Barefoot

bare-feet-1bare-feet-2Since warm weather has arrived, I have exchanged my winter shoes for summer sandals. These summer shoes reveal more of my feet and provide a little less protection. However, I also like to throw off even my sandals and go barefoot. There is something special about being able to run barefoot through a thick lawn of green grass on a summery day! It is freeing to feel the grass between my toes. Maybe I can identify with Moses and Joshua who went barefoot in the Lord’s presence. In fact, they were personally instructed by God to take off their sandals in His presence.

In Exodus 3, Moses was intrigued by a bush that appeared to be on fire and yet was not being consumed. As he went closer to the bush, God spoke to Moses saying in Exodus 3:5, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” In the following verses, Moses and God have a conversation regarding God’s desire for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Moses argued with God, God had an answer for him that revealed His willingness to help Moses in all he asked Him to do. In a sense, taking off his sandals signified Moses’ vulnerability to what God asked of him. I wonder if God is asking me to take off something so He can better use me according to His plans and purposes. I do not have to provide my own shoes, or my own strength. In contrast, God asks me to remove any confidence I have in my flesh. In II Corinthians 12:9-11, Paul records, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” … Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In Joshua 5 while Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho, he encountered a man with a sword. When Joshua inquired about whether he was for them or against them, the man revealed himself as the commander of the army of the Lord. In Joshua 5:15 it says, “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’” Joshua obeyed this command out of reverence and respect. I want to follow Joshua’s example and take off my shoes in the presence of the Lord. Like the soles of my shoes that pick up the dirt of the ground around me, my soul within me can pick up sin from the world in which I live. Out of reverence to my holy God, I want to remove sin from my life. I Peter 1:15-16 says to me, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” Taking off my sandals or shoes can be an outward expression of worship revealing my inward reverence for the Lord.

While walking barefoot, I feel a closeness to the God of all creation who has created the grass upon which I walk. I am aware of being in touch with the Lord when my feet are touching His creation. A few scriptures come to mind that inform me of how to walk with the Lord. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Then II Corinthians 5:7 KNJV tells me to “walk by faith and not by sight,” while Paul reminds me in Galatians 3516 NKJV to,Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Bare feet and summer seem to go together, but I need to remember that in order for me to walk with the Lord I should be barefoot in His presence no matter what season of the year. I John 2:6 NASV says, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” In order for me to walk as Jesus walked, it will be beneficial for me to be barefoot so I can place my footsteps in His footprints.

My Reader, do you want to go barefoot today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Only One Left

,,, began to go away one at a time, … until only Jesus was left, with the woman ….
John 8:9

I have chosen only a couple of phrases from the entire verse of John 8:9 for reflection today. These words are taken from the account of Jesus with the sinful woman who was brought to Him by the Pharisees. The religious leaders wanted her stoned for adultery while Jesus wanted to forgive her. However, it was only after everyone had left that Jesus had a One on one conversation with this woman.

I may not be an adulterous woman but I have to admit that I am a woman who can sin. Although I strive to live a godly life, Romans 3:23 points out that all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. Two things become evident to me through this account in John 8. First, I require Jesus’ forgiveness. Second, I hear Jesus speaking to me best when I am alone with Him.

In John 8:7 Jesus says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus is pointing out that all of us have sin in our lives that needs to be dealt with. The Pharisees were in the same category as the adulterous woman. Jesus did not condemn anyone but He did acknowledge the frailties of human nature. The Pharisees responded by simply leaving Jesus and the woman according to John 8:9. They walked away from their sinful natures by walking away from the presence of Jesus. They did not deny that they could have committed a wrongful act at some point in their lives but neither did they acknowledge their sinfulness to Jesus and ask for forgiveness.

In John 8:10 Jesus asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jesus waits until He is alone with the woman before He confronts her about her lifestyle. Even then, He does not place condemnation upon her but He does point out that her actions have not been righteous. When she admits her sin, Jesus forgives her. And He goes to say in John 8:11, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He instructs her not only to confess her sin but to repent which includes a change in lifestyle in addition to acknowledging her wrong doing. What I want to emphasize is that Jesus dealt with this woman alone. He did not confront her in a public surrounding.

This leads me to look at my daily lifestyle to see if I allow for personal time with the Lord so He can convict me of changes I need to make in my life. If Jesus is considerate enough to wait and deal with me privately, then I must be considerate enough of Him to give Him time to speak to me. What do I allow to crowd around me that prevents me from hearing the Lord? Who and what do I need to dismiss from my life so I can hear what Jesus is saying?

