Foreshadowing the Resurrection

If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
(Job 14:14-15, NIV)

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes…
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27, NIV)

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11, NIV)

God will redeem my life from the grave;
he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:15, NIV)

He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples…
He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.
(Isaiah 25:7-8, NIV) 

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out
by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley;
it was full of bones…He asked me, “Son of man, can these
bones live?”…So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath
entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—
a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:1, 3, 10, NIV)

Adam and Eve turned away from God, though He had warned them that if they did, “they would surely die” (Genesis 2:17, NIV). But as He pronounced judgment on them, He also promised that the Seed of Eve would someday crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). Life would come from death.

During Noah’s time, our sin had become so bad that God destroyed our entire race with a flood, saving only Noah’s family. But when it was over, God promised, “Never again will I destroy all living creatures” (Genesis 8:21, NIV). In the struggle with sin, life would win.

Joseph faced imminent death, slavery, injustice, and prison, but emerged as prime minister of Egypt. Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, and whoever looked upon it was saved from death. The three Hebrew children were thrown into a fiery furnace but emerged unscathed. Elijah raised the widow’s son. When Ezekiel spoke God’s Word, an entire valley of dry bones came to life.

All these were glimpses, foretastes, anticipations of God’s greatest miracle: death itself would die and would be removed from all creation forever. God’s own Son would conquer it. He would endure a horrible death, then rise again, and in His train He would bring an entirely new race of holy, redeemed, glorified children of God.

Easter is a time to celebrate! Thanks be to God!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Didn’t He Rise!
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from Prepare Yourself for Worship

God Far and Near

Infinite God,
You come to me from
far beyond and
high above my knowing.

You display Yourself,
You flaunt Yourself,
You parade Yourself
through this physical world all around me.
You help me
glimpse You and
experience You and
begin to know You
through the senses You have given.

Infinite God,
personal God,
You come to me
in Jesus Christ,
in skin and fragile flesh and bone.
You make Yourself just like me and
even call Yourself my Father.
You come to invite me,
to draw me,
to bless me back to Yourself.

Transcendent God,
present God,
personal God,
God so high above yet inseparably close to me,
I turn to You now in simple response,
in desire,
in hope,
in surrender.

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Hymn: My Loving Father
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Receiving Christ’s Servants

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and that you help her in whatever matter she may need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. (Romans 16:1-2, NASB)

Phoebe was apparently coming to the church in Rome from her home church in Cenchrea, near Corinth, Greece. Reading Paul’s comments about how he wanted her received made me think of how God’s servants are sometimes received by the church.

Friends, let’s be honest:

1.         Our emotions are more human than we’d like to admit. And we sometimes react to each other on an emotional level, rather than on a rational level.

2.         We often react to each other’s personalities, cultural traits, and abilities out of self-interest. We like people who make us feel comfortable. We don’t like those whom we perceive as threatening our interests. In our inner reactions to people, we can be petty, territorial, and downright jealous.

In these verses I see three reasons why we should receive all Christ’s servants with respect.

“Receive her in the Lord.” Because I truly love Christ, I want to love those He loves. I want to embrace those He has embraced, though they may have as many faults as I do.

“Receive her…in a manner worthy of the saints.” Jesus considers that person one of His “holy ones”, which is the literal translation of the word for “saints”. He has set them apart for himself. As His humble servant, I need to treat them as worthy of that honor.

“Receive her…for she herself has also been a helper of many.” We sometimes fail to respect those whom God has mightily used for His children’s welfare. We devalue those whose work Christ values so highly. Somewhere there are people who have been blessed, lifted, and drawn to Christ by that person. And for that, they deserve our full acceptance and genuine respect.

May the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7, NASB)

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Philippians 2:1-8
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In the Light of the Cross

I have been crucified with Christ
and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.

May I never boast except in
the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
(Galatians 2:20; 6:14; NIV)

Merciful Father,
flood my heart and mind every moment
with the full truth about Jesus Christ:
His life,
His death,
His resurrection, and
the completeness of His salvation.

Let me live in the blazing light of
all He is and
all He has done.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: In the Light of the Cross
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from Prepare Yourself for Worship

God of All

God of all reality…

God of all time and
all eternity,
of all that has been,
all that is, and
all that will be…

God of every wonder ever seen,
every truth ever known,
every mystery ever pondered,
every good ever desired
and so much that is beyond imagining…

You are the One who calls to me.
You are the One who calls me to Yourself.
You are the One who offers me
full knowing and
unbroken fellowship with You.

How can a creature like me respond to such an offer?
All I can do is bow to You
here and now,
and simply say,
“Here I am.”

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God of the Universe
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Fruitful Prayer

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read John 14:12-14; 15:7-8; 16:23-28

Part of a fruitful relationship with God is prayer. As Jesus taught His disciples for the final time before His crucifixion, three times He talked about prayer. Three times He made the lavish promise, “Ask, and you will receive.”

