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PALM SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013
- See scores of children in the Hosanna Parade!
THE LAST SUPPER, Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
GOOD FRIDAY EVENING SERVICE, Friday, March 29, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
RESURRECTION SUNDAY IS MARCH 31, 2013.
- Invite your family and friends for a wonderful celebration of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
- SONrise Service - 7:00 a.m. Enjoy traditional music, an inspiring message, and fellowship with God's people.
- CHILDREN'S EASTER PAGEANT - 10:30 a.m. See and hear scores of wonderful children singing praises to the risen Savior!
- MORNING WORSHIP - 11:00 a.m. Join in celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus! A very warm welcome and a service rich in meaning will encourage and strengthen your faith!
- EVENING PRAISE- 6:30 p.m. End this wonderful day on a high note. Great music and a powerful message will touch your heart and transform your life.
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THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2013
18 days to Resurrection Sunday
Luke 22:54 "Peter followed afar off..."
SCRIPTURE READING: LUKE 22:54-62
54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.
55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61 And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
REFLECTION: He denied Christ. "I know him not!"(Luke 22:57).
Then, he denied Christ again. "I am not!" (Luke 22:58)
Then, he denied Christ again. "I know not what you are saying!" (Luke 22:60)
The rooster crowed as dawn was breaking on the Holy City. Oh what a day that would be. Jesus turned away from facing his accusers and engaged Peter's eyes. (Luke 22:61)
A few hours earlier Peter knew that he would never deny Christ. "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." (Luke 22:33) But our compassionate Christ knew what Peter would actually do. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:31,32).
Bitter, scalding tears course down his face as he walks away from the scene of the crime. Three of the Evangelists tell us that Peter wept. Two of them tell us that Peter's tears were "bitter." (Matthew 26:75, Luke 22:62). We have all wept tears like that. We hate to fail those we dearly love. We hate to fail ourselves.
Much has been said and written of the distance between Peter and Christ on this fateful night. We read, "Peter followed afar off."(Luke 22:54). We cannot help but wonder if Peter would have kept his promise to be faithful if only he had been closer to Christ.
Yet it wasn't where he was--it was who he was, that was his problem. He was weak. He was fearful. And he was inconsistent. But Jesus loved him. (And Jesus loves us). And Jesus prayed for him. (And Jesus prays for us.) He prayed that Peter's faith would not fail. He prayed that Peter would be converted. And He prayed that Peter would strengthen his fellow brothers.
Was our Lord's prayer for Peter unanswered? Hardly!
See Peter fifty-three days later, at 9:00 a.m. on the day the Jewish Church celebrates Pentecost. He is no longer weak--he is empowered. He is no longer afraid--he is emboldened. He is no longer inconsistent--his heart is fixed forever on Jesus.
It had been wonderful to have Christ with him the last three years, but it was far greater to have the "Spirit of Christ" within him that day, and everyday thereafter. (Romans 8:9-11).
The Lord's prayer was answered. He had prayed the Peter would be converted and he was!
When the multitudes gathered around the disciples to ask what they should do, Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:38ff).
That sanctifying Spirit that so transformed Peter so that wherever he was, who ever he was with, and whatever he was doing, he would be found faithful, is able and willing to so transform us!
Until that day when he himself would die on a cross, Peter praised the Lord for the "living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," that "sanctification of the Spirit," and the keeping "power of God through faith."(1 Peter 1:1-5). And so should all who have "Christ within, the hope of glory!" (Colossians 1:27).
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, "Whom have I on earth beside Thee, Whom in heaven but Thee." We honor your Word. We love your will. We are forever thankful for the sacrifice of your Son. We rejoice in the presence of your Spirit. Oh Lord God, we are so grateful that just as you were patient, and faithful, and loving to Peter, you have been more than patient, and faithful, and loving to us. May we never take your mercy and grace for granted. Lord we pray that the same Spirit that transformed Peter would transform us. Change who we are we pray. We are thine now, and forever. In Jesus' name, Amen."Our Father, &c”
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2013
19 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Matthew 26:53 “He shall give me more than 12 legions of angels…”
SCRIPTURE READING: MATTHEW 26:51-57
51And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.
52Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
55In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
57And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
REFLECTION: We expect the vanquished will surrender and victors will never acquiesce. Behold Christ, the Captain of “The terrible meek.”
Meekness is not to be confused with weakness. Christ is meek. He is far from weak. His power extends to every corner of the globe and throughout the vast universe. At his arrest in Gethsemane, He testified, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). In my mind’s eye I see the skies filled with thousands of angels armed with flaming swords, standing at attention and readied to secure our Lord’s release and execute judgment on His pitiful captors. It was an order that was never given.
He “who upholds all things by the word of His power”(Hebrews 1:3) laid down His life, no man took it from Him. (John 10:17,18). That is meekness, perfect meekness on display.
And in what sense is He “terrible?” In this: He is “extremely formidable.”
He is terrible because He has need of nothing and cannot be tempted or bought. He is terrible because even the threat and suffering of death itself cannot diminish His love or destroy His redemptive mission. He is terrible because He is willing to pay the ultimate price, even the shameful death of the cross, to save every lost child of Adam’s race.
Jesus defeated the actual “Axis of Evil”—Sin, Satan, and Sorrow—without lifting a sword, commanding an army, or presiding over a political campaign.He won by losing. He gained by giving. He triumphed by surrender. He captured by loving.
He could not be conquered, vanquished, or extinguished. “Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!” (Revelation 19:6). “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12).
And think of this. We are Christ’s body in the world today. Tom Wright reminds us, “When God want to sort out the world, to put it to rights once and for all, he doesn’t send in the tanks, as people often think He should. He sends in the meek.”
Charles Rann Kennedy, a playwright of the last century, has the centurion posted at the foot of Calvary say to our Lord’s blessed mother, “I tell you woman, this dead Son of yours, disfigured, shamed, spat upon, has built a Kingdom this day that can never die. The living glory of Him rules it. The earth is His and He made it. He and His brothers have been molding and making it through the long ages; they are the only ones who ever really did possess it; not the proud, not the idle, not the vaunting empires of the world. Something has happened up here on this hill today to shake all of our kingdoms of blood and fear to the dust. The earth is His. The earth is theirs. And they made it. The meek, the terrible meek, are about to enter into their inheritance.” (From “The Terrible Meek”)
May God grant that we would follow in the footsteps of the Captain of our Salvation! “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.” (Matthew 5:5).
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, With the Apostle we glory in the cross! We are drawn, just as you taught us we would be, to our Lord Jesus Christ who was lifted up, suspended between heaven and earth on an Old Rugged Cross. Nothing in our hands we bring—not our precise theology, not our impressive deeds—simply to thy cross we cling. Lord fill us with that same spirit of Meekness that possessed our Savior. May we in every way, and at all times submit to do your will. And grant that we will not only inherit the earth, but one day inhabit that place you have gone to prepare for us. We love you Lord Jesus. We pray all this in your strong name, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”
TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2013
20 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Matthew 26:50 “Friend, wherefore art thou come?”
SCRIPTURE READING: MATTHEW 26:46-56
46Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
47And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
49And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.
51And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.
52Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
55In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
REFLECTION: Judas kissed Jesus. What a sinner.
Jesus called Judas “Friend.” (Matthew 26:50) What a Savior.
The sincerity of sinners is always suspect. When men relax their grasp of Truth—the Person and the principle—Satan inevitably takes advantage. The Bible says specifically, “Satan entered into Judas.” Slowly but wholly the enemy was given control. The Apostle Paul speaks of degenerates who “glory in their shame.”(Philippians 3:19). Have you ever noticed how backsliders are notable for advertising their super-spirituality, unashamedly exhibiting their new found “liberty,” and fellowshipping with others who like themselves have lost their fear and love of God. Finally every vestige of virtue is lost. What appear to be expressions of love (i.e. a kiss) become hypocritical displays. It is no wonder Judas couldn’t stand himself.
In contrast the integrity of Christ is never in doubt.
When Jesus called Judas “Friend” there is no doubt but that He meant it. Only hours before they were sitting together at the Passover table. Jesus knew what Judas had done. He knew what Judas was doing. And He knew what Judas was going to do.
So why did Jesus call Judas “Friend?”
…First and foremost it must be to show that Christ loved him, “unto the end.”
…Second, it was our Lord’s last effort to convince the betrayer to repent of his horrid plot. Christ knew that once Satan had used Judas, he would throw him away on the rocks in the field of blood. (Matthew 27:8).
…Third, it was to show us how to face persecution—returning good for evil.
…Finally, it was to remind us that if we are lost, it will not be because our Lord was against us.
Remember our Lord’s parable of the man who gained access to the wedding feast without having on the wedding garment. The King of the feast asked him, “Friend, how camest thou in here not having on the wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12). Sure the man was cast out of the feast for failing to wear the robe the King provided, yet the King still called him “Friend.”
