Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain (from the archives)

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
Words by John of Damascus
Translated from Greek to English by John M. Neale

Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness;
God hath brought forth Israel into joy from sadness;
Loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke Jacob’s sons and daughters,
Led them with unmoistened foot through the Red Sea waters.

’Tis the spring of souls today; Christ has burst His prison,
And from three days’ sleep in death as a sun hath risen;
All the winter of our sins, long and dark, is flying
From His light, to Whom we give laud and praise undying.

Now the queen of seasons, bright with the day of splendor,
With the royal feast of feasts, comes its joy to render;
Comes to glad Jerusalem, who with true affection
Welcomes in unwearied strains Jesus’ resurrection.

Neither might the gates of death, nor the tomb’s dark portal,
Nor the watchers, nor the seal hold Thee as a mortal;
But today amidst the twelve Thou didst stand, bestowing
That Thy peace which evermore passeth human knowing.

“Alleluia!” now we cry to our King immortal,
Who, triumphant, burst the bars of the tomb’s dark portal;
“Alleluia!” with the Son, God the Father praising,
“Alleluia!” yet again to the Spirit raising.

I first heard this hymn when we visited Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Our dear friends were ministering there, and I can still hear the sound of the pipe organ playing this beautiful and thought-provoking hymn.

The message of this hymn centers around Jesus’ resurrection. But it is different than traditional Easter hymns in that it hearkens back to the delivery of Israel from Egypt. God’s chosen people had been enslaved for 400 years to Pharoah. God loosed them from the “bitter yoke” that held them, and brought them many years later into the land He had prepared for them, the land He had promised them. They were slaves to Pharoah. God set them free.

“Blessed be the LORD who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.” Exodus 18:10

Now fast forward thousands of years. Humanity is enslaved to sin. Even the most religious people are bound to so many laws that it’s not humanly possible to keep them all. The people could not work hard enough to save themselves. They were slaves of the devil. But God saved us once and for all through the death and resurrection of His son, who took our sin upon Himself and became the sacrifice. God set us free.

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

God is indeed our great deliverer.

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. Romans 7:4-6

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hallelujah, He is Risen!

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. Matthew 28:1-8

He Is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Today we celebrate the mighty power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Christ conquered death once and for all. God was satisfied with Jesus' sacrifice and so brought Him back to life, to live forever and be seated at His right hand.

Through His sacrifice and resurrection, we are justified. When God looks at me, instead of a sinner, He sees the righteousness of Christ!

Death has now lost its sting forever! Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we have the hope of everlasting life. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you don't need to fear death, because our physical death is only the beginning of our eternal life in heaven with God and Jesus!

Christ is our living Lord AND our coming King! He has told us that He went to prepare a place for us. He has promised that He will return to earth to claim His own.

Celebrate today, that Jesus Christ is risen! Celebrate that He is coming again! Celebrate that through His resurrection, we have eternal life!

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Hallelujah, He is Risen!
Words by Philip Bliss

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Jesus is gone up on high!
Burst the bars of death asunder,
Angels shout and men reply:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Our exalted Head to be;
Sends the witness of the Spirit
That our advocate is He:
He is risen, He is risen,
Justified in Him are we.
He is risen, He is risen,
Justified in Him are we.

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Death for aye hath lost his sting,
Christ, Himself the Resurrection,
From the grave His own will bring:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living Lord and coming King.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living Lord and coming King.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 40

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:1-11

Dear Lord,
How I am so thankful that I have been justified through faith. Because of Jesus' atoning work on the cross, His righteousness is imparted to me, an unrighteous sinner. God, I am overcome with gratitude and humility when I think that You look at me and see Jesus' sacrifice, and not my sin. Jesus, I thank You that my righteousness is all because of Your humble obedience and God's free gift of salvation that You made possibly by Your death on the cross. I thank You that I am no longer under God's wrath, but instead I am saved by Your life. I thank You that I am not separated form You, and I never will be. Lord, I praise You!

In Your Name,

Friday, April 22, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 39

And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink. And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, "He saved others; He cannot save Himself He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 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?" And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, "This man is calling for Elijah." Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him."

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 27:33-54

Dear Jesus,
Truly You are the Son of God! As I read the passages in Your word that detail the day of Your crucifixion, I am struck again by Your humble obedience. Lord, You didn't put up a fight. You willingly took the sins of the world on Your shoulders and died to pay for my redemption. Thank You for being the ransom from heaven. Thank You that my life is secure because "It is finished." Thank You that Your death tore the temple veil in two and I am reconciled with God the Father because of Your work on the cross. Lord, let me never forget the price that was paid for my forgiveness. And let me not take lightly my sin that put You there.

In Your Name,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 38

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12

Dear Jesus,
I thank You that You interceded for me, one of the transgressors. I thank You that because You poured Yourself to death, I can live. I thank You that You bore my sin on the cross so that I am not separated from God. I thank You for Your fierce love that caused You to sacrifice Yourself on my behalf. I thank You that even though I will never fully understand the enormity of that sacrifice, I am enveloped in Your love and forgiveness.

In Your Name,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 37

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. Isaiah 53:5-6

Dear Jesus,
I praise You for Your obedience that took You to the cross to be pierced for my transgression, crushed for my iniquity and chastened for my well being. I thank You that because You were scourged, I am healed. Lord, it's almost too much to bear to think that because I went astray, You bore my iniquity. I cannot fathom what it was like to have the weight of the world's sin on Your shoulders, and as I think about what You suffered this week, I am overcome with tears and grief. I am also overcome with thankfulness and praise, and give You all the glory for Your humble obedience in fulfilling God's plan of salvation for His people. I rejoice in Your forgiveness of me, and pray that You would keep me mindful of the price You paid for it.

In Your Name,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 36

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. John 12:42-43

Dear Lord,
As I read about your last days before the crucifixion, I am struck by these verses. May it not be true of me! I do not want to love the approval of men; Lord, take away my pride and my selfishness and my desire to be praised by men. Replace it with an earnest seeking of You and Your approval, and the singular desire to walk in Your will. Lord, give me the strength and courage to confess Your name in every opportunity and bring glory to You through my testimony.

In Your Name,

Monday, April 18, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 35

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

Dear Lord,
This is my prayer today, not only for myself, but for all those who believe in You and profess You as Savior. Lord, I pray that You would strengthen us with Your power, that same power that raised Jesus from the dead! Lord, Your love for us is so great. Sometimes I don't think I can even understand it. But I pray that You will give us the ability to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of Your love - a love that indeed surpasses knowledge. May our comprehension of that enable us to love those around us, as You have commanded. Lord, fill us with Your fulness.

For Your glory I ask it,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ride On, Ride On in Majesty! (from the archives)

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zech. 9:9

Ride On, Ride On, In Majesty!
Words by Henry Milman

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes Hosanna cry;
O Savior meek, pursue Thy road
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die!
O Christ! Thy triumph now begin
Over captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
The winged squadrons of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see the approaching sacrifice.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father, on His sapphire throne,
Expects His own anointed Son.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy power, and reign.

As we look forward to Holy Week, I wanted to reflect on Jesus’ last days before His death on the cross. The week before His death, Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem. As they approached Jerusalem, Jesus sent two disciples to get a donkey and a colt.

"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." Matthew 21:2-3

The disciples obeyed Jesus, found the donkey and the colt, and untied them to take them to Jesus. Mark tells us that people questioned them, saying,

"What are you doing, untying the colt?" Mark 11:5

The disciples were ready with their answer because Jesus had instructed them.

They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. Mark 11:6

The disciples brought the donkey and colt to Jesus. They also gave Jesus their coats, and Jesus sat on them. The people heard that Jesus was coming and they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. They made a “red carpet” for Jesus by using branches from trees and spreading their coats in the road. And they were praising Him.

The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9

As you might imagine, all this commotion garnered attention and the people in the city wondered what all the excitement was about.

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 21:10-11

Of course, all this excitement, the “palm branch” parade and the crowds singing Hosanna led to one thing: Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. This hymnwriter puts it so plainly, “Ride on, ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on TO DIE.”

Jesus knew that His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem was the beginning of the end, so to speak. He knew that by the end of the week, He would be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind, for all time. God’s promise was about to be fulfilled, and man would be reconciled to God through the redemptive work of Jesus!

