Category Archives: easter

easter reflections

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As this Easter weekend of 2011 draws to a close, I delight in sharing a few reflections.  Easter meant something different to me this year .. I understand differently, more fully, my need for a savior.

I loved the message at our church this morning.  Our pastor faithfully preaches the Word of God each Sunday and this Easter Sunday was no exception.  The passage was Romans 1:16-17

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

and the message was as clear of a presentation of the gospel as I can remember hearing.

He boldly answered the question, “what are we being saved from?”  the answer, in part,  being, “we are being saved from God.  From the wrath of a Holy God.”

We are sinners.  God is Holy.

Because he sacrificed His sinless Son for our sins, as our substitute, He now sees us as righteous and not as the sinful beings that we are.  Those of us who believe, as Paul states in this passage, are declared righteous.

The implications of this are what most impacted me …

He talked about the efforts we make in life to validate ourselves.  I’m most prone to validate myself and my worth by the opinions of others.  Ultimately this makes an idol out of people and their opinions.

Living in light of the Gospel .. not just for salvation, but daily, tells me and reminds me that I don’t need the validation of men, I have the Gospel.  I’ve been declared righteous by my creator.

The truth is, I want people to think I’m amazing.  My self-striving in this endeavor only leaves me exhausted.  My heart cries out, “validate me!”

What I must acknowledge daily is that only in the Cross am I proven and accepted.  And living in this reality daily could and would radically change my life.

I would approach my relationships in ways that allow me to accept others the way Christ has accepted me.

The gospel reminds me that no matter how impressive I am, I am still a sinner.

God is saying to me, “Give up! And trust in My perfect work, not your own.”

I have learned and continue to learn much about myself and my shortcomings.  Thankfully, God has shown  me much more about Himself.
At the close of this Easter of 2011, I will choose to ‘give up’ & rest on the Gospel.

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a prayer for easter

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Beth Moore posted this prayer on her blog yesterday … a good focus and reflection for this weekend.

My Dearest Abba and my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus,

Cause me to be moved and mindful of this death and resurrection season – Of this, the most important annual celebration we commemorate as Your church. Cause me to be awake and aware in You, Lord. I am so grateful for the sacrifice of this One spotless Lamb of God. For just a moment, I try to imagine myself on that same road of suffering with that same cross on my flesh-torn back, pierced, hung, and exposed on that same tree and I shudder. My sins outweigh my frame, Lord. I am unable to bear them. Thank You, Jesus, for not only bearing the pain but for enduring the shame. You are the single reason I am not weighed down in the suffocating mire of shame every single day of my life. I earned it. I deserved it. I am so grateful, Abba Father, for Your willingness to will and to witness that soul-saving, Hell-defeating act rendered by Your one and only Son. I praise You, faithful, merciful God, and ask to be moved this weekend with meditation, reflection, fresh wonder and renewed victory.

Please pursue each member of my family and me for the full work and benefit of Your Cross and Your resurrection. Please do not yield to our resistance. Appear unmistakably in every place we run. Walk through every door we slam. No addiction need hold us, no affliction need bind us, no suffering need smother us, no defeat need hover over us, no foolish act need define us and death need not haunt us. In the quake of the Cross, hopelessness slipped through the trembling cracks of earth and fell with an everlasting sentence into the bottomless abyss. Graves broke open and the bonds of the guilty fell from their wrists with a breath-taking thud. Because of this day that we, Your church, commemorate, we are free.

We are grateful.

We are aware.

In the saving Name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

this is love . . .

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I John 4:9-12

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

a prayer for the Thursday of Holy Week

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SCOTTY SMITH|4:29 AM CT

A Prayer for Thursday of Holy Week

     It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. John 13:1

”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Lord Jesus, as I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, quite literally, I’m undone. What but the gift of faith can enable us to grasp the wonder of these words and the magnificence of this moment? What but the power of the gospel can enable us to believe and obey them? Grant us both, I pray, grant me both.

On our calendar we call this day, Maundy, or Mandate Thursday. A day in the history of redemption brimming over with glory and grace. On this day in Holy week, Passover became the Lord’s Supper—your supper. The promises of the Old Covenant would soon be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant—your blood.
Having shared eternal glory with your Father, you showed stunning grace to your disciples. Having loved this rag-tag bunch of broken men—who squabbled with each other hours earlier for positions of honor; who within a few hours, would all scatter and deny you—having loved them so well for so long, you then showed them the full extent of your love. You loved them to the end. You loved them through and through.

Your disrobing to wash their feet was with a full view to your being stripped naked to wash their hearts, and our hearts. Indeed, the measure of your love isn’t just the basin and towel of the upper room, but your cross and death on Calvary’s hill. What wondrous love is this indeed—how wide, long, high and deep?

Thus you command us, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This is the new and never-ending mandate we live under as your disciples—amandate, not a suggestion. There is no greater love than the love you have for us, none. And there is no clearer evidence of our love for you than the way we love each other.

Jesus, we acknowledge and grieve the multiple ways we love poorly—in our churches, in our families, in our communities. We offer no lame excuses and make no empty promises. As you continue to convince our unbelieving, dull hearts of your great love for us, convict us, humble us and love through us to your glory. So very Amen, we pray, in your holy and passionate name, on this Maundy Thursday.

a prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week

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SCOTTY SMITH|5:02 AM CT

A Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week

     While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ?” Matthew 22:41

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s Wednesday of Holy Week. The question you directed to Pharisees en route to the cross, you still put before us. “What do you think about the Christ?”  There’s no more important question for us to wrestle throughout our lives. No other question has the power to disrupt us and delight us like this one.

