Today is Wednesday, the thirty-first of March, 2021, in Holy Week.
Peace be with you!
Four days until Resurrection Sunday
Opening Day is tomorrow!
Things are humming along, just about as usual, around here, so there’s nothing really new to report.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. (The Prayer of St. Francis)
The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
When you ascended on high, you took many captives;
you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious— that you, LORD God, might dwell there.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
(Psalms 68:17-20 NIV)
Today I am grateful:
- that You are a God who saves
- for Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; have mercy on us!
- that my ancestors put their trust in You, and You saved them
- for the unspeakable horrors endured by my Savior during this week of His life on earth
- that my sin is removed as far as the east is from the west
Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year
LENT – DAY 37
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29 NIV)
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
(Psalms 22:1-8 NIV)
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.
(Luke 22:54-65 NIV)
DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION
As I rest in the presence of the Lord, this morning, I reread these passages, allowing the Holy Spirit to draw me in and speak to me.
In the reading from Psalm 22 (which seems to be a focal chapter for the week), today, for the first time, I was struck by verses 4-5. For, truly, my ancestors (at least as far back as I know about, put their trust in God. In many cases, they pretty much had no choice.
I know that my maternal Grandmother’s family was abandoned by their father. I forget how many children there were, but it was close to ten. Some of them wound up in an orphanage, because their mother couldn’t handle the load. I mean, how could she? Abandoned with so many children, in that day and age? My Grandmother emerged from that scenario with a strong faith and hope in our God and in Christ. Where else could she turn?
On top of that, both of my parents were born into, or at least right toward the end of, the Great Depression. But I never heard them or my grandparents talk about it. As far as I can remember, they did not dwell on that. But they most certainly dwelled on their faith in the Lord, because I heard about that a lot.
My ancestors put their trust in the Lord; they cried out to Him and were saved; they were not put to shame.
The Luke passage is a difficult passage to dwell on. First, there is the painful fulfillment of Jesus’s prophecy as Peter denies knowing Him, three times. I cannot begin to imagine the pain when Peter locked eyes with Jesus as the rooster crowed. We all know how Peter was restored and arose to be one of the greatest of all of the apostles. But this moment? It hurts terribly.
And then, after that, what those soldiers did to my Savior. They mocked Him; they beat Him; they punched Him in the face, while He was blindfolded, and demanded that He prophecy who hit Him; they pulled out pieces of His beard.
And, as far as I know, He remained silent throughout it all. Why did He endure all of that? Hebrews says it was “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).
So, let us, as that same passage in Hebrews encourages, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”
Father, my heart hurts when I read this passage of Scripture. It hurts for Peter, as he failed our Lord in that moment; as he locked eyes with Jesus as the rooster crowed and realized his great sin; as he wept bitterly. My heart hurts even more when I read of the contemptuous treatment that Jesus endured at the hands of the soldiers, who did not know with Whom they were dealing. By the end of the crucifixion, though, at least one of them did, as he proclaimed, “Surely this was the Son of God.” Lord, help me to be more persevering in my faith, just as my ancestors were. Help me to endure the slight inconveniences that come my way, during the day; inconveniences that can hardly be called “trials,” compared to what the apostles and Jesus faced. I complain and moan at the slightest thing, while my Savior quietly endured beating, scourging, and mocking. Have mercy, O God, and give me courage to face whatever is ahead. Make me stronger against temptation.
God, in Peter's betrayal, I see my own. In blindness of soul and hardness of heart, I turn my back on you, full of pride and fear. One glance from your bloodied face and I see my utter failure. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen. (Westminster Larger Catechism 28)
In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12 NIV)
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
(John 7:37-38 NLT)
A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
(Isaiah 40:6-8 NLT)
God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.
(John 1:3 NLT)
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
(Colossians 1:15-17 NLT)
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
(Psalms 103:12 NLT)
“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
(Isaiah 44:22 NLT)
Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
(Isaiah 53:8 MSG)
My Lord, Jesus, You who hold all creation together, I lift my heart and my hands to You, this morning, in worship and praise. I owe all to You, yet, like Peter, I so often fail You. And, still You love me and forgive me and bless me. Hallelujah, my God and my Savior! I praise You today. Give me strength against the temptations that will come my way. Let those rivers of living water flow out of me today. All glory to You, my Lord!
Lord, I specifically pray for governments and leaders throughout the world, this morning. I lift up the many needs of this world, and pray for Your presence to be felt throughout. For the continent of Antarctica, I pray for Your protection and sustenance for the few who reside in that wasteland. And I lift up courts and judges to You, this morning, praying that justice be done, especially in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
(The Jesus Prayer)
Grace and peace, friends.