Lent devotions 2011: Friday 22 April

…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.1 Peter 1:18-19

GOOD FRIDAY

Good Friday only serves to demonstrate to us how futile OUR WAYS truly are.

‘Our ways’ are murderous ways. ‘Our ways’ are rebellious ways. ‘Our ways’ mock and taunt God. ‘Our ways’ would try and silence God. This is our inheritance from Adam and Eve’s first sin. In fact, the whole essence of sin is trying to do things ‘our way’.

The funny thing about Good Friday, if there is anything funny about Good Friday, is that God did allow us to do things ‘our way’. He allowed Jesus to be the victim of gross injustice; He allowed Jesus to be beaten, mocked, and ridiculed; He allowed Jesus to become a public spectacle of humiliation as He was nailed to a cross; He allowed Jesus to be forsaken of God; and He even allowed Jesus to die. That’s how WE do things.

Yet God knows we are held captive by the sin and selfishness that we have inherited. God knows that ‘our ways’ are ways of hatred, greed, lust, violence, and ultimately death. God knows we cannot free ourselves from these evil ways. Therefore He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to absorb our worst so that we could be set free from sin’s bondage.

Jesus did exactly that when He died on the cross. He paid the ultimate ransom price of His blood to set us free from ourselves. His precious blood broke the chains of sin, death, and the devil that held us tight. He has set us free from ‘our ways’ and once again opened up the door back to Yahweh.

Through His blood He has taken away our sin-for He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Because His blood covers us, God passes over our sin and spares our lives. Because His blood covers us, we now wear a robe of Christ’s righteousness. Because His blood covers our sin, we can call God “Abba, Father”.

When we tried to do our worst to God, He did what was best for us through Jesus Christ the sinless, spotless Lamb of God who purchased and redeemed us through the shedding of His precious blood.

Your soul in griefs unbounded,
Your head with thorns surrounded,
You died to ransom me.
The cross for me enduring,
The crown for me securing,
You healed my wounds and set me free.

Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Thursday 21 April

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

The Lamb of God: what a rich Biblical symbol this title is. Just think about it.

God commands Abraham to go to Mount Moriah to offer his only son, the son whom he dearly loves, Isaac (Gen. 22:2). With astounding obedience Abraham obeys the Word of the Lord, but on the way, Isaac realises something is not quite right as he asks, “where is the lamb?” (Gen. 22:7). Again, with wonder-filled faith Abraham responds, “God will provide for Himself a lamb” (Gen. 22:8). And He did, as Isaac’s life was spared, and in his place a ram was sacrificed.

Then we turn to Exodus 12 where we see the Passover lamb being sacrificed to save the death of the first-born Israelites. The blood of the lamb was placed on the doorposts so that the angel of the Lord would “PASS OVER” the believing house. The blood of the lamb delivered God’s people from certain death.

The poor lamb’s lot continues as we read further in the Scriptures. Leviticus. 3 and 4 say that a lamb may be used as an offering for both sin and peace. The unblemished lamb is to be sacrificed at the tent of meeting in order that its blood may cover the sin of the people and through its blood peace with God and peace with one’s neighbour may also be achieved. Here again, the lamb and his blood point to forgiveness and reconciliation.

The imagery of the lamb is further sharpened in Isaiah. 53:7 where we find the Suffering Servant of God who is being led “like a lamb to the slaughter” to be a sacrificial substitute for the sheep who have gone astray. Here again, the poor spotless lamb bears the iniquity of others and he pays their price for deliverance, forgiveness, and life.

All of these passages flesh out what John the Baptiser meant when he called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. God did provide a sacrifice for Himself on the mountain. The blood of Jesus delivers us from death as God passes over our transgressions. The blood of Jesus atones for our sin and brings peace with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. All of these things were accomplished because He was the Lamb who was led to the slaughter for us sheep who love to go astray.

But that isn’t the end of the story, oh no. The Lamb of God was slain, but in Revelation 5, John informs us that the Lamb is seated on the throne of heaven. The Lamb was slain, but His blood has ransomed all people, and because of this fact, all the creatures in heaven cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12). That same “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, Jesus Christ, now lives and reigns forever as King of kings and Lord of lords.

And this fact is such wonderful news for us, because this Lamb of God; slain and risen for us, who lives to rule forever, says we are sheep of His pasture. He beckons and calls us to follow Him, the Good Shepherd, so that we might be declared a Lamb of God.

O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God
I love the holy Lamb of God!
O wash me in His precious blood, my Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

Amen.

 

(LSB 550)

Friday 22nd April

“…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1: 18-19

 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

Good Friday only serves to demonstrate to us how futile OUR WAYS truly are.

 

‘Our ways’ are murderous ways. ‘Our ways’ are rebellious ways. ‘Our ways’ mock and taunt God. ‘Our ways’ would try and silence God. This is our inheritance from Adam and Eve’s first sin. In fact, the whole essence of sin is trying to do things ‘our way’.