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God. I Peter 3:18

For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:19-20

Saturday, April 16, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 34

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:18-23

Dear Lord,
Enlighten the eyes of my heart! Give me eyes to see the hope of Your calling, the riches of Your inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of Your power. Lord, I thank You that the same strength of Your might that rose Jesus from the dead works these things in me! Lord, let me see Your power at work in my life today. Holy Spirit, show me Your work that I might recognize it and praise You. Jesus, I give You the glory for You are at God's right hand, above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the age to come. To You be all glory and power and dominion forever and ever!


Friday, April 15, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 33

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.Galatians 5:22-25

Dear God,
I am so grateful that Your Holy Spirit lives within me. I want to walk by the Spirit, and I want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in me. Lord, how often I fail in letting the Spirit control me and instead giving in to my fleshly desires and selfishness. Lord, show me how to crucify the flesh with its desires and walk by the Spirit so that all will know that I am Yours.

In Your Name and for Your glory,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 32

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

Dear Lord,
How I want to be the person described in these verses! Draw me into Your word and write it on my heart. Give me discipline, Lord, to study it and live according to it. I want to be firmly planted, yeilding fruit and not withering! Give me discernment to not walk among the wicked. Let me delight in You only, for Your glory.

In Your Name,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 31

Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same and Your years will not come to an end. Psalm 102:25-27

Dear God,
I thank and praise You, Creator, for making the earth and heaven. On a sunny spring day like today, I am so grateful for Your work in Creation as I see trees budding, daffodils flowering and hear birds singing. Lord, I am aware that this world will come to an end; it will wear out like a garment. Today I praise You that You endure! You are the same and Your years will never come to an end. I thank You that only You remain, and I give You all the glory that You are immortal and unchanging.

In Your Name,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 30

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. II Corinthians 8:9

Dear Jesus,
Thank You that You gave up Your rich life in heaven to come to earth as a man and become poor. Thank You that through Your poverty, and Your humility, You served and in obedience went to the cross to pay for my sin. Thank You that because of Your sacrifice, I am rich! I praise You that I am rich in Your grace, Your forgiveness, Your lovingkindness and Your righteousness. I thank You that I am rich in that I can look forward to eternal life with You and Your Father in heaven.

In Your Name,

Monday, April 11, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 29

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," so that we confidently say,"THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?" Hebrews 13:5-6

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father,
I thank You for the amazing promise that You will never desert me or forsake me. I thank You that I need not worry about the future because You have it planned for me, and I need only to trust in Your goodness and faithfulness. I thank You that because You are my helper, I need not be afraid. I thank You that I can be confident in Your promise and that it will sustain me.

In Your Name,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Go to Dark Gethsamane (from the archives)

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." Matt. 26:36

In the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, He had just finished His last Passover, and had instructed His disciples to remember Him by breaking bread together, instituting the Lord’s Supper. Most of us know how the story continues: His disciples went with Him to Gethsemane, and Jesus told them to wait while He went away to pray. During this time, the disciples fall asleep, and Jesus comes and instructs them to watch and pray, so that they will not enter into temptation. But, you guessed it, they fall asleep again. It is here in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prays this specific prayer three times:

My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Matt. 26:39

I’ve heard some commentaries about the Garden of Gethsemane and how it would have been possible for Jesus to get away from His pursuers at this point. But He didn’t. He knew that God would not take this cup away from Him – as this hymn says, He did not turn away from His grief. He was in conflict, so much so, that as we saw earlier this week, His sweat actually turned to blood. And what did He do? He prayed.

We can learn from Him how to pray when we face the tempter’s power, when we are in conflict, and in grief. Jesus faced all of this that night, and He turned to His Father in prayer. I’ve addressed prayer before in this blog – it is our great privilege to go before our Heavenly Father in prayer – to humbly bow before Him and seek His will – notice that’s what Jesus did. “Not as I will, but as you will.” Sometimes that’s a very difficult prayer to pray. God’s will is not always our will. But God uses our time in prayer and in studying His Word to bend our hearts to His will.

