Tag Archives: Gospel

What to remember this weekend

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
(Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53-54:1 ESV)
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
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.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53 ESV)

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
(Matthew 27:1-61 ESV)


Reading the Gospels for Devotions

This year rather than read the Bible through as I had done for several years, I have read the gospels over and over.  I have tried to find ways to keep from letting it become too familiar or too legalistic to be of value to my spiritual growth.  Also, I have been teaching the study, Reading the Bible for Life by George H. Guthrie, at church.  I have tried to join some of the ideas from that study into my devotional life.  This morning, I came up with four questions to guide my meditation and journal writing as I read the gospels.  I usually read one chapter per day.

  1. What do I learn about Jesus from this chapter?  Here, I am focusing on who Jesus is by meditating on His nature and character.  I am looking at how the Gospel writer explains Jesus’ humanity and divinity.  I am also looking at how His fulfills prophecies and how He is revealed as Messiah, Savior, and Lord.
  2. What does Jesus teach by His words or by His example?  I am looking for what I must obey.  As my Lord, what does Jesus want me to do?  In Luke 2, which I read this morning, it says in a couple of places that Jesus grew in wisdom.  This is an example to follow, and I began to consider how I might focus on growing in godly wisdom.
  3. How do people respond to Jesus in ways that I should emulate?  In the text, how do I see others obey Jesus.  For example, as I read Luke 2, I noticed how Simeon waited for God’s promise and rejoiced with praise as he saw it fulfilled.
  4. How do I apply what I have observed to my life? After meditating upon or writing down the things that I have observed, I look back and try to think of specific ways that I need to apply.  For example, this morning I decided that to grow in godly wisdom, I need to read a chapter of Proverbs each day.
I hope that this will be helpful to those of you seeking to go deeper in looking at the life of Jesus and in reading the Gospels.  If you have found other questions, books or methods that help you to think about a passage of Scripture, feel free to suggests them in the comments.

Fear of people is…

…a form of idolatry.  The other day, I wrote about how fear of the future and worry are sins.  They show a lack of faith and trust in God’s goodness.  I confessed that I had been very sinful in that area of my life.  As I, with God’s grace, fought that sin, I fell into another–the fear of people.  Fear of people is evident when we desire the praise of others, want to be liked by everyone, or fear letting someone else down.  All those traits are normal human nature in one sense, but for a person under the sin of fearing people more than Go, those traits bind their every action.

As I said, I fell into that sin as well.  I never wanted to be the bearer of bad news. I hungered for the praise of others and found myself taking on more and more so that others would be more and more pleased with me.  I became a slave to others rather than a slave to Christ.  Fear of people is a form of idolatry, but the idol really isn’t other people.  The idol is self.  At the center of the traits that I mentioned above is me with a capital “I”.  A person in this sin tries to please others not for serving other, but rather for receiving their praise.  Often, at its heart, the fear of people is form of selfishness.

The way to kill the sins of fear of the future and fear of people is by grace to replace them with the fear of God.  I will give some thoughts on the fear of God in the near future.

Maturity to Speak

Just as we must learn to listen to the criticism, advice and teaching of others, we must also learn how to speak into the lives of others.  How we speak is as much an indication of maturity as how we listen.  The Bible gives very specific direction to those who speak into others lives whether it is teaching the Word or confronting sin.

Someone who speaks into the life of another person must be wise.   Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise guidance you shall wage war, and in the abundance of counselors there is victory.” [1]  Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”   Speaking into another’s life requires the credibility of wisdom.  God-fearing reverence and knowledge of God through His Word should characterize our lives.

When we are confronting others over sin, we must be very careful.  As Jesus pointed out, before we try to get the speck out of someone else’s eye, we need to make sure there isn’t a beam sticking out of our eye.  This does not mean, as some may suggest that we should never go after the speck.  It only means that we should take time to check our lives first.

Another thing that we have to guard against is pride.  Speaking into the life of another presumes a right to speak and knowledge that another does not have or at the very least is not aware of.  Therefore, we must be humble, and above all, we must have the good of the other person as our motive for speaking. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul admonished us, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

So, it is a good idea before we teach the Word of God, confront others about sin or seek to correct the doctrine of others that we take time to examine ourselves.  Are we walking in wisdom?  Are we covering sin in our own life?  Are we proud?  Do we have the edification of the other person as our goal?

[1] All references are from the New American Standard Bible.

Seeing the Unseen

T.W. Hunt’s writings have had a profound influence in my life through the years.  His writings and teaching are the sort that have entered my life and have become a part of me.  Recently I ran across another short book by him called Seeing the Unseen: Cultivate a Faith That Unveils the Hidden Presence of God.

He identified seven factors that help us cultivate such faith.
1. “A strong sense of the Holy Spirit’s mediation to the Father in all that I pray.” (Ephesians 5:18)
2. “A commitment to praying in the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
3. “A strong sense of progression, upward and forward.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
4. “A deep, strong desire to please the Father.” (John 8:29)
5. “A strong sense that nothing is impossible with omnipotence.” (Matthew 21:21)
6. “Thoughts concentrated entirely on God.” (Ephesians 4:6)
7. “A sincere desire for the will of God above personal whims.” (Matthew 6:10)

Hunt’s book is well worth reading. The only negative thing that I can say is that he begins by applying the Scripture through the filter of Greek philosophy. Beyond that minor point, the book is an excellent reminder of many things that we should practice in our devotional lives.

Morning Prayer for July 24, 2011

My LORD, My God
Sacrifice for my sin
I am unworthy
Your grace defies my understanding
Your mercy overwhelms my soul
Created to glorify You
Re-born to live for You
Transformed to reflect You
“Grace greater than all my sin”

Some things I hope you will read…

Here are links to three articles and videos that I hope you will enjoy.  Two are serious and one is just for fun.

Is baptism important?  It is more important than a lot of people think according to this article.

How does the Law relate to the Gospel? You will find a good explanation here.

You can read how one young man deals with little sisters and Chuck E. Cheese here. You might want to check out other articles on that blog as well.