Seventh Word

“Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
(Luke 23:46)

Lent 32

 

Death did not claim Jesus – it was His own voluntary act when all else had been accomplished.

  • Mark says “he breathed His last”,
  • Matthew “He gave up His spirit”,
  • Luke “Father into Your hands I commit My spirit”
  • John “He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.”

Jesus who had said that He did only what the Father told Him to do remained faithful to that commission to the very end. No one could take His life from Him – He laid it down at the time, the place and in the manner decided by the Father, whose will He accepted and carried out perfectly.

Even now God was in complete control!

His enemies could rejoice. His disciples could stare at each other in numbed despair and desolation. But in heaven it is likely that the Father said quietly to His Son, ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’

All was done. All was achieved. Salvation was open to those who would believe. But we must never underestimate the agonised suffering in body, mind and spirit of Jesus. Nor must we overlook the anguished love of God as He watched and participated in the rejection, humiliation, abuse and crucifixion of Himself in His beloved Son. The cost was truly terrible.

Jesus – the Son of God – died for us

We are spectators in our own salvation. God give us the humility and grace to believe, accept and respond in faith. May we never take this unimaginable love, this awesome sacrifice, and the eternal consequences for us, lightly.

Contemplate Jesus on the cross for you – listen for His words.

Prayer:

Thank You Father for Your love. Thank You Jesus for Your sacrifice. Thank You Holy Spirit for showing me the Truth. Thank You God. Amen.

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Fifth Word

“Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
(John 19:28)

Lent 30

Reflection:
There are deepening levels at which this word from the Cross can be heard and understood.

The first is the affirmation of the very real humanity of Jesus. He was not just God in human flesh – He was in fact fully man and knew what it was to be thirsty. After what He had been through, the beatings and loss of blood, and the way in which He had hung naked and for so long under the heat of the sun, it was a natural condition. The person who responded to the need certainly did not find it strange.

Then, there was still something that Jesus wanted to say – something that was important for those around Him, and His Father, to hear. His parched throat was probably closing and needed to be moistened again. Some will know what it is like to be so dry that it is even impossible to swallow.

There is also the sense in which Jesus now wanted to completely drain the cup that His Father had given Him to drink – the one about which He had prayed in Gethsemane,

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done.”

(Luke 22:42)

Coupled with this would have been the desire that influenced all of Jesus thinking and actions – that His Father be glorified as the one true God, whose righteousness was reflected in the lives of His people. How He longed for that righteousness to be revealed. And He had taught,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”

(Matthew 5:6)

And, finally, going to the depths of His being, Jesus would have ‘thirsted’ for the living waters of the Holy Spirit. He had told the woman at the well that,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14)

That blessing, intimacy and glorious life had been His from before the beginning until His previous agonised cry, as the weight of our sin had taken Him into the desert darkness of separation from God,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
(Matthew 27:46)

At every level of His being Jesus was thirsty – very, very thirsty – and it was all for our salvation!

Prayer:

O God, create in me an undivided heart for You. Fill me with Your Spirit and pour Your love into me that I may truly love You – for Jesus sake. Amen.

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All I Need

“The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
(Psalm 118:14)

 

Reflection:
Part of the victory song of Moses, after the great triumph of God in the Exodus through the sea, is captured and sung again in this wonderful Psalm. It was still just a foretaste of the glorious salvation to be revealed by God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The dependency of man and the magnificent love and provision of God Almighty is reflected in three ways.

 ‘The Lord is my strength’. Not for the first time has man discovered that that his greatest asset is his relationship with God, for whom nothing is impossible. In comparison with the majesty, power and wisdom of God we have nothing to offer that is of any comparable significance. Our great learning and achievements, using the abilities given to us by God, are as nothing in the light of His glory. Indeed at times we are totally helpless in the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional situations in which we find ourselves – as Moses discovered when he and the Israelites were trapped between the sea and the approaching Egyptian army. The warrior king David reflected all this in his Psalm 18 which opens with the humble and rejoicing acknowledgement,

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”

‘The Lord is my song.’ Humans have over the years composed many songs, not a few of which have been to glorify themselves. However, as our eyes are opened to the wonderful truth of the Lord and our hearts and spirits respond to the revelation of His love and salvation, we may discover that one song rises joyfully above all the others. The praises of God are the sweetest of all, and often it is enough just to sing out the name of Jesus. For me true worship must rise like a soaring eagle up into the heavens, and then descend into complete and holy silence where it is enough just to whisper again and again the one precious ‘name above all names.’

‘He has become my salvation.’  This Lord, who is at once Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not one who merely watches from a distance but is the God who has come to us – to seek us, find us, help us and lead us home through His awesome death and resurrection. Everything promised and prophesied in the Bible has found its truth and completion in the Lord Jesus. And, He has sought, called and embraced each one of His beloved in His eternal love – from which no one and nothing can ever separate us, once we have given ourselves back to Him.

I love you, O Lord,
my strength, my song
and my salvation.

Response:
Learn it – reflect on it – sing it

Prayer:

Thank You Lord – so very much. Amen.

