Archive for March 2018

A People of Truth

A reflection on Revelation 2:12-17,
Christ’s letter to the church in Pergamum.

As human creatures, our ignorance runs deep.
There is so much we cannot know on our own.
Powerful spiritual beings can easily deceive us.
But we can know the truth,
absolute and unchanging,
through the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within us.

We spend so many of our words spouting what is
trivial or
Our speech can be so meaningless.
But we can speak the truth
clearly and boldly
as the Spirit of Truth speaks through us.

We are weak,
and evil presses in from all around.
But we can live the truth
consistently and
as we simply trust the
all-loving Spirit of God.

Father, keep us true,
each of us and all of us,
individually and together.
Make us Your
loving people
through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Will Be Your People
Printed Music & Lyrics

In Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-46

In Gethsemane, we see the full humanity of Jesus.
Any notion that the crucifixion was somehow easier for Him
is dispelled here.
As He ate His final Passover with His disciples,
we sensed His burden.
But now, the weight seems to be almost crushing Him.
He tells His disciples,
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matt. 26:38, NIV).
He reaches out for their support,
but they sleep,
leaving Him all alone.
He falls on His face before God.
His sweat becomes like drops of blood. 

Physically, He is facing extended torture and an excruciating death.
Emotionally, He is already under tremendous pressure, and
soon complete isolation and humiliation will be added.
Spiritually, He is about to experience a sense of separation from the Father
Who has been His constant companion and strength.

Jesus is in the final hour before his horrible ordeal.
How does He spend it?
He doesn’t resort to recreation or
diversion or
bodily rest.
He prays.
The disciples are asleep, and
when the pressure comes,
they will crumble and scatter.
Jesus prays.
And when the pressure comes,
He will be at peace.
In His most vulnerable moments,
He will be strong in the strength of Almighty God.

Throughout His life, His Father has been
His companion,
His confidence,
His food,
His constant focus.
And now, as every fiber of Jesus’ being is screaming for escape,
He does what He has always done:
He trusts His Father and depends on Him alone.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: A Garden in the Night
Printed Music & Lyrics

Suffering Servant

Paraphrased from Isaiah 52:13 – 53:9 

Hear Isaiah’s prophecy describing Jesus’ sacrificial death,
written centuries before His coming:

See the Servant!
His appearance is so disfigured,
He barely seems human.
There is absolutely nothing attractive about Him.
He is a man of sorrow, pain, and profound grief.

His own people despise Him and
turn their backs on Him.
They don’t even want to look at Him.
They consider Him cursed.
Surely God is punishing Him for some horrific sin!

But He is bearing our guilt.
He is carrying our sorrows.
Our sins are wounding Him, and
our wickedness is crushing Him.
All His pain, all His suffering are for our healing.

We are like sheep.
We have all wandered away, and
the Lord is laying on Him
the punishment due to each and every one of us.

With all this abuse and injustice,
He never resists and never complains.
He never opens His mouth.
He is like an innocent lamb being
meekly, silently
led to the slaughter. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Isaiah 53
Printed Music & Lyrics

Our Reality in Christ

A prayer response to Revelation 2:8-11,
Christ’s letter to the church in Smyrna.

Father, when we are like Your Son Jesus,
the world will treat us as it treated Him.
We will suffer as He suffered –
false accusations, and

But Father, as You cared for Him,
now exalted to Your right hand,
You will care for us.
And just as we are sharing His sufferings,
we are sharing
His beautiful relationship with You and
His unending, unbounded life.

Though we suffer,
we need not fear suffering.
The worst our persecutors can do is to hasten
the inevitable death of this body and
our eternal reward.
They cannot touch our real life, which is
our life in You. (Matthew 10:26-31)

Though we may be poor in the passing goods of this world,
we are rich in Christ.
All things are His, and
all things are ours in Him. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

People may falsely accuse us.
Satan is the great accuser, and
his servants will do his work.
But Christ knows the truth, and
He is judge of all.
He has already declared us completely innocent. (Romans 8:31-39)

If He tarries in His coming,
this body will die.
But Christ is the One who died and rose again, and
His resurrection life is already pulsing through us.
Death cannot touch us.
We will rise in Him. (John 11:25-26)

In comfort or suffering,
need or plenty,
glory or shame,
life or death,
we are rich, secure, eternally alive, and abundantly blessed
in You, Father,
through Jesus Christ Your Son.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Captives of Eternal Love
Printed Music & Lyrics

I Cannot Tell

A Hymn on
the Mysteries of Christ

Printed Music

I cannot tell why He, the King of Heaven,
Should leave the peace of all eternity,
Why God Himself should lay aside His splendor
To leave the Father’s side and come to me.
But this I know: our silence filled with singing,
And all our darkness fled from heaven’s light
When Christ the Lord, so human, yet so holy,
In love was born a child for me that holy night!

I cannot tell why He, the Joy of Heaven,
Should give Himself to suffer for my sin,
Why Holy God should love me in my shamefulness,
Why He should die to draw my soul to Him.
But this I know: that Christ the Lord is risen,
And praise His name, He’s risen now in me!
Because He lives, I’ll rise to life eternal!
He took my guilty heart, and I’m forever free!

I cannot tell when He will rule the nations,
How He will claim His loved ones as His own;
And who can tell the holy jubilation
When all His children gather ’round His throne.
But this I know: all flesh will see His glory,
And skies will burst as all creation sings.
The Son will rise on one eternal morning
When Christ, the Savior of the world, is Lord and King!

When the Time Comes

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 

“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:23-25, 27-28, NIV)

Jesus knew His time had come. He was about to be
deserted by His closest friends,
mocked and humiliated by His enemies,
condemned to death by His own people,
separated from His Father with whom He had enjoyed an eternity of intimate fellowship, and executed by the most brutal method known.

Yet how did He think of the hours ahead? He considered it His chance to show the entire world the amazing love of His Father. It was His chance to plant the seed from which a bountiful, eternal harvest would grow.

Facing His ordeal, He wasn’t begging for a way out. He was asking the Father to glorify Himself through all that was about to happen.

Father, that is my prayer as well. Through my difficult hours, glorify Yourself. Through my suffering, let the world see how marvelous and loving You are!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Glorify Your Name
Printed Music & Lyrics

Have You Lost Your First Love?

A reflection on Revelation 2:4-7,
Christ’s letter to the church in Ephesus.

Nothing is as vital as having
a warm, active, loving, self-giving relationship
with God and
with His children.

Has your relationship cooled?
Have you lost your first love?
Is your love for God and for others as
natural, and
as it was at the beginning?

If not, follow Christ’s own words for restoring your love:

Remember the way your love was at the beginning.
Realize how you’ve changed,
and not for the better.
Realize what you’ve lost.

Admit that you have been wrong.
Focus on what you have done wrong,
not on what they have done wrong.
Ask forgiveness,
from God and from the other people involved.
Commit to change, with God’s help.

Do the loving deeds you did at first.
Love is not an emotion,
to be chased like the wind.
Love is a decision.
Love is a commitment.
Love is action.
Do the loving deeds you did at the beginning, and
the emotion will return in its own time.

Love is the most excellent way to live.
Never let it slip away.
Treasure love.
Pursue love.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Daily Confession
Printed Music & Lyrics

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