Tasks for Towels

 

towels-4It all began with a laundry basket filled with a mountain of towels that needed to be folded. There were bath towels and hand towels and dish towels. After folding, I placed clean hand towels by the sink for anyone to use after washing their hands. I made sure there were fresh bath towels on the rod beside the shower. The kitchen needed a new supply of dish towels to be used throughout the day. The remainder of the neatly folded towels were put on the shelves in the linen closet for later use.

towel-6Bath towels – hand towels – kitchen towels – but there is still another kind of towel. It is the towel Jesus wore and used when He washed the feet of His disciples. This is the servant towel. (so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:4-5) This towel was more than a piece of terry cloth because it served as a symbol of servanthood. (For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45) As a servant of His Heavenly Father, Jesus was soon to fulfill the task of dying for the sins of all mankind. At this moment, Jesus was serving the disciples by cleansing them of sin as well as washing their dirty feet. Jesus used a towel that cleansed of unrighteousness and sin. (Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”John 13:10-11) This towel was an example of the tool the disciples were to use in relating to other people in the future. (When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. – John 113:12-17) Putting Jesus’ example into practical terms for myself, I ask some questions regarding my household towels. Am I a servant when I am folding a mountain of towels? Am I a servant when I place clean towels in the appropriate places? Am I a servant when I use a towel?

towels-1According to the scripture of John 13:4 previously quoted, Jesus not only used this towel to dry the disciples’ feet but He wrapped it around himself. This towel was more than a piece of terry cloth because Jesus was inside the towel. Jesus became part of the towel. I wonder if Jesus is wrapped up in the towels found in our home. Is He wrapped up in the purpose and use of our towels? I like the image of myself being enfolded in the arms of Jesus when I wrap myself in a bath towel after a shower. The image of Jesus holding me in His arms of love creates a feeling of warmth inside me. (He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. – Isaiah 40:11) Our hand towels often seem to clean off excess dirt as well as dry off water as everyone who uses these towels may not have washed their hands thoroughly. This function of the hand towel reminds me that Jesus cleanses me of the dirt of sin. (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9 NKJV) My dish towel dries the droplets of remaining water from clean dishes in the sink. These droplets look resemble tears for me. Whether these tears are mine or someone else’s, Jesus extends a towel of compassion to those in need. (He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4)

towels-5While wrapping up my thoughts about the scripture of John 13:4-5 and folding my remaining towels, I am reminded of words by Ann Voskamp“Jesus Christ still wears a towel around His waist, bent in service to His people…in service to me, as I serve, that I need never serve in my own strength.” I am both challenged and comforted by her comment. I am challenged to follow Jesus’ example of serving others. And I am comforted knowing that when I serve I do not have to rely upon only my own strength. There are times when I feel like I have too many towels to fold, but then I remember Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I want to be enfolded in the towel of Jesus for strength to serve others. Jesus wore the servant’s towel and washed His disciples’ feet both as a physical act and a spiritual act. I want to follow His example; I want to be a servant physically and spiritually.

My Reader, do you want a towel?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Doxology for Easter

praying-hands-3

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
Aas we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]

Matthew 6:9-13

lent Sunday we will celebrate Easter which is the climax of the Lenten season. This is also the conclusion of our expedition into the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. As I have reminded us several times over the last six weeks, the Lord’s Prayer is really the template Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him how to pray – not simply a prayer to be prayed from memory. As we have explored these scriptural words together, I hope you have deepened your understanding of the words spoken by Jesus and gained insight into the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. I pray our expedition has taken you closer to Jesus as we walk with Him through His arrest, crucifixion and death this week. We have one final phrase to explore together which is very appropriate with our anticipation of celebrating His resurrection on Sunday.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Matthew 6:13b

Not all translations of the Bible include this part of Matthew 6:13. It is found in the Old and New King James Versions and the New American Standard Bible but not in the New International Version. Neither is it part of the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Luke 11. Some scholars have thought this phrase was added later because it is not found in the manuscripts of the two earliest Greek witnesses. However, this is probably false because it is found in the third earliest Greek witness and the majority of all further manuscripts.

