God's Faithful Love
Take a listen to this brief message about God's love for us, before we loved Him, even while we were wandering in sin.
Jesus is Lord
From Sunday’s readings Psalm 118:22 speaks of Jesus as “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Revelation 1:5 identifies Jesus Christ as ‘the ruler of the kings of the earth.” With these verses in mind, we recognize that Jesus is Lord over all creation. His Lordship is not established upon nor dependent upon our acknowledgement. He IS Lord. He is Lord because the Father has declared it to be so. He is the one to whom all obedience belongs. Jesus is Lord. The resurrected one is our King.
Lent Day 12 - Will You Follow Him?
He is described as a blind beggar sitting beside the road. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he called out "have mercy on me, Son of David!" Can you imagine the persistence and intensity with which he called? Can you feel his desperation? Despite the rebukes of his countrymen, he cried out even more. Have you ever been in such desperate need that you would lose all dignity pleading your cause?
Rest assured he hears and sympathizes with your circumstances.
Mark 10:51-52 reads, “And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.”
Instead of “going on his way,” Bartimaeus followed after Jesus. What is your response to Christ’s intervention in your life? From Rebecca Van Noord and Jessi Strong, eds., 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
Lent Day 8 - He Taught Them
Concerning Jesus, Mark 10:1 reads “And again, as was his custom, he taught them.”
This passage is so full of meaning. Wherever Jesus was to be found, he was teaching. Again and again, he was teaching. To walk with him, was to be taught by him. To dine with him, was to be taught by him. To recline with him, was to be taught by him. To observe him, was to be taught by him.
In so many of the recorded moments of Jesus’ life and ministry, he was teaching. From the time that he stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the prophet Isaiah, to the feeding of multitudes, to his raising of the dead, to his healing the woman with the flow of blood, to his commanding unclean spirits to depart from those they tormented, to his early morning prayers, to his calming of the sea, to the cleansing of the temple, to his arrest in Gethsemane, until giving up his breath on the cross, he taught them.
As the Word of God Jesus' teaching made clear what God has always spoken. During this important season, we are encouraged to make time to dwell in the scriptures so we may be taught by him.
Lent Day 6 - Goodness of God
The steadfast love of God is a reminder that God has always loved and is always love.
Psalm 25:8 reads, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs the sinners in the way.” God’s goodness is demonstrated by His instructing sinners in His ways. His love beckons us to turn from our sin. It is because of His love that He instructs us in His way which is good.
This prayer of praise is that because God is good and upright, He instructs us. Rather than leave us to the end of our sin, He lays out the path away from sin. Rather than affirming sin, He teaches us the ways of righteousness.
Some say Jesus came to reveal God’s love as if before he came, the love of God was not evident. I suggest that as we look more closely the love of God has always been plain to see.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law. By his teaching and way of life he upheld the Law of the loving God who gave the Law. By his caring for the poor, he condemned greed. By his upholding of justice, he condemned partiality. In living to serve others, he condemned selfish ambition.
As the time for his crucifixion and death approached, he still focused on serving others. By word and example he upheld the goodness of God.
Jesus in forgiving the sinners of their sin, brought them freedom from their sins and invited them to enter into fellowship with God. Believe and be saved. Will you accept the invitation?
Lent Day 3 - A Pure Heart
David’s prayer in Psalm 51 included a request that God create a clean heart and a new spirit of steadfastness. Aware of the struggle against sin, David requested that which would enable him to persevere and overcome – a new heart created by God.
Have you ever had a day where you wished you could start over? Or perhaps even gone through a season of life where the weight of past mistakes and decisions have overwhelmed you?
God has opened an even better way. We can make David’s prayer our own and request God to create in us a clean heart. David’s words align with those of the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah where God promised to bring a newness of life to what was stone cold dead and lifeless. Through the work of our risen Savior we can experience a re-creation of sorts, a new birth which brings us a clean heart from which we can joyfully fellowship with the Father, moved by Holy Spirit.
We acknowledge our sinfulness, and we accept the transformative power of the Spirit to no longer be burdened by the weight of the past and enjoy a new life.
Lent - Day 2- Take up the Cross
Today we are reminded of how often Jesus spoke to his disciples about the cross that awaited Him. And in speaking of this course for himself, he also invited each of us to join him in the same journey. As written in Mark 8:34, “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
To discuss the depth of meaning in taking up the life of the cross will take innumerable pages. During this Lenten season each of us may set aside time to reflect on how we can begin and its meaning in our personal lives. There have been many who have walked before us who provide examples. The scriptures are also filled with the acts of the saints who battled sin and selfishness to take up the cross. To take up the cross is to die to self, to put our interests to rest to follow Christ. This world in which we live needs a full dose of the life of the cross to overcome all that is tearing it apart. From the individual, to the family, to the churches, and on into our institutions of public life.
