Monday, April 20, 2009

God has Spoken

Since Easter Sunday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the experience of the women who went looking for Jesus at the tomb.

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." Matthew 28:1-7

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what the angel said - He is not here, He is Risen, just as He said. JUST AS HE SAID. Jesus had told His followers that He would be back, that death would not be the end of Him, but that He would accomplish what the Father had sent Him to do on the cross and then be raised from the dead. Clearly, they didn’t believe, and were surprised when they went to the tomb and found it empty. He was alive. JUST AS HE SAID.

We all know about Doubting Thomas, who wouldn’t believe that Jesus was alive until he put his hands in the holes in Jesus’ side. Thomas didn’t even believe the eyewitness accounts of his friends. And he surely didn’t think Jesus could have come back to life, even though it was JUST AS HE SAID.

So how does this apply to us today? Of course, as believers, we put our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But when the little and big things of life put us to the test, do we try to solve things our way and in our time, or do we wait on God and rely on Him? God has spoken, first through His prophets, and then through His Son, now through His Holy Spirit, expounding His message through His word.

We can hold firm to the anchor that God is King and is on His throne. It is JUST AS HE SAID. We must cling to what He has said to us through His word, and put our full confidence in His promises.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 5:11

I don’t want to be like the women at the tomb, being surprised that He has done what He has said He would. I want to wait with expectancy for the fulfillment of God’s promises in my life!

What promises are you standing on today?

God Has Spoken
Words by George W. Briggs

God has spoken by His prophets, spoken His unchanging Word,
Each from age to age proclaiming God, the One, the Righteous Lord.
In the world’s despair and turmoil one firm anchor holds us fast;
God is King, His throne eternal, God, the first, and God, the last.

God has spoken by Christ Jesus, Christ, the everlasting Son,
Brightness of the Father’s glory, with the Father ever one;
Spoken by the Word incarnate, God of God, ere time was born;
Light of Light, to earth descending, Christ, as God in human form.

God is speaking by His spirit, speaking to our hearts again;
In the ageless Word expounding God’s own message, now as then.
Through the rise and fall of national one sure faith yet standing fast;
God abides, His Word unchanging, God the first, and God the last.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

He Lives!

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3

He lives! Easter Sunday is a wonderful celebration in remembrance of God’s mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead. As believers, we should celebrate that fact every day! For we know that Jesus lives, not only because of what God’s word tells us, but because Jesus Christ is alive and living in us, guiding us through His Spirit in our daily lives. Even though we were once dead, God has made us alive WITH CHRIST (and if we’re alive WITH HIM, surely HE must be alive)!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

He lives to bring salvation for those who believe in their heart and confess with their mouth.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:8-10

We know that because Jesus lives, we never have to despair. Our hearts grow weary, and we share in Christ’s suffering as we navigate this life on Earth. But even through the stormy blast, we know that He is leading us, and that it is His life that is manifest in us. Even though we face various trials in our lives, we are not crushed, despairing, forsaken or destroyed!

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. II Corinthians 4:7-11

Because of this, we have hope! Jesus truly is the hope of all who seek him. None other is as good, loving or kind. Jesus is our only hope in this world. His resurrection from the dead has obtained for us an inheritance reserved in heaven, protected by the power of God through faith.

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that protects our inheritance in heaven! Now that’s hope!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I Peter 1:3-5

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

May you be encouraged by this hope, and join me in singing, “He lives! He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

He Lives!
Words by Alfred Ackley

I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see his hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And, just the time I need Him, He's always near.

He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair.
I know that He is leading through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christians, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Conqueror


The triumphant day has come! Today is Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus’ glorious victory over death and the tomb. He died the man of Galilee and rose the Conqueror!

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."
Matthew 28:1-10

Join me in praising God for his amazing plan – Jesus triumphed over Calvary and over the wiles of men. Jesus is alive forevermore!

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
Revelation 1:17-18

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

The Conqueror
Words by S.C. Kirk

O Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Thy triumphant day is come!
Day of glorious victory,
Over the boasting tomb!
All the shame and agony
Of the cruel cross He bore;
Died the Man of Galilee,
But rose the Conqueror!

O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, thy victory?
The risen Lord, the Savior-King,
Has conquered death for me.

All in vain the wards of death
Guard the stony tenement;
But a whisper, yea, a breath,
Lo! its bars are rent!
Where is now the taunting reed,
And the crown of thorns He wore?
Ye have made a King, indeed,
And crowned a Conqueror!