This phrase is known as the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. A doxology is defined as a liturgical formula of praise to God. On the final week of our exploration of prayer, let us unpack the meaning of the words of this doxology.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
When we see the word “for,” we need to see what it is there for. I believe these words are included because our Heavenly Father is worthy of this praise when we consider the guidelines Jesus has given us for how we are to pray in the previous verses.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The kingdom belongs to God because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:10 declaring that God’s kingdom is in heaven and we can ask for His kingdom to come on earth. His name is El Elyon, “The Most High.” This name denotes He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. (see post for 2/17)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The power belongs to and comes from God because He is El Shaddai, “The All-sufficient One”. (see post for 2/17) This gives us the authority to ask for daily bread, forgiveness, and guidance and deliverance as requested in Matthew 6:11-13a. (see posts for 3/2, 3/9 & 3/16)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Glory comes from the Greek word “doxa.” In the New Testament it refers to the splendor, radiance and majesty of which God is worthy. Since we have come to know God more intimately through our study of the Lord’s Prayer, it is proper that we extend our praise to Him. It is appropriate for us to refer to this concluding phrase as a doxology because we are giving doxa or glory to our Heavenly Father.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, “forever” denotes an indefinitely long period with emphasis on the characteristics of the period rather than on it duration. I like this concept when referring to the kingdom and power and glory of God now and throughout all eternity.

As a conclusion to our in-depth search of this doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, I am reminded of the Doxology hymn sung in many mainline denominational churches. The lyrics are the last verse of the hymn Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun by Thomas Ken. Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:13b, we can sing the words of Thomas Ken. Finally, my heart is filled with the words of the traditional Resurrection Sunday greeting we will be proclaiming Sunday. Through the words of these doxologies, let us give God the glory, or doxa, of which He is worthy!

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(words of Jesus)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(words by Thomas Ken)
He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
(our words)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Games to Play and Pray

praying-hands-7

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]
Matthew 6:9-13

lentMy mind is wandering back to childhood games. My Reader, do you remember “Follow the Leader”? Everyone wanted to be the leader but it was also fun to be part of the train of people who went where the leader went and did whatever the leader did. Did you ever play “Freeze Tag”? Tag was always a simple game of running while trying not to get caught by the person who was “it”. “Freeze Tag” was a special version where a person had to remain in a frozen position after being tagged until someone else would touch that person to unfreeze him/her. These memories go back many years, so why am I thinking about them today? Before the conclusion of this blog, we will make a correlation as we continue to explore the meaning of the highlighted request of the Lord’s Prayer printed above.

And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:13a

This verse reveals the third personal request that Jesus encouraged His disciples to verbalize when He taught them how to pray. Once again I will refer to one of the Old Testament names for God. (see post What Is In a Name? on February 17) Jehovah-raah is translated The LORD is My Shepherd.” When I ask the Lord to lead me and deliver me, I think about a shepherd’s rod and staff. A shepherd uses his rod primarily to guide his sheep in the direction he desires. In contrast, a shepherd uses his staff to rescue his sheep that have strayed into a place of danger. Since scripture says that we are all like sheep, I believe that the Lord functions as our shepherd when He fulfills our petition of asking Him to not lead us into temptation and to deliver us from evil.

Let us take the shepherd’s rod and staff with us as we begin our in-depth exploration of Matthew 6:13a.

And do not lead us into temptation,
In John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” How does the Lord, my Shepherd, call me to follow Him? He uses His rod! Before I continue with this thought, I want to think about how a shepherd uses his rod with his flock of sheep. The shepherd’s rod is a piece of wood fashioned into a short, thick club. This weapon is like an extension of the shepherd’s right arm. He can extend, or even throw, his rod towards his sheep to keep them on the right path. If the rod hits a sheep, it gets the sheep’s attention so that it will follow the shepherd. The rod is a symbol of the strength, power, and authority of the shepherd over the situations of his sheep. Now to apply this to myself. I am a sheep led by the Good Shepherd and the rod is scripture. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” And Isaiah 30 21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” So, if I pray asking God to lead me, then I need to heed His rod and follow the guidance within His written Word. Sometimes it may mean that I need to be hit over the head with the wisdom of God!