Judgment is not based on whether or not God loves us. That is settled. He is the best friend we will ever know. Judgment is based on whether or not we love God. Will it be said of us, as it was of Abraham, “He was the friend of God.”(2 Chronicles 20:7, James 2:23).
Ah, soul! are you here without comfort and rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept of this peace so sublime!
By Warren D. Cornell
Jesus what a friend of sinners,
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
By J. Wilbur Chapman
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, “What a Friend we have in Jesus!” Our hearts are stirred when we think that you sent your Only Begotten Son into this world to be a friend to the friendless. We pray that throughout this day we will remember that our Friend is with us. May that knowledge bring courage when we are fearful, bring confidence when we are in doubt, bring salvation when we have strayed, and bring heaven when we stand before Thee. May we so live that at the close of our life’s short day, it will be said of us, as it was of Abraham, “He was the friend of God.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.“Our Father, &c”
MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2013
21 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation…”
SCRIPTURE READING: MARK 14:32-41
32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
REFLECTION: It wasn’t the first time that Jesus had to wake up His disciples. Luke tells us that they fell asleep on the Mount of Transfiguration. Both Matthew and Mark tell us that they fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. At our Lord’s invocation and at His benediction the disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open. Why are these disciples so drowsy?
Jesus seems disappointed as he stirs them in Gethsemane, “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” He explains their failure, “The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
Physically worn from the Passover preparations, emotionally drained by all that they had experienced that evening, Jesus explained their sleepiness, “the flesh is weak.”
It would be imprudent to assume that the Lord had reference only to the disciples’ physical exhaustion. This was more. This was a spiritual weakness of the flesh that the Apostle Paul identifies as our carnal disposition that lusteth against the spirit. (For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5:17).
Dr. Benner observed, “It is this condition in the hearts of professing Christians today that produces, sleepy, stupefied, apathetic, disciples.” (Herald of Holiness, 1955)
All around us we see challenges and opportunities but too many disciples have been anesthetized by the carnal impulse within and the distracting din of this world without.
The Apostle Paul urges the Christians at Rome, “It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us cast off the works of darkness, and up on the armor of light…Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:11-12,14)
He exhorts the Ephesians, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:14-16)
To the Corinthians he simply says, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” (1 Corinthians 15:34)
How tragic that at the precise moment when the people of God need to be “watching” and “praying” for themselves, for their families, for their churches, and for their nation, the Savior finds us sleeping.
Benner’s prayer is our heart’s cry: “May the Church of this day hear the clarion call of the prophet, “AWAKE THOU THAT SLEEPEST!” Shake off the temptation to lethargy, let the burning Spirit of God cleanse from every disposition to spiritual drowsiness, and face the tremendous challenge of these times with energy, courage, resourcefulness, and full devotion to our Lord!”
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, It thrills our souls to know that “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Whenever, wherever, and for whatever, we know that our help “comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” What assurance and comfort we find in the awareness that you are there even now for us. Our hearts are challenged and convicted by your Word. Oh Lord, wake us if we are sleeping, rouse us if we are drowsy, and may we be fully awake to your Word, to your Will, and to your High and Holy calling for us today. In the name of Jesus, Amen.“Our Father, &c.”
SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2013
22 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Matthew 26:39 “And he went a little further and began to pray…”
SCRIPTURE READING: MATTHEW 26:36-45
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
It was not the first time Jesus had gone there to pray. So far as we know, it was His last. Never again would Jesus and his disciples pray together in Gethsemane.
Huddled around the heavy-hearted Savior the eleven tentatively walk, softly talk. The light of the waning moon filters through the olive trees. Judas had not yet arrived with his malicious consorts.
Jesus asked His disciples to pray.
He asked Peter, James, and John to walk with Him further into the Garden. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful,” he cried. He asked them to pray there.
Then “He went a little further.”
When Jesus prayed He did not stop at “Let this cup pass from me.” He went a little further. He prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine.” I’m so glad He went a little further.
When Jesus suffered indignity and injustice at the hands of the chief priest and his allies, and then again the courtrooms of Pilate and of Herod, “He went a little further.” He picked up His own cross and carried it. I’m so thankful He went a little further.
Nailed on a cross hewn of wood from a tree that He planted, by men He created, with nails formed of ore He had made, Jesus went a little further. He forgave those accountable for His death, witnessed to the thief who was dying next to Him, and then dismissed His Spirit. Praise God, “He went a little further.”
He showed us how to pray. He showed us how to surrender. He showed us how to suffer. He showed us how to die. He showed us how to rise again. Always He went “a little further.”
Think how different our lives would be if we would follow in His steps, and go, “a little further:”
…If children would go “a little further” to obey and honor their parents,
…If parents would go “a little further” to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,
…If husbands would go “a little further” to please their wives.
…If wives would go “a little further” to please their husbands,
…If workers would go “a little further” to do an excellent job,
…If employers would go “a little further” to reward good employees,
…If God’s ministers would go “a little further” to please God rather than men,
…If God’s people would go “a little further” to pursue peace and holiness,
…If the people of God would go “a little further” to be understanding, even if not understood,
…If all who profess to love God would go “a little further” to be loyal, faithful, children of God, sincerely loving God and one another…
What a difference it would make in our homes, our churches, our communities, and our nation, if we would go “a little further” in our love and in our determination to do the will of God.
Why is it that intellectually all of this makes such good sense but practically it seems so difficult to live? The answer is before us. Like the disciples we have fallen asleep at precisely the place and the time when we ought to be watching, praying, and surrendering.
Jesus knows our problem, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” But he urges us, “watch and pray.”
Hear Him praying? “Nevertheless, not my will but thine…”Now pray that. It’s time we go “a little further.”
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, We are struck by the truth that you are the Father to whom Christ prayed in Gethsemane. You are the Father who strengthened our Savior in every trial, and especially the greatest trial. Even when it seemed that you were nowhere to be found, you were everywhere to be found. We thank you for being here for us. We believe in you Lord. You have made all the difference in our lives. And now we hear your voice, softly and tenderly, pleading its time we go “a little further.” We pray—O God show us any defect in our will—“Not my will but thine be done.” For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. In the name of Jesus, Amen.“Our Father, &c”
SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2013
23 Days to Resurrection Sunday
John 17:4 "I have finished the work…”
SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 17:1-11
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
It is is known at Christ’s “High Priestly Prayer.” Like the High Priest in the Temple at Jerusalem, Jesus ceremonially washed, then prayed for himself and the people. Unlike the High Priest of the Old Covenant, Jesus would offer himself as the sacrifice for the sins of the people. (Read Hebrews 7:26,27).
The Last Supper had ended. Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet. Now He prays. His intercession is recorded for us in the 17th Chapter of John’s Gospel. We see seven specific requests that Our Lord made of His Father:
…keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, (John 17:11)
…that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13)
…not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15)
…Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.(John 17:17, 18)
…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, (John 17:21) (this is repeated in John 17:11)
…that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:21)
…that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.(John 17:24,25)
These are wonderful prayer requests. But it is our Lord’s preface to the requests that captures our attention. Jesus said,“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4) It’s not hard to see that He glorified God. But this, “I have finished…” is a hard saying.
Jesus healed, but He certainly did not heal every sick person in the world, or for that matter even in Israel. Yet He said, “I have finished …”
Jesus restored homes and mended hearts, but He did not restore and mend every one of them on earth. But He said, “I have finished…”
Jesus did not convince every skeptic, win every heart, and save every lost soul living in His day. But He said, “I have finished…”
How could He say that he had “finished?”
The key to the text lies in the context. (It always does.) “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4). Indeed He had “finished” all the work that His Father had given Him to do to that point. Each day He finished what His Father asked of Him.
He didn’t do everything, He did that something that His Father willed that He would do each moment.
There is nothing that pierces the soul of Christ’s disciples like His cry from the cross, “It is finished!” But we knew that He would, “finish” that is. He always has. He always does. And He always will.
So the God-man finishes. But what of God’s men, can they finish? Shortly before the axe man severed his neck, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy,“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). He too finished. He did not finish my course. He did not finish your course. He finished his course.
I find here both consolation and motivation. Consolation that I need only accomplish what the Lord asks of me. And motivation to know and to do His will “moment by moment.”
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! “Hallelujah! Thine the Glory! Hallelujah! Amen!” We find great comfort and joy in the knowledge that as our Lord prayed, He prayed not only for His disciples but for those of us who would one day be His disciples. We pray that we will finish the work you have for us today. May we listen for your instructions. May we act in time and on time to do your will. And may we one day hear you say, “well done, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.” This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2013
24 Days to Resurrection Sunday
John 13:14 "Ye ought to wash one another's feet..."
SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 13:3-17
3. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4. He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself.
5. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6. Then cometh he to Simon Peter and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7. Jesus answered and saith unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.
8. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11. For he knew who should betray him, therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said .,unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13. Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16. Verily, verily I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
REFLECTION: When we first read that Jesus washed the disciples' feet we are naturally discomfited. Our Messiah did what? We side with Peter, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." (John 13:8).
