:6

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment