Archive for April, 2009

Our LORD, Christ Jesus, approaching the Father in prayer

Our LORD, Christ Jesus, approaching the Father in prayer

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:36-39

Jesus’ human side would likely have been in a near panic at that moment. The authorities were coming to arrest him, put him on trial, and put him to death. While all of this was ordained, and is part of Salvation History, having been planned before time even began, I can only imagine that He was a bit nervous. The sin of the entire world – past, present, and future – to be laid upon his soul so that His sacrifice would take the place of those that stood, and stand, and will stand, convicted of countless crimes against God. How much evil, deadly, putrid sin there must have been in that cup. It would be only natural for Jesus to ask, “if possible, may this cup be taken from me.” That would be an extraordinary prayer as it stands alone. However, even in the darkest moments before His arrest, Jesus submits His will to His Father’s. He finished His prayer with “yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Thus perfecting the sacrifice, the willing Lamb of God to the slaughter.

The Cup - representational of the vessel that would contain all the past, present, and future sins of mankind.

The Cup - representational of the vessel that would contain all the past, present, and future sins of mankind.

Christ’s prayers fall into two categories with regard to this single prayer: conditional and absolute. As far as his conditional prayers were concerned, Luke 22:42 is a prime example:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” This prayer was answered in the following ways. His mind was strengthened against the terror of the impending events. This enabled Him to be perfectly composed to embrace God’s will: “not my will, but yours be done.” So Christ was heard to the extent  He had wished to be heard. Although, by nature, He desired deliverance, since He was human, yet He did not desire this absolutely, as He was wholly given over to God’s will.

The next remarkable thing about that night was that He didn’t focus on Himself while praying. He prayed for the strength, courage, safety, and fidelity of his disciples.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word” John 17:20 (NASB)

Again, during the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for himself, and then he prayed for the disciples.

And then, with the hour of His death approaching, He took the time to pray for you.  He prayed for all those who would believe through the ministry of the disciples, and that means you.

Jesus prayed for you, and this is what He said to God:

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;  that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.  The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:20–24, NASB)

What does this mean?

Jesus cares for you – And, in fact, he still prays for you: “Therefore He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, HCSB)

Jesus wants you with him in heaven – “Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am.” (John 17:24, HCSB)

Jesus empowers you to follow God’s purpose – “I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22–23, HCSB)

Question #1: Does the fact that Jesus prayed for you make it easier to pray to Him?

Question #2: Each day has 86,400 seconds in it… Have you used even a single solitary second to thank Him for what He has done for you?

Remember – HE was on his way to death, and He still remembered YOU. HE was hung on a cross dying when He prayed, “Father, forgive them…” HE died and spent three days in Hell battling The Enemy – yet knowing He was on His way there to do battle, He remembered to give you a little shout-out to His Dad.

"Father, forgive them..."

"Father, forgive them..."

Give thanks to the LORD – for HE is good!

Lord I come before You, desiring to provide thanks. Father, I have so much to be thankful for, things unseen and seen, that You have done in my life.

Lord, mostly I am thankful for the relationship that I have with You. Lord, You initiated this relationship, by what Your Son endeavored to accomplish, paying the price for my sin, redeeming and reconciling me.

Dear Heavenly Father, You know the times I have been ungrateful, held ill thoughts toward You and my fellow humans. You know the times I complain and grumble about life and its circumstances, about suffering, going through what seem endless trials and tribulations. Even yielding my members to unholy deeds.

Yet God You are and always will be there with me, even when it seems like I am forever in the wilderness, running further and further from You, You, my God are there guiding me back to Your loving arms.

I am thankful Lord for everything that You allow to cross my path. Thankful for the decisions that You allow me to make and the lessons that come from these decisions.

I’m thankful, Lord, that I do not have to live under condemnation anymore, that You have truly set me free, that I am a new creation that I need not live under the law anymore. Thankful Lord that You have given me joy unspeakable. Thankful Lord that You are longsuffering, allowing me to mature in You!

Lord, words do not express my thankfulness. For Your mighty power is at work in me, transforming me, renewing my mind. To You Lord belong thanks eternal.