Then we think again: "What a servant-leader!" "What a great example!"
Without moving a muscle we think: "Christians ought to follow Christ's example...they really should..."
Perhaps it has always been this way, but it seems that today there's a lot more admiration than imitation of Christ.
In the 4th century Church, Evagrius Ponticus wrote of the temptation to acedia--apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue. It is a vice that if left unattended and unchecked will lead to boredom and ultimately profound sadness.
When it comes to foot-washing, the lure of acedia (inactivity) has rendered many of us motionless.
I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard a young person whining, "I'm bored." Of course you are. Motionless people are bored people. Get up and start washing feet!
Richard Hutter is right: "acedia...leads to despair...[it produces] a sadness that will always cause problems." (First Things, April 2012).
Ah ha! Now I see why Jesus said, "ye ought to wash one another's feet...I have given you an example...If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:15-17). Indeed!
FOOT-WASHING IS NOT ONLY ABOUT HUMILITY, IT'S ABOUT BOREDOM-SPOILING ACTIVITY!
IT IS NOT ONLY ABOUT BEING GOOD, IT'S ABOUT DOING GOOD!
AND, IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT ACTIVITY, IT'S ABOUT THE JOY THAT IS THE INEVITABLE REWARD OF VIRTUOSITY. Again, "Happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:17)
Where is that wash basin?
PRAYER: Oh Lord God, it is with absolute confidence we can say, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above!" We have found it so. Not only are you the source of all that is good, you are the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Thank you for sending your son to teach us how to think, to show us how to act, and to make us into what we should be. May we be employed today, and every day, in loving you and our neighbor. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen. "Our Father, &c."
THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 2013
25 DAYS TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY
John 13:2 "The devil having put it into the heart of Judas to betray..."
SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 13:1-2
1. Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Isacriot, Simon's son, to betray him...
1. Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.
2. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him, for they feared the people.
3. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
4. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.
5. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
6. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.
REFLECTION: The ancient Roman historian Cicero said of March 15, "The Ides changed everything."
It was on March 15, 44BC (known in Rome as "the ides of March,") that the self-proclaimed dictator of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar was assassinated by a band of conspirators in the Roman Senate. The conspirators were led by Marcus Brutus, ironically a man who owed his life and career to Caesar. With terror and disbelief the dictator cried, "Et tu, Brute?" (Literally, "And you, Brutus?)
Brutus' involvement in the plot was understandable if not justifiable.
But almost 70 years later to the day, there was another betrayer, 1500 miles away in Jerusalem, who hatched a plot that is neither understandable nor justifiable.
Judas Iscariot, was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples. He was one of the 70 whom Jesus sent out to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2). He listened to our Lord's great wisdom. He enjoyed our Lord's great love. He was trusted to be the treasurer. Jesus even washed his feet at the Last Supper." (John 13:4ff).
How did such a close friend of the Savior fall to such an extent that he would literally sell out Christ for 30 pieces of silver--the price of a common slave? When Judas and his band of religious leaders stormed into Gethsemane to arrest him, Jesus called Judas "Friend." Indeed how could Judas have done something so gross to someone so good?
Was he a false disciple at the first? The testimony of Scripture does not bear out this conclusion.
Was he possessed by Satan from his childhood? Again there is no Biblical text to support that theses.
Was he doing Christ a favor by forcing Him to establish His Kingdom over the world? Or could it be, as the Gnostics thought, that Judas was actually enlightened and that he did what he did to precipitate a crisis and hasten that moment when the world would be redeemed through Christ's death.
Both Luke and John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, trace Christ's betrayal to that moment when "satan entered" or "the devil put into his heart," this dreadful scheme.
Scripture, reason, and our own experience teaches us that Satan's entrance into Judas was "the outcome of a gradual failing in lesser things." (New Advent Encyclopedia.)
It appears that his concern for the money became a malignant love of money.
His tendency to shade the facts became a shameless hypocrisy--professing concern for the poor when the costly ointment was poured on Christ's head, feigning surprise when the Lord identified him as the betrayer, and kissing Jesus in Gethsemane.
His ambition to see Christ's Kingdom promoted became a desire for self-promotion.
Gradually, but undeniably, Judas himself opened his heart's door for Satan. And wasn't the end of Judas predictable? When Satan wins, men always lose.
But thanks be to God, Satan did not win over our crucified, dead, buried Savior. HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
In innumerable ways, some we know, and most we have yet to realize, "The Resurrection changed everything!"
PRAYER: We praise you, Our Father in Heaven, for your excellent greatness. Your power to transform tragedy into triumph, your ability to turn what men meant for evil into something that is for our good, and your determination and drive to save "a wretch like me," testify to your infinite wisdom and might.
We pray, Oh God, that if we have in even the slightest way opened the door of our heart to the deceiver, that you would deeply convict us, soften our repentant hearts, and forgive us. Lord keep us from taking even the first step away from that warm and loving relationship we have with you.
"Now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever." Amen. "Our Father, &c" (Benediction found in Jude 24,25)
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2013
26 DAYS TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY
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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012
Luke 22:17 "...and He took the cup and gave thanks..."
SCRIPTURE READING: LUKE 22:8-20.
8. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.
9. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
10. And he said unto them, Behold when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water, follow him into the house where he entereth in.
11. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
12. And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
13. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
14. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
15. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves.
18. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20. Likewise also the cup after supper saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
REFLECTION: Sure, Jesus knew that His death was imminent. He knew that His death would be malevolent. He knew that His death would be violent.
Only a few hours before the tragedy, Christ gathered with His disciples to eat the Passover. "He took the cup, and gave thanks." (Luke 22:17). Then "he took bread, and gave thanks." (Luke 22:19).
It is not hard to comprehend that the Lord might offer thanks if He saw the cup and the bread as nourishment. We thank the Lord for our food too, at least we ought to!
It is not hard to imagine that the Lord would offer thanks as a part of the Passover ritual. Literally for centuries the Jews always offered thanks at the Passover. These were words that were supposed to be spoken.
But Jesus "gave thanks," telling His disciples:
"I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,"
"I will not eat any more...until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God."
"This is my body which is given for you."
"This cup is the New Testament in my blood."
Jesus, the God-man gave thanks on the brink of His greatest trial. They who are God's men are to give thanks in the hour of their greatest trial. I remember reading the Apostle Paul's instructions, "In everything give thanks." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
To "give thanks" in a moment like that requires an unshakable confidence in God and His good, acceptable, and perfect will. (Romans 12:2). We are not our own. We were created "by Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16). So we thank the Lord that He has brought us to this hour--even if it is a trying one.
To "give thanks" in a time like that requires an abiding assurance that God is with us, and more importantly, that we are with Him. The Psalmist testified, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." (Psalm 23:4). We "give thanks" knowing that the Lord will never leave nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5). The Lord is our helper. (Hebrews 13:6). His grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Finally, to "give thanks" in an hour like that requires a triumphant faith that looks beyond the immediate circumstance to the rewards of righteousness. Charles Wesley was right:
Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone.
We sing, "It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!" And it will be.
So whatever it may be that we are about to face today, we "give thanks," with the Lord Jesus, knowing that God's will is best, that God's grace is sufficient, and that God's promised reward is for sure, forever.
PRAYER: O Lord, My God, When we think of your gratitude in the hour of trial we are amazed and we are convicted. We are truly awed by your unwavering confidence. We are inspired by your willingness to endure. We are thrilled by your promises of eternal reward. But Lord, we confess, we have not always been so thankful. We have complained when we should have complied. We have worried when we should have rested. And we have doubted, when we should have believed. Forgive us. By your grace, may we live today and every other day, "giving thanks" in everything. For it is in the name of our Risen Savior we pray. Amen. "Our Father, &c."
TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 2013
27 DAYS TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY
Mark 14:8 “….She hath done what she could…”
SCRIPTURE READING: MARK 14:1-9
1 After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? shehath wrought a good work on me.
7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
REFLECTION: NOTE: Today we begin, “The Journey To The Cross.”
Her name is unknown. Her lavish expression of love for the Savior is well-known.
Our Lord’s last Passover was only days away. While eating at the home of Simon the Leper (one who may very well have been healed by Jesus, see Matthew 11:5), this woman entered the house, opened a flask of precious ointment, and poured it on his head.
She did what was good.
The money-managers said it was a total waste. Jesus said, “she hath wrought a good work on me.”
The world values what is material—what is seen. The Lord honors what is not seen—virtue, faith, hope, and love.
Jesus was grateful for the woman’s lavish gift for He knew it had been given out of love. She loved much. She sacrificed much. Our degree of sacrifice is always proportional to our love.
She did what she could.
Her love moved her to do more than just what was good, she did what she could. Doing good is praise-worthy, but doing what we can is a step further.
