In the Desert

Name something that tempts you….as in, REALLY tempts you. Something that causes you to go weak in the knees trying to resist. Money? Power? Fame? Immortality? Gossip? Drama? Chocolate-covered caramel bars? CHEEZE??

The Greek myth of King Midas comes to mind when I think of temptation. He loved and worshipped gold. Gold was his kryptonite. He was granted a wish that everything he touched might be turned into gold. What joy! What bliss! Until the very food that he needed to survive was turned into gold and he couldn’t consume it. He cursed his power then, and sought relief from that which had once tempted him so strongly.

Today we read about Christ’s forty days in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. This reading falls in the first week of Lent for a reason. We are challenged to face the things that tempt us and have the power to pull us away from observing a Holy Lent.

Mark 1 (Common English Bible)

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

An oversimplification of this passage would point out that God finds happiness in all of his children at the moment of baptism. He experiences joy when we commit to a life of resisting evil in all of its forms and promise to walk a righteous path. Temptations don’t come from God. He is not trying to ensnare us, but rather will send angels to take care of us in those moments of weakness….if we allow it. Sometimes our addictions block us from receiving help.

These 40 days of Lent are an exercise against temptation…the temptation to give up on our Lenten disciplines. The temptation to step off the path of righteousness. The temptation to succumb to evil in the form of gossip, sin, anger, betrayal, and shutting out God. The temptation to withhold forgiveness.

14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Jesus calls us to something better. He invites us to change our hearts and lives. We are encouraged to trust the good news of his life, death, and resurrection. Don’t be tempted to do anything less….that’s how Satan wins.

Wilderness Wonderland by Mary Anne Mong Cramer

Teach Me

We are officially in the season of Lent. This 40-day time of solemn preparation for the celebration of Easter Sunday is often marked by “giving something up.” This is always a good practice for those of us who have slipped into a spiritual lethargy since last Lent, methinks! I encourage the plus/minus form of Lent-making. In other words, don’t just give something up, but add something new in its place.

This year I decided to teach a Lent Bible Study in my congregation. It is my own personal “adding to.” I know that the discipline of preparing for class each week will add to my own discipleship and shake me out of my complacency. Our first lesson is on prayer, and already God is working in my spirit to teach me things I need to learn about prayer.

So imagine my joy when Psalm 25 came along in today‘s lectionary. Not only is David’s psalm a prayer, but it also teaches us about prayer! Let’s find those teaching points together today.

Psalm 25 (New Revised Standard Version)

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

We can’t enter a conversation with the Lord without lifting up our soul. This first sentence reminds us that we need to be deliberate in seeking and entering God’s presence. To lift up one’s soul is to expose everything we are dealing with in our hearts and minds to him. We enter a sacred chamber and wait, trusting God’s immediate presence. Through prevenient grace, we know that he is already in the chamber. We wait for OUR spirit to catch up with his presence.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

So often our prayers are mere lists of needs and wants. Indeed, God inclines his ear to hear our wailing, but David reminds us that if we pause our litany of woes long enough, we can also be taught and led into God’s ways and his truth. The difference is LISTENING. God gave us two ears and one mouth. They should be used proportionally in prayer. Speak once. Listen twice.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Reminding God of his goodness is a psalmist’s trick to remind the reader of God’s mercy and steadfast love. When we remember those truths, our prayers are more honest and forthcoming. And remembering that God forgets our sins gives us permission to also forget them.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

The Psalmist ends with more references to instructing, teaching, and leading.

What are you learning about prayer today? How will your prayers during Lent be different than before? Being humble in your approach to God is the first step. Humility calls us to be listening learners rather than loud demanders.

May we all rejoice in practicing listening, and may we celebrate a Holy Lent this year.

Our Prayers Take Flight by Michelle Robertson

Re-Lent

It happens every year. We just get past the overindulgence of Thanksgiving gravy, Christmas pie, New Years’ toasts, Super Bowl snacks, Valentine’s chocolates, and BAM. Lent happens. This 40-day period of self examination is not designed to punish us for our self-indulgences, but rather it provides an opportunity to grow closer to God by focusing on the things that realign our priorities and our time. It is a chance to re-center our thinking. It is a chance to re-do our to-do lists and put God at the top. We worship a God of second chances, and Lent is our chance once again to shift our lives back toward God.