I notice that the prayerful words of Jesus ask specifically that the Lord not lead me into temptation. Just because I ask the Lord not to lead me into temptation does not mean that I will never be tempted. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This scripture verse assures me that the Lord hears my prayer and not only does He not lead me into temptation but He also provides me with a way out when I allow temptations overtake me. I think I see the Lord’s staff as well as His rod being applied to my life. So, let’s continue.

but deliver us from evil.
There is a need for me to be delivered from evil because temptations will come to me even though the Lord as my Shepherd is leading me. How does God deliver me? He uses His staff, the Holy Spirit. Once again, I do not want to get ahead of myself, so let’s take a closer look at the shepherd’s staff. It is a unique instrument used only for the care and management of sheep. In contrast to the rod, the staff is usually a long, slender stick with a crook or hook on one end. The staff is a symbol of the concern and compassion a shepherd has for his sheep. The staff’s hook rescues a sheep that has wandered away from the path and gotten caught in brambles and bushes. The shepherd is able to gently pull the sheep from the thicket and return it to the rest of the flock. To apply this image to myself, I am reminded of Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray.” As a stray sheep, I must be delivered from evil. How can I be delivered or rescued? Ezekiel 34:11-12 tells me, “For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. Ezekiel 34:15-16 goes on to say, “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick.These Old Testament scriptures are fulfilled by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. In John 14:16, Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” The Holy Spirit is my personal helper!
Wait a minute, this verse in Matthew 6:13 says that I am to pray to be delivered from evil.  I was not thrilled when I thought about temptations, but evil has me even more concerned! Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I must pray for deliverance! I like the assurance of Colossians 1:13 ESV,He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit!

My Reader, before I conclude I must refer back to the childhood games I first mentioned. During the coming week, let us play “Follow the Leader” and allow the Lord lead us not into temptation. And may we take part in a game of “Freeze Tag” allowing the Lord to unFREEze us when we get caught in temptation and become frozen in bondage. He is able to deliver us from evil.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Note: I have used A shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Timothy Keller as a resource.

Forgiveness – Receive and Give

prayer-man2

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]
Matthew 6:9-13

lentMy Reader, is it easier for you to receive forgiveness from someone who has offended you or for you to ask someone to forgive you for offending them? Neither act is easy and both acts require humility. I will admit that I find it is easier to say “I forgive you” than to say “please forgive me”. However, it can still be hard for me to fully forgive and forget. Actually, God does not tell us that we have to forget because we can often learn from the offense we have experienced. However, we must not hold the offense against the other person and allow it to hinder our relationship with them. I found the following statement as a notation in the Life Application Bible, “You have to admit you need forgiveness before you can accept it.” That is certainly something for me to ponder!

Let’s immerse ourselves into the concept of forgiveness as we continue our exploration of the paradigm for prayer given to us by Jesus. Each week we are taken deeper into the Lord’s Prayer as we continue our expedition during this Lenten season.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:12

Once again, we will focus upon specific highlighted words as we unpack the meaning of this verse of scripture.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our
debtors.

Debts and debtors are the first words we will study. These are the words used in most translations of the Bible for Matthew 6:12. The Greek word for “debts” is ophelilema and it means “that which is owed.” Opheiletes is the Greek word for debtors and means “one who owes another.” I grew up in a mainline denominational church that prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Why the different choice of words? When I read Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV, it says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.These verses are the basis for the alternate wording of the Lord’s Prayer. No matter what terms one is most familiar with, the concept we are dealing with in Matthew 6:12 concerns the need of our asking for forgiveness and extending forgiveness for our debts or trespasses or sins or mistakes or shortcomings.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have f
orgiven
our debtors.
I notice the word “forgive” in the first line followed by “forgiven” in the second line of this scripture. Forgiveness is found on a two-way street. One way I travel requires me to ask God to forgive me while the other direction of travel says I am to forgive others. Everyone sins so we all need to seek God’s forgiveness. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, what is the solution for my sinfulness? Jesus is the answer! II Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” One of the names for Jesus I highlighted on February 17 in the blog post What Is in a Name? was Jehovah-tsidkenu that means “The LORD Our Righteousness.” Although Romans 3:10 says, “”There is no one righteous, not even one;” when we cry out to Jesus for forgiveness He restores us into right relationship with Him again. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins (ask for forgiveness), he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (my emphasis) I said earlier that everyone sins. Now I highlight that everyone needs to be forgiven and to forgive others.

