Sunday, April 27, 2014

ALL THAT THRILLS MY SOUL IS JESUS

http://youtu.be/t1RNmnio_NU

I would also highly recommend this message by Nathan Purdy of Northern Ireland.


Have a blessed Lord's Day!

THE LORD WILLING I'M PREACHING THIS MORNING ON "DID NOT OUR HEARTS BURN WITHIN US?"
AND THIS EVENING "SO SEND I YOU."

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.FCCStLouis.org

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ITS SATURDAY NIGHT - NO ONE WHO CARES LIKE JESUS

IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT - NO ONE WHO CARES LIKE JESUS!

DEVOTION + AND PETER

VIDEO INVITATION TO RESURRECTION SUNDAY:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuUt9OTPa34&list=UUpUmxduWvxlTv1C-2JA4xtw




SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014
Mark 16:7 “…and Peter…”

SCRIPTURE READING: MARK 16:1-10
1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
 9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

REFLECTION:  
This is our 47th and final LENTEN DAILY DEVOTIONAL.  Thank you for reading. We pray that all who have followed along with us have been encouraged to a deeper walk with Christ.

All of the Gospels recount the resurrection of Jesus.  Mark tells that the angel who announced Christ’s resurrection to the women who were first to the tomb, instructed them specifically, “Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter, that He is going into Galilee…”

I love those two words, “and Peter.”  Obviously Jesus loved Peter too.  He loved him in spite of the fact that he had run away with the rest of the disciples when the Jews came after Christ.  He loved him  even though he had denied the Lord three times. He loved Peter, and He loves us “unto the end.”  

1700 years later the Lord called for a slave trader named John Newton to meet Him.  Through a number of “coincidences,” the last being a great storm that nearly took his life, Newton accepted the Lord’s invitation.  We conclude with his touching testimony:

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,ui
And stopp’d my wild career:

I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:

My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!

—A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may’st live.”

Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.

With pleasing grief, and mournful joy, 
My spirit now is fill’d 
That I should such a life destroy, 
Yet live by Him I kill’d! – 
                 John Newton, 1725-1807

PRAYER: Our Father, We praise Thee for the Son of thy Love, For Jesus who died, and is now gone above! Hallelujah Thine the Glory, Hallelujah Amen!  What a joy it is to know that we “Serve a Risen Savior, He’s in the World today!”  We pray that as we rejoice in the risen Savior we would never forget the price of our redemption, the power of the resurrection, and promise of everlasting life.  May we always reflect the glory of thy presence in a world that needs to see Christ in us.  We anticipate with great joy that day when we, like Thomas, will touch the hand of our Savior and discover the print of a nail.  Oh what a day that will be! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.  “Our Father, &c.”

DEVOTION + SEE NICODEMUS

VIDEO INVITATION:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuUt9OTPa34&list=UUpUmxduWvxlTv1C-2JA4xtw



SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 2014
John 19:39  “And there came also Nicodemus…”

SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 19:31-42
31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
 32Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
 33But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
 34But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
 35And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
 36For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
 37And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
 38And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
 39And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
 40Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
 42There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

REFLECTION: 
A few years earlier he came to Jesus “by night.”  “Master we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles except God be with Him,” Nicodemus confessed. 

Jesus didn’t reprove his secret inquirer, He taught him, “Verily verily I say unto thee, ye must be born again!”

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, that great day of the Feast when Jesus proclaimed, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink,” opinions in Jerusalem were sharply divided.  Some believed Jesus was the long anticipated Messiah.  The Jewish Sanhedrin was sure He was an imposter. 

Nicodemus emerged from the shadows, not yet ready to openly proclaim Christ as His Lord, but anxious to hear more, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he does?”  His authority and influence were sufficient to pause the Sanhedrin’s rush to judgment.

John tells us that Joseph of Arimethaea begged Pilate for the body of Jesus. But there was another who helped him take our Lord from the cross to the tomb. 

See Nicodemus. 

Together they did what they could to prepare Christ’s body for burial.  They wrapped Him in linen clothes.  Then they gently laid him in Joseph’s new made tomb. Though Nicodemus knew that his faith in Christ would earn him the scorn of the Jerusalem elite, his admiration for Christ could not longer be secret, his confidence in Christ would not longer be ambiguous. 