George Matheson has asked the question, “Have you ever pictured yourself as the last remaining person on earth, or the only person left in the entire universe?” He then goes on to say, “If you were the only person left remaining in the universe, your every thought would be, ‘God and I…. God and I …!’” Yet in reality, this is how God perceives each of us today. God desires to be close to us and be with us if we will give Him that time and place of honor. Matheson challenges us by saying, “Practice dismissing the crowd!” If I dismiss the crowd, Jesus will personally speak to me. He most likely will convict me of my sin but He will also forgive me of my sin. Then He will guide me and empower me to live my life in a way that will glorify Him.

I desire to be the only one left in the presence of Jesus! I want to have a one on One conversation with Jesus like the woman in the account of John 9. He will not embarrass me about my shortcomings but He will make me aware of them. According to I John 1:9, if I confess my sins, He will be faithful and just and will forgive my sins and purify me from all unrighteousness. I never need to be afraid of being alone with Jesus. Rather, I should desire to be with Him and listen to His voice. Jesus assures me in John 15:4 that if I remain in Him, He will remain in me.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

The Peace of God or A Piece of God

peace-2piece-of-pie-2In his book I AM, Steve Fry says, “Peace is the evidence that we have submitted to God.” Scripture talks about a peace that surpasses all understanding. I can only experience this kind of peace when I completely trust God with everything in my life. This included the good, the bad and the miraculous. Steve Fry goes on to say, “The rule of peace begins when we no longer want answers, but only want God.”

In other words, I cannot just have a piece of peace. This concept is contrary to what I perceive when I think about a piece of fruit pie. If I had baked an apple pie that was setting on the kitchen counter and I wanted some to eat, I would cut a piece for myself and leave the remainder of the pie. A whole pie would be too much for me to eat. This is not how the Lord does things. I find His spiritual fruit pie in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I notice that Paul says it is “fruit” – not “fruits” – of the Spirit. In other words, I cannot simply cut myself a piece of peace without also having a serving of self-control and seven other things. God serves me with His sovereignty. I must not question what the Lord puts on my plate.

God wants me to understand His rulership and authority over my life. His sovereignty goes beyond my knowledge, and even goes beyond my sense of His presence. When I grasp this concept, I will be able to experience true peace. This peace comes only when I trust God and submit to Him not because of what He does but because of who He is. With this in mind, I want to share some scripture verses that describe the kind of peace available.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are
steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may
have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body
you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

And the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
II Thessalonians 3:16

As I look at each of these pieces of peace, I see that surrendering to God’s sovereignty is significant to my experiencing the peace of God. I cannot allow my own understanding, or lack of understanding, to allow me to cut out pieces of the whole pie God prepares for me. One piece of apple pie may satisfy my hunger, but my spiritual hunger will only be satisfied when I accept without question all that God hands me. The peace of God comes when I submit to each piece of His personal plans and purposes.

So, Lord, take me into a deeper understanding of your ways. And, Lord, give me your peace. I do not want to settle for just a piece of your peace!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Pocketful of Promises

pocketMy Reader, is there anything in your pocket? I encourage you to fill the pocket of your heart with the promises of God. These promises are good stuff to find in your pocket because Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” If His promises did not fail the Israelites, neither will His promises fail us. II Corinthians 1:20 also assures us that, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

God wants you to accept His promises as personal words that He whispers to you when you need encouragement or direction or forgiveness or strength. These are reminders of His love for you and His interest in your life. II Peter 1:4 NLT says, “He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” The Lord wants you to have His promises close in your heart pocket so you can pull them out at specific times. If His promises are hidden in the pocket of your heart, you will not have to get out a Bible or concordance to hear His words of wisdom.

Be ready to pull out a promise from your pocket and apply it to your present circumstances. The Lord gives you His promises to transform you as well as to inform you. It is valuable for you to know His specific promises, but it is of even more important to put the power of His promises to use in your life. At the time of creation, God spoke “Let there be…” and it happened. When God speaks His promises to you, He is saying “Let there be” whatever the promise provides for you personally.