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. Col. 4:2

The story goes on: Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, taken before Caiaphas, beaten, questioned by Pilate, and mocked. He was arraigned for a crime He didn’t commit – He took our sin as His own. He suffered for us.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Heb 5:8

Because of His suffering for us, we can learn from Him. We learn to bear the cross. Many of us suffer, in fact, it’s the only thing guaranteed in our lives. Paul encourages us:

For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. II Cor. 1:5

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. II Tim. 1:12

We will suffer, no question about it – but our suffering is a time of being made more like Jesus. When we learn to bear the cross, we learn to obey, to be humble, to be selfless, and to trust in the One who healed our wounds through His death. Peter exhorts us that we have been called for this purpose!

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and 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 2:21-24

Our story doesn’t end with Jesus betrayal and arraignment. They hung Him on the cross, and He suffered physical pain and agony for many hours before giving up His spirit. He died.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. John 19:30-34

We learn from Jesus Christ to die. Jesus physically died. And He calls us to die to our fleshly desires, and to live for Him.

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal. 5:24

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:3

Go To Dark Gethsemane
Words by James Montgomery

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn from Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn from Him to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn from Jesus Christ to die.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 28

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11

Dear Lord,
Today I am so thankful for Your word. I thank You that You have provided it for us, and in today's world, we have so many different translations and other helps to guide us. I thank You especially for Your Holy Spirit who guides me as I read Your word. I pray that I would treasure Your word in my heart, that I may not sin against You. I want Your word to be a light unto my path, guiding me and directing me. Lord, do not let me wander from Your commandments. Hide Your word in my heart so that I may be encouraged, directed and convicted.

In Your Name,

Friday, April 8, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 27

Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
Matthew 18:21-35

Dear Lord,
I know what Your word says about forgiveness. Your Holy Spirit convicts me of this truth, and yet I find it hard to let go. Your forgiveness of me is so great, that my only response should be to freely forgive others. There should be no question in my mind or my heart, but I confess that I am a sinner and forgiveness does not always come easily to me. Lord, give me the grace and courage to forgive, just as You have so generously forgiven me. Lord, I ask in Your name that You would not let the enemy get a foothold in this area but that I would forgive joyfully and willingly in Your name and for Your glory.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 26

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. I Corinthians 15:20-26

Dear Lord,
Today I thank You for Your plan of salvation, foretold through the ages and still alive today. I thank You that even though our world was full of sin, You sent Your Son so that through man could come the resurrection of the dead. I thank You that in Christ all who have put their faith in You will be made alive. I give You praise and glory that the last enemy that will be abolished is death, and those who have been saved will not be separated from You. I thank You that You reign from Your throne in the heavens and that Jesus is at Your right hand. I thank You that because of Your grace, I have nothing to fear, not even death.

With gratefulness,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 25

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalm 30:11-12

Dear Lord my God,
I will give thanks to You forever for You have turned my mourning into dancing. I thank You for giving me Your joy that my soul can sing praise to You. Today I bring before You those who are mourning, and I ask that You would gird them with gladness and bring them to dancing. Lord, for those who are mourning who don't know You, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would work through their hurt and sadness and that through their mourning, they might come to know You as the great Comforter.

In Your Name,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 24

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Dear Jesus,
As I think about Your life here on earth there is one adjective that describes it perfectly: humility. Lord, I long to be like You in this way. Humble me Lord, and take away my pride. Show me how to be like You: selfless, kind, gentle and patient. I know that humility is not my strong suit, and I want to be like You. I thank You that You humbled Yourself and were obedient to the point of death, for my sake. Show me how to be selfless and fill me up with Your humility, that others will see You through me.

For Your Name,

Monday, April 4, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 23

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Dear Lord,
Your word is so clear about where our trust belongs. Yet, sometimes I fall so short in trusting You and instead rely on myself. Lord, I praise You that You are the God who can be trusted. Give me grace to trust You more! I ask that You would guide me and move my spirit so that I would trust in You instead of leaning on my own understanding. My understanding is so limited! You've shown me over and over again that You are faithful; Lord, take away my insecurity and make me wholly reliant on You. I desire to put my trust only in You!

In Your Name,

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Unveiled Christ (from the archives)

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

The Unveiled Christ
Words by Noah B. Herrell

Once our blessed Christ of beauty
Was veiled off from human view;
But through suffering, death and sorrow
He has rent the veil in two.

