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A Reading Plan for Lent

Chances are you just started a Bible reading plan just 7 weeks ago or so. If you’re still trucking along with that, good for you.

If not, and you need a reset, try out this Lent devotional, From Dust to Glory: Readings and Reflections for Lent.

It will take you through the second half of Mark’s Gospel in 40 days and other select Scriptures that correspond to various Lenten themes.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, why not share it with someone else?

Download From Dust to Glory for FREE!

Categories
Theology

The Father’s Cup

This is a sobering post about Jesus’ crucifixion by Rick Gamache. I would highly encourage you to make this a part of your Good Friday today. You can also listen to Rick narrate it.

Then Jesus is startled by a foul odor. It isn’t the stench of open wounds. It’s something else. And it crawls inside him. He looks up to his Father. His Father looks back, but Jesus doesn’t recognize these eyes. They pierce the invisible world with fire and darken the visible sky. And Jesus feels dirty. He hangs between earth and heaven filthy with human discharge on the outside and, now, filthy with human wickedness on the inside.

The Father speaks:

Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn on my great glory?

You are self-sufficient and self-righteous — consumed with yourself and puffed up and selfishly ambitious.

You rob me of my glory and worship what’s inside of you instead of looking out to the One who created you.

You are a greedy, lazy, gluttonous slanderer and gossip.

You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer.

You practice sexual immorality; you make pornography, and fill you mind with vulgarity.

You exchange my truth for a lie and worship the creature instead of the Creator. And so you are given up to your homosexual passions, dressing immodestly, and lusting after what is forbidden.

With all your heart you love perverse pleasure.

You hate your brother and murder him with the bullets of anger fired from your own heart.

You kill babies for your convenience.

You oppress the poor and deal slaves and ignore the needy.

You persecute my people.

You love money and prestige and honor.

You put on a cloak of outward piety, but inside you are filled with dead men’s bones — you hypocrite!

You are lukewarm and easily enticed by the world.

You covet and can’t have so you murder.

You are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness.

You blame others for your sin and are too proud to even call it sin.

You are never slow to speak.

And you have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment.

Your words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt and obscene talk.

You are a false prophet leading people astray.

You mock your parents.

You have no self-control.

You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions.

You’re a drunkard and a thief.

You’re an anxious coward.

You do not trust me.

You blaspheme against me.

You are an un-submissive wife.

And you are a lazy, disengaged husband.

You file for divorce and crush the parable of my love for the church.

You’re a pimp and a drug dealer.

You practice divination and worship demons.

The list of your sins goes on and on and on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with disgust, and indignation for your sin consumes me.

Now, drink my cup!

And Jesus does. He drinks for hours. He downs every drop of the scalding liquid of God’s own hatred of sin mingled with his white-hot wrath against that sin. This is the Father’s cup: omnipotent hatred and anger for the sins of every generation past, present, and future — omnipotent wrath directed at one naked man hanging on a cross.

The Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself. He looks away.

Jesus pushes himself upward and howls to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Read the whole thing.

Categories
Life

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

By Isaac Watts, 1707

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Categories
Theology

The Jews’ Misplaced Hope for a King

In the passage that we may call the foundation for church discipline, Jesus took care to tell his disciples that a person cannot be condemned without two or three witnesses (Matt. 18:16, 20).  Jesus accusers at his trial were not as careful, of course.  Indeed, the chief priests could not even find two witnesses whose testimonies agreed (Mark 14:56)!  Even when the false witnesses arose, Mark tells us their testimonies did not agree (14:58-59). Jesus’ whole trial was fishy on the part of the chief priests and Council.

The Jews could not condemn Jesus by their own law, so they took him to Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea at the time.  Turning Jesus over to the “Roman phase” of his trial, the Jews used loaded vocabulary to deceive Pilate.  The Jews hated Jesus because he was claiming to be God (John 10:33).  During the Jewish phase of the trial before the Council, the chief priests and scribes were angry because in response to the question, “Are you the Christ?” (Luke 22:67), Jesus responded, “You say that I am” (Luke 22:71). Their true concern was religious and spiritual.

However, when they brought Jesus to Pilate, they twisted their accusation against him. They cleverly said, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king” (Luke 23:2, emphasis added).  This statement is loaded with political and nationalistic jargon!  When Pilate said, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (v. 3) he primarily had a political and military perspective in mind, not a cosmic, universal, spiritual perspective.  Pilate didn’t care about being saved from sin. He did not want Caesar, or himself, to be deposed. It is true that Jesus is a King–he is the King.  But the Jews did not want him killed because he was a king.  In fact, had Jesus come to overthrow Rome as a conquering national king, they would have been quite pleased with him.

They simply wanted a physical king like their ancestors did centuries before (1 Sam. 8). The thought of a God-Man who reigned as King over all creation and discerns and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart was far to heavy to bear.

Categories
Life Theology

Easter Sunday Meditation

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

Luke 24:25-27:

And Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not neccesssary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

It’s early Sunday afternoon, just outside Jerusalem, on a dusty, lonely road to a small village named Emmaus.  Two followers of Jesus are walking and talking, depressed and downtrodden because their Messiah was murdered on Friday and his body lay in a tomb. Or so they thought.

Jesus comes near to them and asks what they were talking about. They stop dead in their tracks, look at Jesus and ask, “Don’t you read the news?” Jesus says, “Tell me about it.”  They say, “Jesus of Nazareth. They killed him. We thought he was our Redeemer. It’s been three days, and he’s still dead. But some women and some of our friends went to his tomb and did not see him. An angel told the women he was alive.” Now Jesus stops, and says, “Don’t you read the Prophets?”

Well, he might have well said that.

He said, in Luke 24:25, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not neccesssary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  Jesus’ resurrection and reign at the Father’s right hand is all the more glorious because he suffered a tortuous death. The plan was not for Jesus to live to a ripe old age, die peacefully, and then claim victory. No, he was pierced and beaten and mocked and crucified as a relatively young age — just as the Prophets said he would be.

But he didn’t stay dead.  If not for today, Good Friday would be Bad Friday. Our sins really wouldn’t be forgiven, and there would be no life after death.  The Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).  But he did rise, and with his resurrection, he gives eternal life to all those who believe, that even though we die, we might live.  In John 11, before Jesus called Lazarus back from dead, he told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (vv. 25-26).

Because of this day, Easter Sunday, everyone who believes in Jesus has hope that there will be life after the grave.  And so we sing with the saints of old:

Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
He arose the Victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah Christ arose!

Heavenly Father, thank you for Resurrection Sunday. Thank you that Jesus did not stay dead. Unlike all other ‘gods,’ you are alive and reigning over creation! God, thank you that one day too, because Jesus rose, I will rise even though I die, and I will live in your presence for eternity.