O the glorious victory!
Jesus slain awakes again,
Triumphs over Calvary,
And the wiles of men!
Jesus now the risen King
Is alive forevermore!
Earth and Heaven tribute sing—
And hail Him Conqueror!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 40

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Dear Almighty God,

Thank You for this season of Lent, for a concentrated time of drawing near to You through prayer.

Lord Jesus, as we await the celebration of Your resurrection on Easter morning, I give You praise for Your obedience to the Father. I ask that You would be at work in my heart, making me obedient to You, to whatever You require of me. Show me how to be more like You. Humble me, Lord, through obedience to You.

God, I pray that You would make me more like Jesus, that I would have His attitude. Help me to endure whatever You have in store for me, looking only to the joy set before me.

As this season draws to a close, I pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. Give me strength and perseverence to run the race set before me, and to live every day for Your glory.

Lord, keep me near Your cross. Let me never take for granted the cost of my sin, and embolden me to call on Your resurrection power.

In Your Powerful Name I pray,

Friday, April 10, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 39

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:50-54

Dear Jesus,

It is with much gratitude and praise that I come before You today and thank You for completing the work that You came to Earth to do. I thank You that You took my sin upon Yourself, and died the death that I deserve. Today as I remember Your suffering in my place, I thank You for what Your death accomplished. I praise You that at Your death, the veil of the temple was torn in two! Your death provides direct access to God! Lord, I sing out with the centurion and all Your saints: Truly this was the Son of God!

In praise,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 38

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." Matthew 26:26-29

Dear Jesus,

Today on Maundy Thursday we remember Your time in the Upper Room with the disciples. And I thank You for the last supper which gives us instruction on remembering You in this act of eating the bread and drinking the cup. I praise You that Your blood instituted a new covenant for us and set us free from the Law. Lord, we look forward with great anticipation to when You will drink the cup with us anew in God's kingdom. I give you all the glory, honor and praise for Your work on the cross and for being obedient to Your Father. Help me never to forget Your blood that made the new covenant possible for me.

With gratitude I pray,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 37

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father,

Today I praise You for the more than 20 people who were baptized at church last Sunday. I thank You that they made a public confession of faith in You, and that they were buried with You through baptism and raised with You to walk in newness of life. Lord, I pray for these adults, young people and children. Keep them close to you, Lord. Put them into Your word, and make them a beacon of light in this world.

I especially lift up the children to You, Lord. I was so encouraged by their faith, even as young, young people. Protect them from the enemy as they seek to walk with You and grow in their faith. Thank You for their testimony. I ask that they would be bold and courageous in sharing their faith with those they are close to.

As we look forward this weekend to celebrating Your death and resurrection, I pray that all of us as believers would remember that as we have been buried with You in death through baptism, we have been raised through the glory of the Father with You to walk in newness of life.

In Your Name,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

40 Days of prayer: Day 36

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

Dear Lord,

As we look forward this week to celebrating Your crucifixion and ultimately Your resurrection, I am daily reminded that it was Your love for me that sent you to the cross. I praise You that I have been crucified with You - my old, sinful self is dead and I now live my life by faith in You. Lord, I pray that You living in me would be so evident to those around me that they would never have reason to question your existence. Shine through me, Lord. May Your beauty rest upon me that others would forget me as the channel, seeing only You.

In Your name,

Monday, April 6, 2009

40 Days of prayer: Day 35

...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for coming to serve. Lord, You could have demanded to be served, as You came to earth as the King of the Universe, fully God and fully man. But You didn't. You gave the ultimate in service when You gave Your life as a ransom for me.

Lord, I pray that I would aim to have this attitude and deportment. I ask You to make me a serv-er and not just a serv-ee. Give me opportunities to serve, and show me how to demonstrate Your love to those needing service.

For Your glory I ask it,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Outside the Holy City

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. "If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,
"Hosanna to the Son of David;
Hosanna in the highest!"

When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee."
Matthew 21:1-11

Today is Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The King of Kings, riding a colt, entered the city where he would prepare to die. Can you imagine the excitement and noise around this parade? People from the market, the traders’ streets, from surrounding homes, all joining to sing Hosanna to the King! I would have loved to have been there.