 

The funny thing about Good Friday, if there is anything funny about Good Friday, is that God did allow us to do things ‘our way’. He allowed Jesus to be the victim of gross injustice; He allowed Jesus to be beaten, mocked, and ridiculed; He allowed Jesus to become a public spectacle of humiliation as He was nailed to a cross; He allowed Jesus to be forsaken of God; and He even allowed Jesus to die. That’s how WE do things.

 

Yet God knows we are held captive by the sin and selfishness that we have inherited. God knows that ‘our ways’ are ways of hatred, greed, lust, violence, and ultimately death. God knows we cannot free ourselves from these evil ways. Therefore He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to absorb our worst so that we could be set free from sin’s bondage.

 

Jesus did exactly that when He died on the cross. He paid the ultimate ransom price of His blood to set us free from ourselves. His precious blood broke the chains of sin, death, and the devil that held us tight. He has set us free from ‘our ways’ and once again opened up the door back to Yahweh.

 

Through His blood He has taken away our sin-for He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Because His blood covers us, God passes over our sin and spares our lives. Because His blood covers us, we now wear a robe of Christ’s righteousness. Because His blood covers our sin, we can call God “Abba, Father”.

 

When we tried to do our worst to God, He did what was best for us through Jesus Christ the sinless, spotless Lamb of God who purchased and redeemed us through the shedding of His precious blood.

 

Your soul in griefs unbounded,

Your head with thorns surrounded,

You died to ransom me.

The cross for me enduring,

The crown for me securing,

You healed my wounds and set me free.

 

Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Wednesday 20 April

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. —  John 10:7-8

The passage reminded me of the wonderful times I had when helping out at Montessori Preschool…The picture of the floor jigsaw puzzle of Farmer Brown on the tractor, with the two sheep in the trailer, reminded me of how God looks after His flock when sheep like us go astray. He forgives us for our sins and returns us to the fold, just as Farmer Brown forgave the twins that ate the crops in his fields because someone carelessly left the gate open for the sheep to wander into his field.

Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Tuesday 19 April

And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’Luke 10:2

The Lord sends us out to be messengers and share with others all of the gifts bestowed unto us. By our faith, others can see that we are not afraid of what lies ahead. We know that on our final day we will see our great Rock and Redeemer face to face. Until that day – for we know not when – we should follow what we pray in His name to be true.

What is amazing is that today, God’s plans are still being carried out by those who believe. He has already set us tasks to do before we know they exist. When we have a plan, often to make that plan work we have to include and bring together others to accomplish it. They may or may not believe that it could – or indeed will – work. When we pray in the Lord’s name for its success, our plans are heard. Many new people can be gathered into the plan and join the flock along the way and in turn this eases the burden of the load on us and so we pray,

Thanks be to God: in Him we have strength to carry on and complete His plans. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Monday 18 April

Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…Acts 3:19

Jesus, My Lord and Saviour, has brought peace between God and His people by the sacrifice of the true Lamb of God.

This is a strong message: that God has made us His children by the wonderful gift of baptism. This verse tells us that we who are sinful by nature need to confess our sins and only God can cleanse us, blotting the stain of sin, making us as white as snow. This verse also means that we should turn away from our sinful ways by not contriving to do what is wrong or sinful.

Our God is an awesome God and He always knows what we need before we even ask or realise it.

Thanks be to God for all His wonderful blessings and love.

Dear Lord, I pray, please open my eyes, ears and heart to You always. You know how weak I am but Your strength is made perfect in weakness. Help me to sincerely confess my sins to You, knowing that Your grace and mercy are overflowing. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Saturday 16 April

…and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. Luke 24:47

Lent is a time of the church year when we collectively study and meditate specifically on the events in Jesus’ life that led up to His trials, beatings, and ultimately His crucifixion. We know that the purpose of His death and resurrection was to take on Satan and defeat sin for all of creation. So we dedicate this season to soberly look on these events for our own repentance and forgiveness.

This verse in Luke reminds us that the result of Jesus’ saving works is not only that we personally repent and receive forgiveness of sins, but that we take it the step further and proclaim our redemption in His name to give Him the glory. In this verse, Jesus is giving us instruction in how we will react to His Word and works; that we not only internalize His message but that we also proclaim it to the people around us.

Let us focus for a minute, then, on what Jesus is asking us to proclaim. He states that “repentance and forgiveness of sins” is what should be proclaimed to all nations. By the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ redeeming works lead us to both. Repentance and forgiveness do completely opposite things, and Jesus displays both of them in His death and resurrection. His beatings and brutal death show us what we are deserving of; they humble us and make our hearts contrite. And at the same time, they are the core of the glorious display of God’s unconditional love. Jesus took on the weight and burden of sin in our place! Our sins are stripped away and we are made new creations through forgiveness! In Luke, Jesus instructs us to proclaim both the harsh truth of the law, which leads to repentance, and the forgiveness of sins, which leads to joy and eternal life. We cannot proclaim one without the other.

