Lenten Devotions 2010: Friday 19 March

“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”   Lord’s Prayer, Fifth Petition

 Forgiveness does not come easy for me.  “Do unto others worse than they have done to you” is more my motto. 

But this was not the way of Jesus.  Jesus turned the other cheek, even when Roman soldiers were beating and mocking Him.  And while they were driving sharp nails into His hands and feet, Jesus prayed “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  When Jesus hung there on the cross, it was not those sharp nails that pinned Him there; NO, it was my sin, and yours, that held Him there. 

I once attended a Good Friday service, where the pastor had a wooden cross, a hammer, and some nails.  He invited the congregation forward and encouraged each person to take a nail and hammer it into the cross as a reminder of the fact that it was my sin that took Jesus to the cross.  And as this was happening, he said the words, “Father forgive them”.  It was a genuinely powerful demonstration of the love and forgiveness of our Saviour.  Jesus freely and willingly forgave me for sending Him to the cross and having to suffer hell in my place.  Knowing this wondrous fact, knowing that my enormous and incalculable debt to God has been paid, how then can I not forgive those who do me wrong?  Through the boundless forgiveness of Christ, we are enabled to forgive others. 

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.  Amen.

Lenten Devotions 2010: Thursday 18 March

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:1-2

 I sometimes try to imagine the mansion that is being prepared for me in Heaven. I wonder if it will have lots of cupboards, and every time I open a door, there will be a new surprise to find!

 I wonder what it will be like to join with the angels in worshipping God, in the very presence of God!

 I know that whatever I try to imagine will be nothing like the real thing because, as it is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things God has prepared for them that love Him.

The hope we have is very real, but it’s not only a future hope.  Right now, we have an abundance of grace and  blessings from our Father in Heaven; Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins, so that we can  have peace with God now, when we rest our faith in Jesus.

Thank You Father for strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Amen.

Lenten Devotions 2010: Wednesday 17 March

“… let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

 WHERE IS YOUR FOCUS?

 In the world today there are many distractions drawing our attention and focus away from Christ – schoolwork,  job demands, material goods,  family issues – causing worry, sinful desires, unhealthy choices and sadness in our lives. We are so easily distracted. But the Lord commands us to fix our eyes on Him, creator of our faith, to establish and be steadfast in our beliefs, so that our actions will be based on that trust, not on worldly expectations.   “Come to Calvary’s holy mountain, Sinners, ruined by the fall…”.  What a sombre sight on which to focus:  Christ, sinless and perfect, suffering on the cross for me.  Yet be firm in the belief that we, as weak and wounded sinners, needed Christ to go to the cross for our salvation and He went willingly, out of love for each of us.   The hymnist continues, “….here a pure and healing fountain flows, for you, for me, for all….”, wiping out the pain and destruction caused by our misguided focus on earthly things.  Fix your eyes upon Jesus, for beyond the cross, beyond the darkness of our sin and desperate attempts to save ourselves, we will see Christ exalted – Christ sitting at the right hand of the throne of God – Christ, who endured the suffering and shame for your sake and mine,  now seated in all His glory, having secured also for us an exalted place of honour, forever with our triumphant Lord!

Lord, thank You for the gift of my faith.  Help me daily to keep my focus on Your Word and to live my life according to Your holy will.  Amen.

Lent Devotions 2010: Tuesday 16 March

“I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.”  Isaiah 50:6

 As a youngster, the scene from “Mutiny on the Bounty”, of a young man being flayed alive for some misdemeanour, appalled me, and my sympathies went to Fletcher Christian and his famous mutiny.  Later I read Captain (later Admiral) Blye’s account of the need to keep strict discipline, and justifying extreme punishment.  I suppose the high priests too felt justified in their trial of Jesus.

 They just didn’t get who they were dealing with.  In their mockery of a trial they got Him to admit that He was the Messiah, the Christ; they condemned Him as deserving death, and took their case to Pilate since they were not permitted to carry out the death sentence themselves.  First, some began to spit on Him, and cover His face, and to strike Him, saying to Him, “Prophesy to us you Christ!  Who is it that struck you?”  Later, Herod too with his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him.  Pilate unwillingly bowed to the pressure of the Jews and handed Him over. 