Some congratulate themselves on going the first mile. Jesus praises those who go “the extra mile.”
How different our world would be if we would do what we could for Christ, for our friends, for our neighbors, and for those who oppose and despitefully use us.
She did what she should.
We are not sure that this dear woman had ever heard our Lord say that he would be crucified. But now she knew for sure. Jesus thanked her for anointing His body for burial.
She should love Jesus and she did.
She should sacrifice for Jesus and she did.
She should do His will and she did.
Jesus said that, Wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the whole world, her example would be remembered. May our admiration induce us to imitation.
PRAYER: Our Father who so loved this world “that He gave,” we are inspired by those who have selflessly given of themselves to you. Like the precious woman who did what was good, what she could, and what she should, we pray that our lives would be exemplary. As everyone in the room sensed the aroma of her love, may the love that we pour out upon you touch all that you draw near to us today. We love you Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen. “Our Father, &c”
MONDAY, MARCH 4, 2013
28 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us…Christ died for us.”
SCRIPTURE READING: ROMANS 5:1-11
1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.ok
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
REFLECTION: One year after American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam I entered the University of Illinois. There were still campus buildings with boarded windows from violent anti-war protests. I stood near the Student Union building preaching the Gospel to students who were on their way to classes or seated on the lawn.
With my Bible in hand, I raised my voice.“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) That was always my opening text. I knew that no matter how nervous I was, I would not forget the golden text of the Bible. As students gathered around to listen I felt impressed to focus on God’s gift.
I asked for a show of hands; “How many of you have a friend that you would truthfully be willing to die for?” One student shyly lifted his hand. “How many of you would die for your worst enemy?” I asked. Not one student raised a hand.
That is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were cynical and skeptical of God’s will, Christ died for us.
While we were resisting God’s authority, Christ died for us.
While we were unconcerned about God’s judgment, Christ died for us.
While we were undeserving of God’s love, Christ died for us.
While we were powerless, (though we professed we were the greatest), Christ died for us!
He came to us. He lived for us. He prayed for us. But here is love beyond degree, “Christ died for us!”
Suddenly I am smitten.
Paul tells me: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25) Whether or not your wife deserves your love, Husbands love as Christ loved.
The Scripture presses me: “Forgive one another, if any has a quarrel against any, as Christ forgave you so also do ye! Put on charity.” (Colossians 3:13,14) Forgiveness is humbling, but it is not optional.
The Apostle commands me, “Be followers of God, as dear children; Andwalk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2). Living the sacrificial life is my duty.
Peter tells me, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)Giving, and demonstrating Christ-love in a fallen world is costly, and sometimes painful, but it is right and will be rewarded.
And I am urged, “Receive one another, as Christ also received us.” (Romans 15:7) Even those who I am sure are unworthy of my love, I love.
How grateful I am for Christ’s love. How convicted I am by Christ’s command, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”(John 13:15)
PRAYER: Our Father, How deeply grateful we are for your great love. You loved us while we were sinners. We cannot thank you enough. But Lord what of our love for you? We confess our need, “More love to Thee, O Christ! More love to Thee!” What of our love for our brothers and sisters in the family of God? Grant that we would see them through your loving eyes. And what of the masses who are so miserable and creating misery, blinded and chained by sin? Oh God, fill my heart with a love for them. May I love you and them more than life itself. May my purpose be singular—to love as Christ loved. In the strong name of Jesus. Amen. “Our Father &c”
SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2013
29 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Romans 3:25 “…a propitiation through faith in his blood…”
SCRIPTURE READING: ROMANS 3:19-27
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded.
REFLECTION: Every year, one day only—the Day of Atonement, the high priest of the Jewish Church would ceremonially cleanse himself, prayerfully seek after God, obediently sacrifice a lamb without blemish, carefully tie a rope around his ankle, worshipfully pass through the veil (an ornate curtain) that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (that inner chamber of the Jewish Temple), and fearfully approach the Ark of the Covenant , the one and only furnishing in the room.
In Exodus we read that this Ark was to be 5 feet long 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. It was to be plated with gold. A golden cover was placed on the Ark. Fastened to the cover were two carved, gold plated cherubim. These angel-like beings faced each other. Their large wings touched. Between them was the shekhinah glory, the visible manifestation of God’s glory.
At the feet of the cherubim, on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, there was a place called the “Mercy Seat.” It was there that the High Priest reverently sprinkled the blood of the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people.
Should the High Priest die, perhaps from natural causes, or because he touched the Ark, no one could enter the Holy Place to remove his body. The rope tied around his ankle was used to pull him away from the ark and out of the Holy of Holies.
In the New Testament we learn that the Jesus Christ is not only our High Priest, but He also is our sacrifice. He not only approaches God in our behalf, but He gave of his own blood, for our redemption. “God hath set forth [Christ Jesus] to be a propitiation.” The word we translate “propitiation” is hilasteerion. Literally this is “the mercy seat.”
Just as faith in the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices would atone for the sins of Israel, so faith in the blood of Jesus Christ now atones for the sins of “whosoever will.”
What sins are forgiven and washed away by the blood? “Sins that are past,” the Apostle explicitly teaches. Not “past, present, and future,” as some erroneously report.
And now what is become of the repentant man who believes in Christ, and Christ alone for salvation? God declares him “just”—or holy. But there is more. God makes him “just”—or holy. He is both “just’ and the “justifier.” He now calls us “just” for one reason only: we have been “made just” or “justified,” through His blood. PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!
PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, Once again we come before the Mercy Seat. We thank you that,
“From every stormy wind that blows,
From every swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat;
‘Tis found beneath the mercy seat.”
What a glorious day this is. We live in the day of grace. We live in a day of mercy. We live in a day when the love of God has been so abundantly shown. We pray that today the glory of your presence would indwell our hearts and shine through to a world that so desperately needs to see you. May our lives be a benediction to all we touch with our example, our words, and our spirit.
In the strong name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. “Our Father. &c.”
SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 2013
30 Days to Resurrection Sunday
1 Peter 1:18 “Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ…”
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 PETER 1:16-24
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
REFLECTION: Writing to Christians who were enduring “the trial of their faith,” the Apostle Peter urges, “Be ye holy!” Anything less would not suffice. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Only the “pure in heart shall see God.”
Throughout both of his letters, and here in our selected reading, the Apostle defines what he means. “Be ye holy” includes “obeying the truth through the Spirit.”
“Be ye holy” implies “unfeigned love of the brethren.”
“Be ye holy means, “loving one another with a pure heart fervently.”
“Be ye holy,” induces us to “purify our souls.”
“Be ye holy” reminds us that we will one day stand before an impartial Judge.
“Be ye holy” moves us to “spend the time of our sojourning here with fear”—literally with the deepest respect and reverence of the Holy God we serve.
Lest we become disheartened along the way, Peter reminds us, “you were not redeemed with corruptible things.” Our souls were not rescued and redeemed from our old life, that “vain conversation,” by the coin of this world. It was not silver that saved us. It was not gold that redeemed us. It was not anything that is corruptible, or temporary, or of changing value in the markets of men, that has redeemed us.
No, we are redeemed with the “precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and spot!” Hallelujah! So then, honor His blood, honor the Lamb of God, honor the Holy One by loving Him and living for Him.
At the first Passover, as Moses led God’s people out of Egyptian slavery, God’s people were instructed to sprinkle the blood of a lamb on the posts and the lintel of the doors to their homes. When the death angel passed over the land those who had obeyed would be spared, those who had not would suffer the death of their firstborn.
Why was it that the blood was required at the top and on the sides of the doors, but not on the threshold? The writer to the Hebrews answers, “how much sorer punishment, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing?” (Hebrews 10:29)
May God grant that we would never despise, disrespect, or dishonor the “precious blood of Christ.” God help us to live our lives honoring the sacrifice Christ has made for us, by sacrificing our lives for Him.
PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, We thank you for your infinite love and the powerful, life-changing truth of your Word. What a mighty God we serve. We pray that today, and every day, we would honor the precious blood of Jesus. Remind us of the blood that dripped from your forehead in Gethsemane, of the blood that you gave as the soldier’s whipped your precious body, of the blood that trickled down your face as the crown of thorns was pressed into your head, of the blood that poured from your hands and your feet as you hung on the cross in our place. May we never get over that scene. And may we always live our lives in honor of that precious blood—the blood of our wonderful Lord, who loved us, and gave himself for us, and in whose name we pray, Amen. “Our Father &c.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
31 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Galatians 2:20 “…I am crucified with Christ…”
SCRIPTURE READING: PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
REFLECTION: We began these DAILY DEVOTIONALS by speaking of THE CENTRALITY OF THE CROSS. Next we delved into the Old Testament PROPHECIES OF THE CROSS. We are now examining the IMPLICATIONS OF THE CROSS. In a few days we will begin our JOURNEY WITH CHRIST TO THE CROSS.