Let me help you fill up your heart’s pocket by sharing a few promises spoken personally by Jesus.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives;
and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

Luke 11:9-10

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
that He may be with you forever;

John 14:16

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

Today, I challenge you to fill the pocket of your heart with an abundance of God’s promises. Do not let doubt create a hole in your heart that could cause you to lose the power of the personal promises spoken into your life by the Lord. Allow these promises to overflow from your pocket but never lose them.

I want to close on a lighter note by sharing my adaptation of the Mother Goose rhyme about Peter Piper.

Personally pick a pocketful of precious promises;
A pocketful of precious promises please pick;
If you pick a pocketful of precious promises,
What will the pocketful of precious promises provide?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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IF…

bible-studyAnd a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees
before Him, and saying, “
If You are willing
, You can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him,
and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Immediately the leprosy
left him and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:40-42

Today, I want to consider two different interpretations of the phrase “If You are willing” found in the verses of scripture I have quoted from the gospel of Mark.

I usually have interpreted this phrase to reveal a lack of faith by the leper. He does believe because he seeks Jesus for healing and he shows a reverence for Jesus by coming humbly to Him. I have perceived the leper as possibly being a relatively new believer who was not extremely confident in his faith. Jesus is touched by the honesty of the leper and reaches out to touch him. While the leper was healed by the touch of Jesus, I also believe he developed a deeper relationship with Jesus because of this personal encounter. Jesus assured the leper that He was willing and able to do what the leper asked. Previously, I have pictured the leper as one who was wanting to know more about who Jesus was and what He could do. This man had faith, yet he lacked faith.

Recently while reading these verses, I thought about the possibility of the leper expressing this phrase for a different reason. I wondered if the words, “If You are willing,” revealed a more profound faith and understanding of who Jesus was. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Then in John 8:28 Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own.” I have to wonder if this leper had a greater understanding of who Jesus was than I had originally accredited to him. He may have been respecting the fact that Jesus was only able to do what was in agreement with His Heavenly Father.

Regarding both interpretations, there are three points I want to highlight.

First of all, I want to note that although leprosy is a physical disease, it is also spiritually symbolic of sin. I may not have the disease of leprosy in my body but I do admit that sinfulness can be found within me. So, I ask the question, Do I sincerely believe that Jesus can forgive my sins? I John 1:9 assures me, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

My next focal point is related to the fact that the leper came to Jesus in person and asked to be healed. To put it into other terms, I can say that he prayed. Do I take time to pray and specifically ask the Lord for what I desire? Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” However, in addition, I need to remember to surrender to God’s will when interceding in prayer. I must follow the example Jesus gave to His disciples as to how to pray. In Matthew 6:10 Jesus told His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Pastor Bob Reeves of Calvary Assembly of God has said that we need to recognize both the power of God to do something and His right to do something. We do not dictate our terms when praying. We follow Jesus, not ask Him to follow us.

Finally, I must examine my level of faith. Does the phrase “If You are willing” reflect a lack of in my faith that would benefit from being deepened? I may need to cry out to Jesus the words of Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Or, am I exhibiting a faith in God that surrenders to the will of God when I verbalize the words, “If You are willing”? Maybe I should heed the words of Hebrews 10:36, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” The truth I must remember from our scripture for today is found in Mark 1:41 when Jesus says, “I am willing.” Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Jesus will meet me and touch me no matter what level of faith I am experiencing as long as I call out to Him.

My Reader, how deep is your faith today? How do you interpret the leper’s words? You can receive a touch from Jesus no matter which interpretation is currently most appropriate for you as long as you cry out to Him.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Resurrected King

resurrectionSince we just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection this past Sunday, it is not surprising that I am still singing the Elevation Worship lyrics of the current Christian song Resurrecting The specific phrase that I am pondering declares, “The resurrected king is resurrecting me.” Please join me in pondering this phrase and searching the scriptures for a more complete comprehension.

The rresurrected King…”

He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Luke 24:6-7

You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
Acts 3:15

Resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasis that is a compound word composed of ana meaning again and histemi meaning to stand. Jesus was standing – He was not on the cross – He was not in the grave. Jesus was resurrected on the third day. He was brought back to life.

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father
Revelation 1:5-6

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
Revelation 19:16

Resurrected King” is an appropriate description of Jesus! He is King over all kings, and we are to be part of His kingdom. In the final book of the Bible, He is declared King of kings and Lord of lords.

“… is resurrecting me”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again.”
John 3:3

To intimately know Jesus, the Resurrected King, we must be born again. Being born again is a form of resurrection for us because this means that our spirit is born again, brought back to life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17

The new life we are given in Christ is a resurrected life. To be resurrected is to be used again, but in a new way.