 The film “The Passion of the Christ” was criticised for the length of the whipping scene.  But there Christ, perhaps already half dead, continued to turn the other cheek to those who were so enraged with Him that they were tearing their hair out, or at least tearing their robes.  But the disgrace didn’t stop there.  The governor’s soldiers called together the whole battalion, clothed Him in purple, plaited a crown of thorns on His head and in mock salute, having spat upon Him and struck Him, knelt in false homage to Him, and led Him away to be crucified.

 No doubt the priests sincerely thought they were doing God a favour in getting rid of Jesus.  But one can be sincere and wrong, as it were.  He had to die – this was His destiny, His purpose.  He came to suffer and die in our stead, take all our punishment, and go on to do what only God could do: win victory over death itself, and give new and eternal life to all who have faith in Him.

 Thank You Jesus for doing this for us!  Amen. 

Lenten Devotions 2010: Monday 15 March

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  John 6:40

 It is not uncommon to hear people lament, “I just wish I knew what God’s will for my life is.”  For some this question seems to plague every aspect of their life and every move they make, or don’t make. 

But in our text, Jesus clearly tells us what God’s will for us is, “that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life.”  The problem with the question of “what’s God’s will for my life” is, that it places the emphasis on me and my life.  I want God to reveal His will to me, and I want it done now. 

 But God has revealed His will for us in Jesus Christ.  His will is that we look only to His Son, and not to ourselves or anyone or anything else, for eternal life.   Our faith is not to be placed in ourselves, our experience, our emotions, our reason; instead Jesus is to be the sole content of our faith.  The content of that Christian faith which proclaims, “that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16

 God’s will is that our hearts and our eyes would be fixed on Jesus at all times.  Looking at Him, hanging on the cross and dying for my sins, and believing that through His substitutionary death in my place that I have forgiveness of sins, means that I don’t have to worry about God’s will for me.  He has, and He is, working His will in my life.  He is keeping me in Christ, so that Christ may raise me up on the last day to be with Him forever.  Thy will be done. 

 Gracious and merciful God, please do not let me get so tangled up in my questions that I fail to see Your Answer: Jesus Christ and what He has done for me.  Amen.

Lenten Devotions 2010: Saturday 13 March

“Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.”  Psalm 100:3

 Who do we think we are,
Who live a life so well?
Who gives us all we have?
We know and proudly tell.

Our God, He is our Lord
He knows our every need.
We are His flock and He
Will love, will save, will feed.

He is all things to us
Dear Master, Saviour, Friend,
And, as our Good Shepherd,
We can on Him depend.

 Give praise and thanks to Him
Follow the Lord always.
Be led by Him alone
Until the end of days.

 Jesus tender Shepherd hear me
Bless Thy little lamb tonight
Through the darkness be Thou near me
Watch my sleep til morning light.

 All this day Thy hast led me
And I thank Thee for Thy care
Thou has clothed me, warmed and fed me
Listen to my evening prayer.

 Amen.

Lenten Devotions 2010: Friday 12 March

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Lord’s Prayer, Fourth Petition

 When I first heard this as a child, I thought it meant real bread or food we need to eat to keep us going and growing.  Whilst growing up, I realised this has such a far deeper meaning. 

 The Lord knows what we need before we even ask it and so He always readily provides us with all we need to survive day to day.  This passage means so much  spiritually and this reading comes to mind when Jesus says, “Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord”.  This shows that we need our Heavenly Father in every way, living and following in His way.  We need to be continually taught the Ten Commandments, read the Bible and go to Church – thirsting for His Words to teach us how to live and to always look to the Lord first. 

We have an awesome God, He is our strength and shield.  The Lord is my shepherd, Psalm 23.

 Dear Lord, Thank You for Your precious word and saving grace.  Please help us to continually abide in You as You do so abundantly in us.  Thank You Lord Jesus for being our daily bread!  Amen.