Word of Triumph #1

Today we enter into the sixth week of Lent
and we consider Jesus’ sixth statement from the cross.

Week 6
Word of Triumph:

When he had received the drink, Jesus said,
“It is finished.”
With that,
he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

Triumph: to gain a victory, to prevail
to win, to conquer

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin….I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20

   Christ wasn’t the only one crucified on that Friday at Golgotha. And I’m not referring to the two thieves on either side of the Savior. I’m talking about you. And me.

   When Jesus died, He took part of us with Him. The Apostle Paul called it “the sinful nature” or “the flesh”. Jesus took that person we used to be and gave us a new spirit to take its place. As believers in the resurrected Savior, we now have power to resist the sin that always tried to enslave us. Although we will never be “sinless”, we can sin less because of the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

  In Roman times, if a person was convicted of murder, the punishment was to strap the body of the victim onto the back of the murderer. He was sentenced to carry that dead body around for the rest of his life. Without going into detail, I think we can imagine how gross that would be. By His crucifixion, Jesus untied that old dead weight of our sinful nature and carried it with Him to the cross. It’s dead.

  If we have been crucified with Christ, then that means His victory is our victory. As Paul said, “If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5) “In the same way look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive and sensitive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:11, JB Phillips)
 
Dear Lord, before I came to saving faith, I had no power within myself to resist sin. Thank You for taking that part of me to the cross and putting it to death. I don’t want to carry that dead body around anymore. Give me Your Spirit — breathe Your life into me and make me sensitive to Your call.

finished

Word of Need #6

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who desires take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17

   Jesus opened his ministry on earth by calling out to fishermen casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee: “Come, follow me!” Later, He sent out invitations to the tired and poor: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened.” Jesus made it clear to His disciples that children were included in the Kingdom: “Let the little children come to me.” In the final words of John’s Revelation, the Spirit once again calls out, “Come!” It seems fitting that the Bible should end with yet another invitation. Our God is a gracious Father, continually bidding us to come.

  He understands our thirst for meaning and purpose, so He holds out the gift of eternal life to anyone who desires it. The free gift of salvation came at a great cost, however.

   After six hours on the cross, the purchase price of salvation had been paid with the blood of the Son of God. Just hours earlier, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had asked the Father three times to let the cup pass. The “cup” represented the suffering He would experience as He received the wrath of God unleashed upon Him for our sins. Jesus was hoping for a way out of drinking down the sin of the world. Yet, He said, “Not my will but Yours be done,” and He agreed to drink the cup of suffering, the entire cup, down to the dregs.

   As Jesus was nearing the end, perhaps He was pointing to the fact that the cup was now nearly empty and that He didn’t want to miss a drop. His own thirst for our salvation compelled Him to leave nothing unfinished, no sin unaccounted for.

Lord Jesus, my heart aches with sorrow knowing my sin held you on the cross. And now, instead of the punishment I deserve, You offer me the free gift of life. Your victory over death changed everything, including me.

Word of Need #5

It’s been a big weekend!
We now return to our regularly scheduled Lenten devotional series.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:1-2

   Pastor John Piper calls this passage “The Great Invitation”. Through the prophet Isaiah, God calls out, “Hey! Hey, you! Come! No really! Come on! You’re invited!” How kind of God to beg His own creations to come to Him.

   Two types of people are invited to God’s party. The first are those who have nothing to contribute. They have no money, no means to pay for what they need, but they are thirsty. God says, “Even though you have no resources, no power, no prestige, no pull, you are just the kind of person I want. Come and enjoy the banquet!”

  The second group of people who are issued invitations are those who have plenty of money to spend and plenty of strength to work, yet are unfulfilled and empty. They are just as thirsty as the others, but think they can pay or work their way to satisfaction. God urges them to come as well.

   What does God offer at His banquet? Water for refreshment, milk for nourishment and wine for good spirit and cheer. Piper writes, “God is willing to revive us from the heat of Death Valley with the miracle of his water; and make us strong and healthy and stable with the miracle of his milk; and then give us endless and ever-fresh exhilaration with the miracle of his wine.”

   How will you respond to this invitation? It doesn’t matter if you are short on cash or rolling in riches, your soul thirsts for truth and life. Come to God’s banquet and see what it’s like for your soul to delight in the richest of fare.

Lord, this is an invitation I can’t refuse. Here is my RSVP: count me in. I bring only myself and my thirst. Thanks for Your generous hospitality.

Introducing Isla

We interrupt this Lenten devotional series to bring breaking news.