OK, I understand how I can receive God’s forgiveness when I ask Him to forgive me for the ways I have hurt or offended Him. This requires humility but I can do it! However, I notice that in order for God to fully forgive me, He asks that I forgive others who have hurt me. I may not want to do this, but I remind myself of my analogy of forgiveness being a two-way street. I must ask, “How can I expect my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins if I am not willing to forgive those who sin against me?” A note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible says, “Prayer for forgiveness is qualified by a readiness to forgive personal injury.” This is what makes forgiveness hard! No one likes to be hurt. And, if I am hurt, I often like to keep the wound open by replaying in my mind what happened to cause the injury. This really is not a healthy thing for me to do. One of the reasons the Lord asks us to forgive others is that forgiveness frees us from the bondage of our hurts. Healing comes after forgiveness. Our extension of forgiveness to the one who has hurt us also frees the Lord to work in the life of the person who sinned against us in the first place. We are to let go and let God do His work of restoration in the lives of everyone involved. When I have trouble forgiving another person, I often find it helpful for me to pray the prayer Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him. Jesus simply prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they doin Luke 23:34. In this verse, I notice that Jesus asked His Heavenly Father to forgive them. This allows me to ask the Holy Spirit to help me forgive others when I am not able to do so on my own.

And forgive us our debts,
as
we also have forgiven our
debtors.
The use of three little pronouns four times is significant. All of these words are plural. When I consider that Jesus used the words “Forgive us our debts,” I believe that He was emphasizing that all of us have a need for giving and receiving forgiveness. I agree! However, I think that each of us also should pray this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer on a more personal level. I need to examine my heart to see what sins I have committed for which I may need to specifically ask forgiveness. I also need to ask myself if there is any person I need to forgive. My Reader, I encourage you this week to pray this prayer guideline as follows, “Forgive me my debts, as I also have forgiven my debtors.” You might also like to study on your own the Parable on Forgiveness found in Matthew 18:21-35. I like the words that conclude of this parable, “forgive your brother from your heart.” Will you follow these words of Jesus?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Manna for Me?

praying-hands-6Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]
Matthew 6:9-13

lentMy Reader, envision a young child with a jubilant smile on his/her face reaching out for a gift. Listen to the intonation of this child when he/she asks, “For me?!” This type of response creates delight within the giver as well as the receiver of the gift. I wonder if this is how God feels when I accept a gift He offers to me. I am pondering this possibility while reading verse 11 of the Lord’s Prayer. Does God desire for me to personalize this verse and prayerfully ask, “Lord, are you giving the gift of daily bread to me?!” This is the first of three personal requests highlighted by Jesus in the scriptural prayer of Matthew 5. Join me as we search for the meaning of this phrase. As we undertake our study, we are nearing the middle of the Christian season of Lent as well as being in the middle of our prayer excursion.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11

Give us this day our daily bread.
The first word of this phrase denotes that our daily bread is given to us. Although God may require our cooperation for us to receive this gift, it is not something we can solely provide for ourselves. I think back to the names of God highlighted in the blog post What Is in a Name? on February 17. El Shaddai means “The All-sufficient One” and the word Shaddai can be translated “the many breasted one”. This presents me with the picture of a mother providing breast milk (food or bread) for her baby. God provides us with the food our bodies need. Jehovah-jireh means “The LORD Will Provide” and is another name that substantiates the fact that God will give us our daily bread when we ask for it.

Give us this day our daily bread.
I find it interesting that two forms of the word day are used within the seven words of this phrase. It must be important! My thoughts go back to the story of how God provided manna daily for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. Exodus 16:4 says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.’” Then Exodus 16:14-15 describe this food by saying, “When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.” If God was faithful to provide manna daily for the Israelites, it is appropriate for us to ask Him for our daily bread.

Daily bread can apply to spiritual food as well as physical food. Paul describes God’s Word as being milk for spiritual infants and meat for men in I Corinthians 3:2, so I believe bread is an accurate description of scripture being spiritual food. In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” From the perspective of Jesus’ words and my need for physical and spiritual food, I can say that Jesus is my daily provision. My daily bread includes my feeding daily on Jesus and the Word as well as eating my servings of fruits and vegetables. My physical energy and my spiritual growth depend upon my day to day diets. I cannot just devour enough of either food once a week to keep me going for the next seven days. Manna did not remain fresh from one day to the next for the Israelites, so why should I think I can live any differently?

My Reader, as we focus upon our need for daily bread, may we not only ask the Lord for it but also thank Him for it. It is a gift that God wants to provide for us, but we must eat and internalize His provision on a daily basis. Each one of us can stand in awe and ask the Lord the question, “For me?!”  However, we also need to open the gift and ingest and digest it.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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