7 ways to prepare your heart for Easter. Is your heart ready?
The signs, songs and even smells of Christmas start before Halloween candy is handed out. One of my favorite stores starts setting up for the season before school supplies are stocked. By the time that Thanksgiving rolls around we are all making our decorating plans and have already started making lists of presents to buy for family and friends. Hopefully among all of the festivities we find time to celebrate the real reason for the season. Even though Christmastime is most likely the most hectic time of year for most families I would hope to think that most find ways to prepare their hearts and their family to remember the reason that we celebrate. We find different ways to open our hearts and give more freely to the needy than other times of the year. We find more cheer and joy as the holiday approaches. We find ourselves putting ourselves in Mary and Joseph’s shoes and wonder how it must have been for them. We study the miraculous encounters that they had with angels and how God protected them and baby Jesus before and after His birth. It truly is a time for celebration. We can appreciate the wonderful gift of the baby Jesus to the world and all of the blessings in our lives.
Growing up I suppose I preferred Christmas over Easter because of the obvious reasons. Now, as my faith has grown so has my love for the Holy Holiday of Easter. Being very honest there was been years that Easter seemed to come out of nowhere and I wasn’t prepared spiritually or mentally for the special day. I would say that I am not alone. As we grow in our faith and our age we grow to appreciate the true meaning of Easter and all that it stands for. No matter which church, denomination or affiliation we have in Christianity we all have Jesus as our Lord and Savior in common. We are all Christians because of what happened during Passover over 2,000 years ago. it wasn’t for Easter, we wouldn’t have our religion. If it wasn’t for Easter, we wouldn’t have Christmas to celebrate either. Without Easter there would be no promise of salvation.
Seeing Easter through the eyes of my girls and being able to teach them the importance of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday has also given me a different appreciation for the celebration. My husband and I have tried to make sure they understand the religious side of Easter much more than the other stuff that goes along with the holiday. The last several years I have tried different ways to prepare my own heart for Easter. We as a family do different things to prepare ourselves for Christmas so why not do things to prepare for Easter? Slowly, we are starting to incorporate new Easter traditions to make the season more religious in our home.
That being said, there are so many ways to prepare our hearts also for Easter. There is no right way and no wrong way. You or your church may already have traditions that you do to prepare. You may have started your own traditions. You may be like me a few years ago and are feeling the need to try something new this year. We are still a little less than one month away so its not too late. When studying scriptures recently it occurred to me that He has so many teachings already outlined for us to help us prepare. I have selected a few that I feel would be beneficial. Here are 7 teachings from Jesus, Himself, found in the scriptures that will give you a great start:
#1: Salt of the earth
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.Matthew 5:13 NIV
As Christians are we trying to fit in with the world? Are we trying to appear to be no different than other people? Jesus wants us to stay “salty”. If we lose our saltiness then we are not trying to change or influence others around us to follow Him. During this time before Easter ask yourself if you are “salty” enough. You are the salt of the earth. So, be salty.
#2: Light of the world
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
These verses just make me smile. I remember the first time I read these verses as an adult and realized they were the inspiration for the song I have sang my entire life! Are we going to hide our “light” under a bowl or a bushel? I hope the answer is “No!” What better time than the weeks leading up to Easter to let our lights shine. This should be the easiest time of year for our lights to shine. Spring is almost here and in my opinion the most important Holiday of the year is approaching. We should be beaming with light! Let our good deeds make us shine and our love for Him light our way. Jesus doesn’t want us to be ashamed of our faith. He wants us to put it up where others can see it. Try to be more BOLD and see how you are rewarded.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.Matthew 5: 21 &22 NIV
This is a subject that Jesus obviously took very seriously. In some Bibles the heading for this teaching is actually titled “Murder” instead of “Anger”. He considered these two things to be very similar. There are many scriptures in the Bible that references controlling our anger. After studying these verses, this is something that I, myself, will be sure to spend more time in prayer about. Hopefully the closer we get to Easter the less anger we all will have in our hearts. My heart feels more ready just thinking about it.
#4: Loving our enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Matthew 5: 43-48 NIV
This is another subject that may be easier said than done in certain circumstances. Jesus knows that it is easy for us to love others that love us. That makes perfect sense. The people that we have the hardest time loving are those that don’t share those warm fuzzy feelings for us. Sometimes these are the people we feel like no matter what we do it never gets any better. When we have tried our hardest and get no where with them, this is where He wants us to start praying for them. If you have never tried this before I highly recommend it. It can be hard to do at first but trust me. Well, trust Him. I have tried it and it really is amazing. When we pray for someone it does magical things for the way we feel about them and they way they start treating us. Give it a try..
#5: Give to the needy
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.Matthew 6: 1-4
If you love to give around Christmas time then this should be as easy peasy as lemon squeezey for you! It’s also a great time to do some spring cleaning and find a way to give it to someone in need. The tricky part is to keep it secret. Yes, usually someone has to know because that’s how the transaction is made. Outside of that lets see if we can get away with not telling anyone…extra. I know this one is difficult to understand because if we are trying to be a “light” by letting others see our good deeds then we need to tell someone if we give to others, right? This is a hard test. Let’s try it and see what blessings He sends our way.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.Matthew 6:5-8 NIV
How happy do you think it makes our Heavenly Father when we simply just pray? How happy does it make us when we take the time to just pray and He blesses us? Jesus loves for us to do stuff in secret and He proves it again in these verses. He already knows our heart. He already knows what we are going to say. So just say it, in prayer. To help prepare our hearts let’s see if we can spend more time in prayer. Pray in secret. If you need an example He gives us a great one to get started with:
After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6: 9-13 KJV
#7: Asking, Seeking, Knocking
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.Matthew 7: 7&8 NIV
These verses can apply to several different aspects of your life at different times. If you are thinking of giving your life to the Lord, this applies. If you have already given your heart to the Lord then this applies also. It is a lesson on persistence. We have to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. He wants us to keep doing these things. How else can we grow our faith and our knowledge? If we become a Christian and then never seek to understand what He wants it will be hard for us to find out. He wants us to keep learning and to stay curious and interested in the Word and His teachings.
I hope that you have been inspired to prepare your heart before Easter is here this year. I tried to keep the teachings of Jesus within the same book of Matthew. I did this on purpose. Most of these are found in other books as well. My hope is that you will open your Bible and read these as well as His other teachings. He would love for you to continue to “Seek” and find these teachings in Mark, Luke and John as well.
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Have a BLESSED day!