Friday, March 29, 2013

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

Are you repulsed by the thought of crucifixion? I am. But I also know that when I look into the eyes of Jesus I see the cross! And He has said to me, "Anne, if you want to be My disciple, if you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. Because if you want to save your life, you're going to lose it in the end. If you choose to lose your life for Me, you will find it. For what good will it do you if you gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26 paraphrased)

The cross that Jesus commands you and me to carry is the cross of submissive obedience to the will of God, even when His will includes suffering and hardship and things we don't want to do. It is a willingness to totally, absolutely, irrevocably, and finally yield our lives to Him because we want what He wants more than what we want. 

-- Anne Graham Lotz in Just Give Me Jesus


#3189

Thursday, March 28, 2013

MAUNDY THURSDAY SILENCE

The liturgical mood of Holy Thursday is complex.  It begins with grandeur… Yet quickly enough the mood shifts as the liturgy moves to its conclusion.  The momentum of the Passion story asserts itself and we find ourselves aware of the coming, dark events, the necessary descent before the rising.  We move, as it were, into the garden with Jesus where He retires and waits.  We, like the disciples with whom He pleads to remain, watch and pray.
 
Traditionally, the Maundy Thursday service has no closure.  We leave the church unaccompanied by music or benediction or blessing.  The altar is stripped of the celebrative dressing.  The church is left stark and bare.  We hear the footfalls echo as we leave in silence. 
 
-- Wendy M. Wright in The Rising
 
 
#3188

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THE CROSS ON GOLGOTHA

Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If he's not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.

The cross on Golgotha
Will never save thy soul;
The cross in thy own heart
Alone can make thee whole.

-- Unknown, 3rd Century


#3187

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

THE CENTRAL EVENT

The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus -- He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating "God was manifested in the flesh …" from "… He made Himto be sin for us …" (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.

-- Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest


#3186

Monday, March 25, 2013

THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

When Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross, it was not the blood of a martyr; or the blood of one man for another; it was the life of God poured out to redeem the world.  

-- Oswald Chambers


#3185

Friday, March 22, 2013

SEEING JESUS

As Jesus continued to teach His disciples, He gave them great hope. He promised them, "Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me." (John 14:19) Their brows must have furrowed as they concentrated on what He was saying, not understanding. How could they see Jesus after He was gone?

Once again, Jesus was revealing to them a dimension of the Holy Spirit's work.

The world sees Jesus as a man, perhaps even a good or great man and possibly even a prophet, but still a man. It is the Holy Sprit who opens our spiritual eyes of understanding so that we see Jesus as much more than just a man. We see Him as: our Creator, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the long-awaited Messiah, the only Son of God, the Redeemer of Israel, the Lamb of God, the Savior of the world, the Good Shepherd, the risen Lord, the Judge of all the universe, the reigning and ruling King of kings!

The only way we can be convinced of who Jesus is, is through the enlightenment we have received from the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained, "When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you." (John 16:13-14) 

-- Anne Graham Lotz in Just Give Me Jesus


#3184

Thursday, March 21, 2013

CONTINUING THE MISSION OF CHRIST

A church consultant began a teaching session with the provocative statement, "God doesn't care whether your congregation thrives or declines, lives or dies." God cares about whether the transforming truth of Jesus Christ changes people -- and changes the world through them -- and God will gladly use our congregations for that purpose or work around our congregations for that purpose.

Congregations are not ends in themselves. Local churches are particular expressions of the body of Christ existing to further the mission that we see revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In the lessons Jesus taught, the people He touched, the suffering He relieved, the forgiveness He offered, the justice He proclaimed, the life He lived, the sacrifice He made, the death He died, and the new life He revealed is "the life that really is life." Through congregations, the Holy Spirit knits people into communities that continue the life and witness of Christ. 

-- Robert Schnase in The Future of The United Methodist Church: 7 Vision Pathways, Abington Press, 2010


#3183

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

EMBRACING THE PRESENT

We should not "borrow from the future" by living in fear of the next life stage. Neither should we live in the past by "idolizing" the life stage just completed. Live fully in the present. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Look for God there. However, in order to fully embrace the present, we must regularly let go of the past, and one of the most significant losses that we must periodically let go of is the loss of our youth.

-- R. Scott Sullender in Losses in Later Life


#3182

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

LET GOD LOVE YOU

Give up trying to earn God's love. You cannot do it. God's love is a free gift given to imperfect people like you and me. Let God love you. It is the only way to be truly free.

-- Tom L. Eisenman in Temptations Men Face


#3181

Monday, March 18, 2013

THE CURRENCY OF SIN

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NRSV)

You are free to choose between two masters, but you are not free to adjust the consequences of your choice. Each of the two masters plays with his own kind of currency. The currency of sin is death. That is all you can expect or hope for in life without God. Christ's currency is eternal life -- new life with God that begins on earth and continues forever with God. What choice have you made?

