Christian Reflection and Prayer

Meditations and Prayers

2014/4/16

COME AND EAT

@ 08:18 AM (9 hours, 13 minutes ago)
Read Exodus 24:1-11.

TEXT: The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who
seek Him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live
forever (Psalm 22:26).

Whenever God's people were in distress in Old Testament
times, they would pray for help. When the Lord delivered
them they brought a sacrifice called a "peace offering."
In every other offering the whole animal was burnt on the
altar. But this sacrifice was unique because the
worshipper was given a portion of the sacrifice to eat.
This food was God's pledge and promise He had forgiven
the sinner and was now in full fellowship.

Tomorrow night Christians gather to celebrate how God
delivered us from the affliction of sin, death, hell and Satan
by sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ, the great Passover
 Lamb. And like the peace offering of old, God gives us
some of that precious sacrifice for us to eat and drink in
His presence. He shares the very body and blood of Jesus
Christ given and shed for our salvation.

When we eat and drink this great Supper, we are forgiven
all our sins, delivered from death and hell, and united in
fellowship with God our Father and Jesus Christ our
victorious King. We are also united together with all God's
children in heaven and on earth: the great assembly in
which Jesus our Lord proclaims His Father's goodness and
love.

Even in the midst of our troubles in this life Christ invites us
to come into His presence and seek His help and
deliverance, and eat the very sacrifice that won God's
mercy and forgiveness.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what afflictions I face, You are
with me. Strengthen me in the company of my Christian
brothers and sisters that we may honor You for Your great
deliverance. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/15

THE SOURCE OF OUR PRAISE

@ 08:22 AM (1 day, 9 hours ago)
Read Psalm 111.

TEXT: From You comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear Him
(Psalm 22:25).

Jesus our victorious King accomplished so many great things
in this last week of His life. He cleansed the temple, healed
the sick, drove out demons, and taught the people. He rooted
out the false teaching of the priests and Sadducees, and
exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and experts in the
Law. He took our guilt and sin upon Himself and won our
complete and free forgiveness through His suffering, death
and resurrection.

Today He gathers us together in local congregations, uniting
us in His whole Christian church in heaven and on earth. We
declare His saving deeds and give Him our honor and praise.
Jesus turns those praises to His Father. The Father is the
Source of Jesus' praises. It was His mercy that led Him to
plan our salvation through Jesus. He was faithful to His
promises, good to undeserving sinners, and clearly showed
His love for His fallen human creatures.

In His great love for His Father, Jesus performs His vows-
first in offering Himself up for our sins, and now in distributing
the benefits of that sacrifice to us through His Word. Likewise,
He uses God-fearing pastors and Christians who faithfully
share what Christ has done for us. He uses Baptism in which
He washes away our sins, adopts us into His family, and
seals us with His Holy Spirit. And He uses Holy Communion
in which He gives us His own body and blood to assure us of
the full and complete forgiveness of all of our sins.

THE PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your loving-kindness
toward all of us Your creatures, and for giving Your Son Jesus
Christ to win our salvation. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/14

LOOKING AWAY?

@ 08:41 AM (2 days, 8 hours ago)
Read Psalm 9.

TEXT: For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction
of the afflicted, and He has not hidden His face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to Him (Psalm 22:24).

Jesus, our conquering King, goes on to give all glory and
credit to His Father for the great deliverance He won on
the cross. Jesus was the afflicted One, rejected by His
 people, His priests, the Roman governor and soldiers.
Yet despite the shame and humility, the blood and gore,
the pain and agony, the Father did not despise Him as the
Jewish leaders taunted Him. The Father did not abhor, or
utterly detest Jesus' terrible afflictions. The Father did not
forsake Jesus forever, but heard His bitter cry, "My God,
My God, why have You forsaken Me?" The Father accepted
His sacrifice, delivered Him from hell, and gently brought His
Son's soul to paradise, even as loving hands took His body
down from the cross, wrapped it for burial, and gently laid it
in the unused tomb.

We too are often afflicted in life. We wonder how God
responds to seeing us in pain, fear, doubt, agony. Does He
despise us as weak and insignificant? Does He abhor us,
wanting nothing to do with creatures so helpless and
unclean? Does He hide His face and stop His ears from our
pain and suffering?

No, our gracious Father is always with us to look upon us in
need, to hear our groans and pleas, and to deliver us from all
troubles, from all enemies, and from death and hell. It was
that great love which moved Him to send His only begotten
Son as our victorious Savior. That is why we fear Him, praise
Him, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him.

THE PRAYER:

'Heavenly Father, through Your Son Jesus
Christ, You always watch us, hear our prayers, and deliver us
 from all trials. Receive our thanks and praise for Jesus' sake.
Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/13

PRAISE OUR CONQUERING KING

@ 08:20 AM (3 days, 9 hours ago)
Read Matthew 21:1-11.

TEXT: You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you offspring of
Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring
of Israel! (Psalm 22:23).

On this first day of Holy Week we recall the multitude of Jews
welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. This week it is fitting to
consider Jesus Christ the mighty Victor, coming to battle and
soundly defeat sin, Satan, death and hell through His horrific
suffering described so vividly in the first part of Psalm 22.
Today's verse describes four things we are to do as we gather
to receive our conquering King: "fear the Lord," "praise Him,"
"glorify Him," and "stand in awe of Him."

"Fear God." Through Jesus' sufferings on the cross, we learn
the severity of God's wrath at our sins. True fear of God includes
taking that wrath seriously and confessing that we rightly
deserve to fall under His wrath.

"Praise Him." We praise our Lord Jesus for His willingness to
go to the cross, to drink the full cup of God's wrath in our place,
and to win our salvation by His suffering and death.

"Glorify Him." We glorify Him by telling others what He has
done, and by letting Him transform our thinking, our attitudes,
and our goals for this life, so we walk in His holy ways.

"Stand in Awe of Him." Jesus deserves our awe and wonder
because He took on our enemies all by Himself, and won
complete forgiveness and salvation for each of us.

In the context of this part of Psalm 22, Jesus takes all our
praise and directs it to His Father, who delivered Him from the
power of Satan on the cross, and from the grip of the tomb on
Easter morning.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for coming as our great Victor to
conquer sin and death for us and to open wide our heavenly
home. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/12

TIME TO PROCLAIM

@ 05:24 PM (4 days, 6 minutes ago)
Read Psalm 40.

TEXT: I will tell of Your Name to my brothers; in the
midst of the congregation I will praise You
(Psalm 22:22).

In the moment before His death Jesus loudly
proclaimed "It is finished," showing He had
completed His Father's plan to save all people. We
return to the final section of Psalm 22 where Jesus
predicts His resurrection, and what will come after.

After being delivered from death and hell by His
faithful Father, Jesus appeared to His brothers the
apostles, and revealed God's gracious plan of
salvation. Through their words in the New Testament
He continues to declare the Lord's Name to all
believers. He gathers us together into a great
worshiping assembly. And there in the midst of that
congregation Jesus praises the Father who was the
Source of God's plan of salvation.

Three times each year the whole nation of Israel
gathered together in Jerusalem to worship God,
recall His promises, and call upon Him for help in the
future. The first was the great Feast of Passover, when
Israel recalled God's deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
This was the very feast in which God's Passover Lamb,
Jesus Christ, carried the sins of the world and delivered
His people from slavery to sin, death and hell.

The second great feast followed 50 days after Easter.
At Pentecost the nation gathered again to thank God for
the harvest. At this feast Christ declared His great
salvation through His apostles in Jerusalem and the
Christian church was born. Each time we gather to
worship in local congregations Jesus is there with us,
proclaiming His Father's great love in sending His Son.
On the Last Day He will gather His scattered believers
from around the world into His eternal kingdom.

THE PRAYER:

 Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for declaring the Father's
love to us. Give us faith to remain in that love forever. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/11

MIRACULOUS SIGNS

@ 07:19 AM (5 days, 10 hours ago)
Read Matthew 27:51-53.

TEXT: And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two,
from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were
split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the
saints who had fallen asleep were raised (Matthew 27:51-52).

During the early hours of Jesus' crucifixion, it was easy for
the Jewish people streaming into town to conclude He had
been a fraud and a fake. To all appearances His claim to be
God's Son had finally caught up with Him because God had
cursed Him and permitted that horrible death. They interpreted
all the evidence they had seen as proof of Jesus' guilt.

Then came the supernatural miracles that accompanied His
crucifixion and death. First, was the three hours of ominous,
supernatural darkness. Then at Jesus' death a great earthquake
struck the city, splitting the rocks apart. The Jewish religious
leaders got a sign of their own-the curtain separating the Holy
Place from the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn in two
from top to bottom. Finally, the earthquake broke tombs open
and many dead saints came to life, appearing in the city to
others after Jesus' resurrection.

After seeing all these events the centurion and his soldiers said,
"Truly this was the Son of God!" Luke notes the reaction of the
crowds that stood there witnessing these things, "And all the
crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw
what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts"
(Luke 23:48). Beating one's breast was a demonstration of
profound grief, fear and regret.

These miracles didn't convince everyone, but they were powerful
signs that God's Son was sacrificing Himself for our sins. A
miracle even more clear was coming in three short days.

THE PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the signs that accompanied
Your Son's suffering and death and for His resurrection, which
proved You accepted His sacrifice. Give us confidence in Your
forgiveness. For Jesus' sake. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/10

HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE

@ 07:37 AM (6 days, 9 hours ago)
Read Luke 23: 44-49.