In Jesus’ name, amen.


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It has been a difficult week. A few days ago there was a double homicide in town. Two young people were gunned down while trying to help a third escape a cycle of violence in a domestic situation. The girl they were helping, giving a place of shelter from her abusive boyfriend, was staying at their apartment. Somehow the boyfriend found out where she was hiding and showed up at the apartment. The young man told the boyfriend he was not welcome, and was shot four times. The young lady was shot twice while barring the door to keep the boyfriend from getting to the girl. The heroic actions of these two helped spare the life of the intended victim. Of course this has had tsunamic repercussions throughout the community, and even more devastating ones in the victims’ extended families.

I was asked by the sister of the young man to try to help her understand the “why” of it all, and to try to help her get through this. Most people, myself included would immediately mentally flash on the verse from John 15:13 – “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” However, I thought I would reflect on another person faced with what seemed to be overwhelming tragedy, and personal angst toward God:

The situation put me in mind of the story of Job. We are all aware of the plight that Job faced. Family loss! Financial ruin! Friends that turned on him! Even his own wife told him to curse God and die. In Job the 19th Chapter, Job chronicles his problems, but then suddenly he shifts what he has to say from despair to begin to decree his hope. That’s what many of us need to do today as well. Look at what he says:

25For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God. 27Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27

We look to Job to direct us toward three declarative statements that have the potential to change the way you live your life:

1st Declaration: Stake your claim on the ground of HOPE!

“For I know that my redeemer lives” – You will either live in hope (like Job) or in despair. In Anne of Green Gables, which I believe is one of the best family movies ever made, young orphan Anne storms her way up the stairs in frustration. She screams out, “I am in the depths of despair!” Her guardian, Maurilla Guthberg, replies, “Child, to despair is to turn your back on God!”

No matter how difficult it got for Job, he never turned his back on God. His friends, even his wife, counseled him to abandon hope, repent of whatever sins he had committed and give up. He would not let go of the hope. He knew what Guthberg knew: Living in despair is to live with your back turned toward God. You will choose to look at your circumstances and turn your back on God, or you will face your circumstances knowing God will never turn His back on you. Job knew His Redeemer lived and because he knew this, he had hope for the future.

2nd Declaration: Always magnify the work of redemption!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives” – Job believed that his Redeemer could redeem his situation. Everyone else in his life thought “no way!” Job believed God would ultimately turn it all around even if it were after Job’s death. This is the level of faith and hope that we need every day. We are beset on all sides with opportunity to turn to despair, to turn our back on God – but we need to remember, and magnify that God is in the salvage business. God takes what cannot be argued is anything but “no good” and makes something out of it that everyone else wants, and craves. We are his treasures. He has transformed trash (our sinful selves) into his treasure (our redeemed selves through Christ Jesus).

3rd Declaration: Remember, nothing can keep a Godly man down!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives” – Another movie illustrates this point, The Green Mile. The guards are leading the prisoners down the corridor to lock them up on death row, calling out as they brought them down – “Dead man walking! Dead man walking!” Why? Because all that was before this man was the death. When we have to stare at circumstances that are bleak and dim, or ever have to stare death in the face, we can just call out “Dead Man Rising! Dead Man Rising!” Why? Because we know our Redeemer lives and all though our bodies are destroyed, in these bodies we shall see God!

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For me, to live is Christ.

Is it possible to sum up an entire existence with one word?

The word – Jesus?

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The one who is, who was, and who is to come.

Jesus, who is he to me?

He is the Prince of Peace, who calms my soul.

He is the Good Shepard, who guards my soul.

He is the Great High Priest, who redeems my soul.

He is the King of Kings, who governs my soul.

He is the Great Prophet, who illuminates my soul.

He is the Beloved, who loves my soul.

He is the Judge of the Living and the Dead, who vindicates my soul.

He is the Resurrection and the Life, who preserves my soul.

He is the Great I AM, who assures my soul.

Jesus – King of Glory.

King of the Ages.

King of all the Earth.

King of Kings.