The Apostle Paul came to the place in his spiritual life that he could honestly say, “I am crucified with Christ.”It was settled in his heart. He prayed and meant it--“not my will but thine be done.”
One may doubt that many, or any, make it to this point, but the fact that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to make such a specific claim is confirmation that it is possible.
Paul was never physically nailed to a cross. (He was beheaded for his testimony.) But he was spiritually crucified. He died to his will, his wisdom, and his works. The old “I” no longer remained. He was dead to sin. To the Christians at Rome he wrote: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:6-8)
Oswald Chambers, a great holiness teacher of the last century, saw clearly the implications of this passage. He asked his students, “Has that breaking up of… [our] independence come?” He then pressed the point:
“All the rest is religious fraud. The one point to decide is— will I give up? Will I surrender to Jesus Christ, placing no conditions whatsoever as to how the brokenness will come? I must be broken from my own understanding of myself. When I reach that point, immediately the reality of the supernatural identification with Jesus Christ takes place. And the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable— “I have been crucified with Christ . . . .”
Only when we die, wholly surrendering our will to God’s will, can we truly live by faith in the Son of God. You can be sure that faith in the Son is never misplaced. He loves us more than anyone ever has or ever will. “Love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!” (Isaac Watts)
PRAYER: Our Father, We Praise you for your love and your holiness, your grace and truth, your mercy and your judgment. We pray that we would see ourselves as you see us. We are grieved when we disobey, and convicted when we refuse to surrender. We give up. We surrender all. Our will is no longer ours, it is yours. We surrender our heart, soul, mind, and strength to you. And may we so live this day, and every day, so that in the world to come we would have life everlasting. In Jesus name, Amen.Our Father, &c.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2013
32 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Philippians 2:9 “…A name which is above every name…”
SCRIPTURE READING: PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
REFLECTION: Before He was born Jesus had a name. Luke tells us, “His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
Some have names with no specific significance. Some have significant names but no significant success. But Jesus had a significant name with matchless success.
In heaven the angels will sing of the Crucified: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12).“Things in heaven.”(Philippians 2:10)
Every part of the creation that Christ himself spoke into existence, everyone, in every place, in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, will declare of the Risen One, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever!”(Revelation 5:13).“Things in earth, and things under the earth.” (Philippians 2:10)
The sanctified children of God will testify of their Savior, “THOU WAST SLAIN AND HAST REDEEMED US TO GOD BY THY BLOOD…” (Revelation 5:9).That’s a song the holy angels cannot sing.
But what of those who neglect and reject our Jesus? What of those who have blasphemed His name? What of the many who have no regard for His name—who carelessly take his name in vain?
Ah they too shall confess in that day! For “Every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”Without exception, every child of Adam, and Adam himself will bow.
It is not IF we bow that settles our eternal destiny, for all will bow at the last judgment. It is WHEN we bow, and when we confess, that finally determines whether we will hear, “depart from me,” or “enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.”
PRAYER: Our Father, Hallowed be thy name! From the depths of our hearts we thank you for sending your only Begotten Son to be:
the Bread of Life,
the Christ of God,
the Dayspring from on High,
the Everlasting Father,
the First and the Last,
the Good Shepherd,
the Holy One of Israel,
the great I AM,
the King of Kings,
the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,
a Man of Sorrows,
the Only Begotten Son,
our Prophet, Priest, and King,
the Quencher of thirst for the water of life,
the Resurrection and Life,
the Sun of Righteousness,
the Unleavened bread that came down from heaven,
the Vine of whom we are but branches,
the true Witness,
him who speaks from His more Xcellent glory,
the Yea and Amen, and
the Savior of Zacchaeus! And our Savior too!
In the name above every other name, the name of Jesus, Amen. Our Father, &c.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2013
33 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Philippians 2:5 “…Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus…”
SCRIPTURE READING: PHILIPPIANS 2:3-8
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
REFLECTION: To have the “mind which was also in Christ Jesus ,”I LET GO”—purposefully turning away fromself-centered thinking, (repentance is a thorough change of mind),and “LET GOD,”— purposefully lettingthe mind of Christ reign in my life.
The self-centered mind is fed by feelings of self-importance and the accoutrements of authority.
The mind of Christ, compelled Him towillingly leave the worship and majesty of His heavenly throne to live among us.
The self-centered mind longs to be well-thought of by others.
The mind of Christ made himself of no reputation.
The self-centered mind demands to be served.
The mind of Christ was determined to serve.
The self-centered mind considers itself better than the average, or the best of all.
The mind of Christ came to minister to the average and below. “He came to me!”
The self-centered mind is proud.
The mind of Christ was humble.
The self-centered mind submits to no authority.
The mind of Christ submitted to men with no ultimate authority, and became obedient unto death.
The self centered mind recoils at the thought of sacrifice.
The mind of Christ was willing to suffer the shame and disgrace of the cross.
If only one person in each relationship (i.e. home, church, or work) would “let the mind of Christ”reign supreme it would be a wonderful blessing. Decide right now to be that person.
PRAYER: Our Father, We thank you today for the example you set before us. We pray that we would have “the mind of Christ.” If we are self-centered in any area of our life, forgive and cleanse us we pray. May we ignore the praises of men and crave the approval of God. May we serve Thee and others willingly and without complaint. May we humbly submit to your authority and submit to all who are in authority over us. And may we live everyday saying, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” All this we pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen. Our Father, &c.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2013
35 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Isaiah 53:5 “…and with his stripes we are healed…”
SCRIPTURE READING: ISAIAH 53:5-10
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
REFLECTION: Look again at maladies and the cures in Isaiah 53:5:
The malady: Transgressions.
The cure: He was wounded.Nails, thorns, and a spear wounded our meek Savior. (John 19:37)
The malady: Iniquities.
The cure: He was bruised.Fists bruised our Lord’s sinless body. (Matthew 26:27)
The malady: No peace.
The cure: He was chastised.A reed that served as a mock scepter was taken from His hand and then used to beat his thorn-crowned head. (Matthew 27:30)
When we come to the fourth cure, “By His stripes,” no specific malady is cited. We know that the whip of the Roman Legionnaire shredded the flesh of our Lord’s body leaving the stripe-marks here mentioned. (Matthew 27:26).But Isaiah does not explicitly tell us what it is that the “stripes” will heal.
“Transgressions,” “iniquities,” and “peace-lessness,” are spiritual conditions. We usually assume that the “stripes” were to bring about physical healing, but the context surely demands a spiritual significance.
That the Lord miraculously healed and heals the physically sick we are sure. We are witnesses of His power over nature. Yet we are also sure that every person our Lord healed during his ministry, even those whom He raised from the dead, ultimately passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
We believe that the cure for transgressions is permanent. We believe that the cure for iniquities is enduring. We believe that the cure for peace-lessness is lasting. But if we see the stripes as the remedy for“physical ailments,” we must admit the cure is temporal at best.
The Apostle Peter refers to this Scripture in his first letter to the persecuted Church. He urges suffering Christians to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who, “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we are healed.” (I Peter 2:24). Here again there is no specific mention of physical ailment. There is an explicit reference to spiritual health, evidenced by “righteousness.”
While in the Recovery Unit at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the doctors asked the respiratory therapists to remove the ventilator from my Father’s face. He looked at his anxious wife and two sons, faintly smiled and whispered, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:1-4). I can’t tell you how thrilling that was for our family.
Then within twenty-four hours my father was again requiring the ventilator. Nine weeks later he was breathing the ethereal air of heaven. He testified, “Bless the Lord… who healeth all thy diseases…” then infection took him from us.
What is this healing to which David and Isaiah and Peter refer? It is first and foremost that healing of the sin sick soul. That old African-American Spiritual had it right:
“There is a balm [cure] in Gilead
to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
to heal the sin sick soul.”
Marvelous truth. Christ came not only to forgive transgressions, wash away iniquities, and speak peace to troubled souls, He came to bring spiritual health to sin-prone souls.
He came so that we might be filled with “all the fullness of God,”(Ephesians 3:19) and that“the very God of peace” could and would “sanctify wholly.”He suffered outside the gate that He might sanctify us with His blood. (Hebrews 13:12) He did all that was necessary so that “our whole spirit and soul and body would be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). To those who doubt the possibility of such spiritual healing, sanctifying grace, the Apostle Paul testifies, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
PRAYER: Our Father, “My heart is thrilled when ere I think of Jesus! That blessed name, which sets the captive free! The only name, through which I find salvation! No name on earth has meant so much to me.” I cannot possibly comprehend all that Christ accomplished “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed,” but I can offer a heartfelt “Hallelujah!” for your sacrifice for me. “I long to be perfectly whole, break down every idol, cast out every foe, now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!” Bless and make me a blessing today. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.Our Father, &c.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2013
35 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Isaiah 53:4 "We esteemed him smitten and stricken by God..."