He remembered and now believed what Christ had said to him on that first night they talked. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

As the cold, lifeless body of Jesus lay in state on that final Sabbath before the resurrection, there were no crowds of mourners, nor were there mounds of floral offerings. The disciples were in hiding.  

Shrouded in linen, entombed in stone, guarded by Rome’s best soldiers, our Lord’s next move would not come until the break of dawn the next day, the first day of the week. On that day, The Lord of the Sabbath would rise to inaugurate the first LORD'S DAY. 


PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We bow before you, grateful that you so loved the world, that you so loved us.  We marvel at your patience with Nicodemus, and then we are even more amazed at your patience with us. As we look at the cross we are struck not only by your love, but by the horror of the sin that separates us from you, and distance you trave
led to save us.  Hallelujah.  Thine be the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever!  In Jesus’ strong name, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DEVOTION + GOOD FRIDAY



GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2014
John 19:22 “What I have written I have written…King of the Jews.”

SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 19:19-22
19And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
 20This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
 21Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
 22Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

REFLECTION: 
Ignoring his own considered opinion, “I find no fault in Him,” disregarding the advice of his wife, “Have nothing to do with this just man,” and discounting the lack of criminal evidence, “for envy the Jews had delivered Him,” Pontius Pilate yielded to the Chief Priest and ordered our Lord’s execution.

Customarily the convicted would be preceded to his execution by man carrying a sign inscribed with the condemned man’s indictment.  When crucified, the sign would be nailed above his head. Pilate ordered Christ’s indictment to be written in Latin, Hebrew, and Greek.

When the Chief Priest saw Christ’s indictment, “The King of the Jews,” they protested to Pilate. They urged him to write, “He Said I Am King of the Jews.”  This time the Roman prefect refused to oblige the self-righteous. Pilate declared, “What I have written, I have written.”

Pilate’s assertion meant more to the Jews than meets the eye.  They knew that he not only meant that “what is done is done,” but “what is done shall continue.”  Christ Jesus was, is, and always will be “The King of Jews!”  And what is more, He was, is, and always will be my King.

We call today, the day our Lord was crucified, “Good Friday.” It was not “good” because there was no suffering, it was “good” because provision was made to avert an eternity of suffering.  It was not “good” because sin was invisible, it was “good” because Christ proved invincible.  It was not “good” because hate was not on display, it was “good” because the love of God was demonstrated.

PRAYER: (Today’s Prayer is adapted from John Wesley’s Daily Prayer Book.)
Almighty and Everlasting God, We praise your Holy Name for so loving this sin cursed world that you gave your only Begotten Son. 

+O Jesus, poor and abject, unknown and despised, have mercy upon me and let me not be ashamed to follow Thee.
+O Jesus, hated, calumniated, and persecuted, have mercy upon me and let me not be afraid to come after Thee.
+O Jesus, betrayed and sold at a vile price, have mercy upon me and make me content to be as my Master.
+O Jesus, blasphemed, accused and wrongfully condemned, have mercy upon me, and teach me to endure the contradiction of sinners.
+O Jesus, clothed with a habit of reproach and shame, have mercy upon me, and let me not seek my own glory.
+O Jesus, insulted, mocked, and spit upon, have mercy upon me, and let me run with patience the race that is set before me.
+O Jesus, dragged to the pillar, scourged, and bathed in blood, have mercy upon me and let me not faint in the fiery trial.
+O Jesus, crowned with thorns and hailed in derision;
+O Jesus, burdened with our sins, and the cures of the people,
+O Jesus, affronted, ouraged, buffeted, overwhelmed with injuries, griefs, and humiliations;
+O Jesus, hanging upon the accursed tree, bowing the head, giving up the ghost,
Have mercy upon me, and conform my whole soul to thy Holy, humble, suffering Spirit. 

O Thou who for the love of me hath undergone such an infinity of sufferings and humiliations, let me too be wholly emptied of myself, that I may rejoice to take up my cross daily and follow Thee.  Enable me too to endure the pain and despise the shame, and if it be thy Will to resist even unto blood.


In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DEVOTION + IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME


THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014
1 Corinthians 11:24 "Do this in remembrance of meナ"

SCRIPTURE READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-32
23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
 24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
 25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
 26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

REFLECTION:  
Jesus said, "EatナDrinkナin remembrance of me."  We gather at the table of the Lord and eat "his body," and drink "his blood," 

With profound respect we ask, "Why?" 