I conclude with this reflection from today’s devotional writing. When you gaze upon the sun, it makes everything else dark; when you taste honey, it makes everything else tasteless; so when your soul feeds on Jesus, it takes away the sweetness of all earthly things—praise, pleasure, and fleshly lusts all lose their sweetness. Keep a continued gaze. Run, looking unto Jesus. Look, till the way of salvation by Jesus fills up the whole horizon, so glorious and peace-speaking. Then will the world be crucified to you, and you unto the world.
Rebecca Van Noord and Jessi Strong, eds., 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
Lent - Day 1
Today we enter the season of Lent and consider the ancient tradition where believers turn their attention towards the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. This season stretches to Easter Sunday. During this time many choose to fast and enter a period of reflection upon the faith and the sufferings of our Lord. We acknowledge our need for redemption and salvation. We seek to remind ourselves of our utter helplessness and walk the path of dependence upon God in all things.
This is a mindset of which we need to be often reminded. Christ’s path was one of self-sacrifice and suffering. He put the interests of others ahead of his own. And He called us to this path. Often, he spoke to his disciples about his approaching suffering. According to Mark 8:31, “he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””
Now, today, is a perfect time to dwell on this exchange between Jesus and Peter. How can we set our minds on the things of God, rather than the things of man?
Psalm 51 leads us forward as we plead to God to have mercy on us according to his love and for our transgressions to be blotted out. We ask God to wash us thoroughly from our iniquity and cleanse us from our sins. When we think about God’s abundant mercy, these words do not weigh us down, but liberate and refresh us to know there is a way out of our burdens and God’s love is steadfast towards those who draw near to Him.
In Difficult Times
When we experience challenging times its quite easy to wonder “why me” or exclaim “not again.” And unless you have been living under a rock, the recent past has presented plenty of causes for anxiety. You might even be wearied out from life’s happenings.
I have often observed that it does not take much effort to walk through life when times are easy, and everything seems to go your way. So, what do we do when life is the opposite of what we expect or desire? We definitely need more than cliché sayings or positive self-talk to get through these difficult times.
Followers of Christ will find peace and comfort in the knowledge that God is aware of and in control at all times. We should also remember the cosmic reality that our lives are mostly likely going to marked with times of difficulty and suffering. This week I read a quote which offered a faith-strengthening perspective.
It was found in the notes of Andrew Murray, written during a time of painful difficulty.
First, He brought me here; it is by His will I am in the strait place; in that fact I will rest.
Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.
Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
Last, in His good time He can bring me out again – how and when He knows. Let me say I am here,
(1) By God’s appointment.
(2) In His keeping.
(3) Under His training
(4) For His time.
Consider the graphic above this article. It reflects the response we can hold in times of difficulty. We can place roots down to nourish ourselves in the grace of God, or we can turn upward and away in bitterness over the tough time, depriving ourselves of the power of His grace. Recall that even our Lord Jesus suffered, and the scripture tells us he learned from it. Should we expect any less or respond any differently?
If you are in need of encouragement or assistance in prayer or wish to learn more about life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, contact us here at Assembly of The King.
Every Spiritual Blessing
Today’s reading brought to mind the extent to which the Father has blessed his children. Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
This is a weighty statement the apostle wrote to the church. In Christ, we have every spiritual blessing.
Have you ever had the experience of trying to choose a gift for someone who has been in your life for a very long time? Often it becomes a difficult task because that person likely has “everything.” We cannot think of a single thing they need and either we give up or just hand them some cash.
In Christ, we have everything we could ever want. This is a truth worth meditating upon to appreciate its depth. We are in a position where every possible need and desire is met. What difference would it make in our lives if we actually lived from that reality.
The consumer culture can affect us by creating in us a spirit of lack and scarcity and keeps us hooked by only offering temporary and empty solutions. Fully embracing this mindset could lead to minimizing or forgetting the blessings already attained for us in Christ.
This is part of the inheritance of every believer. To understand we have every spiritual blessing in Christ. John, in his gospel, at John 1:12 writes ‘to all who did receive him [Christ], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born of God.” Those who have believed in the name of Jesus, in his person, or in his position; have as their possession a place of a child of God. What an amazing gift. And one that God has purposed from the beginning of time. This blessing is no afterthought.
As time and circumstances unfold in the days ahead, choose to rest in the reality of your spiritual blessings. This reality pushes into and transcends all physical things.
Join us every Sunday at 11:00am Eastern time for more discussion on our place in God’s purposes.