SCRIPTURE READING: ISAIAH 53
4. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
REFLECTION: How like fallen men: The Savior is crucified and thy rationalize God is responsible! Standing near the cross outside the city wall, pacing through the Temple downtown, huddling along the streets of Jerusalem in hush conversations, his accusers justified themselves:
It wasn't our fault that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our sin that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our deceit that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our blasphemy that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our hypocrisy that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our blindness to see the truth that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our self-sufficiency that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
It wasn't our self-righteousness that nailed Him to the cross, it was His.
"We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are," the Talmud remarks. How true.
His accusers justified themselves. Yet they were the ones who needed to be justified. So Jesus died, the "just and the justifier." (Romans 3:26).
I like to think that if I had been there I would have seen the Savior for who He was, and is. I like to think that if I had been there I would have resisted the influence of the crowd, even though they were the leaders of the most spiritual church in town. I like to think that if I had been there I would have defended Him, and indicted myself.
But I fear that at best I would have run away with His disciples, and at worst--oh dreadful thought--I would have added my voice to the mob shouting "Crucify Him!"
Jesus was certainly not "stricken, smitten of God and afflicted." It was my sin--my pride, my folly, my rebellion, my disobedience--that nailed Him to the cross.
Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God who came,
Ruined sinners to reclaim,
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood,
Hallelujah, What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
"Full atonement!" can it be?
Hallelujah, What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
"It is finished was His cry;
Now in Heav'n exalted high.
Hallelujah, What a Savior!
When He comes our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we'll sing,
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Words and music by Philip Bliss
PRAYER: Our Father, Hallowed be Thy Name. We confess that we are easily confused. Too often we accuse when we are at fault. We recoil from thinking of our sins. We resist the truth of our sin. But you, Our Loving Heavenly Father, seeing the whole sorry scene, yet saw in us something of such infinite worth that you sent your only Begotten to redeem us from all iniquity! How can we say thanks? What can we do to express the depths of our love for you today? "Here Lord, I give myself away, 'tis all that I can do!" Humble me. Teach me. Forgive me. Indwell me. Sanctify me. And make of me what you will. This I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen. Our Father &c.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2013
36 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Isaiah 53:1-4 “…Who hath believed our report?”
SCRIPTURE READING: ISAIAH 53:
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Who hath believed our report? Who believes?
Not those who are blind.
Bertrand Russell, that famed atheist from the last century once quipped that if he ever did face God he would “reproach Him for not giving us enough evidence.” The Psalmist exalted: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3). Russell saw scant evidence for God. The Psalmist looked at the same universe and saw evidence everywhere!
The Apostle Paul saw the evidence and believed everyone who would could see for themselves, “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;” Everyone has seen enough that they are “without excuse:” Paul warns that disbelief leads to darkness, and darkness to decadence. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:20,21)
Not those who are of hard heart.
We say, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” And so it is. When a man’s heart is hard, he will not believe though mountains of evidence point to the truth.
The disciples found it difficult to believe after witnessing amazing miracles. Jesus reasoned with them: “Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”(Mark 8:17-21).
Hardening of the heart is as spiritually fatal as hardening of the arteries is physically fatal. The Writer to the Hebrews urges his readers, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
Not those who could not believe.
John was a first-hand witness to the resistance of the Jews to trust Christ: “Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, “Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (John 12:37-40).
St. Augustine, a convert to Christ in the 4th century commented on this passage, “If I be asked why they could not believe? I immediately answer, Because THEY WOULD NOT." Aug. Tract. 53.
They could not because they would not. And they would not because they were unwilling to do the of God. Only the willing will believe and know. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)
Count Me In
As for me, “When they number the ones who believe in Him, count me in!” I’m with Paul, “Iknow whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12).
If you’ve struggled to believe, pray with the Father who brought his afflicted son to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24).
You will discover that faith is proportional to your willingness to see, to sense, and to surrender to the Suffering Servant so aptly pictured in Isaiah 53.
Who hath believed our report? Ah we have! And we are so glad. We can never be same again.
PRAYER: Our Father, The thought that you would reveal your mighty arm to us—That you would reach down, lift us from the horrible pit of sin, and set our feet joyfully traveling up the highway of holiness—is beyond our understanding. To think that when we could not come to where Jesus was, “He came to me,” thrills our soul! Lord open our eyes to see more of Thee. Soften our hearts to sense more of Thy love. And may our wills be at one with your “good, acceptable, and perfect will,” for now and for all of eternity. In the name of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen. Our Father &c.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2013
37 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Psalm 69:9 “…the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”
SCRIPTURE READING: PSALM 69:1-4, 13-21; 29-36
This Psalm is one of the most frequently quoted in the New Testament. The Prophecies will appear in bold print. The New Testament fulfillment will appear in italic print.
1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
John 15:24-25, Jesus speaking.
"If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause."
8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up;
" 13 And the Jews passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Fathers house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."
and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
"For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."
13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
14 Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
15 Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
16 Hear me, O Lord; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
17 And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
18 Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.
19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
" 33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. ... 37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? ... 40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him. 41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners."
21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
"They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink."
29 I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
33 For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
34 Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and everything that moveth therein.
35 For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
36 The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.
REFLECTION: Writing a millennium before the Messiah, King David offers detailed prophecies of our Lord’s Passion. He would be hated without cause. He would be rejected. He would be disowned. He would be reproached. He would look for some to take pity and offer comfort but would find no one. He would be offered gall and vinegar to drink.
Yet it is His zeal for the Temple, the House of God that arrests our attention just now. Christ began and ended His ministry by cleansing the temple of money-changers. He faced them and demanded,
“Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?” He chargedthose religious profiteers with turning God’s house into “a den of thieves.” (Mark 11:17)
Christ jealously guarded His Father’s house against the encroachment of secularism—the malignancy of “this-worldliness.” Worship was not to be an occasion for money making. Worship was not to be about glorifying the worshippers—the singers, the givers, the pray-ers, or the preachers. Worship was not to entertain or to wow worshippers with hi-tech and psych-techniques. Worship was not about being relevant. It was about being reverent.
Oh that the zeal for God’s House would grip God’s people. Certainly then God’s house would be filled with fervent praying, not frivolous playing. Surely then we would see God’s glory and the salvation and sanctification of His people.
In the New Testament we are taught that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Ghost. If Christ was zealous to preserve the sanctity of that temple made with hands, how much more does he desire that the temple made with His hands be wholly and holy His?“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Just as the Temple made with hands was to be “a house of prayer,” so our Temple should be hallowed with prayer. Paul urges us, “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).So, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
PRAYER: Our Father, Creator and Preserver of all that is good, we lift our hearts to you in sincere praise and humble adoration. We long to know the joy of your presence in our worship. We pray that we would be not only zealous to worship, but that we would be zealous to worship in the way that pleases you. May we deny ourselves and delight in you. “O the glory of His presence, O the beauty of His face, I am His and His forever, He has won me by His grace!” In the name above every name, the name of Jesus, Amen. Our Father &c.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2013
38 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Psalm 22: “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
SCRIPTURE READING: PSALM 22:1-2; 6-8; 11-21; 26-31.
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying,
8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
REFLECTION: The 22nd Psalm, written by King David one-thousand years before Messiah, offers both personal and prophetic testimony.
Like every man“after God’s own heart,” David knew the thrill of victory and the crush of defeat. He knew the utter loneliness that belongs to men who stand for right.“Why hast thou forsaken me?”He knew the total dependence that belongs to men who rise up with the Lord againstblaspheming giants. “O Lord: O my strength, haste to help me!” And he confidently knew that victory was certain for “The Kingdom is the Lord’s.”
But it cannot be coincidence that this one Psalm contains no less than 12 specific prophecies that were fulfilled at the death of Jesus of Nazareth. It is no wonder that students of the Word call this a “Messianic Psalm.”
After writhing in excruciating pain on the cross for nearly six hours, the mid-afternoon sky now veiled in darkness, Jesus summoned enough strength to utter, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me!”This fourth saying from the cross was a direct quote from the first verse of the 22nd Psalm. For centuries the Jews believed this Psalm referred to their coming Messiah. Though His strength was fading, by whispering these words Jesus was pleading with His lost brethren to know Him as their Savior. “He loved them unto the end.”
Some have supposed that at this moment the divine nature departed from Christ so that only his human nature was left to bear the punishment we so certainly deserved. The Gnostics of the ancient world and the followers of The Watchtower commonly known as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that today. But take away deity from any redeeming act of Christ and redemption is ruined.
The Psalmist prophesies of One…
… who would be verbally abused, ( v.6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. v.7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying…)
…whose trust in God would be ridiculed,(v. 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him)
…who would be surrounded by enemies,(v. 12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round…)
…who would be physically weakened, (v. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. v. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.)
…who would be thirsty, (v.15)
…who would be surrounded by enemies (v.16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: …)
…whose hands and feet would be pierced (v.16… they pierced my hands and my feet.)
…whose bones would not be broken (v. 17 I may tell all my bones…)
…who would be stared at by the people (v. 17… they look and stare upon me.)