But, ah, we are there! Jesus walks with us in our city streets yet today. Although He is not with us in the earthly form of a man, His Spirit walks with us. Our hearts that are sore burdened and our feet that go astray can easily be calmed and comforted and led aright by the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Along with the writer of this hymn, I pray that God will give us faith to face the cross – to think on the pain, agony, and betrayal that Jesus felt on our behalf, to rejoice with praise that Jesus completed the work He was sent here to do, and to be faithful in doing the work He now calls us to do. Through that faith we must work to set our city free – free from the sin and shame that binds those who don’t know Him!

Today, our song of “Hosanna!” can mingle with the songs coming from a city far away -where sin has passed away and Christ rides triumphant. We look forward to the day when we will be in that city, and when Christ’s city will be rebuilt on Earth. Until then, we can sing with all the saints, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!”

Outside the Holy City
Words by James Gilkey

Outside the Holy City
Unnumbered footsteps throng,
And crowded mart and streets of trade
Fling back a swelling song.
The voices echo nearer,
In flaming hope they sing:
“Throw down your branches at His feet!
Hosanna to the King!”

Once more beside a city
The Son of David waits,
Once more the children throng to bring
A welcome at the gates.
Within are hearts sore burdened
And feet that go astray;
O Christ of God, come near and walk
Our city streets today!

The branches that we offer
Are no unmeaning sign;
Take Thou the hands we lift on high
And make them wholly Thine.
No songs of shallow welcome
Are these we raise to Thee;
O give us faith to face the cross
And set Thy city free!

A distant music mingles
With all our songs today,
The chorale from a city fair
Where sin has passed away.
There rides the Christ triumphant
And victor songs ring clear;
O God, give us the strength to build
With Christ that city here!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

40 Days of Prayer: Day 34

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalm 103:1-5

Dear God my Heavenly Father,

Today I come before You with thanksgiving and praise, blessing Your name. May all that is within me bless Your holy name! I praise You that You pardon my iniquity, that You heal my diseases, that You have redeemed my life from the pit! I praise You that you crown me lovingkindness and compassion.

Lord, Your benefits are too numerous to list, or to even comprehend. I praise You that You have chosen me as the recipient of these benefits!

Thank You for renewing my youth like the eagle, thank You for filling my life with hope and preparing a place for me to dwell with You. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. Lord, I praise You for Your sovereignty in my life and in this world. I praise You that Your sovereignty is filled with lovingkindness, and I praise You for sending Your Holy Spirit to guide me in the way I am to walk, according to Your word.

Gratefully I pray,

Friday, April 3, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 33

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Dear Jesus,

I so want to abide in You. I know that I cannot bear any good fruit apart from abiding in You. Apart from You, I can do nothing. Lord, keep me focused on Your will and Your plan for me. I want my eyes set on You in all situations, pursuing righteousness and following Your word. Lord, I pray that I would not be distracted by the things of this world. I do know that this world has nothing for me, and You are my only hope in heaven and on earth. Give me an eternal perspective and a long term view.

Holy Spirit, be my guide as I study the Bible. Show me Your plan and encourage me with Your word. Show me the sin in my life and protect me from the evil one. Draw near to me, O Lord, that I may draw near to You.

For Your glory,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 32

The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deut. 31:8

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, " ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" Matthew 27:46

For He Himself has said, " I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU." Hebrews 13:5

Dear God,

I thank You for this promise that You will not forsake me. You didn't forsake Jesus as he hung on that cross, for You knew what His work there would accomplish, and You knew it was best for Him to finish it. I praise You that in that same way, You know what is going on in my life and the purpose for it, and even though it may be difficult, You know what it will accomplish, and You will not forsake me in the midst of it. Lord, I praise You that You will never let me go. I pray that You will let this truth penetrate deep into my heart and mind, that I may live every day in the confidence of Your nearness.

In Your Name,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

40 days of prayer: Day 31

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Psalm 14:1-3

Dear God,

I pray for those today who are fools, who say in their heart that there is no God. Indeed, Lord, they are corrupt and there is no one who does good. I pray that You would turn their hearts to You, that they might come to know You and Your goodness and faithfulness. I pray that they would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and that they would live lives that glorify You.

Lord, there are so many in this world who refuse to know or even acknowledge You. I ask that You would take their hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Help them to see You in every piece of creation, in every aspect of their lives. Holy Spirit, work in their hearts and minds to guide them to Jesus.

In Your Saving Name I pray,