What  do I think about you, Lord Jesus? Who do I think you are? You are God and I’m a mere man. I would despair if you were anything less and I get weary of trying to be more. You are the creator, sustainer and restorer of all things. You don’t just care about my soul, you care about everything you have made. One day you will return to finish making all things new.

Lord Jesus, I honor you as the promised Messiah—the one who fulfills every promise the Father has made. You as the second Adam—our substitute in death and in life. You lived a life of perfect obedience for us and you exhausted God’s judgment that stoodagainst us. You are our complete forgiveness and our perfect righteousness before the Father. Nothing will every separate us from your love. I humbly and confidently stake my life and my death upon what you’ve done for us.

Lord Jesus, there’s so much more to who you are, and eternity will be a perpetual discovery of the inexhaustible riches found in you. But this particular holy week, I’m especially comforted to know you are always thinking about us. It’s what you think aboutus that makes all the difference to me.

We are in your heart and on your mind all the time. You are always praying for us and advocating for us before the Father. You greatly delight in us and you will never be ashamed of us. Indeed, you know us the best and you love us the most. With fresh gratitude and knee-buckling awe, we worship and adore you on this Wednesday of Holy Week.  So very Amen, we pray, in your name-above-all-names name.

a prayer for tuesday of holy week

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A PRAYER FOR TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK | HEAVENWARD BY @SCOTTYWARDSMITH

     “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” John 12:27-32

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s Tuesday of Holy Week and I’m moved by how troubled and yet peaceful you were as the events of that week began to unfold. There was no doubt in your mind why you came into Jerusalem riding the foal of a donkey, great conflict, but nodoubt.

For this very reason you came from eternity into time and space; for this very reason you emptied yourself of your glory by taking the form of a servant-man—the Lord’s Servant; for this very reason the Father spoke thunderous words from heaven for ourbenefit. In the fullness of time you came, and now at just the right time you would die.

There would be no surprises. You knew what was coming. At the end of the week, you would pay the supreme price that fully guarantees our redemption, and the “drawing” of men and women from every single nation, tribe, people and language—a number as great as the stars in the sky, the sand of the beaches, and the dust of the earth.

In a matter of days you would take the holy wrath of Judgment Day for all who will trust in you. At the end of the week, your “bruised heel” would secure the ultimate crushing and “driving out” of the “prince of this world”—Satan himself. Understandably so, your heart was troubled, greatly troubled, yet fully at peace.

Jesus, as the events of our week now unfold, grant us grace to survey the wonders of your cross, with greater awe, humility and gratitude than ever. In an hour when many in our culture are marginalizing and minimizing, denying and dismissing your cross, may our boasting in your cross grow by all-time exponential proportions.

Love so amazing so divine demands our soul, our life our all. So very Amen, we pray, in the beauty and bounty of your most glorious name.

God’s joy

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I’m still basking in the afterglow of TGC from last week.  How fitting that the theme of Christ in the Old Testament, and many messages on the Gospel would come only days before Holy Week and Easter.

In an effort to solidify some of the Truths I gleaned from last week, I will attempt to share some highlights and excerpts this week that I will hope will point us to the cross.

Mike Bullmore spoke from Zephaniah, showing the condition of mankind – sinful, God’s pronouncement of judgement on mankind, and then the word of HOPE from God.  The GOOD NEWS for sinful man under the judgement of God.  Despite God’s righteous judgement, there is, because of God’s mercy, HOPE for sinners like us.

Zephaniah paints a picture that tells us that God has provided salvation, not just as an escape from God’s judgement but as an entrance to into God’s very JOY!

Zephaniah takes us through three steps:

step 1:  There appears to be no HOPE

step 2:  There appears a glimmer of HOPE

step 3:  That glimmer of HOPE bursts into a great and glorious rejoicing into the salvation of God’s people.

What Zephaniah wants us to see is that God will rejoice over us with gladness, He will rejoice over us with singing.  He will have completed His purpose.  His rejoicing in His work will be great!

Bullmore concludes with this:
If you are IN Christ, God rejoices over you!  As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.  One day, when He brings us in, God’s rejoicing will break forth and you will experience the most incredible thing you have ever experienced!

from Spurgeon:

“Believer, you are happy when God blesses you, but not as happy as God is.  You are glad when you are pardoned but He who pardons you is more glad.  The prodigal son come back to his home was very happy to see his father but not as happy as his father was to see him.  The fathers heart was more full of joy because His heart was larger than his sons.”

God’s heart is bigger than ours.

When God’s work of redemption is done . . . God himself will stand over us and rejoice over us!

We will be radiant over the goodness of the Lord and we will feast on his abundance and we will be satisfied in his love.

Our thoughts of the gospel  . . . our personal treasuring of the gospel must always include this:  the vision of God’s JOY over His people.  The end to which it’s all moving! Being with God and experiencing His joy.

THE great contribution of Zephaniah …  the vision of the consummation of the redeeming work of God in Christ.

This great consummation does not work as an unstated assumption … it must be spoken!


you can listen to the entire message here.