We tend to forget.  In the daily living of our lives we forget those who have sacrificed in our behalf.  Returning soldiers are grateful for the welcome-home parades but it is not long before their sacrifice seems forgotten and their bravery unappreciated by the nation they have so valiantly defended.  

How must the Christ see us?  We forget that we have been redeemed with His precious blood.  Spurgeon laments, "The incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth, takes away the soul from Christ...We can recollect anything but Christ, and forget nothing so easy as Him whom we ought to remember."

Christ knew that when we remember His sacrifice, we think, we live, and we are different. 

We need form.  We need form in our faith to form our faith.  

Modern man, actually self-centered, carnal men throughout all ages, rebel against this and every divine mandate. Godly men know they need form-not to earn God's favor or men's applause, but to inform, to inspire, and to instill a deeper faith.

Christ says "Do this."  The descendants of Cain say "That's not required." Whether it is "Take eatナand drink," or "baptizing them," or "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together," or "on the first day of the week bring your offerings," or  "inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me," they do only what they want, when they want, to the degree that they want, and then declare themselves super spiritual.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned against "Religion-less Christianity." Emergent "Christians" boast of their "religion-less Christianity."  Bonhoeffer was a martyr who died for the faith. Emergents mock the faith, question and reject its form, and die for nothing.  We need form.

We show forth our Lord's death. Christianity is
not only about us. It is first about the Christ who died, who rose, and who is coming again. But it is also about a lost world that needs to see, to receive, and to know our Christ.

In the pagan world of the ancients, the "Love Feast," drew sharp attacks.  Critics charged the Christians with "cannibalism"-they were eating flesh and drinking blood.  The enemies of Christ were vexed by their exclusion from the table of the Lord.  Yet the Church persisted to "show forth our Lord's death," until the day came that the very Lord they rued came to rule over them. 

The devil knows that if he can expunge the cross from history he can determine our destiny.  Christ says, "do this." And He meant keep on doing this.  In so doing we testify to the one and only Savior who by His blood, 
justifies (Romans 5:9), 
redeems (Ephesians 1:7), 
forgives (Ephesians 1:7), 
reconciles (Colossians 1:20), 
sanctifies (Hebrews 13:12), and
cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:9).

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, Our gratitude is so weak, our praise is so inadequate, our talents are so few, but with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength, we want you to know how thankful we are for the Sacrifice of Christ in our behalf.  Grant that we would remember, and never forget, that Christ died for us.  We present ourselves to you, a living sacrifice-holy and wholly.  "Jesus keep me near the cross," today and every day.  In the name above every other name we pray, In Jesus' name, Amen. "Our Father, &c."

DEVOTION + INTO THY HANDS


 
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013

Luke 23:46  “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit…”

 

SCRIPTURE READING: LUKE 19:45-49

45And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

 46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

 47Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

 48And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.

 49And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.

 
MATTHEW 27

50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

 53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

 54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

 55And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

 56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.

 

REFLECTION: 
As I child we learned to pray before falling asleep, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…”  Jewish mothers taught their children to pray Psalm 31:5, “Into thy hand I commend my spirit,” before they fell asleep in their father’s arms.  Dr. Barkley observed, “Jesus died with a prayer on His lips, perhaps the very prayer He prayed as a child falling asleep.”  The Evangelist tells us that Christ added “Father,” to His final prayer.
Men cannot and should not determine the moment of their last breath, but Christ was more than a man—He was the God-man. No man took His life.  He freely laid it down. 

What comfort it must have afforded the Savior as he cast Himself into the loving hands of His Heavenly Father. For eighteen long and excruciating hours Jesus had been in the hands of cruel men.  M. L. Maughmer, Jr. preached:

“When Jesus was in the hands of men—they arrested Him illegally.


When Jesus was in the hands of men—they stripped Him naked.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they whipped Him until the flesh fell from his bones.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they beat Him unmercifully.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they plucked out His beard.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they slapped Him in face.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they punched Him until He was hardly recognizable.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they jammed a crown of thorns on His head.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they placed robe of mockery upon Him.

When Jesus was in the hands of men—they nailed Him to a cross.

