“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV
“The omnipresence of Jesus in the church is a central concept in Matthew, and as Luz says, is ‘the Christological center of the entire chapter.’ Jesus is virtually declaring his divinity, for such a claim is possible only for God himself. To gather ‘in my name’ means to be in union with Jesus, part of his community, and under his authority. So Jesus is especially present among them, not just metaphorically but through the Spirit of Christ in their midst. [Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan 2010, p. 688.]
Prayer: Lord, we are gathered in the name of Jesus. We acknowledge your manifest presence, the community of God and your authority and power through and in the Spirit. In your presence we have everything. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Song: Let’s sing the song “Endless Alleluia” by Bethel (click here).
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19 NIV
“But there is more. As Dean Flemming writes, ‘This peace—God’s wide-ranging shalom—signifies more than simply a conventional greeting or a calm state of mind. In the context, it speaks forgiveness of their failures, a restored relationship, and freedom from fear of the hostility of others.’ Ultimately, the word of peace signals the wholeness and the harmony associated with God’s coming kingdom, which begins with forgiveness of the people’s sins. The disciples are going to be commissioned with a ministry of the forgiveness of sins (20:23). But first they must themselves be recipients of forgiveness. ‘Rather than coming with condemnation on his lips for the disciples’ abandoning him in his arrest and death,’ remarks Andy Johnson, ‘Jesus comes with open arms that embody human and divine reconciliation, speaking words of peace that imply that the disciples are forgiven even before they ask to be.’ Their reaction is one of joy (20:20b), as they know they have seen—and heard—the risen crucified Lord. Implicitly, this word of peace in 20:19 is also, then, a word of mission. This connection becomes clearer in the second peace-pronouncement (20:21a), which immediately precedes the explicit commission (20:21b). [Gorman, Michael J.. Abide and Go: Missional Theosis in the Gospel of John (The Didsbury Lecture Series Book 0) (p. 137). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.]
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for declaring over us peace as we live in the Spirit’s presence. Peace that signifies forgiveness in our lives and that goes out to minister to others in the same. Stir us God for your mission. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Song: Let’s sing the song “God of Revival” by Bethel (click here).
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body,” 1 Corinthians 12:13a NIV
“Most likely, therefore, Paul is referring to their common experience of conversion, and he does so in terms of its most crucial ingredient, the receiving of the Spirit. Such expressive metaphors (immersion in the Spirit and drinking to the fill of the Spirit), it needs to be added, do imply a much greater experiential and visibly manifest reception of the Spirit than many have tended to experience in subsequent church history.” [Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (pp. 605-606). Eerdmans Publishing Co.]
“In sum: ‘to be saved’ in the Pauline view means to become part of the people of God, who by the Spirit are born into God’s family and therefore joined to one another as one body, whose gatherings in the Spirit form them into God’s temple. God is not simply saving diverse individuals and preparing them for heaven; rather he is creating a people for his name, among whom God can dwell and who in their life together will reproduce God’s life and character in all its unity and diversity…What is new for Paul, and for the rest, is that the people of God are newly constituted by Christ and the Spirit; we enter that people one at a time. Such entry is, above everything else, also the work of the Spirit. [Gordon D. Fee, Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, Chapter 6, “A People for His Name.”]
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us and bringing us together in your Spirit to form one body of Christ. May we grow as we walk in the Spirit together to reproduce God’s life and character for our world to see and be saved. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Song: Let’s sing to the Lord together “One and Only Jesus” by Vertical Worship (click here).
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 NIV
For our devotional time today, let’s spend time praying for the churches (AMC, AHC, ALC, Ecc-NYC and Ecc-Paris) according to the passage in Colossians 3:12-17.
Let’s lift up God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.
Pray that all will be clothed with the Spirit given character and fruit as we grow together.
Pray that the message of the gospel will grow more richly in each of our lives.
Pray that each moment of gathering and worship will be fruitful and life giving.
Pray that the church will grow in word and deed to give glory to God the Father.
Prayer: Lord Jesus we pray together for your chosen, holy, and dearly loved people of God, your church. May we put on the character and fruit of your Spirit and grow so that we will give glory to your name. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Song: Let’s sing the song “1000 Tongues” by Vertical Worship (click here).