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

To fully comprehend the necessary power for Jesus to resurrect us, we may have to share in some form of suffering. It is often through suffering that we come to more intimately know Christ.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

Jesus died on the cross before being resurrected. We are each required to take up our cross which means for us to die to our selfish ways before resurrection life is possible for us.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

The renewing of our minds is part of the resurrection life the Resurrected King is offering to us. We have a new mind. We have the mind of Christ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Because of the resurrection power of Christ that now lives in us, we can fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.”

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Although I have only quoted two verses from Romans 6, the first 11 verses of this chapter proclaims the resurrection life that our Resurrected King is offering to us. When we confess our sins of selfishness, anger, pride etc., we die to them and then we are resurrected to selflessness, love, humility etc. We can now live the resurrection life that Jesus is offering to us.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead
the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Hebrews 13:20-21

I cannot think of a better verse to fulfill this complete phrase from the song Resurrecting! Just a few days ago we proclaimed, “He is risen!” and “He is risen indeed!” Now I am also praising the Lord and saying, “He is resurrecting me!” and “He is resurrecting me indeed!” My Reader, are you ready to make these proclamations?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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PS: I am also including the Elevation Worship lyrics of Resurrection as there is a wonderful message in the complete song.

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
[x3]

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

Donkey, Horse, or Mule?

jesus-on-donkeyThe disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them,
and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them;
and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road,
and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.
The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
B
LESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
;
Hosanna in the highest!”
Matthew 21:9-10

As I read the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion, I am thinking about what Jesus symbolized for us when He chose to ride upon a donkey. The first thing I think about is the parallel of Mary riding on a donkey on her way to Bethlehem before Jesus was born and now Jesus riding on a donkey on His way to Jerusalem before He is crucified. There must be some significance with this repetition of images. (However, I acknowledge that many scholars believe Mary was walking with Joseph rather than riding on a donkey.)

By riding upon a donkey, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 NLT, “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey–riding on a donkey’s colt.” Jesus did not come as a warring king on a horse, but as a gentle and peaceable king upon a donkey. Let’s elaborate about the symbolic images of a horse and a donkey.

A horse is described as a strong animal with solid hoofs and a flowing mane and tail. In early historical times, leaders of wars often rode horses. Still today, there is a sense of authority and pride for the rider of a horse. In Revelation 19:11, John describes his vision of Jesus riding a horse when He returns to earth by saying, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” However, this is not the image Jesus is portraying on Palm Sunday.

A donkey is a lowly animal. It is described as a domesticated member of the horse family with long ears and a braying call. A donkey is often used as a beast of burden. Jesus was the burden the donkey was carrying into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. However, Jesus was also carrying a heavy burden within His heart for all mankind at this time. I wonder if the donkey realized how heavy a load it was carrying physically, emotionally and spiritually. I also wonder if the long ears of the donkey epitomized how well attuned Jesus was to hearing the voice of His Heavenly Father on this day and throughout the coming days.

With the pictorial image of prideful horses and humble donkeys in my mind, I think of James 4:6 that says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” I wonder which animal I represent. I desire to be humble like Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. However, I have to admit that I can become prideful. Most likely I represent another animal – a mule. A mule is defined as the offspring of a donkey and a horse. It is a pack animal and has the tendency to have an obstinate temperament. Apparently, my personality is a symbolic hybrid of a horse and a donkey. There are times when I can be stubborn like a mule. Also as I consider the mule being a pack animal, I realize that I can pack away a lot of negative thoughts that have the capability of becoming a heavy load to carry.

Jesus was seated upon a humble donkey when He rode into Jerusalem. He chose to reveal Himself as a lowly king rather than a prideful king who would have ridden upon a horse. When entering the city, Jesus was as close to the donkey as He could possibly be physically. I am reminded of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” For myself, if I want to experience a close spiritual intimacy with Jesus, I cannot allow myself to be double-minded with both prideful and humble thoughts. I yearn to portray a donkey rather than a horse or a mule.

In just a few days, we will celebrate Palm Sunday 2017. We will join in the shouts of “Hosanna – Jesus saves!” However, may we also take time to give attention to the humble donkey upon which Jesus rides. May the humility of Jesus and the donkey be reflected in our lives as well.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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