TEXT: Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said,
"Father, into Your Hands I commit My spirit!"
(See Luke 23:46.)

Having completed the payment for all our sins, and loudly
proclaiming it to the world, there is no reason for Jesus to
continue suffering on the cross. He fulfills the prediction
He once made to the Jews, "For this reason the Father
loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up
again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My
own accord" (see John 10:17-18).

The time has now come. Luke tells us Jesus called out
with a loud voice, committed His spirit to His Father's
safe-keeping, and breathed His last.
 
His sudden death and the events that surrounded it had
a monumental impact on the people who witnessed it.
The centurion had watched many criminals die from
crucifixion-none was like Jesus. In the moments before
He died Jesus proclaimed four statements with a loud
voice: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?",
"I'm thirsty," "It is finished," and "Father, into Your
hands I commend My spirit." Crucified criminals died
from suffocation due to the accumulation of fluid in their
lungs. How could Jesus speak loudly if His lungs were
filled with fluid? And conversely, how could He suddenly
die if His lungs were empty enough to speak loudly four
times?
 
Seeing the way Jesus conducted Himself throughout His
crucifixion, the unnatural way He died, and the
miraculous signs that accompanied His death, the
centurion could reach only one conclusion: "Certainly
this man was innocent" (see Luke 23:47) and "Truly this
was the Son of God!" (See Matthew 27:54.)

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, when Your work on the cross was
done You laid down Your life. On Sunday morning You
took it back up again, rising from the dead. Give me faith
to trust You always. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)
 

2014/4/9

PAID IN FULL 2

@ 09:01 AM (7 days, 8 hours ago)
Read Romans 3: 21-26.

TEXT: When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said,
"It is finished" (see John 19:30).

Jesus knew within Himself that everything was completed.
But for those who stood at the cross and looked at Him,
there was no evidence anything had changed. There was
no way to tell that God the Father had accepted Jesus'
sacrifice, no way to know this dying Man crowned with
thorns was Israel's triumphant King, or that Satan lie
crushed and hell's iron doors had been torn wide open.

Jesus wanted the world and all of us to know His mission
was complete, and that we are safe from Satan's schemes
and hell's grim thrall. So He drank the sour wine, and
proclaimed in a loud voice, "It is finished!"

Anyone living at that time who heard Jesus' word would
recognize it immediately. It was stamped on a loan when
the last payment had been made. We would translate it,
"Paid in full." Jesus was announcing He had completely
paid every last penny of the debt we owe to God for our sin.
There is nothing we can do, nothing we have to do to turn
God's anger away. There is no purgatory, no place of
suffering to make up for our sins. There is no reason for
doubts and no room for questions. Jesus has completely
satisfied God's demands, which we could never satisfy.

Our Savior spoke this sixth word so we would be certain
our sins are forgiven. He repeats this assurance in His
Word in our worship services. It is also present in the
water of Baptism that washes our sins away by the power
of God's Word. Likewise, it is in His body and blood given
in, with, and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, make us sure and confident that You
have completed our salvation, and there is nothing we can
do or need to do. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/8

ALL IS NOW FINISHED

@ 07:40 AM (8 days, 9 hours ago)
Read John 19:28-29.

TEXT: After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished,
said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I Thirst" (John 19:28).

Yesterday we reached the turning point of Psalm 22 where
Jesus says in verse 21, "You have rescued Me." The rest
of the psalm goes on to predict Jesus' resurrection. Before
we return to it, we want to revisit the Gospels to conclude
Jesus' time on the cross, His death and burial.

When last in the Gospels we looked at Jesus' fourth saying
in Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God, why have You
forsaken Me?" But we did not point out the time Jesus
spoke these opening words of Psalm 22. Matthew writes
"About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "My
God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?" At the ninth
hour, shortly after saying this, Jesus died. But in this short
span of time Jesus uttered three sayings; the first of these
is Jesus' fifth saying: "I'm thirsty."

It would be a mistake to overlook the phrase that sets up
this saying. "After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now
finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), 'I thirst.'" What is
finished? The answer here is the dire suffering, the spiritual
torment, the Father's wrath unleashed on Jesus for our sins.
Jesus knows He has reached the turning point. He has
completed the payment for all our sins; His Father is totally
satisfied.

With the price of our sins fully paid, Jesus can now ask for
a drink. In so doing, He fulfills verse 15 of Psalm 22. But
Jesus is not just interested in easing His terrible thirst; He
is determined to free His tongue which has been sticking to
His jaws. He has an important message to proclaim to
those gathered around Him-and to you and me.

THE PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for completing our salvation
by Your bitter suffering on the cross. Amen.

(Lenten Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)

2014/4/7

THE TURNING POINT

@ 08:49 AM (9 days, 8 hours ago)
TEXT: Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have
rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen
(Psalm 22:21).

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