Sunday, February 28, 2010

O Lord Jesus, Lamb of God

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29

I am grateful for beautiful hymns like this one that remind us just how steep a price was paid for our sin. And I am more grateful for Jesus, who obediently did the will of His Father in going to the cross on my behalf.

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

Jesus bore a heavy load and suffered anguish and ridicule in order that I may be reconciled to God. Jesus, fully God, was also fully human. He had a physical body that endured extreme torment and beating even before being hung on the cross.

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him. Luke 22:63

Jesus, being fully God, could have stopped this at any time. He didn't. He obeyed the will of His Father.

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

The people in the crowd that day did not acknowledge that Pilate was offering up to them the King of Kings - God made flesh. The people had determined that Jesus was to be crucified. Pilate himself could find no fault in Jesus, but the the rabble-rousing crowd had made up their mind.

Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, "I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?" So they cried out again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas." Now Barabbas was a robber. John 18:37-40

The people would rather have a convicted robber released back into their midst than Jesus, the King of the Jews! As we read the story now, it seems so ridiculous. Jesus could have easily traded places with Barabbas; He was God. Instead, He obeyed.

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

Jesus went to the cross to bear my sin. Jesus wasn't paying for His own sin - He had none. He was paying for mine, and yours. He was put on the cross between two convicted criminals, and died just like they did. He died not to pay for His crime, but ours.

Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!" So they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, "JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS." John 19:14-19

Jesus could have come down off that cross. He could have stopped this "madness" of the people at any time. But He obeyed.

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

Jesus' death on the cross means that I am free from death. My body of sin is healed by the wounds that He suffered on that tree. He died so that I might live; He was wounded and I am healed.

While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. I Peter 2:23-24

His death on the cross made the way for us to be washed clean of sin. His blood that flowed from that tree washes the sin away and makes us clean and whole.

If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:7

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

Thank you Lord Jesus, for Your obedience to God. For humbling Yourself, even to the point of death on a cross!

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

O Lord Jesus, Lamb of God
Words by R. Michael Cullinan

O Lord Jesus, Lamb of God,
Bearing such a heavy load;
Pain and suffering was Your fate—
Anguish, ridicule and hate.

Crown of thorns and staff of spite,
Must you mock our Sovereign’s might?
Know you not whom Pilate brings?
Jesus Christ, the King of kings!

Road of sorrow, lead the way
To redeeming love today.
Let me see my Savior’s face;
Let me taste this gift of grace.

Tree of anguish, bear my sin;
Heart of Jesus, let me in.
O Lord, may Your wounds make whole
Body, spirit and my soul.

Cross of triumph lifted high;
Christ becomes the victory:
Priest and sacrifice today,
Washing all our guilt away.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 10

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
II Chronicles 16:9

Dear God,

I thank You for this truth in Your word. I thank You that You never take Your eyes off the earth and that You are our support and our stronghold. Lord Jesus, I pray that my heart may be completely Yours; that I will not be swayed away from Your will by the whims of this sinful planet. God, I ask that You protect me from temptation and do not allow the devil to entice me with his schemes. Draw me to Yourself, keep me in Your word, and give me the strength and will to keep my eyes on You, my hope and my salvation.

In Your name,

Friday, February 26, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 9

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail? Job 38:22

Dear God of the Universe,

As the snow comes down from the heavens, and blows and drifts outside my window, I am reminded of Your majesty in creation. You are God who opens the storehouses of snow to send it down to earth, to cause it to rain, to make the sun shine. I thank and praise You for Your power over the Universe. I praise You for the snow and I praise You for the sunshine that we will see eventually! I thank you that You are in control, and that the changes in the weather remind me of Your power and might.

In Your Name,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 8

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" Matthew 22:36-39

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father,

I thank You that we can love because You first loved us. I pray that You would show us what it means to love You with all of our heart, soul and mind. I know that living in obedience to You and Your word shows my love for You and that when I live in that way my love for others will also be obvious. Lord, write Your word on my heart. Shine through me that others will see Your love for them through my words and actions toward them. Let it be clear in my life that I love my neighbors as myself, and that I am only able to do this because of Your love for me.

In Your Name,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 7

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalm 34:11

Dear Lord,

Today I pray for all those who are raising children. Lord, give the parents strength and wisdom as they bring up these children. Show them how to point their children to You that You would be glorified through their lives of obedience and faithfulness. Lord, give us generations of faithfulness in the raising of these children, that there would be many stories to tell of Your provision and guidance. I pray that parents would be bold in their teaching their children the fear of the Lord. I pray that parents would seek Your face and Your word rather than the advice of the world. I pray that You would give the parents patience and understanding and that You would teach us how to love others as You love us.

In Your Name,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 6

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Job 19:25

Dear God,

How I thank and praise You that my Redeemer lives! As I think about these forty days leading up to Easter, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that we this is not a time of memorializing Jesus because He is dead. Rather, this is a time to commemorate what He did for us in order to reconcile us to You. I praise You that in the strength of Your might You raised Him from the dead; that in Your satisfaction with His work completed You brought Him back to life and then seated Him at Your right hand.

I thank You that I can live with hope and assurance because my Redeemer lives!

In Your Name,

Monday, February 22, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 5

Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Dear Lord,

I pray that I would be a woman who seeks peace and pursues it in every situation. Help me to be a peacekeeper in my home, at work, in my family and in the world at large. Enable me to see where I am not pursuing peace so I can change my path, and change me from someone who tends to be argumentative and challenging to one who is agreeable and peaceful. Please take away any thoughts, behaviors and ideas that do not foster peace and renew my mind and my spirit according to Your will.