…whose clothing would be won by gambling (v. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.)
…whose prayers would be heard by God (v.21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen)
Every one of these prophesies is specifically mentioned and confirmed in the New Testament. In fact, fulfilled prophecy throughout all of Scripture is one of the most powerful evidences that God’s Word is inspired and without error. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…”
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”Christ endured the cross alone in time that we would never endure that unspeakable loneliness of Christlessness in eternity.
PRAYER: Abba Father, We stand on a sliver of finitude between two infinities. Had it not been for Calvary we would not be standing. Had it not been for your sacrifice, we would have only known infinite loneliness, unfulfilled desire, and the torments of hell. Yet you were not willing that we should perish. You loved us. You cared for us. You taught us. You showed us. You prayed for us. You suffered for us. You died for us. You rose again for us. You ascended to heaven to intercede for us. And, Hallelujah, You are coming again for us! May we live today, and every day, honoring that sacrifice you made for our unworthy souls. In the name of God’s Holy Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen. Our Father &c.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2013
39 DAYS TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY!
Genesis 22:14 “…And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh…”
SCRIPTURE READING: GENESIS 22:9-19
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.
REFLECTION: Each time God called Abraham, the Patriarch replied in the Hebrew tongue-- “Hineni.” We translate the word, “Here am I,” but it ought not to be interpreted in the physical sense alone. There is a far deeper spiritual significance: “Look through me. I am available.”
When God called Abraham to make the sacrifice of his Son, Abraham replies, “Hineni” “Look through me!” When Isaac asked his father about the sacrifice, Abraham replies, “Hineni” “Look through me!” When God holds back Abraham’s knife wielding hand, Abraham cries, “Hineni” “Look through me!”
Men of faith and integrity are willing for God and other men to “Look through them.” They have nothing to fear for they have made themselves wholly available to their God. Would we dare say to / God, “Look through me”?
Abraham’s faith, evidenced by His obedience and his willingness to sacrifice his nearest and dearest, would favor him with God’s promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” And God kept His promise! The Apostle Paul tells us, “the blessing of Abraham came to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14).
Living, active faith not only blesses us, it makes us a blessing!
Moses, the inspired author of Genesis tells us, “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22:14). Jewish translations read, “In the mount where the LORD is seen.”Realizing that it was at this very place, 2000 years later, that the Lamb of God would suffer and die, Abraham’s title was most fitting. Certainly this is a mount “Where the LORD is seen!”
And there is one more facet of truth that shines from that gem, “Jehovah-Jireh!” It is sometimes translated, “The LORD will provide.” Now the meaning is complete. “The Lord is seen! And the Lord is seen as our provider!” He provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice. He provided the Lamb of God as a sacrifice for my sins, and for the sins of the whole world! “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!”
PRAYER: OurFather, which art in Heaven, how thankful we are that you are not hidden, but you are seen and known as our great provider When we needed an example, you came to us. When we needed understanding, you showed us. When we needed a sacrifice, you sent your one and only Son to die for us. When we needed your sanctifying and sustaining presence, you sent your Spirit. “All we have needed thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy Faithfulness!” We pray that today you will “Hineni”—literally “look through us. With the Psalmist we pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23,24). In Jesus’ name.Amen Our Father &c.
Pastor Rick Jones
FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH + A CRUSADERS USA CONGREGATION
2969 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Ann, MO 63074 Cell Phone (314) 607-1424; Fax (314) 298-7442
BLOG: www.PastorRickJones.blogspot.com WEB: www.FCCToday.org
PREACHING SERVICES SUNDAYS 11AM & 6:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2012
40 Days to Resurrection Sunday!
Genesis 22:8 “…my son, God will provide himself a sacrifice…”
SCRIPTURE READING: GENESIS 22:1-8
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Long before the foundations of Jerusalem were laid, before the walls were raised and Solomon’s temple was dedicated, before prophets and priests and kings walked the streets of the Holy City, there was on that very site a most astounding happening.
Two thousand years before Christ entered Jerusalem, God called Abraham to go to thatplace and offer up his only son—the son he so dearly loved—as a sacrifice.
Abraham obeyed. Men of faith always do. Abraham, Isaac, and two young men rose up early to begin their trek. Men of faith obey immediately.
When the mount of sacrifice came into sight, Abraham instructed the two young men to wait. He said, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you.” Abraham took the wood he had brought for the sacrifice and laid it upon Isaac, his only begotten son. He himself took the knife and the fire.
As they walkedup that rocky hillside Isaac asked the obvious, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham prophesied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb.”
An altar was built. The wood was laid on the altar. Then Abraham’s only son laid down on the altar, bound and ready to die.
Isaac may have been 33 years of age, his father133. Isaac could have run. Abraham could have refused. But both steadfastly obeyed—Abraham obeyed God. Isaac obeyed his father. Here is living,active faith. “See how [Abraham’s] faith worked, and by works [his] faith is made perfect?” James explains. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:22-24).
That day a voice from heaven halted Abraham’s sacrifice of his son.
But two thousand years later there was no voice from heaven to halt the sacrifice of God’s Son. On that fateful day, there was only a cry lifting from earth to heaven—“Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” God had “provided himself a lamb!”
“But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8).
Our Father in Heaven, How sincerely thankful we are today for the sacrifice of your only begotten Son. We look at the cross and stand amazed. We sing “When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.” How marvelous! But it is our prayer that you will be on our mind throughout this day. Keep us mindful that your ears are listening to us, your eyes are watching over us, and your Spirit is looking through us. May all that we do bring honor, and glory, and praise to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. To God be the Glory! In Jesus’ Name. Amen. Our Father &c…
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2013
41 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Colossians 1:20 “...it shall bruise thy head…
Prophetic references to the cross will be our focus for the next several reflections.
SCRIPTURE READING: GENESIS:3:15
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
REFLECTION: Moments after he lured, deceived, and ensnared Eve, the serpent was sentenced—“the seed of a woman will crush your head!” Too often we point to Eve’s tragic choice and fail to observe that it was a descendant of Eve’s—born of a virgin—without the involvement of any man, who would conquer that old serpent the devil. (Revelation 12:19; 20:2).
That final conquest would not be painless. Indeed the serpent would wound and kill his destroyer. But “death could not hold him prey, Jesus my Savior! He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!”(He Arose, by Robert Lowry).
The enmity, or hostility that exists between Satan and the Savior can never be resolved by negotiation, accommodation, or compromise. “What communion hath light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with beliel?” (2 Corinthians 6:15,16). Some moderns have proposed that unity at any price is preferable to callingour enemy and his impish allies by name and engaging them in battle. But there is an enmity between Satan’s seed and Christ’s that can never be resolved. Failure to acknowledge and accent that difference is the genesis of compromise.
John the Beloved tells us, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8). What Christ came to do, He did! His sacrifice expunges the guilt of sin, defeats the authority of sin, delivers from the power of sin, sanctifies us from the nature of sin, protects us when enticed to sin, and saves us from the penalty of sin.
But there is more. We who are born of God, having His seed within us (1 John 3:9),will like our Christ be bruised through persecution and temptation. Yet through it all, we can rejoice that the power to triumph over every solicitation of Satan is ours through our conquering Savior. “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37).
PRAYER: Our Gracious Heavenly Father, With the Apostle we say, “Thanks be unto God, for His unspeakable Gift!” To know that from the very foundation of the world you were making provision for the redemption of fallen man is wonderful evidence of your great love for us. Open our eyes to see our enemy, to recognize his subtle as well as his straight-on attacks, and to appreciate our conquering Savior. Forgive us for yielding to the allure of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our heart’s desire is to be wholly and holy on the Lord’s side. Savior we are Thine! May all that we say and do this day bring glory to the Savior in whose name we pray. Amen. Our Father &c.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2013
42 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Hebrews 12:1 “Looking unto Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…”
SCRIPTURE READING: HEBREWS 12:1-4
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
In reading the Gospel accounts of Christ’s crucifixion, I have often been amazed by their brevity. Matthew simply writes, “And they crucified him.” (Matthew 27:35). Mark testifies, “And they crucified him.” (Mark 15:35). Luke tells us, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him.”(Luke 23:33). John records, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him…” (John 19:17-18).
Attempts by artists and actors to accurately portray the suffering of the Savior on the cross fall woefully short. Of necessity their depictions are this-worldly. Relying on an artist’s palate, the actor’s talent, the cameraman’s skill, the musician’s ability, or even the imaginative writer’s vocabulary, it is impossible to fully reveal the spiritual dimensions of Calvary. Too often men have cheapened and concealed the spiritual reality of the sacrifice by their feeble depictions.
But when a holy man, moved by the Holy Ghost, (2 Peter 1:21) tells us that our Messiah “endured the cross,” literally“despising the shame” (not simply ignoring the shame, but purposefully chosing to scorn the shame), and that he did all of that for the “joy that was set before him,” suddenly we see truth that could never be perceived by the naked eye.
