Day Five: Good Friday

As we continue reflecting on the cross and preparing for our Good Friday service tonight, let’s read aloud together the following passages:

Isaiah 53:3-7 NIV
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

1 Peter 3:18 NIV – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:18 NIV – For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Romans 5:11 NIV – Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Galatians 6:14 NIV – May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Prayer: Our Father, continue to prepare and mold our hearts for a life of worship and thankfulness in response to the love you have shown us through the cross.  May we only boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We praise you and worship you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s continue in praise and worship with this song, “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)”, by Chris Tomlin (click here).

– EK

 

 

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Day Four: Maundy Thursday

Let’s reflect on what John Piper writes about Maundy Thursday in his book, Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week:

“Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This commandment was given by Jesus on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.”

This is the commandment: ‘love one another: just as I have loved you.’ But what about Galatians 5:14? ‘For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘ If the whole law is fulfilled in ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ what more can ‘Love one another as Christ loved you’ add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.”

John 13:34 NIV“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I reflect on the cross with much thankfulness, may my heart be stirred by your commandment to love as you have loved me.  May I walk in your love, “to give others life” and “at any cost.”  I pray that more would be “set free from certain death” in our communities, cities, and campuses. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s continue in prayer, singing this song, “Wonderful Cross” sung by Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman (click here).

– EK

 

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Day Three: “Deeper Healing”

Isaiah 53:10 MSG
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

From this past Sunday’s message, let’s recall the prayer that Joni Eareckson Tada prayed at the pool of Bethesda when she and her husband took a trip to Jerusalem.

“O Jesus, thank you for a no answer to a request for physical healing. You really knew what you were doing so many years ago because a no answer to a request for physical healing has purged so much sin out of my life, so much selfishness and bitterness and I know I have a long way to go, but every day I want to wake up and I want to be a different Joni than I was yesterday. I want to be a Joni that you created, that you destined me to be. O God, help me to step into that no answer, Lord Jesus, to a request for physical healing has meant that I am depending more on your grace, but it’s increasing my compassion for others who are hurt and disabled. It is helping me put complaining behind me. It stretched my hope. It has pushed me to give thanks in times of sorrow. It has increased my faith. It has strengthened my hope of heaven and it’s made me love you so much more…so much more. It is such a safe wonderful thing to be beckoned into the inner sanctum of the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings. And I would not trade it for any amount of walking. That is the deeper healing.”

Reflection: What deeper healing are we to know and experience in Christ’s healing grace?

Prayer (from Carol’s message): Lord, I bring my troubles and pains and all of who I am to you and ask for the deeper healing grace of your transformation in me. Fill me with your healing love and help me to follow in your steps in fellowship with you to bring your healing grace to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s close with singing, “Son of Suffering” by Matt Redman (click here).

– EK

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Day Two: “The Healing Cross”

Isaiah 53:5-6 NIV
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Let’s reflect on this excerpt from Day 36 of A.W. Tozer’s book, From the Grave:

“But the suffering of Jesus Christ was not punitive. It was not for Himself and not for punishment of anything that he Himself had done. The suffering of Jesus was corrective. He was willing to suffer in order that He might correct us and perfect us, so that His suffering might not begin and end in suffering, but that it might begin in suffering and end in healing. Brethren, that is the glory of the cross! That is the glory of the kind of sacrifice that was for so long in the heart of God! That is the glory of the kind of atonement that allows a repentant sinner to come into peaceful and gracious fellowship with his God and Creator! It began in His suffering and it ended in our healing. It began in His wounds and ended in our purification. It began in His bruises and ended in our cleansing.”

John 15:13 NIVGreater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

There is no greater love than the love of Jesus displayed on the cross so that we might be washed and healed to come into “peaceful and gracious” fellowship with our God.

In prayer, let’s sing this song, “Once Again” by Matt Redman (click here).

Closing prayer: Lord Jesus, as we look upon the cross, we are humbled by your mercy and your great love for us.  Thank you for washing us and healing us!  Thank you for the cross!  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

– EK

 

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Day One: “The Old Rugged Cross”

While growing up, one of the classic hymns I loved singing around Easter time was “The Old Rugged Cross” written by George Bennard.  Singing it always led my heart to a certain depth of reflection and thankfulness for God’s love displayed on the cross and here is the story behind the song:

“George Bennard was born in Youngstown, Ohio, shortly after the end of the Civil War. His father, a coal miner, moved the family to Iowa, and there George came to Christ through the ministry of the Salvation Army. He felt impressed to train for the ministry, but his plans were disrupted when his father’s death left him responsible for his mother and sisters. He was sixteen years old. Eventually George’s obligations lessened…and he was able to begin in ministry with the Salvation Army. Later he was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal church and became a traveling evangelist.

On one occasion, after a difficult season of ministry, George realized he needed to better understand the power of the Cross of Christ. He later said, ‘I was praying for a full understanding of the Cross . . . I read and studied and prayed . . . The Christ of the Cross became more than a symbol . . . It was like seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption. While watching this scene with my mind’s eye, the theme of the song came to me.’” (Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories)

John 3:16 NIVFor God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

As we are at the beginning of Holy Week, may we continue in thankful reflection and pray for a fuller understanding of the cross.

Prayer: Father, I ask for your Spirit’s illumination that I may have a fuller understanding of the cross of Christ.  May the reality and power of the cross become alive to me, “like never before” that I may walk more in Christ’s redemption and healing “in every way.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

In humble reflection and thankfulness, let’s sing this version of “The Old Rugged Cross” by Reawaken Hymns (click here).

– EK

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