But more than that, Lent is about our mortality. The ashes we place on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday remind us that from the earth we have come and to the earth we return….ashes to ashes, dust to dust. This sobering season begins when the alarm has sounded, the assembly has gathered, and the day of darkness is upon us:

Joel 2 (New Revised Standard Version)

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near—
a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
    nor will be again after them
    in ages to come.

We are invited to return…..and repent:

Yet even now, says the Lord,
    return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     rend your hearts and not your clothing.

The promise is offered: if we return to the Lord, he will relent from punishing. As we re-Lent, he will relent.

Return to the Lord, your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
    and relents from punishing.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
    and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
    for the Lord, your God?

The call is urgent to come to the altar quickly. The time is upon us to begin this process. Even the bride and bridegroom are summoned from their bedchamber to be about the Lord’s business.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
    assemble the aged;
gather the children,
    even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
    and the bride her canopy.

17 Between the vestibule and the altar
    let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
    and do not make your heritage a mockery,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

Many of us will not be able to gather in an assembly tonight due to the pandemic. Some of you may have obtained ashes from your church and will participate in an Ash Wednesday service online. In any case, you are invited to contemplate taking on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, scripture reading, self-examination, repentance, meditation, and penitence. You may choose to give something up for the next six weeks so that you can focus on God in its absence. You may choose to add a new practice that would take you deeper in your discipleship. I hope reading this daily devotional will be part of your commitment! If you don’t have access to ashes, you can use water and make the sign of the cross on your forehead as a mark of your sincerity.

I pray that you will join me as we observe a Holy Lent.

Gracious and Loving God, be with us today as we contemplate those things that have pulled us away from you. Help us to return. We hear your call and we desire nothing but a right relationship with your Son. Grant us a meaningful Lent season, so that when Easter morning dawns, you will find us to be new people, made more like him and less like ourselves. AMEN

Dust to Dust by Becca Ziegler

Saved by Water

The rain on the OBX has given us a one-day reprieve as we read again about the saving of Noah’s family from the flood. I haven’t seen the surface of my street for days and I am beginning to envy the passengers on the Ark. They didn’t get their feet wet everyday. But did you ever stop to think about the many times we are not only saved FROM water, but saved BY water?

Our United Methodist baptism liturgy has this beautiful section:

Eternal Father:
When nothing existed but chaos,
you swept across the dark waters
and brought forth light.
In the days of Noah
you saved those on the ark through water.
After the flood you set in the clouds a rainbow.
When you saw your people as slaves in Egypt,
you led them to freedom through the sea.
Their children you brought through the Jordan
to the land which you promised

In the fullness of time you sent Jesus,
nurtured in the water of a womb.
He was baptized by John and anointed by your Spirit.
He called his disciples
to share in the baptism of his death and resurrection
and to make disciples of all nations.

In our lectionary passage today, we see echos of “saved by water” in 1 Peter 3:

1 Peter 3 (Contemporary English Version)

Christ died once for our sins.
An innocent person died
    for those who are guilty.
Christ did this
    to bring you to God,
when his body
    was put to death
and his spirit
    was made alive.

19 Christ then preached to the spirits that were being kept in prison. 20 They had disobeyed God while Noah was building the boat, but God had been patient with them. Eight people went into that boat and were brought safely through the flood.

It is understood that the imprisoned spirits referred to are demons. Note that God’s patience extends even to them.

21 Those flood waters were like baptism that now saves you. But baptism is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience, because Jesus Christ was raised from death. 22 Christ is now in heaven, where he sits at the right side of God. All angels, authorities, and powers are under his control.

Baptism is indeed more than just washing your body. It means your conscience is washed clean through the shed blood of the atonement. It means that your heart is made ready through the confession of sins and the clean slate offered to you by the Redeemer. It means you are welcomed home by the God of second chances.

Christ did all this to bring you to God. Today you are invited to wash again, turn to God, and bask in the waters of salvation and hope.

Come to the Water by Kathy Schumacher

Rainbow Covenant

I love everything about living in the Outer Banks except January and February. Don’t get me wrong, if you love the color GREY, this is the place to be. But the days upon days upon days of rain do me in after a while. Walking the dog becomes a challenge of finding how far up our neighbor’s front lawns we have to go to avoid puddles that take days to clear. Winds make umbrellas impossible, if not somewhat dangerous!