But when Jesus was in the hands of His Father—He knew that He was in the hands of a loving Father.

Christ’s committal elicited a confession from the Roman centurion who stood nearby, “Surely this was the Son of God.”  Sons of God leave this world with a clear witness.  Even in our Lord’s death He was seeking the lost—He was seeking for me.

As the soul of our Savior took flight, the veil of the Temple (an ornate curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place) was rent from top to bottom.  I can imagine that Christ Himself headed to the Temple where He grasped the veil in his nail scarred hands and tore it in two. If He did not do it physically, He certainly did spiritually.  He opened to us free access to the Throne of God and His great grace. We now have an invitation “to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 
A committal, a confession, a demonstration, and then the earth shook.  The rocks were divided. Nature responded to the supernatural. The graves of departed saints were opened. The grave of the Savior was about to be closed—but only for a while.
Weary-worn from the battle? Commit your Spirit to the Father of all Spirits.  Wounded and dying at the close of the conflict? Commit your Spirit to the God of all Comfort.  Feeling forsaken and all alone? Commit your Spirit to Him who has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” 
Rest assured, all who sincerely call Him Father and commit themselves wholly to Him, will finally hear Him say, “Enter into the joys of thy Lord.” 
PRAYER: Our Father, We are thrilled to know that the veil that separated us from God has been torn away.  We come now, boldly to the Throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need.   Help us to rest in the knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s love.  Grant that we would press toward the mark confident that one day soon the faith shall be sight.  And through every trial may we never lose hope.  This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DEVOTION + IT IS FINISHED



TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2014
John 19:30  “It is finished…”

SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 19:30
 30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

REFLECTION: 
What was finished? 

When our our Lord Jesus perfectly obeyed and completed all of His Father’s will—it was finished!
When Christ fulfilled the sacrificial types and prophecies of the Old Covenant—it was finished!
When Jesus satisfied the demands of Divine Justice to redeem every repentant—it was finished!
When the Savior’s suffering was sufficient to destroy the works of the devil—it was finished!
When the way to the Holy of Holies and access to the Mercy Seat was opened through Christ’s shed blood—it was finished!
When Spirit answered to the blood—it was finished.

What was not finished?

Was the need for sinners to repent “finished?”  God forbid.
Was the need for men to turn from idols to God “finished?” Not hardly.
Was the necessity for faith in the blood of Christ absolved? No way.
Was the need for a holy life annulled at Calvary? Certainly not.
Was our need to be sanctified wholly in spirit, and in soul, and in body “finished” at the cross? No.
Was the requirement that men be separate from the world “finished” when Christ died? Impossible.

Too many have been lured into a false sense of eternal security by a gross misunderstanding and misapplication of these last words—“it is finished.”  They suppose that though they are disobedient, untruthful, and unfruitful, they can “rest on the finished work of Christ.”  A. W. Pink’s indictment of these antinomians (people who oppose God’s law) is right on: “The fear of God is not upon them, the commands of God have no authority over them, the holiness of God has no attraction for them.  They are worldly-minded, money-lovers, pleasure-seekers, Sabbath-breakers, who think all is right with them because they have ‘accepted Christ as their personal Savior.’”

Reader, lay it to heart.  The “finished work of Christ” is of no benefit until you acknowledge that you are a sinner only one heart-beat away from hell for eternity.  The “finished work of Christ,” is of no avail unless you have that victorious faith that saves from the power and the pollution of sin.  (Matthew 1:21) The “finished work of Christ” is of no use so long as you still love the world (1 John 2:15).  The “finished work of Christ” is only efficacious for those who by thorough repentance and living faith have been made “new creatures” in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Christ met and finished the requirements that the holiness of God demanded of Him. Now this same Holy God has one demand for us: “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16). 

If Christ had not finished, we could have never started this walk of faith. And there is more! He finished so that He might be both the “author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).

Thank God Christ finished.  Thanking Christ, we will too.

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We praise you today for finishing the work of redemption at the cross.  With your blood you saved us!  To God be the glory!  We pray that the great “Finisher of our faith,” would have free right of way in our lives today.  Bless us Lord and make us blessing in a world that desperately needs to see living, active, sincere faith.  Keep Thy cross before us.  We pray in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”


Sunday, April 13, 2014

DEVOTION + I THIRST


MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2015
John 19:28 “I thirst.”

SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 19:28,29
 28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
 29Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

REFLECTION: 
Shrouded in darkness our crucified Savior whispered His first cry for relief—“I thirst.”

How touching.

“He said, ‘I thirst,’ yet He made the river.
He said, ‘I thirst,’ yet He made the sea.
‘I thirst,’ said the King of the ages,
In His great thirst, He brought water to me.” 
            Lyrics by “Mama” Lowrey

In these plaintiff tones we hear again the humanity of our Lord. Dehydrated by His critical loss of blood and that perspiration which so often accompanies excruciating pain, the life of Christ was literally being drained out of Him.  Still there was no hint of anger at His assassins.  Still there was no revenge in His voice. Still He held at bay the legions of angels standing ready to rescue Him. He simply cried, “I thirst.”

We hear also the echo of His Divinity.  A thousand years before the Psalmist heard the Messiah cry, “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. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalm 69:20,21). 

Jesus perfectly fulfilled this, and every other prophecy of Messiah.  He did thirst.  They did give him vinegar to drink.  A few miles away, a few months later, Peter affirmed, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36). Indeed He was, and He is Messiah.

Knowing who it is that is speaking, might we hear more? We remember Him at the well.  He said to the Samaritan woman, “Drink this, not that.”  “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give shall never thirst.” He promises to slake not only the thirsty soul in a moment, for a moment, but forever!  “the water I give, will be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13,14).

There is more to be heard! The songwriter was right.  “In His great thirst, He brought water to me!”  In fulfilling a prophecy, He presented a promise. “I will pour waters on Him that is thirsty.”  (Isaiah 44:3)  He thirsted and opened a fountain of living water, so that all “who hunger and thirst after righteousness, shall be filled!” (Matthew 5:6).

PRAYER:

Our Father in Heaven, Creator of all that is seen and unseen, our soul thirsts for Thee!  We pray that we would be filled with all the fullness of God.  We pray that as we are filled we would be channels of blessing to a world that so desperately needs Thee.  May we follow in the footsteps of our Savior who loved and gave Himself for us.  Let us never presume that we are above our Master: let it be the one desire of our heart, to do not my own will, but the Will of Him that created us for His glory.  Fill us and use us today we pray.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. “Our Father, &c.”

Saturday, April 12, 2014

DEVOTION + THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY


SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2014
7 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Luke 19:41“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it…”

SCRIPTURE READING: LUKE 19:29-44
  29And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
 30Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
 31And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
 32And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.
 33And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
 34And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
 35And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
 36And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
 37And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
 38Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
 39And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
 40And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
 41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
 42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
 43For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
 44And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.


REFLECTION: 
To a crescendo of praise Jesus headed to Jerusalem for His final Passover.  “Hosanna!” His faithful shouted.  “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Word spread along the way.

His disciples took their clothing and laid it on the path as the Lord rode toward the Holy City on a colt.  Some took branches from nearby palm trees and waved them in celebration. 

I suppose that some of the children whom Jesus loved were there. “Forbid them not!” Jesus invited. 

No doubt there were some in that crowd whom Christ had healed. Eyes that had never before seen witnessed the majesty of that moment.  

The lame that Christ had touched now ran to participate.  Perhaps there were some of the 5,000 whom Christ had fed with five loaves and two fish.  I cannot imagine that Lazarus, whom Christ had raised to life only a few days earlier, would have missed this moment.

The critics were there too.  “Master, rebuke thy disciples!” they shrieked.  They could not see Christ for who He was. They would not. He just didn’t fit their expectations.

But this was our Lord’s day.  He said, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

As the procession rounds a turn in the path, the city appears in panoramic view. Jesus halts. The sound of praise turns to hushed tones.  A warm tear courses down our Savior face. Those who were closest heard Him, “If only you had known…”  Staring off into the future the Savior whispers, “The days will come…your enemies will compass you…keep you in on every side…lay you even with the ground, and your children…not leave one stone on another…”

He knew what was coming.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He warned, “You kill the prophets, stone them that are sent to you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wing, and you would not.” (Luke 13:34)

In the year of our Lord 70, forty years after that first Palm Sunday, the Roman ruler Titus laid siege to Jerusalem. Conditions inside the city walls deteriorated. There were even reports of cannibalism among the starving inhabitants. For some unexplained reason Titus lifted the siege for a short time.  

