Thursday, April 17

Holy Land – The Upper Room and His Prayer for You There

“The Teacher asks: ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there… When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’”

Luke 22: 11, 12, 14-16

Jesus' Prayer for You at the Upper Room

They ate together. They drank together. They experienced Jesus’ last supper together.

All 4 Gospels give an account of this Last Supper. Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 13-17.

But I like studying this event as recorded by John the most since he was most thorough.

There was so much we could focus on in studying what happened in the upper room. I treasure reading about these last moments of Jesus with His friends. But at the same time, my heart aches as I read them. He knew all that was about to happen to Him. He knew.

John records so much that happened on their last night together. There was the washing of the disciples’ feet. Jesus tells them about His plans to prepare a place for them. He promises the Holy Spirit.

Then He prays. For Himself. For the disciples.

And then for you and me.

As I reread the account of what happened on this night, the fact that He prayed for us… you and me… in these final moments, astounds me.

I need to read what He prayed. Even more importantly, I need to live what He prayed.

“… May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me,” (John 17:23)

May those of us who He brought to complete unity let the world know about Jesus and His love.

Unity. Love.

That’s what He prayed. But is this what we live?

Do I see unity and love in the way Christians speak about one another online?

Do I see unity and love in the way I handle frustrations?

Do I see unity and love in the way I process people who think differently than me?

Do I see unity and love between pastors and churches and denominations?

Sometimes I do. But heartbreakingly, many times I don’t.

If I don’t see what should be the defining marks for us Christians, what must the onlooking world think?

Jesus' Prayer for You at the Upper Room

The last words John records of Jesus praying to the Father in the upper room were these, “I have made you known to them, and I will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them,” (John 17:26).

This Easter, might we each choose to redefine what unity and love looks like in our lives. We honor Him when we live His prayer.

As a special Easter giveaway, I will pick 3 winners to each receive a rock that I brought back from the Holy Land. I’ll write a note explaining why I chose this rock and include it in your package if you are one of the winners.

To enter, leave me a comment below telling me how you will seek to live Jesus’ prayer for unity and love more authentically this week.

Wednesday, April 16

Holy Land Lens at Home

When I was a little girl, someone pointed at the Dogwood tree and taught me to think about Jesus and the Cross.

The earth itself declares the truth of our Savior.

It went something like this:

The tip of each pure white petal looks like nail prints… brown with rust and stained with a slight red hue. The center is like a crown of thorns. And the timing of its bloom… Easter.

I don’t know where these thoughts originated. But as I walked where Jesus walked in the Holy Land, my mind came alive with how many common things Jesus pointed at or referred to when he taught.

Fish. Salt. Flowers. Mustard seed. Gate. Field. Sheep. Shepherd. Water. Wine. Bread. Storms. Coins. Mud. Clothes. Oil. Door. Lamp.

And on and on went “the pointing finger of Jesus” as our teacher called it.

Ordinary objects reminding us of divine thoughts.

Jesus used objects we’d encounter often to draw our minds to think on truth. After all, of all the reasons Jesus could have stated for coming to this world…

He answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth,” (John 18:37).

Truth. It’s what Jesus wants us to see. To know. To live. To remember.

So, I look at this Dogwood tree in my front yard and see a reminder. And I remember the glorious gift of grace given on a cross and life resurrected in an empty tomb.

Monday, April 7

Day 3 in the Holy Land – Might We Dare to be a Little More Uncommon

I have to admit when our guide pulled over to the side of the road at this unmarked, unremarkable looking place, I was underwhelmed. We filed out of the bus with a vague sense we were studying something in the eighth chapter of Acts.

There were no signs.

No other tourists.

Our teacher walked to a place covered with brush and pointed to a rocky path. We gingerly made our way behind him and soon came upon a road:

Day 3 in the Holy Land with Lysa TerKeurst

We walked down the road with our teacher pointing out for us to notice how the road was perfectly designed with the wheels of chariots in mind. The spaces between the gently descending, shallow stairs allowed for the wheels to catch and bump with the least amount of discomfort to the passengers.

Day 3 in the Holy Land with Lysa TerKeurst

With great enthusiasm the teacher said, “This road is where a man learned of Christ and received the good news!” We walked a little further and saw this:

Day 3 in the Holy Land with Lysa TerKeurst

“This place of water is where this man was baptized shortly afterward and went away rejoicing. We should rejoice! We should rejoice!”

And then we opened the Scriptures to Acts 8:26-39, the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Can I admit something to you that I’m not very proud of? Even after reading the Scriptures I wondered why our teacher picked this spot. We had so little time in the Holy Land and we all wanted to see so much. I felt like there were much bigger events that had taken place in much more well-known places. Shouldn’t we focus on those?

Why this place? Why this story?

And then as quickly as we arrived, our teacher whisked us back on the bus with one final statement, “Individuals matter.

Those two words have lingered in my thoughts and have honestly made this underwhelming stop one of my favorites to look back on.

This morning I opened Acts 8 again and re-read it. Here are three things from this Scripture that I want to let have their way with my heart and mind this week:

1. Go near.

Verse 29, “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’”

This Ethiopian Eunuch wasn’t like Philip. He wasn’t in his inner circle, comfort zone, or part of his immediate sphere of influence. And yet, the Spirit instructed Philip to go close.

God help us. We must break out of the boxes of our normality and dare to go close to those we don’t understand. We must not use words like, “those people” with pointed fingers and hard hearts and spiritually superior attitudes.

By going close, we see things we need to see. We hear things we need to hear. And our hearts become tender in the way we must be tender.

By going close, we might actually dare to let love guide our approach.

2. Gain understanding.

Verse 30, “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet.”

He ran. This took effort, energy, and intentionality. Then, instead of wielding God’s Word like a weapon and haphazardly throwing Truth at this man, he first listened.

Then based on what he heard, he asked this eunuch if he understood what he was reading. Philip discerned a felt need the man had and sought to meet that need. Philip let the man’s agenda come before his own.

God help us. Instead of running alongside people seeking to understand them, we sometimes have tendencies to run them over with our agendas and perceptions and points of view. We must seek to be discerning, not demanding.

3. Garner the right to share.

Verse 31, “…So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”

Philip earned the right to be heard and then was invited to share. Once he dared to go near and gain understanding then he garnered the right to share. Verse 35 goes on to reveal that Philip began where this man was and “told him the good news about Jesus.”

God help us. We must go to people. Listen to people. Start where they are, not where we want them to be. And from their point of need, lovingly share the good news.

And might I share one more thing I love that Philip did? I didn’t make it point #4 because for the life of me I couldn’t think of a “G” word to title it and I get all worked up with inconsistent word wielding. It’s an issue. Kind of like when a sock has that annoying seam across the toe and it just doesn’t sit well across your foot all day. You know what I mean? So, no point 4. But don’t miss this…

Philip continued to travel down the road with this man for a bit. Verses 36-39 reveal, “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water… Then Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” And the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

Looking back, I’m so thankful our teacher took the time to bring us to this place. Remember, there were no signs and there were no tourists.

This was an uncommon stop in the Holy Land.

Uncommon.

Might we all dare to be a little more uncommon, more often.