Lent Devotions 2012: Friday 6th April


“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46

Good Friday was a day of distinctive sounds.

The splash of water as Pilate washed his hands and sent Jesus off to be crucified. The crack of the whip which tore into the flesh of Jesus Christ as He was scourged by the Roman soldier. The thud of the hammer hitting the nails that pierced Jesus’ flesh before being sunk deeply into the wood of the cross. The loud derisive shrieks of the crowd who mocked a dying Jesus and called for His blood. The silence of the universe for three hours as Jesus suffered the pangs of hell in our place. The rip of the Temple curtain announcing that access to God was now possible through the One whose once-for-all sacrifice has accomplished forgiveness and peace with God.

But the most distinctive sound of all on that Good Friday was the voice of Jesus Christ, God’s Suffering Servant. Luke informs us that Jesus “cried out with a loud voice”. This was no dying whimper or whisper. No, it was a proclamation; an announcement. Everyone on earth and in heaven was summoned to pay attention. God’s herald had a victory to proclaim.

“Father”: the God who had forsaken Him was once again His Father; His ABBA; His daddy.

“Into Your hands”: the strong, loving hands of the Father will bring His Son, even, through death. Deuteronomy 33:27 says “and underneath are the everlasting arms” of God who will catch us no matter how far down we fall. Even in death Jesus would not let go of His Father’s hand.

“I commit my spirit”: this is a quotation from Psalm 31:5. With this declaration, Jesus concludes His mission to seek and save the lost. He had prayed that God’s will would be done, and now through His death on the cross in our place as our sacrifice, God’s will was done.

On this Good Friday, let all who have ears listen. Listen to the victory cry of the dying Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through that same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Thursday 5th April

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

The most basic nourishing food to keep one alive is bread. The first temptation the devil offered the hungering Jesus in the wilderness was to turn stones into bread. What did the 5000 want after a long day with Jesus? Bread, which He gave them. When the Israelites complained that they missed sitting by the meat pots and eating bread to the full, God rained down on them bread from heaven. What do we pray for daily? Our daily bread. Yet whilst God provides for our bodily needs, the Lord of Life sees something even more important than sustaining our mere existence when He says, “I am the Bread of Life”.

The ‘I Am’ sayings of Jesus are emphatic in construction and would be recognised by the scholar to be like the great I AM. At God’s appearance to him at the burning bush, when Moses asked whom he is to say has sent him, God says, “I AM WHO I AM. Say to the people, ‘I AM has sent you’”, and in the next verse: “The LORD, the God of your fathers has sent me to you”. The Hebrew word for LORD sounds like, and is derived from, I AM.

Today we consider the Last Supper, just prior to Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. In His most extensive teaching, Jesus prepares His disciples for what must follow, and gives also the Institution of the Holy Sacrament. We are reminded of His word, “I am the Bread of Life”, as He broke bread and gave it to the disciples and said, “This is My body, which is given for you”.

How important is this? In the hymn What is This Bread? we sing: ‘It’s Christ’s body risen from the dead. This bread we break, this life we take, was crushed to pay for our release. O taste and see, the Lord is peace’. And marvelling at God’s grace: ‘Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free!’

This giving of Christ Himself to us is a matter of pure grace, and it makes the difference between having life and existing. He is the true Bread from Heaven, who brings forgiveness and abundant life. Feed on Him and live for ever!

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Kids cooking day

All are very welcome to drop in between 10 and 2 to cook pizzas with us. No charge, but donations are welcome. Come and join in the fun!

Lent Devotions 2012: Wednesday 4th April

“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Paul was talking about the race to win a prize – where only one person can win a prize in a race. We are not in a race for the prize of eternal life. We don’t need to push others out of the way, but we are easily subject to our own base needs and desires, and our bodies can sometimes let us down. Paul is determined not to have any physical distractions or desires in the path towards his Lord. Paul does not want to lose his own message of Jesus’ love and salvation that he preaches so well to so many. While we are not in a race for God, the course we all travel is tricky, narrow and strewn with man-made obstacles. Sometimes we put them there ourselves. Let us all try and keep our hearts and minds focussed on where we are going and where we want to end up. God does indeed have a prize waiting for you. And for me. And for everyone who chooses to take it from His hand. Let us not be aimless with our lives, but keep moving towards the goal of eternal salvation and being with Him, forever.

Dear Lord, our own efforts to reach You would fail completely but for the gift of our beloved Saviour. We give thanks for the prize You so freely give to all of us, and give praise to You for Your love and care to all. In His name, Amen.

Lent Devotions 2012: Tuesday 3rd April

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:6

In this passage Isaiah is talking about the Israelites who have gone astray from God, think of how quickly they went astray after seeing God part the Red Sea during the time of Moses. Yet we, who have knowledge of Jesus and all He has done for us, have also gone astray or even rejected our Lord.

Human nature is to desire control and to ‘take things into our own hands’ as often as possible. It is very hard for us, even those of us who trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, not to turn to our own ways instead of trusting and allowing God to work in our lives.

My prayer for myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ, is that we allow God to work in and through us and that we trust Him to care for us, even when things seem out of control or not as we desire them to be. The question we must ask ourselves is: does Jesus Christ, the “good shepherd” (John 10:16), gather us, lead us and guide us, or are we still wanting to go our own way like “wandering sheep”?

Lord, I thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross for my sins and the sins of the whole world. Please forgive me for going astray as the Israelites did when they did not trust You to be the “good shepherd”. Help me to keep my eyes on You and my ears attuned to Your voice. Amen.