We see a falsely accused, mercilessly tormented, suffering Savior, looking upward and forward to the joy that is the unique possession of all who do the Father’s will. When the cheers of Palm Sunday turned to the jeers of Good Friday, He did not halt. He prayed: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”(Luke 23:46). This is the Christ we look to. This is the example we follow. And the joy of doing God’s will and abiding in His presence forever is the reward we know.
PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, We come into your presence awed by your power, amazed by your love, and humbled by the sacrifice of your only begotten Son. We see Jesus, poor, despised, hated, persecuted, blasphemed, mocked, spit upon, cursed, humiliated, hanging on the cross, and we pray, Oh God, help us to follow in His steps, and run with patience the race that is set before us. May the love that compelled our Christ, indwell our hearts. And may we rejoice to take up our cross today, anticipating that glorious someday when we will exchange our cross for a crown. In the name of Christ our Messiah we pray. Amen. “Our Father, &c.”
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2013
43 DAYS TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY
Colossians 1:20 “Having made peace through the blood of the cross.”
SCRIPTURE READING: COLOSSIANS 1:9-23a
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…
REFLECTION: The Prophet Isaiah heard from Heaven: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:21).
Men who are at war with God have no peace. Men who are at war with God, war with one another and war within. As certainly as peace on the battlefields of this war-torn world is bought only at the price of blood, so peace with God can only be purchased at the price of blood.
Every fallen man of Adam’s race is an enemy combatant. It can only be thought amazing that God would deign to send heaven’s best into this enemy occupied territory. But God so loved…
We have all sinned. We are by nature children of wrath. But through the sacrifice of that Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, we have been DELIVERED from the power of darkness, TRANSLATED into the Kingdom of Christ, REDEEMED from the dominion of the slave-master called sin, and FORGIVEN from every we have committed.
Now we are no longer at war with God, we belong to God! There is peace through the blood of the cross. Hallelujah what a Savior.
Jesus my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow’r of evil can sever;
He gave His life to ransom my soul—
Now I belong to Him!
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me—
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.
Once I was lost in sin’s degradation,
Jesus came down to bring me salvation,
Lifted me up from sorrow and shame—
Now I belong to Him!
Joy floods my soul, for Jesus has saved me,
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me;
His precious blood He gave to redeem—
Now I belong to Him!
PRAYER: Our Father which art in Heaven, we give Thee all the glory, and the praise, and the honor for offering up your only Son as a full, and perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. I confess it is my duty to love you with all of my heart. May that love be the motive for all the that I do. May my affections, my senses, my health, my time, and whatever talents I have be wholly thine. May the joy I have from peace with God, lead me to a greater love for God. Thank you Lord for saving my soul. In the strong name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY, 25, 2012
44 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Philippians 3:18 “They are enemies of the cross…”
SCRIPTURE READING: PHILIPPIANS 3:13-4:1
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. 4.1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
REFLECTION: Four words in this passage hit me hard. They always have. I hope they always will.
They were words that deeply moved the Apostle as he wrote to the Philippians. With scalding tears coursing down his weathered cheek Paul warns us. Some are “ENEMIES OF THE CROSS.”
How could anyone be an enemy of the cross of Christ? Where are these imposters? Who are these opponents? Why are they enemies of the dear Lamb of God?
The Apostle answers: their God is their belly (they live to eat, drink, and be merry with no reference to eternity), their glory is their shame (they are so smug and proud they have convinced themselves that their godlessness is actually godliness), and they mind earthly things (their attention is focused on the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things).
God knows if we are “enemies” or “friends” of the cross. Jesus said, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 14:15). May we ever “cling to the Old Rugged Cross, and exchange it someday for a crown!”
PRAYER: Our Father which art in Heaven, Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever! Our hearts are moved with deep gratitude as we think that you so loved us that you gave your only begotten Son for us. “That God should love a sinner such as I, how wonderful is love like this!” We pray that we would never say, or do, or think anything that would set us against the cross. Search our hearts, know our thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in us. Forgive us for opposing and resisting your will. May we always be friends of the Christ who suffered, and bled, and died to save us from the guilt, the power, and the penalty of sin.“Oh how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, Oh how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!” In His name, I pray. Amen.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2013
45 DAYS TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY
Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross…”
SCRIPTURE READING: GALATIANS 3:13-14; 24-28; 6:14-16
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
24 The law [the Old Testament Law given to Moses by God] was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
14 God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
REFLECTION: The law of God cannot change our hearts. But the law of God can and does reveal what is in our hearts.
When the law of God says, “Thou shalt not…” natural men reply, “I will do it if it kills me!” Yet these same natural men feel condemned for their rebellion to God’s law.
To assuage their conscience and to prove to others that they are not so bad, they emphasize their good works, hoping that if their good outweighs the bad they will earn God’s favor. But God is not impressed.
God is looking for a people who are not only conformed to His will, but who are so transformed that they love His will. The Apostle Paul discovered that his only hope for salvation was found in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only salvation through the cross of Christ changed his heart, changed his mind, and changed his life.
It was a difficult truth to accept for it meant that he would be relying on Christ alone for His salvation. But when he died to the world—its opinions, its expectations, its approval—and died to his own self-righteousness, he proclaimed: “I WILL GLORY IN THE CROSS!” The cross made the difference! And it still does!.
PRAYER: Our Father, you alone are worthy of our highest praise. You who so loved the world that you gave your only begotten Son are worthy of our deepest gratitude. You, who has sent forth your Holy Spirit as the Spirit who convicts, who converts, who guides, who comforts, who sanctifies, and who satisfies, are worthy of our admiration and love. Were it not for the cross of Christ we would have been forever without God and without hope, but we are deeply grateful today for your sacrifice. May we never glory in the things we have done for you, but live to give you glory for what you have done for us. We love you Lord and pray that today your wonderful will would be fulfilled in our lives. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2013
“We preach Christ crucified…”
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17-31
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
REFLECTION: As I stood outside the University of Illinois Student Union Building preaching the Gospel to a group of skeptical fellow students I was struck by the sheer improbability of the message I so confidently proclaimed.
I quoted the Scriptures to prove that Christ was born of a virgin, crucified, dead and buried. I preached that Christ rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming again. But in the empirical world of science, the material world of business, and the heady world of philosophy, my message bounced off the walls of those impressive buildings sounding more like a fairy tale than Gospel truth.
What kept Paul preaching at Athens—the cradle of philosophy?
What kept him preaching in Rome—the most powerful capital in the ancient world?
Why did he return again and again to Jerusalem—the Holy City?
Why was he so tireless in proclaiming Christ?
Paul knew what we have found to be true: The preaching of the Cross is “the power of God” to all them who are saved.
Science cannot change our nature.
Business cannot transform our desires.
Philosophy cannot answer the deepest needs of the human heart.
But Christ crucified, buried, and risen can do all of that and so much more!
PRAYER: Our Father, How grateful we are today for your amazing Love! “How can it be? That thou, my God shoulds’t die for me?” We pray that your great love for us, would incite us to greater love for you. May your wisdom, your righteousness, your sanctification, and your redemption be ours through the shed blood of Christ. We glory only in you Lord! We know that we are blessed to be a blessing. May it be so throughout this day. In the name above every name, the name of Jesus, Amen.
- WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2013
- Scripture Reading: Luke 9:18-25
- 18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? 19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. 20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. 21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; 22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
- REFLECTION: Too many professing Christians imagine they can be identified with Christ without being crucified with Christ.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in THE COST OF DISCIPLESCHIP, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
- Christ's disciples deny the pleasures of sin, pride, and the "self-centered life. They take up the cross daily--dying to the world and the flesh. Without a death there can be no resurrection. Only when we fully die to our self-centered and selfish agenda can we rise to walk in newness of life. Fanny Crosby expressed the same idea in her hymn "Blessed Assurance," "Perfect submission, all is at rest."
- PRAYER: Our Father, Thank you for sending your only begotten Son to die on the cross for my sins. Search my heart and reveal to me any area of my life that is self-centered, or selfish, or in any way disobedient to your will.(Pause here and wait for a moment to listen for God's voice). Forgive me Lord. Purify my heart. I surrender my entire life to you. Put to death any rebellious and self-centered attitudes in my heart. Fill me with your great love. In Jesus' name, Amen.
All souls live forever. Just as we have a physical birth, we must have a spiritual birth.
To be born again we must:
1. Repent--that is "change our minds" about disobeying God. Those who sincerely repent are not only sorry for their sins, they hate sin. Those who repent say, "If I had it to do all over again, I would never disobey the Lord."
2. Confess--pray and tell the Lord of the specific sins you have committed.
3. Believe--believing in Christ and believing Christ are the sinners only hope for salvation. We trust in the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary for our redemption.
4. Obey--The Bible says, "If we walk in the Light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."
March 24, 2013
March 31, 2013
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