God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10-11 NLT
Cape Town Commitment 9. We love the people of God
Jesus calls all his disciples together to be one family among the nations, a reconciled fellowship in which all sinful barriers are broken down through his reconciling grace. This Church is a community of grace, obedience and love in the communion of the Holy Spirit, in which the glorious attributes of God and gracious characteristics of Christ are reflected and God’s multi-colored wisdom is displayed. As the most vivid present expression of the kingdom of God, the Church is the community of the reconciled who no longer live for themselves, but for the Savior who loved them and gave himself for them.
Prayer: Jesus, we thank you for the eternal plan you have for your church. We pray that as we grow in grace, obedience, and love in your Spirit, that there will be greater witness of your character and glory to our world. Thank you for your love that always covers us. Spirit of God fall on us with your flame of love. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Song: Let’s sing together with the song “Spirit of God” by New Life Worship (click here).
Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV) God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“Christ’s ascension not only results in priestly presence, but it also amounts to royal rule. The creedal statement that he is ‘seated at the right hand of God’ comes from a psalm that is no less political as it is religious (Ps 110:1). The notion of ‘ascension’ evokes in and by itself the image of the one who ‘came to the ancient One and was presented before him’ and to whom ‘was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him’ and whose ‘dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed’ (Dan 7:13-14). Ascension is a political act.” [Edwin Chr. van Driel, What Is Jesus Doing?, 6-7]
The ascended Jesus is King and Lord over all. He holds the greatest office. Every president, prime minister, dictator, power or authority is under him. What great peace and joy we have knowing that our ascended King Jesus is in control.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, I submit to your established royal king Jesus. With him I find life and salvation. Help me to live in his ways and trust in his care and control over all things. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship for “King Jesus” by Matt Redman (click here).
Hebrews 4:14-15 (NIV) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Rom 8:31,34 (NIV) If God is for us, who can be against us?… Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
“The resurrected and ascended Christ intercedes for us, reconciles us, and blesses us as a priest; rules us as a king; and speaks to us as a prophet. The most straightforward answer to the question ‘What is Jesus doing?’ is that he prays for us… Whatever we do, and wherever we go, we are not alone. With each step, Jesus himself prays for us.” [Edwin Chr. van Driel, What Is Jesus Doing?, 4, 5]
The ascended Jesus, is not idle in our current troubles. He is one who is deeply involved right now through prayer and intercession. When Jesus intercedes, it is not with vague and general prayers. He empathizes with our personal and specific struggles, and intercedes for us with personal and specific prayers.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the great high priest I have in Jesus. My heart is comforted and encouraged by knowing Jesus empathizes with weaknesses. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “Same Jesus” by Matt Redman (click here).
John 20:16-17 (NIV) Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”
“Some have thought that his resurrection body was so new, so different, that he didn’t want Mary trying to touch him and getting the wrong idea, thinking he was a ghost. That seems hardly likely in view of the other accounts, and the subsequent invitation to Thomas to touch and see (though admittedly that was a week later). I think it’s more likely that it was a warning to Mary that the new relationship with him was not going to be like the old one.” [NT Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2, 146]
Like Mary, we may have a version of Jesus that we must let go, the grounded, floor-level Jesus. The ascended Jesus is far more glorious, far more stunning, far more in control, far more trustworthy, and far more involved than we realize. May we encounter and proclaim the ascended Jesus.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, may your Spirit help me to encounter the ascended Jesus in a fresh way today. I let go of old ways and open my heart to receive a new revelation of Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “Let There Be Wonder” by Matt Redman (click here).
John 13:3-4 (NIV) Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
“…the point is not to say, ‘Fancy! Despite the fact that he had come from God, he nevertheless washed their feet!’ The point is to say, ‘No: washing their feet was what he had to do, precisely because he had come from God.’ The footwashing – and the crucifixion itself, to which it pointed – was Jesus’ way of showing who God was and is.” [NT Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2, 44]
In this world, the path to ascension is by self-service. In God’s kingdom, the path to ascension is by serving others. The ascended Jesus, who is above all, is also the one who bowed low to wash his disciples’ feet. When we meet the ascended Jesus, we find a new way to live that is unlike this world. Jesus didn’t love despite being ascended. Jesus loved because he was the ascended one.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as I behold Jesus, the ascended one, may I find myself drawn to serve and love others as Jesus did. He is the one whom I seek. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “After You” by UPPERROOM (click here).
Let’s read aloud together the following passage, creed, and prayer:
Ephesians 1:19-21 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
And born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the great joy and comfort that comes in confessing that Jesus is our Lord and Lord over all. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to the song “God and God Alone” by Christ Tomlin (click here).