Lent Devotions 2009: Saturday 28th February

“but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those you are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

Paul’s message to the Corinthians was to teach that Christ through His suffering, crucifixion and resurrection came to save us all. Both the Greek and the Jew rejected the notion – of Jesus suffering – as idiocy. How could God suffer? It is not rational! They wanted a gospel that was based on their own human intellect, but the Gospel that Paul is preaching, the Gospel that is the word of God, is not speculation, it is revelation. What did Paul do? Did he intellectualise the Gospel for the Greek? Did he sanitise the Gospel for the Jews? Did he create signs of wonder to prove he was an apostle of God? No, he preached the message that had been given to him by God. He did not change it one iota!

We certainly need to hear this message today. He did not reduce the message to something the people might accept but it was a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks that their Messiah could be nailed to a cross. Deuteronomy told them that “cursed is anyone who is hanged on a tree”. He would be a malefactor, a criminal and the Messiah could not die in that way! It was a huge stumbling block for a Jew to die on a Roman cross. To the Greek it was foolishness to think of this little Jew dying as a common thief – not even able to overcome His human enemies. Yet it is testified that He overcame sin, death and hell through the cross, saving the entire world from their sins. Such foolishness? It cannot be!

Well, thank goodness that there was one group that embraced this truth. The only difference between those who rejected the Gospel and those who accepted it was the power of the Holy Spirit in their life calling them. The grace of God touches our understanding and makes us melt until we no longer see the Gospel as foolishness but perceive it as God’s salvation.

For that all-surpassing grace we thank You, Lord God, and ask that You would bring more and more to see the wonders of Your love. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Friday 27th February

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

Who is the “I” that has been crucified with Christ?

First, it is the “I” that thinks itself justified by its observance of the Law. The “I” that returns – as the Galatians were doing, and as Peter had once done in Antioch – to building up the things it once tore down, the way of following God’s Law.

This “I” no longer lives, declares Paul. It has been nailed to the cross along with Christ Himself. It has been crucified with Christ.

However, dead men don’t talk. The “I” that can make this ringing declaration of identification with Christ is another “I”: the “I” that has faith in Jesus Christ, and lives by that faith. The “I” that looks so much to Jesus rather than to itself that Paul can speak as if no “I” remains, but only Christ: “it is Christ who lives in me”.

As Luther writes:

“Faith connects you so intimately with Christ, that He and you become as it were one person. As such you may boldly say: ‘I am now one with Christ. Therefore Christ’s righteousness, victory, and life are mine.’ On the other hand, Christ may say: ‘I am that big sinner. His sins and his death are mine, because He is joined to me, and I to Him.’”

Here is good news twice over. The “I” that is “that big sinner” – the “I” that tries (and fails) to justify itself by the works of the Law – is declared by Christ Himself to have died with Him on the cross. But the “I” that is one with Christ by faith rises with Him from the grave, sharing His “righteousness, victory and life”.

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for the gift of faith, by which my sins have died Your death, and I can live Your life, Your righteousness and Your victory. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Thursday 26th February

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so ye through His poverty might be rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

In this passage we see the depth of God’s love for us. Since the fall of Adam and Eve all have sinned, incurred the wrath of God and deserve only condemnation, but “God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). God did not save us because we were lovable or righteous: “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8). Martin Luther recognized that “God wills to save us, not by a righteousness and wisdom from within, but from without. Not that which comes and is born from ourselves, but which comes from without into us. Not which rises from the earth, but that which comes down from heaven.”

God’s only son, Jesus Christ the Righteous One who had no sin, was made sin to save us. Jesus came to shed His blood and die for us on a cross, despised and hated between two criminals, that we may be saved from condemnation and obtain eternal life through faith in Him and His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. “Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh” (1 Ptr. 4:1)…and “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7).

And what are the riches that we can expect from Christ’s shedding of His blood for us to gain our salvation? The apostle John tells us “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2); He has given us eternal life. Peter informs us that Christ’s poverty has given us “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven.” (1 Ptr. 1:4). We have been given a gift rich beyond description, the gracious gift of the salvation of our souls, made possible by the Son of God who became poor and despised to ransom us with His holy, innocent and precious blood unto everlasting life.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 1 John 5:11.