I know, first world problems. But I really miss the sun and the blue skies.

One of the rewards of the rain, however, is an abundance of rainbows. Probably because we enjoy “big sky” in every direction, rainbow spotting is a common occurrence. As the rain begins to taper off and the sun (finally) emerges, the perfect conditions are created for these beautiful reminders of God’s promises.

Today’s lectionary takes us to that very moment when God established the bow as a sign of his protection:

Genesis 9 (Common English Bible)

God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, 10 and with every living being with you—with the birds, with the large animals, and with all the animals of the earth, leaving the ark with you. 11 I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

We understand the word covenant to be more than just a promise. It is an ironclad agreement brought about through the relationship of God and his people. It has the force of law, and is unbreakable. It is a contract that is signed by the very word of God.

12 God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember the covenant between me and you and every living being among all the creatures. Floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and upon seeing it I will remember the enduring covenant between God and every living being of all the earth’s creatures.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I have set up between me and all creatures on earth.”

Later would come a contract that was signed by the very Word of God. Jesus is our final Covenant, and when we receive him into our lives, we have an ironclad guarantee that we will find refuge, shelter, forgiveness, and protection under his wings.

Where have you broken your side of the covenant with God? Have you willfully walked away and set aside all of his promises for the fake promises of the world? Are you guilty of turning away from what God has called you to do, say, think, or repair? Perhaps this is the moment to return. The best thing about God’s promises is that they are always available to the repentant seeker.

God is our great Covenant-Maker. He sent Jesus as the final signature on the contract. You can bet your life on it.

Colington Rainbow

A Double Portion

If you could have a double portion of anything in the world, what would it be? Fame? Fortune? Vacation time? A new house? A carefree lifestyle? Cheesecake?

In our continuing story of the prophet Elijah and his apprentice Elisha, the moment has come when Elijah is called up to heaven in quite a dramatic way. Elisha has been dreading this moment, as we all do when a loved one is on the verge of leaving us. What was on Elisha’s mind in the moment of this reality?

2 Kings 2 (Contemporary English Version)

Fifty prophets followed Elijah and Elisha from Jericho, then stood at a distance and watched as the two men walked toward the river. When they got there, Elijah took off his coat, then he rolled it up and struck the water with it. At once a path opened up through the river, and the two of them walked across on dry ground.

After they had reached the other side, Elijah said, “Elisha, the Lord will soon take me away. What can I do for you before that happens?”

Elisha answered, “Please give me twice as much of your power as you give the other prophets, so I can be the one who takes your place as their leader.”

It may seem self-centered that Elisha would request a double portion of Elijah’s prophetic power. But it reflects a healthy awareness that Elijah is indeed on the way out, and Elisha will have to put on the mantle of being the prophet for the people. Life goes on, and Elisha is hoping to be as prepared as he can while Elijah is still with him in these final moments.

10 “It won’t be easy,” Elijah answered. “It can happen only if you see me as I am being taken away.”

11 Elijah and Elisha were walking along and talking, when suddenly there appeared between them a flaming chariot pulled by fiery horses. Right away, a strong wind took Elijah up into heaven. 12 Elisha saw this and shouted, “Israel’s cavalry and chariots have taken my master away!” After Elijah had gone, Elisha tore his clothes in sorrow.

Now equipped for the task ahead, Elisha demonstrates the true measure of his condition by tearing his clothes in sorrow. But the next day he will get up and do the work of the Lord in Elijah’s name, having been made ready for the task at hand.

I have a friend who lost her husband. On the one-year anniversary of his death, she made some changes in her environment and in her heart. She still grieves, and will always grieve, but she has taken a great step forward in being ready for the work to which she is called. Her example is a beautiful reminder that even in the midst of crushing sorrow, God still has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

God has a plan and a purpose for you, too. Like Elisha, I pray that the sorrow that has caused you to rend your clothes in grief will subside, and that your sense of purpose will take over so that you can move forward with doing the work to which you are called.

And know that you are NEVER alone.

