Perfect Love

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O perfect life of love!  All, all, is finished now.

All that He left His throne above

To do for us below.

No work is left undone of all the Father willed;

His toil, His sorrows, one by one,

The Scriptures have fulfilled.

No pain that we can share but He has felt its smart;

All forms of human grief and care

Have pierced that tender heart.

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And on His thorn-crowned head and on His sinless soul

Our sins in all their guilt were laid

That He might make us whole.

In perfect love He dies;  for me He dies, for me.

O all atoning Sacrifice,

I cling by faith to Thee.

Alonso Cano

In every time of need, before the judgment throne,

Thy work, O Lamb of God, I’ll plead,

Thy merits, not mine own.

Yet, work, O Lord, in me as Thou for me hast wrought;

And let my love the answer be

To grace Thy love has brought.

~Henry W. Baker

Artwork by Paulo DuqueFrade, Gilles Catelin and Alonso Cano

 

 

Serving in Love

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Jesus, greatest at the table, the almighty Son of Man,

Laid aside His outer clothing poured some water in a pan;

As the Twelve lay, hushed in silence, He the servant’s task began.

Marvel how their Lord and teacher gently taught them not to vie

As He humbly knelt before them dusty feet to wash and dry,

By His tender touch expressing true compassion from on high.

Jesus took the role of servant when upon that gruesome span,

For all human sin He suffered as a vile and loathsome man;

On the cross poured out like water to fulfill the Father’s plan.

Can we fathom such deep mercy?  Do we see what God has done?

Who can grasp this great reversal;  Love that gives His only Son?

Christ, the sinless for the sinners, for the many dies the One.

Jesus gave to His disciples a commandment that was new:

“Show My love to one another, do as I have done for you;

All the world will know you love Me as you love each other too.”

Hymn “Jesus, Greatest at the Table” by Stephen P. Starke

“But He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”  Matthew 23:11

Heavenly Father, grant us Your mercy and grace to love others even as we have been loved by You through Your Son, Jesus Christ, the greatest servant of all.  In His name we pray, Amen.

 

 

Hope and Comfort

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Entrust your days and burdens to God’s most loving hand;

He cares for you while ruling the sky, the sea, the land.

For He who guides the tempests along their thunderous ways

Will find for you a pathway and guide you all your days.

Our hands and feet, Lord, strengthen; with joy our spirits bless

Until we see the ending of all our life’s distress.

And so throughout our lifetime keep us within Your care

And at our end then bring us to heav’n to praise You there. Amen

~Paul Gerhardt, hymnist

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of this salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

1 Peter 1:3-7


We have comfort and hope in Christ Jesus!

God bless you and keep you in His care!

Vocation

How clear is our vocation, Lord, when once we heed Your call:

To live according to Your Word and daily learn, refreshed, restored,

That You are Lord of all and will not let us fall.

But if, forgetful, we should find Your yoke is hard to bear;

If worldly pressures fray the mind, and love itself cannot unwind

Its tangled skein of care;  our inward life repair.

We marvel how Your saints become in hindrances more sure;

Whose joyful virtues put to shame the casual way we wear Your name

And by our faults obscure Your pow’r to cleanse and cure.

In what You give us, Lord, to do, together or alone,

In old routines or ventures new, may we not cease to look to You,

The cross You hung upon– all You endeavored done.

~Fred Pratt Green, 1903-2000

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Lord, may we indeed look to You in these troubled times to see the depth of Your love for us as shown to us by the Cross. There You gave Your life for us as You bore the wrath of Your Father who turned His face from You when all He could see was mankind’s sins obscuring His beloved Son. The Holy forsaking the unholy mess that was You. And now, You come alongside us in our times of trouble and shoulder our griefs and our burdens willingly, faithfully, lovingly. Thank You, Lord Jesus. May Your strength be ours. May Your light be light in us and keep us ever faithful to You! In Your name we pray, Amen.

To the Lamb!

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
   and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5: 9-10

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

And the Lamb is Christ our Lord!

Continuing in Easter Joy!