Praise God for His wonderful gift to us of forgiveness and eternal life through His Son. Amen.

Lent Devotions 2009: Wednesday 25 February

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

When I was a child, a few of my friends and I loved to set up elaborate trails of dominoes just to watch one single domino set off a massive chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. It often took hours to set up the dominoes, but in a matter of seconds they all came tumbling down.

Humanity was a bit like that. God’s elaborate creation was beautiful and good. Humans had perfect fellowship with God. There was no sin or death to spoil anything. But then it all came crashing down when Adam rebelled against God’s Word and ate the forbidden fruit. The domino effect was set in motion. From that moment on, original sin infected us and we are unable to help ourselves – we must sin. And sin leads to death: thanks, Adam.

As a child I loved watching the dominoes go flying, but I always yearned for a way to reverse what had happened. I wanted a way of having all the now prostrated dominoes to once again be upright and in position so we could start again. But it was impossible.

I’m glad we have a God who deals in the impossible. Our sinful condition looked beyond repair. But Jesus Christ became the Second Adam. He perfectly obeyed all God’s teachings; He perfectly paid the price for our rebellion; and He conquered our greatest enemies: sin, death, and the devil. Through this one man, God’s grace and righteousness are ours. The crashing and shattering sound and effects of sin have been halted, and more than halted, they have been reversed. God, through Christ, has made us upright and ready to love as Christ has loved us. In Christ, the dominoes are going backward, faster, better, more amazingly than we could ever imagine. Sin is replaced with righteousness, death with life, slavery with freedom, enmity with peace, and sorrow with joy.

In Your great mercy You promised salvation through a Second Adam, Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and made His cross a life-giving tree for all who trust in Him. Amen. (LSB prayer from DS setting 4)

Lent Devotions 2009: Introduction

Welcome to the 2009 edition of the Christ Lutheran Church Lenten Devotional Book. Thanks for taking the time to take this journey through the season of Lent with us.

This year’s book follows a catechetical theme. This means we will be examining three parts of Luther’s Small Catechism in some detail. We begin by looking at passages of Scripture, which are the foundation for the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed. You should notice in each of these readings the importance of Jesus Christ: His work, His teaching, His death and resurrection.

During the third and fourth weeks, we examine the Lord’s Prayer and Holy Baptism. Jesus has given these two amazing gifts to His Church and it is with great joy we reflect on them again this Lent.

Week five is a slight detour into the wonderful book of Psalms. The sixth week begins with another look at Jesus and the significance of the cross for us. Week six ends and week seven continues with the seven words Jesus spoke from the cross. During Holy Week we stop and ponder anew the sufferings of Jesus Christ for us.

Thanks for taking the time to read these devotions written by friends and members of Christ Church. My thanks go out to everyone who put their thoughts on paper. Thanks also to the editorial staff of Emily Halton and Paul Hill who worked so diligently to complete this project.

I pray this has been a constructive exercise in helping each of us to better be able to share the faith God has given to us, for it is our joy and privilege to do so. May these humble contributions help to strengthen and nurture your faith too.

Yours in Christ,

Jon Ehlers, Pastor

Click here to read our Lent devotions.

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Quiz night

Dr Andrew Nicholson will be leading us in a battle of brains.  Dinner will be served at 7pm, the quiz will start about 8pm and the evening will finish around 10pm.  Tickets will be available soon, at £5 for adults.

Spring cleaning day at Church

All are asked to consider coming to help at the spring cleaning day.  The results will be amazing!  Times to be advised nearer the time.  A list of jobs that need doing will soon be available, as we get the church ready for Easter.  Your help will be much appreciated.

Table sale

Do come along to our Table Sale, held in the Church hall.  Tables may be purchased for £12 and you keep whatever money you make.  The public will be invited in and we hope it will be a great day for all involved. Refreshments will be on sale, so do come along to find a bargain or make a profit.  For more information please see Pastor or Lorraine.