What did He mean by this? Is this a blank check to indulge all our desires?

Whenever we want to understand what a person is saying, we have to take it in context, in the flow of what he or she is communicating. Taking isolated sentences out of context is a recipe for disaster, whether in daily conversation or in interpreting the Bible.

Read today’s scriptures, and notice the contexts for Jesus’ promises about prayer. The context is always Christian service. He is talking about asking for ministry purposes, not for personal reasons. The focus is on bearing fruit for the Father. There will be times in God’s work when we will either ask the Father plainly for what is needed, or the job won’t get done. So ask!

Ask for the Father’s benefit, not your own. Ask in Jesus’ name, for His purposes, for the Father’s glory. Prayer is not drawing the all-wise, all-loving Father down to your petty, personal viewpoint. Prayer is drawing us upward into His perspective and His concerns. Sovereign God is not going to dance to your tune. He wants to teach you to dance to His. Note what James says: 

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3, NASB)

Pray as a branch in the Vine. Pray out of the life you share with Jesus Christ. Pray as standing in the loving Father’s presence, as a brother or sister of Jesus Christ, as His friend and servant.

Pray as Jesus would pray, and the Father will answer you as He would answer Jesus.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Ever Standing in Your Presence
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The Just Will Live by Faith

“How can someone as weak and inconsistent as I possibly please a holy God?” Romans chapters 1 – 8 offers so much wonderful, life-giving assurance.

  • We do not obey God by keeping a list of rules. The rules are important, but we can’t obey them by our own efforts. We cannot please God that way (Romans 7:7-25). Our obedience is “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). God wants only this: He wants us to trust Him, and to live out that trust.
  • As we trust Him step by step, God changes us into the Christ-like persons He wants us to be. We change, not by determined efforts at self-reform, but by trusting God (Romans 1:16-17).
  • We don’t become right with God by trying to make our lives right with Him. We become right with God the same way Abraham did: by trusting God (Romans 4). As we trust Jesus Christ, He nurtures a living relationship with us. He lives His holy life in us as we trust Him (Romans 5 – 8).

All God’s promises, all His holiness, all His power flow through us and grow in us as we trust in Him. Righteousness from God is by faith from first to last…The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17, NIV).

Listen and sing:
Hymn: By Faith in Jesus Christ
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from Prepare Yourself for Worship

When We Worship

Almighty, Sovereign God,
when I worship You from my heart, I recognize
You for who You are, and
myself for who I am.
You are all goodness and the only source of all goodness.
You alone are life,
truth,
rightness,
holiness,
beauty,
wisdom, and
love.
Without You, I am empty,
nothing,
weakness and need.

When I worship You,
I embrace the truth.
I admit reality and
align myself with it.
I align myself with You, in all
humility,
trust, and
gratitude.

When I worship, I admit that
You are the Creator, and
I am your creature,
born of Your deep love,
made in Your image.
You are Father of all, and
I am Your little child.
You are the holy yet human Son,
God made flesh, and
I joyfully wonder at the mystery.
You became entirely like me, so that I might become
entirely like You!
You are the Holy Spirit,
the life of God,
the love of God, and
the power of God,
ever among us and within us.
You are filling us even now, enabling us to
live like Christ and
love like Christ.

Praise to You, eternal Father,
Christ the Son, and
Holy Spirit!
Praise to You for all You are!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Worship Father, Son, and Spirit
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I Long for the Father

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 13:1, 3 

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God. (John 13:1-3, NIV) 

Father, as Jesus neared the end of His time here,
His deepest longing,
His burning desire was this:
to return to You.

His Spirit in me is breathing the same desire.
Father, I long to come home to You.

Father, You are the goal toward which
all history is moving.
I want my thoughts,
my desires, and
my daily living
to keep moving toward You as well.

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Hymn: Longing for Home
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Picture This

Picture this:

A poor widow generously gives her last two meager coins,
all that she has to live on.

A father is horribly mistreated by His wayward son.
But when the son finally comes home, penniless and half-starved,
the father runs to him and
joyfully smothers him with love and gifts and forgiveness.

The King of All Kings makes Himself a poor, powerless peasant.
He lives homeless and without a family
so that all the people can be His family.
He feeds and heals and teaches everyone who comes to Him.
He frees those tormented by demons and
raises the dead.

Finally, He gives Himself as the full and final sacrifice for all their sins.
To celebrate their deliverance, He makes Himself their feast:
His own body becomes the bread broken for them.
His own blood becomes the wine poured out for them.

All these are living portraits of
the glorious love of
our glorious God,
drawn by the life and death of His only Son,
Jesus Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Pictures of God’s Love
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