My King.


Enough? More than enough!

When I am hungry, He is the Bread of Life that feeds me.

When I am lost He is the Way that leads home.

When I am trapped, He is the Door to freedom.

When I am uncertain, He is the Rock.

When I am speechless, He is the Word.

When I am in despair, He is the Bright and Morning Star.

When I am soiled, He is the Lamb of God that washes away my sin.

When I am afraid, He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

When I am impoverished, He is the Unspeakable Gift.

When I am in darkness, He is the Light.

Lord of Glory.

Lord of Hosts.

Lord of ALL.

My Lord.

To Him alone belongs the name above all names…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Sometimes others say things I’m thinking, feeling, or want to convey better than I ever could. While doing research for this post, I ran across this YouTube video. I think that the words that are spoken in this video, coupled with the imagry is powerful and says far better than I could the message I wanted to impart to you today. Do not be put off that this was an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ – Latter Day Saints (Mormon) talking… There is nothing in this video that could not be read, word for word, in any of the various facets of the jewel called Christianity. Give it a viewing, and let me know what you think…

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I don’t really know what makes me feel so conneced to the emotions conveyed in this song – but when I saw it performed in the original movie (1973), I was absolutely floored. I saw it on Broadway in the newer production (2000) and was profoundly touched. I saw it yet again with the touring company in Amarillo, Texas, and nearly broke out in tears… I’m sure it’s open to a myriad of interpretations, and that each person’s perception of the song, and the circumstance would vary depending on their own personal experience, and the strength of their faith – however, it’s a song that I traditionally listen to every Easter in order to aid my reflections of what has been sacrificed for ME, and I get to know that with HIS sacrifice, we HAVE started again. The slate is clean. I am saved through the actions of MY God, and MY Savior. – That and it’s just a cool song anyway…

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Gospel of Saint Luke, Chapter 24:

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

This is the central tenet of our faith: that our Lord sacrificed himself so that all sins of mankind would be forgiven eternally. We celebrate that sacrifice and his Resurrection today — the day that death was conquered and an unbroken covenant with the Lord was established.

May all have a happy Easter today, in faith and in love.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

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“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered up to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him up to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matthew 20-18-19).

Many years ago I studied the four gospels very carefully with one question in mind. Why did Jesus die? What do the gospel writers actually say about the reason for his dying? Being from a conservative background, I had always been taught that Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins, and that on the cross he suffered the wrath of God in our place. Although most of the Western world has been taught a variation on this theme, it is utter nonsense, if not blasphemy against the sheer oneness and love of the Father, Son and Spirit. The clear teaching of the gospels is that it was the human race, not the Father, who cursed Jesus. It was the Jews and the Gentiles, not the Holy Spirit, who abandoned him. We rejected Jesus. We condemned him. We poured our wrath upon him and made him a scapegoat. The astonishing fact is that instead of retaliating, which he could have easily done, Jesus deliberately submitted himself to our profoundly broken judgment. He, the Father’s Son and the anointed One, willfully bowed to suffer our disdain and contempt. We ridiculed him, mocked him and murdered him.

Either our bitter rejection and condemnation of Jesus caught the Father, Son and Spirit by surprise, or it was part of the reconciling plan all along. Jesus did not come to balance a legal ledger, but to reconcile us. He came to establish a real relationship with the human race in all of its sin and terrible brokenness. And how did Jesus establish a real relationship with us in our sin? First, he became one of us, a human being, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Second, he accepted and bore our darkened, abominable condemnation. Jesus did not die to suffer from his Father. Jesus died to meet us at our absolute worst, and dying in the arms of our scorn he did just that. Jesus bore our sin, not figuratively, but literally. We despised him, as Isaiah prophesied. We hated him and crucified him. As he accepted our derision and hatred, as he suffered our sin personally, as we beat him, spit upon him, cursed him and crucified him, he was meeting sinners in their dark, gnarled and twisted world—and he brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with him. This is real reconciliation.

Hallelujah. What astonishing and determined love.

Christ of Saint John of the CrossChrist of Saint John of the Cross

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