Prodigal Love

Art by Aaron and Alan Hicks

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:5-8

Prodigal love is lavish love. It is love freely and seemingly recklessly given. Today’s gospel lesson told of the reckless, seeming wastefully spent love of a father on a son who who had squandered the inheritance he received from his father and had returned broke and broken. The father’s prodigal love cared not what looked appropriate as he ran to wrap his son in his embrace and welcome him home. Robing him in fine clothes, feeding him a feast, and serenading him with celebratory song–all fit for a prince, not a wayward son. Such was the father’s prodigal love.

Such is the love of God for me…and for you. It is the same prodigal love. God the Father did not spare His beloved Son. That is why Jesus came to earth–to give his life, freely, recklessly, without reserve. His life for ours. On the Cross He wore our sins so that we might be robed in His righteousness. He comes running to find us wherever we are and to fold us into His embrace. He tells us He has prepared a home in Heaven for all who believe in Him, who return to Him and accept His prodigal love.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

“If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened…I will give you rest.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

We may be prodigals, but we have an even greater Prodigal Father!

A New Creation

You[will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
   and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-2 ESV

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
   my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to theLord,”
   and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32: 1-5 ESV


17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[ the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” II Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV

As beautiful as these orchids are, they pale in comparison to the beauty of our status before our Almighty God, the Creator of the world–we are forgiven through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. Isaiah spoke of this forgiveness. The Psalm writer wrote about this forgiveness. St. Paul wrote about our status as a “new creation.” No sin is dark enough. No circumstance is hopeless enough that God’s mercy cannot reach you. During this season of Lent our Lord calls us back to Himself. He calls us to turn away from our idols and to look at Him alone–even as He looked upon us as He hung from the Cross with love to reconcile us to our Heavenly Father. May the beauty of God’s Word strengthen you and give you hope this day.

Temptation

image by Briton Revieri
"O Christ, You walked the road our wand'ring feet must go. 
You faced with us temptation's pow'r and fought our ancient foe.
No bread of earth alone can fill our hung'ring hearts.
Lord, help us seek Your living Word, the food Your grace imparts.

No blinding sign we ask, no wonder from above.
Lord, help us place our trust alone in Your unswerving love.
When lures of easy gain with promise brightly shine,
Lord, help us seek Your kingdom first;
our wills with Yours align.

O Christ, You walked the road our wandr'ing feet must go.
Stay with us through temptation's hour to fight our ancient foe."

O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. When I call, answer me. O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. Come and listen to me. In boldness I pray to you for you have been forever faithful and have promised to listen. You know what is on my heart and mind this night. I lift my prayer to you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Return

“Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2:13

If you’ve been “away” from the Lord, too busy to listen to His Word, preoccupied with your own doubts and fears, take heart.  God’s promise remains true.  He’s like the Father of the Prodigal son who runs to meet his undeserving son and lavishes his love and acceptance upon him.  God’s shows His lavishness and great faithfulness to you on a wooden cross where His only Son was hung to die.  Advent is the prequel to Christmas when we take time to realize that we celebrate Christmas because we cannot save ourselves from God’s anger.  He who hates sin and cannot bear it really DID bear it all on the cross.  Jesus’ cross bearing was for our sake.   He was raised for our sake!  And He lives and reigns at the Father’s right hand.  One day all who confess Jesus as their Lord will also be where He is–to live eternally. 

If you have never peeked inside a Bible–open one up and read from the book of John written by one who knew Jesus very well.  You’ll see what the Advent ‘reveal’ is all about.  God bless you!

Trust

Matthew 18:2-3 

“And calling to him a child, he [Jesus] put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Simple faith.  Simple trust.  Children are born dependent.  Our Creator, God the Father, created us to be totally dependent on Him.  We are His children, born of the Spirit through Water and the Word. 

Do we ever outgrow our dependence on Him? 

Lord God, many times we think and act as if we are all “grown up” spiritually and that we can do everything on our own.  We fail to recognize that it is by your grace and mercy that we “live, move, and have our being.”  Forgive us Lord, for our childish rather than childlike attitude toward life–one of trusting in You alone above all else, calling to You when we are in need, thanking and praising You for all that You “daily and richly” provide us.   In Jesus’ name we pray and give thanks!  Amen.


“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25