Gone The Sun

Don’t Leave Me

Today we travel back to a time in the Old Testament to observe the close relationship between Elijah, the great prophet, and his apprentice Elisha. I once served in a church that had a youth program called “The Elijah Project.” It paired youth with willing adults in our congregation with the intention of one-on-one mentoring. The project lasted about six months and mentors were instructed to be in touch with their students at least once a week. Some of those relationships lasted well beyond the scope of the program. At the end, we held a banquet where youth and their partners got to share their stories. One of the adult partners stood up at the banquet and hobbled over to the mic on crutches. He had broken his ankle while inline skating with his mentee. Now that’s dedication!

You will see in the following passage that the relationship between Elijah and Elisha is more than just mentor-mentee. Indeed, there is an intimacy here that sounds more like a father-son relationship. Anyone who has lost a loved one will be able to relate to the urgency of Elisha’s responses to Elijah’s imminent departure.

2 Kings 2 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Not long before the Lord took Elijah up into heaven in a strong wind, Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “The Lord wants me to go to Bethel, but you must stay here.”

Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I will stay with you no matter what!” And he went with Elijah to Bethel.

A group of prophets who lived there asked Elisha, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take away your master?”

“Yes, I do,” Elisha answered. “But don’t remind me of it.”

Who among us, knowing that someone we love is dying, hasn’t said the same thing? Like Elisha, we cry out “I will go with you until the end, but don’t leave me.” We resist hearing that our loved one is soon to depart, for the pain is too much to bear. We don’t want to be reminded of it.

Elijah then said, “Elisha, now the Lord wants me to go to Jericho, but you must stay here.”

Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life, that I will stay with you no matter what!” And he went with Elijah to Jericho.

A group of prophets who lived there asked Elisha, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take away your master?”

“Yes, I do,” Elisha answered. “But don’t remind me of it.”

Elijah then said to Elisha, “Now the Lord wants me to go to the Jordan River, but you must stay here.”

Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I will never leave you!” So the two of them walked on together.

We will finish the story in tomorrow’s devotional, but for now, ponder this: everyone you know is dying right now. Everyone you know has accomplished one more day on earth and is moving toward that certain day when they will leave you or you will leave them.

How will you spend this time together? Will you make extra efforts to be present with them…and not just physically present, but emotionally present, spiritually present, present in giving your full attention to them…or are you looking at your phone?

Having lost both my parents, I can tell you that I wish I had been more present. I wish I had more time. But what I can do now is make the extra effort to be with the rest of those whom I love.

God calls us into HIS presence every day. Are you paying attention to him, fully aware of his presence as you go about your tasks, or are you distracted by worldly things?

Time is running short. Don’t miss a minute to be with people you love. It’s time to re-prioritize.

Basking in His Presence by Michelle Robertson

The Mighty One

Today’s Psalm speaks of a mighty God, but not in the way we have experienced in recent readings. We have been focusing on God’s power to redeem and save. We’ve been reading about God’s compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. We’ve learned that he numbers and knows the stars…by name! All of these things are mighty and true.

But today’s reading is a reminder of other aspects of God’s might. Here we see that God summons the rising and the setting of the sun. This is lovely, and it brings us comfort to know the power God has over his creation.

The rest is not as comforting.

Psalm 50 (New Revised Standard Version)

The mighty one, God the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines forth.

Our God comes and does not keep silence,
    before him is a devouring fire,
    and a mighty tempest all around him.

The imagery changes to a God who comes with a devouring fire. A mighty tempest surrounds him. He will not be silent. Why? What does he say?

He calls to the heavens above
    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”

His role as judge is laid out. He calls to heaven and earth to be witnesses to his power. He comes to love, yes, but also to judge. This aspect of God’s relationship with us is too often diminished.

When we favor the image of God as “Jesus is my forever friend,” we dilute the aspect of God that comes to judge the quick and the dead. Don’t be fooled. God will judge us according to his righteousness. His righteousness includes all that is just, right, fair, and holy. He cannot abide unrepentant sin, so he sent his only Son to make a sacrifice on our behalf. He kept his end of the covenant. We need to keep ours. But be aware…God will judge us according to HIS plumb line, not the world’s.

The heavens declare his righteousness,
    for God himself is judge. Selah

We are inching our way toward the season of Lent, when we examine our behavior against God’s expectations. May this Psalm be the beginning of that process, and may God judge us and find us among the faithful ones, who make and keep a covenant with him.