In Your Name,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

The Christian Church celebrates Lent, the period leading up to Easter, for forty days in remembrance of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness in preparation for His public ministry. He went to the wilderness to fast and pray and draw close to God His Father. In Lent, we as believers prepare ourselves for the commemoration of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection through prayer, denying our selves, and a concerted effort to draw closer to our Heavenly Father.

This lovely hymn, originally written for a children's collection, compares Jesus' experiences in the wilderness to our "modern" experience.

One of my personal hopes for this Lenten season is that the Lord will show me my sin so that I may mourn appropriately. I believe that many people in the Christian Church do not take sin seriously enough - but sin is a very serious issue to God. So serious that He sacrificed His sinless Son to pay the price for our transgressions. Jesus went to the cross for me - it was my sin that sent Him there. I don't ever want to take that for granted, or to take it lightly. I want to not sin - and like David, I pray that my sin may be ever before me so I can confess it and turn away from it.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51:1-3

When Jesus spent those 40 days in the wilderness, He was tempted by Satan several times. I am always encouraged when I read how Jesus answered the devil - with Scripture!

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Matthew 4:1-11

I pray that God would give me the strength to fight against the Devil. That I may know God's word and be able to counter all the ways Satan would try to tempt me or make me believe something contrary to God's word. We have an arsenal available to us and we must use it! I pray that the Spirit would write God's word on my heart as I study that I might take up the Sword of the Spirit - the word of God - in battle against the evil one.

This next stanza of the hymn is one I find most challenging. I do want to die to self. I do want to be selfless in my actions. This is so much easier said than done. I recite this verse to myself often, as a reminder that to live like Jesus, I must live selflessly when my first inclination is to look out for myself/protect myself/serve my own interests.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Finally, I pray Abide with Me, Lord. I want Jesus to walk with me, through these 40 days of Lent, through my whole life, and when He ushers me out of this life to spend eternity with Him in heaven. I pray along with Paul that I may attain an Easter of unending joy!

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 8:3-11

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days
Words by Claudia Hernaman

Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy passiontide,
Yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering over past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 4

He said,
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD."

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
Job 1:21-22

Dear Heavenly Father,

So often I think of this verse and Your sovereign power. I pray that I would have the integrity of Job; that through suffering I would not sin, but I would bless Your name. You are God. You have ordained whatever situation I am in and You will use it for Your glory. Help me remember that it's not about me, it's about YOU. Give me the strength and grace to give you honor, glory and blessing that others may be encouraged and strengthened in their faith through my response to the trials You send.

In Your powerful Name,

Friday, February 19, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 3

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

Dear Lord,
Today I pray, asking You for wisdom. I ask you to guide me in all my decision making, whether great or small, no matter how significant. Give me a clear head and a clean heart, and show me Your way, the way of wisdom and righteousness. I thank You for giving me the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16) and I ask you to give me wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

In Your Name,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 2

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Dear Lord,
Thank You for creating work. You gave work to Adam immediately after creating Him, because You knew work is for our good. Lord, I pray that whatever position You have placed each of us in, that we would bring glory to You through our work. I pray that You would show us the opportunities in our work to shine for You and to minister through our work, regardless of the task. Lord, may we do our work in Your name bringing honor to You because we do our work well, with integrity, and as Your representative.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Days of Prayer: Day 1

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14

Dear Father in Heaven,

I come before you humbling myself. You are Holy and Righteous and I am a sinner. I pray that I would never exalt myself, but instead make much of You. I want to live by Jesus' example, who humbled Himself and behaved obediently, even to the point of death on a cross. Lord, humble me using any means You require. Turn me away from wickedness and sin, and guide me in Your path of righteousness, for Your Name's sake. Come and bring healing to my life, and to this land who has forsaken You.

In Jesus' Holy and Precious Name I ask it,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Preparing for Lent: Dearest Jesus, Draw Thou Near Me

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

As I think about the Lenten season which is now upon us, I again have the desire to draw nearer. To be close to the Lord in a new and stronger way, through both reading His word and prayer. I want to focus my heart during these weeks on knowing God more and asking Him to make me into the image of His Son.

I find myself relating to Paul in his writing to the Philippians:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11

I want to know Him. Each day when I read God's word, I pray for the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to His truth, and to open my ears to what He is speaking to me. Too often the distractions of this world lead my thoughts astray during the most important part of my day!

I want to obey Him. As this hymnwriter says, I want the Lord to take away each thought that tempts me to disobey Him. I pray that He will root each evil thought out, and bring all my thoughts, actions and behaviors into obedience.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. II Corinthians 10:5

I want to be ready. I want Him to prepare me for the day He chooses to take me home. I want His word to assure and uphold me until that day. I want to draw near.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Join me here every day of this Lenten season for daily prayers as we meditate on and contemplate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This "exercise" was so meaningful to me last year and I couldn't not do it again.

Dearest Jesus, Draw Thou Near Me
Words by Thomas Kingo

Dearest Jesus, draw Thou near me,
Let Thy Spirit dwell with mine;
Open now my ear to hear Thee,
Take my heart and seal it Thine;
Keep me, lead me on my way,
Thee to follow and obey,
E’er to do Thy will and fear Thee,
And rejoice to know and hear Thee.

Underneath Thy wings abiding,
In Thy Church, O Savior dear,
Let me dwell, in Thee confiding,
Hold me in Thy faith and fear;
Take away from me each thought
That with wickedness is fraught,
Tempting me to disobey Thee,
Root it out, O Lord, I pray Thee.

Thou, earth’s greatest joy and gladness,
And salvation, full and free,
Let Thy presence cheer my sadness,
And prepare my soul for Thee!
In the hour when I depart,
Touch my spirit, lips and heart,
With Thy Word assure, uphold me
Till the heav’nly gates enfold me.