Dear Lord, You are loving and gracious. Reveal my sins to me that I may know my need for my saviour. Thank You for sending Your son Jesus to take the penalty of sin for me. Please strengthen me to speak Your love to others. In Your most holy name I pray, Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Friday 15 April

Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. — 1 John 2:2

Or, as the C.E.V has it, “Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world’s people.”

What is a propitiation? It is an offering made to appease an offended person. The offended person in this case is Almighty God, and He has every right to be angry with us on account of our wilful wrongdoing, our sinfulness. He is not capricious, but holy and perfect in His desire for righteousness. He lives in eternal light and nothing that is tainted can enter His presence. There is only one offering that could satisfy the requirements of the altogether Righteous One, the sacrifice of His righteous Son. Yes, Jesus Himself is that offering made on our behalf, because He alone is perfect and worthy. Through His death on the cross, He opened up the way for us to come into the presence of God as forgiven sinners. It was a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.

What do we need to do? How shall we respond to this amazing gift made on our behalf? We need to recognise our need of forgiveness and confess our sins to God, and to believe and trust in Christ and His death in our place, so that we may receive the benefits of His atoning sacrifice. We should be full of gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done for us and,with overflowing hearts, share this good news of salvation with others. We need not only to repent ourselves, but urge others to do the same. Jesus died for all. His sacrifice is sufficient for all. Everyone needs to know this.

See all your sins on Jesus laid. The Lamb of God was slain.
Because the sinless Saviour died my sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

So let’s go out with humble, thankful, hearts to obey Jesus’ last command, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

Thank You Lord for all Your love and grace,especially for sending Jesus to give Himself on behalf, the only perfect offering for all our sins. Amen

Lent devotions 2011: Thursday 14 April

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. John 10:17-18

Well into Lent and its progress toward Good Friday and Easter, this chapter tells one of our favourite stories of Jesus: of His being the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep – not just Jewish believers in Him but us Gentiles too.

His life and actions are so willingly and completely attuned to the Father’s will that all may be saved [v.16], that He is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in giving up His life in our stead. Such is the nature of His selfless love that He does this entirely voluntarily.

With God-given power and ability He bears the suffering for our sins in the cruellest of deaths, to rise again victorious over the power of sin and death.

This is the sweetest news to us, for He promises, “whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in Me shall never die”. Wow!

Thank You Lord, for this extraordinary gift. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Wednesday 13 April

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

We are hindered, we get pecked, we are ridiculed, we suffer. But God said through Paul that all of the above will not even compare to the day that God will reveal in us. That is when God will show that love is complete in us. That is God’s glory. His unconditional love. Because “what we see in part now, we shall see [comprehend] fully, what we see as a reflection, we shall see face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13 ).

So be encouraged – what we see now, in part, of God’s unconditional love, we will see fully, we will understand fully, we will undertake fully. We will be taken up into Love Himself.

Thank You Lord for Your love through our sufferings and for letting us know the best is yet to come. Amen.

Lent devotions 2011: Tuesday 12 April

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. — I John 4:1

Does it really matter?

Would you send an important document such as your passport through the post without being certain you got the address right? Imagine what could happen to you if your ID fell in the wrong hands! Someone could assume your identity, borrow money that you would have to pay and, perhaps, even implicate you in a crime. Now, imagine yourself being arrested and charged with a crime you didn’t commit, and as you are being taken before the judge you consider: How will I prove my innocence? Where is the true criminal that I might be justified?

There are many spirits out there claiming to tell the truth. They are like wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, often trying to sell a version of God that is ‘more plausible’ than a Father sentencing His own Son for the sins of the world. Some will say that God is accessible only to a small minority of discerning people. Others say that God is all embracing and pleased if we at least try do His will. Common to all of them is the notion that God would never dare to come down to us but that we have to strive to improve our image.

On one extreme there’s a suspicious and uncomfortable wantonness with that notion; on the other a strong and even oppressive need to find out when enough is enough.

In Romans the Apostle Paul writes “for God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh”. In other words, despite the fact that we are to blame for our many sins, God sent His own Son into our flesh to become our scapegoat. Jesus took our sinful identities upon Himself and died with them on the cross. Then He gave us His own identity so that God might be pleased with us and that is the end of it.

That is how much it matters to test the spirits and the Apostle John gives us the rule of thumb: “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God”. In John 5:24 Jesus himself says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.” For Jesus’ sake old sinful wolves like us have been dressed with the righteousness of the Lamb of God and received a new identity – that of children of God.

For this amazing work please make us truly grateful, Amen.