The Christians, remembering what our Lord had said, fled for their lives.  Those who remained were devastated when the full force and fury of the Roman military was unleashed on the city.  Listen to Jesus.

Looking down the road, Jesus saw the future for the Holy City.  Looking down the pathway of our lives, Jesus sees our destiny.  Is there a tear in His eye? Is He crying, “If you had only known…”  Does our Lord see you refusing His Word, ignoring His witnesses, and denying His love? Does Christ see destruction in our future? 

The Lord knows our destiny.  But it is we who determine our destiny.  He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


PRAYER: Our Father, We pause again to thank you for your great faithfulness.  We thank you for caring.  We thank you for loving.  We thank you for demonstrating your compassion.  We thank you for warning us.  We pray that our eyes would be open, that our ears would be listening, that our hearts would be willing ,and that our feet would be walking on the highway of holiness.  May it be that when we stand before you there would only tears of joy, as we hear the Lord say, “Welcome home.”  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.  “Our Father, &c.”

DEVOTION + WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS




SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2014
8 Days to Resurrection Sunday
Mark 15:34 "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me"

SCRIPTURE READING: JOHN 19:25-27; MARK 15:33-35
John 19:25-27
25Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
 26When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
 27Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Mark 15:33-35
33And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
 35And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

REFLECTION:  
There are seven recorded sayings of Christ as he hung on the cross.  The first was a prayer that His executioners would be forgiven.  The next two were conversations.  He spoke to the penitent thief and then to His mother.

Is it not touching that our Lord's last conversation was with His grieving mother and the beloved disciple beside her? Nowhere in the New Testament do we read of Christ addressing his mother as "mother."  Yet all through the Gospels we see Him honoring her.  

Our Lord's pathetic cry, "Behold your son," must have cut to her heart. She had carried this miracle in her womb.  She had nursed this Christ-child.  There was so much that she had kept her heart as she raised this son who from the beginning knew "I must be about my Father's business."  (Luke 2:49) She was there at His first miracle.  She was the one who instructed the servants at the wedding feast-"Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." (John 2:5). She was faithful.

Though her Son was the one who was dying for our sins, she suffered too. Sin is seldom, if ever, without collateral consequence.  The Innocent died for our sins but sadly the innocents suffer too.  It would be too much to bear but our Savior has "made a way of escape." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

From the cross Jesus made provision for his mother's care. Godly children honor their parents. 

At noon, the hour we anticipate the brightest daylight, darkness descended over the whole land.  Some have thought a thick layer of clouds blanketed the land. Others believe that it was a total eclipse of the sun.  Whatever the cause, when the "Light of the World" was nailed to the cross, the light in the world turned to darkness.  Those who deny the Light are finally deprived of the Light.

As our Lord passed through the valley of the shadow He cried, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me."  Those were familiar words to the Jews who stood near the cross. 

For centuries they believed the 22nd Psalm spoke of their Messiah.  With these words Christ not only identified himself as Messiah, He implored "his own" to believe Him. To His dying breath He never gave up trying.

Of course it is not ontologically possible that Christ, in whom "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9) could have divested Himself of His divinity at this crucial moment.  If He had, His sacrifice would have been deprived of its infinite merit. However, it is true that God the Father, purposefully withheld His consolations as Christ suffered and died.  He was left in the hands of the worst, so that He might redeem the worst.

The whole sorry scene impresses upon us the doom, the darkness, and the death, caused by sin-yes my sin.  I am repulsed.  I turn away. I do not want to see it.  But I must. For it is:

When I survey the wondrous cross, 
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, 
and pour contempt on all my pride.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down,
Did ere such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?  Isaac Watts

PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We are so grateful that you gave your only Begotten. We are so thankful that our Lord Jesus laid down His life for us.  When we see the price of redemption, we are convicted and broken-hearted.  We are so unworthy of your love. We pray that today, and every day, we would take seriously the consequence of sin.  We pray that we would walk in the Light of your Word. We pray that we would honor the blood you shed-not only with our words, but in our deeds, and by our love. Everything we are we owe to Thee. We love you Lord.  In Jesus' name, Amen. "Our Father &c."