Isla Dinah Jean arrived!
Saturday, April 6th, 2019
6 lbs. 14 oz.

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Meeting your sister for the first time can be breath-taking.

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Welcome to the world, little one.
We’re so glad you’re here.

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Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Word of Need #4

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

   Reading the gospels is kind of like listening in on Jesus’ conversations with people. Have you noticed that Jesus didn’t talk the same way to everyone? He figured out where people were coming from first, and then geared the discussion around their frame of reference. For instance, when Jesus faced the teachers of the law, he chose legal jargon: valid testimony, execute judgement, witness, evidence, investigate, proof. But when he talked to the woman at the well he used words like water, thirst, drink, spring. The Master didn’t talk about living water to the lawyers; He didn’t use legal vocabulary with the woman at the well.

  In John 4, an interesting conversation takes place between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. She comes to draw water and Jesus asks her for a drink. She is surprised a Jewish man would even talk to her. Jesus mentions “living water” and she asks, “Where can I get some of that?” She thinks Jesus is talking about H2O, but He’s really talking about eternal life. As a result of their conversation by the well, a two day revival takes place in Samaria.

    True satisfaction will never come from external sources. It’s like trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in the bottom. We keep straining and striving to find contentment from things that can’t promise fulfillment. We try shopping, partying, jumping from relationship to relationship, counting “likes” on social media and binge-watching Netflix. Jesus offers an internal source that is like a spring of water — pure, refreshing, deep and unlimited. His life in us wells up and overflows.

Lord, I want what You have. This world just doesn’t deliver what I most desire. Pour Your living water into my soul and I will be satisfied. I choose to let You fill me on the inside so Your love, joy and peace show on the outside.

Word of Need #3

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

   A young man asked a wise elderly teacher how he could find God. The gentleman asked the young man to come with him to the river. The young man expected to receive some wise words along the riverbank.  But when they arrived, the old man walked out into the water, so the young man followed. Suddenly, the teacher grabbed the young man and forced him under. The seconds ticked by and the young man began to fight against the firm grip holding him down. Right before everything went black, the hand released him and he blasted out of the water, gasping for air. As he gagged and choked, he shouted, “What were you doing? Trying to kill me?” The teacher said, “When you want God as much as you wanted that breath of air, you will find Him.” How much do you want God?

   There are two possible reasons why a deer pants and searches for water. One, it has been on the run. Perhaps a predator or hunter has given chase and the animal is faltering under the pressure. Two, it has been living in drought conditions and the heat is taking a toll.

  These same reasons should drive us to seek out the living God. First, we can spend all our lives running — chasing after security, significance, wealth, fame, or affirmation. The pace and pressure of constant striving wears us out. We need rest for our souls that only God can give. Second, we may experience times of dryness — periods of emptiness that come with disappointment or failure. We need living water to bring life back into our desert and refreshment to our spirits.

   A panting deer, desperate for water, seeks until it finds relief.
 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Dear Lord, I want more of You in my life — more of Your guidance, more of Your assurance, more of Your grace. Slow me down when I am running ahead of You. Lift me up when I am faltering. Help me to seek You with all my heart.

Word of Need #2

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

   Western diamondback rattlesnakes can survive on one meal a year. Can you imagine how much time and money you could save if you only needed to eat once a year? Camels can get by on dinner once a month and wolves do just fine feasting every seven days or so.

   God created people, however, with a need for regular consumption of food and water. Even after eating a huge Thanksgiving meal, everyone is poking around in the kitchen for leftovers by evening. Hunger just keeps coming back.

   Pastor Matt Chandler asks the question, “What stirs your affection for Jesus?” In other words, what makes you hunger and thirst for more of Him? Once we are aware of what spurs us on in our relationship with Jesus, we can arrange our lives to make room for those things. It may be a daily quiet time, regular Bible reading, or study of God’s Word with fellow believers.

  On the flip side, Chandler asks, “What robs your affection for Jesus?” What are the things that pull you away from Him? These things aren’t necessarily sinful activities; they can be neutral or even good things that just become too important or consuming. Does too much social media or exposure to secular worldviews distract you away from Jesus? Do you get so wrapped up in sports or hobbies that they dictate your schedule?

   God provides us with daily bread because He desires daily interaction with us. We cannot survive on one meal a year. God promises a great blessing in craving righteousness, including the fullness that only God can give. He satisfies!

Lord, I am bombarded daily with worldly temptations that pull my attention away from You. Help me to be more aware of the things that draw me nearer to You. Grant to me a thirst for the things that stir my affection for You.