Heaven and Earth Witness His Power by Michelle Robertson

Stone-Blind

Super Bowl 2021 was its usual combination of pretty boring football, a controversial halftime show, outstanding commercials, and a great excuse to eat a lot of snacks, albeit in the safety of our homes rather than at parties. In the spirit of full confession, I am that person who watches it every year to see the entertainment pieces that keep getting interrupted by a game. This year was no different.

One thing that captured my attention was the Light Gloves worn by the dancers in the halftime show. Now THAT was notice-worthy. They made really cool moves with them, and the choreography was designed to highlight the gloves and the patterns of light that they made. This was a good thing, since the headpieces that were worn should have been left in the players’ lockers.

Man, I would love a pair of Light Gloves! On the Outer Banks, we don’t have a lot of light at night. There is no ambient city light, and street lights are few and far between. The blessing of this is that we can clearly see the stars. The curse is that we can’t see where the door lock is when we come home at night.

Paul encourages us to think about the light-vs.-dark dynamic in a new way in his second letter to the Corinthians. He creates a word chain about darkness: obscure looking—going the wrong way—refusing to give the message serious attention—eyeing the fashionable god of darkness:

2 Corinthians 4 (The Message)

3-4 If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness.

Then he creates a contrasting word chain about the light: dayspring brightness—message that shines with Christ—best picture of God:

They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.

The invitation to all believers today is to go out into the darkness of your family, your workplace, your neighborhood, and indeed the world, and be a messenger or an errand runner for the Message.

5-6 Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

Where is God calling you to be a light-bearer for him? Where are you meant to shine some light into someone’s darkness and bring them into the beauty of the Son?

Light up the darkness! When we all do as we’ve been instructed, our lives will fill up with his light, all bright and beautiful.

Pull on your Light Gloves and go.

Wolf Moon by Michelle Robertson

A Light-Radiant Cloud

Everyone likes affirmation. Sometimes we spend so much time beating ourselves up that even a small word of affirmation can turn a day completely around. I think this is why we have to remember to offer words of appreciation and admiration as much as we can. You never know the impact those words might have in someone’s life.

When I was a senior in High School, I received the Lion’s Club Outstanding Citizenship Award. It was also given to a boy in my class. My father sat next to his father at the banquet. I was surprised to hear my father talk about me, describing in detail things I had accomplished to this poor man who politely sat and listened. I didn’t know that my father felt that way about me, much less had noticed some of the things he described. I was always sure of his love and support. But hearing these words of affirmation filled me up with such confidence and self-esteem that leaving home in a few months to attend a large out-of-state university somehow seemed more doable than it had before. If I was half as accomplished as the girl he described, I knew I would make it.

There are two moments in Jesus’ life when he received public words of affirmation from his father. The first was at his baptism, when the heavens opened up and God said, “This is my son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

The next is at the Transfiguration:

Mark 9 (The Message)

2-4 Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.

Remember that Mark writes primarily to convince the Jews that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. His brief and to-the-point account of Jesus having a deep conversation with the famed prophets Elijah and Moses was designed in part to hammer home the integrity of Jesus’ messiahship.

Don’t you wonder what they talked about?

Then Peter, being Peter, interrupts.

5-6 Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.

Ahhh, Peter. He is so like us in every way. Have you ever misread a situation and forged ahead with some ill-begotten notion, only to look around you and realize that you were forging in the wrong direction? I have.

Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”

Here the Father steps in and proclaims for the second time that Jesus is his son, his beloved, marked by his love. But this time the message is more focused: “LISTEN TO HIM.”

The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.

Oh, that we could have that point of view in our lives…to see nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.

9-10 Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth “rising from the dead” meant.

There are two take-always from today’s passage.

The first is a simple reminder of what words of affirmation can do in a person’s life. Think about your own words. Who in your life needs to hear that they are valued, cherished, and important to you? Who is your “beloved” and marked by your love? Do they need to hear that from you? Parents who offer such words to their children and back it up with unconditional love and constant support raise good citizens.

The second take-away is what God says…LISTEN TO HIM.

Are you listening? Are you understanding what Jesus is saying to you today? Is he inviting you to change, correct, cherish, go deeper, or follow him into a calling outside of your comfort zone?

The good father who loves us with the same passion that he loved his son commands us to LISTEN.

What do you hear?

Light Radiance by Sharon Tinucci