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You are Mine

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

 

Reflection:
One night, in the early hours of the morning, I was up looking out at the quiet, moonlit silence. The Lord prompted me to pick up and open my Bible. I did so and found myself reading these words – the first to appear at the top of the page.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

I stood and pondered their profound and wonderful significance. For indeed He had called me by name and here was the deeply personal reminder of that calling – together with the marvellous and intensely touching affirmation – “You are Mine!”

In a world of great insecurity where to be accepted and acceptable today is no guarantee of tomorrow, where the hurts, failures and rejections of yesterday cloud our vision of today and wrap the future in a shifting mist – where the loves and lovers of this day might be gone by the next – in the midst of all this painful uncertainty – I belong. I am owned and valued. There is a Someone who says of me with love, certainty and everlasting significance, “You are mine.”

 In fact the truth is that He looked for me, tracked me down, called and reached out to me, and took me into His life and His heart. It was no passing whim, no sudden impulse to be forgotten and ignored – but a deliberate and conscious decision and act that had eternity in mind.

What is true for me is true also for each and every one of the sons and daughters of this great and wonderful God. Whatever our earthly state the eternal truth remains and will never end either here or throughout the blissful endless ages to come.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

Response:
Take a moment to receive, accept and own this tremendous truth

Prayer:

Father God I am Yours – and I rejoice with humble awe and wonder. You have called me and are transforming me day by day into the person You always intended me to be –and You will never ever let me go. Thank You so much. Amen.

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Ascended Lord

2018.05.11

“He was taken up before their very eyes,
and a cloud hid him from their sight”
(Acts 1:9)

Reflection:
The ascension of Christ, celebrated by the Church yesterday, is the wonderful fulfilment of God’s promise that,

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)

Jesus as the Living Word had now returned to the Father who had spoken, or sent, Him on this mission. It had now been accomplished.

The fact that His ascension took place in this way and in front of His disciples is significant. He wanted them to realise and accept that this time He was leaving permanently. He would not suddenly visit them again in another resurrection appearance. This was the testimony also of the angel who spoke to them – confirming that the Lord would not return again until the end.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

There is also a hint of a rebuke in his words as if to say that they should not be gazing hopefully into the sky but preparing themselves for the work that the Lord had committed to them. They needed to lower their eyes and begin to focus on ministry to a needy world. As do we all.

Response:
Where can I  make a difference –and be a blessing – today?

Prayer:

Lord God help me to walk in Your footsteps, to notice the needs that You bring to my attention and to reach out and bless in Your name. Amen.

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Joy in the Lord

“May your saints sing for joy….
her saints will ever sing for joy”
(Psalm 132:9-16)

Reflection:
The psalmist prays that the saints of God will ‘sing for joy’ – and records the Lord’s commitment that this will be so.

This then takes us to the teaching of the Lord Jesus who said that

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete”
(John 15:11)

The joy to which the Lord refers is that which He has in His relationship with the Father and now that we also may have, may know and may enjoy.

We do not see much true joy around us at the moment. Our lives become coloured by the state of the world at large and of our own personal world which may be very challenging and difficult.

The true riches that have been given to us, and the one unceasing source of joy, are to be found in our relationship with God. He is the Almighty Father of ‘unfailing love’ and ‘invincible strength’ who has committed Himself to us in this world and the next. Our journey is secure because He is with us and our destination guaranteed because He is taking us there.

To find and know His joy in the midst of the challenges of our present journey is not the result of more learning but comes from seeking to develop our own personal relationship with Him. It comes from opening our hearts to Him in prayer and giving Him time and opportunity to speak to us through His Word and His Spirit. It comes from consciously putting our faith and trust in Him and keeping it there. It comes from trusting His love and His grace at all times. In other words – we walk closely and intimately with Him and in doing so discover the joy that He brings to our lives. It is lovely and informative to see how David did this and recorded it in his Psalms.

Response:
Talk – Read – Listen – Trust

Prayer:

Lord I long to relax into the peace and security of Your love for me. Please help me to seek a closer relationship with You. Amen.

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Your God

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”
(Isaiah 41:9-10)

Reflection:
What God was saying to the nation that He had called to Himself, He says to each and every one who is a part of His new creation in Jesus Christ.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”  ( Ephesians 1:4-5)

No matter what happens – or does not happen – in our lives we both can and need to hang onto this great and glorious truth –

  • I have chosen you
  • I have not rejected you
  • I am your God
  • I will strengthen and help you
  • I will uphold you with My righteous right hand

As Christians we have a relationship with Him that is unbreakable – and we have a commitment from Him that is indestructible,

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Whatever challenges we face at the moment we do not face alone. God is with us and will see us through to the end that is good in His sight and purpose.

Response:
Acknowledge to the Lord any challenge that concerns you – and pray Him into it with His promises

Prayer:

Lord God  You have chosen me and promised to be with me always. You will not reject me and leave me vulnerable and alone but will be the God of my life and my life’s challenges; You will strengthen and help me and uphold me with Your splendid and invincible right hand. Thank You so much Lord – please help me to walk forward in this truth. Amen.

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