-- Life Application Bible Commentary on Romans


#3180

Friday, March 15, 2013

IDENTIFYING WITH OUR SUFFERING

Christ's sufferings allow us to realize something amazing: that God suffers with us. When we feel like we've been humiliated in the presence of those around us, Christ has "already been there, done that." When we feel like all our friends have fled, and we wonder whom we can trust, Christ has "already been there, done that." When we experience great physical pain in our lives, and wonder when it will mercifully end, Christ has "already been there, done that." And if we or someone we know, for some unthinkable reason, experiences an untimely, or unexpected death, Christ has "already been there, done that."

In short, there is no human suffering -- self inflicted, world inflicted, caused by blind luck or fate -- that Christ cannot understand and identify with. That is why we can say, with the famous Psalm-writer, "Even if I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me..."

In precisely those worst times of life, God is with us. God understands us. God is not just some out-of-touch purveyor of psycho-babble, challenging us to "be positive." God realizes that some days it's hard to find anything positive. And that's OK. And part of why it's OK is that God will be there in our sufferings, anytime we stop to notice. 

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 2001. All Rights Reserved.


#3179

Thursday, March 14, 2013

GRACE IN SUFFERING

Ultimately there is tremendous grace in suffering -- not because of the pain of the suffering itself but because suffering allows us to reorient ourselves in ways that we simply could never have done had life proceeded in an untroubled manner.  Suffering gives us the occasion to listen as we never have listened before -- both to new words and to new sources of wisdom -- and to turn listening into seeing. 

-- William Long & Glandion Carney in A Hard-Fought Hope,  (c) 2004. Used by permission of The Upper Room(R).


#3178

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

FROM GOD TO MAN

"God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives." (Bill & Gloria Gaither, "He Lives")

The radical failure in so-called religion is that its way is from man to God. Starting with man, it seeks to rise to God; and there is no road that way. 

 -- J. Arundel Chapman  in The Theology of Karl Barth [1931]
 
 
#3177

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

COMPLETE FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship, as the Bible describes it, is much more than merely Christian social activity. It is more than enjoying food together, or playing games in a Christian atmosphere, or chatting with one another about the events of the past week. This doesn't mean there is no place for such activities. It is just that they are not true fellowship. They may, if entered in for the right purpose, contribute to fellowship, but in and of themselves they are not fellowship.

The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia. It is translated several ways in the New Testament: for example, "participation," "partnership," "sharing," and of course, "fellowship." These various uses of koinonia convey two related meanings: (1) to share together in the sense of joint participation or partnership, and (2) to share with in the sense of giving what we have to others. 

-- Jerry Bridges in The Crisis of Caring


#3176

Monday, March 11, 2013

INTRODUCING A FRIEND

We talk about God in the third person. We teach about God. However, we don't teach about our spouses or about good friends. We introduce them, not teach about them. Too often we relate to God as a myth or a theorem to be talked about and not as a friend [to be introduced].

-- Norman Shawchuck in A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, published by Upper Room Books, Nashville, 2003


#3175

Friday, March 8, 2013

SHARING THE GOSPEL

If you are a Christ-follower, then you are called, equipped, and expected to share the gospel.  No exceptions!  Leighton Ford, a former vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, summed it up this way: "A church which bottlenecks its specialists to do its witnessing is living in violation of both Jesus Christ and the consistent pattern of the early Christians.  Evangelism was the task of the whole church, not just the 'name characters'." 

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


#3174

Thursday, March 7, 2013

SPIRITUAL GROWTH

Growth in the spiritual life requires a group... In fellowship with other like-minded folk, earnestly seeking to know and understand the will of God, comes practice of the presence of God. Their counsel, their experience, their questionings, their faith are nourishment we need, the encouragement to keep on, the joy that delights in knowing that we do not stand alone in our search.

-- Freer and Hall in Two or Three Together


#3173

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

THE LIGHT OF LIFE

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

In darkness there is no choice. It is light that enables us to see the differences between things; and it is Christ who gives us light. 

-- Mrs. C. T. Whitemell


#3172

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

IMPOSSIBILITIES MADE INTO POSSIBILITIES

The whole ministry of Jesus was framed by impossibilities…incarnation and resurrection…a virgin birth and an empty tomb. Someone once said, Jesus came into the world through a door marked “no entrance,” a virgin womb. He left through a door marked “no exit”, a tomb of death. Two great impossibilities made possible in Jesus Christ. Nobody had ever walked through those doors before. In Jesus Christ, the world’s greatest impossibilities are made into possibilities. 

-- Timothy Tennett, President of Asbury Seminary, in his charge to graduates, May 2012


#3171

Monday, March 4, 2013

ASKING THE QUESTION

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14) The obvious answer is, "Of course not!" This question reveals much about God. Make it a habit to insert your specific needs into the question. "Is this day in my life too hard for the Lord?" "Is this habit I'm trying to break too hard for Him?" Is the communication problem I'm having too hard for Him?" Asking the question this way reminds you that God is personally involved in your life and nudges you to ask for His power to help you. 

-- from The Life Application Bible


#3170