O behold the Man of Sorrows,
O behold Him in plain view;
Lo! He is the mighty Conqueror,
Since He rent the veil in two.
Lo! He is the mighty Conqueror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

Now He is with God the Father,
Interceding there for you;
For He is the mighty conqueror,
Since He rent the veil in two.

Holy angels bow before Him,
Men of earth give praises due;
For He is the well beloved
Since He rent the veil in two.

Throughout time and endless ages,
Heights and depths of love so true;
He alone can be the Giver
Since He rent the veil in two.

This is a song that we sang pretty often in our church growing up. I understood what it meant that Christ “rent the veil in two” because of the crucifixion story and the verses in the gospels that plainly state it.

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51

And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:38

However, what I didn’t know was the meaning for us, as believers, that Christ rent the veil in two. Why was it important that the veil was torn in two? What did the veil do in the first place?

You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies. Exodus 26:33

The veil was a critical piece in the tabernacle that Moses erected in the desert. The veil separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. All the priests ministered every day in the Holy Place, but the Holy of Holies was different. In the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, and in those days, God met with His people in a cloud above the ark. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and only on one day each year – the day of Atonement. (See Leviticus 16.)

Entering the Holy of Holies was serious business – God commanded Moses that Aaron (the high priest) would have to wear special clothes, bring animals for offerings and bring a firepan of coals and incense otherwise HE WOULD DIE.

He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. He shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die. Leviticus 16:12-13

This is where God was. Even the High Priest could only enter once a year. The Israelites could never go into the Holy of Holies. They had no direct access to God; they relied on the High Priest to make atonement for them.

Jump ahead to the time of Jesus and His life on earth – his death and resurrection bought our salvation and our eternal redemption. But what else? The Gospels tell us that at His death the veil was split from top to bottom – since the veil separated people from the Holy God, now, because of Jesus’ death, there is no separation! The veil is torn in two and now all believers have access to God through Jesus Christ! Stop for a moment and just think about this.

I think it must have been amazing, on so many levels, to be present at the crucifixion. But can you imagine what the Jews thought when they heard the sound of the veil ripping in two? Can you imagine what it must have been like to go to the Temple and see the veil in two pieces? To be able to see INSIDE THE VEIL?

In the Old Testament, the people had no access to God: a thick veil in the tabernacle separated them and only the High Priest could go within the veil. But Jesus has become our High Priest, has made atonement for us once and for all, and has rent the veil in two allowing us to go to God directly! Isn’t that GREAT NEWS???

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:11-12

He is indeed our mighty conqueror, having conquered sin and death forever. And He is with God the Father, interceding for us.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

I hope that you will take some time today and think about what it means for you, personally, that Christ rent the veil in two.

And I encourage you to draw near and hold fast as the author of Hebrews exhorts us.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25

Saturday, April 2, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 22

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God," they are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; there is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up My people as though they ate bread and have not called upon God? There they were in great fear where no fear had been; for God scattered the bones of him who encamped against you; You put them to shame, because God had rejected them. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores His captive people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. Psalm 53

Dear God,
As I meditate on this Psalm, it seems as if it could be written today. Sometimes it seems like there is no one who does good, that I am surrounded by people who act, think and behave as if there is no God. They have turned aside from You and become corrupt, and their corruptness is spreading quickly. Lord, how I thank You that Your salvation HAS come out of Israel, that You have sent a Redeemer. Let me be glad in You today and let Your gladness flow through me that I might be a light to those who say there is no God. Let them see You in me. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would speak to their hearts and turn them to You.

For Your glory,

Friday, April 1, 2011

40 Days of Prayer: Day 21

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7

Dear God,

Today I am so grateful for the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for me. I thank You that through His blood, I have been redeemed and forgiven. I thank You, Jesus, for this sacrifice that saved my life. I praise You, Jesus, that You obediently gave up your life, doing what bulls and goats could not, and died once for all in order that sins could be forgiven. God, I thank You that You rose Jesus from the dead to show Your satisfaction with His sacrifice. Thank You for lavishing Your grace upon me. Oh, the blood, it is my victory!

In Your Name,