Serving Christ

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Matthew 16: 21-28 New International Version 

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

The words and music of this song written by two former General’s of The Salvation Army mean so much to me that I find myself somehow returning to it quite a lot. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a simple tune with such true and earnest words to it

Safe in His Arms

Isaiah 40:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[a]
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

With the title of today’s blog there’s only one song I could think of and that was the old Fanny Crosby favourite.

  1. Safe in the arms of Jesus,
    Safe on His gentle breast;
    There by His love o’ershaded,
    Sweetly my soul shall rest.
    Hark! ’tis the voice of angels
    Borne in a song to me,
    Over the fields of glory,
    Over the jasper sea.

    • Refrain:
      Safe in the arms of Jesus,
      Safe on His gentle breast;
      There by His love o’ershaded,
      Sweetly my soul shall rest.
  2. Safe in the arms of Jesus,
    Safe from corroding care,
    Safe from the world’s temptations;
    Sin cannot harm me there.
    Free from the blight of sorrow,
    Free from my doubts and fears;
    Only a few more trials,
    Only a few more tears!
  3. Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge,
    Jesus has died for me;
    Firm on the Rock of Ages
    Ever my trust shall be.
    Here let me wait with patience,
    Wait till the night is o’er;
    Wait till I see the morning
    Break on the golden shore.

Assension Sunday

Acts 1:6-11 New Living Translation

The Ascension of Jesus
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

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Ascension Day is one of the earliest Christian festivals dating back to the year 68. According to the New Testament in the Bible, Jesus Christ met several times with his disciples during the 40 days after his resurrection to instruct them on how to carry out his teachings. It is believed that on the 40th day he took them to the Mount of Olives, where they watched as he ascended to heaven.
Ascension Day marks the end of the Easter season and occurs ten days before Pentecost. Depending upon the phases of the Moon in a particular year, Ascension Day is celebrated on a Thursday. However, some churches, particularly in the United States, celebrate it on the following Sunday.
Many Eastern Orthodox churches calculate the date of Pascha (Easter) according to the Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar used by many western churches, so their Ascension Day usually occurs after the western observance.

Miracles

Acts 11 New International Version

The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

All that you need is a miracle

And all that you need can be yours

All that you need is available

The moment you turn to the Lord.

Good Friday

Luke 23:26-49

The Crucifixion of Jesus

26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then
“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’[a]
31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[b] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[c]”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The Death of Jesus
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[d] When he had said this, he breathed his last.
47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

What can you say about a 33 year old man who gave up his life to save us from our sins.

For me having seen the films ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and ‘The Passion of the Christ’ proved that Jesus was really powerful  and wonderful person with all that he did with his short time here on earth.

 

 

 

Palm Sunday

John 12:12-19

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12The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15″Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 17Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

Today is Palm Sunday marking the beginning of Holy week leading to Jesus’ death and resurrection. I don’t know about you but  I can’t decide in my mind which is the more important, Christmas and the lead up to it or Holy week and Easter .

I suppose they are both important in their own right

Waiting for God

Clara H. Scott (1841-1897) provides us with a hymn of consecration that has been sung for over 100 years. A Midwesterner, she was born in Illinois and died in Iowa.

In 1856, Scott attended the first Music Institute held by C.M. Cady in Chicago, Ill. By 1859, she was teaching music at the Ladies’ Seminary, Lyons, Iowa. She married Henry Clay Scott in 1861, and published in 1882 the Royal Anthem Book, the first volume of choir anthems published by a woman.

Horatio R. Palmer, an influential church musician in Chicago and later New York City, was a source of encouragement for Scott, and helped her publish many of her songs. Three collections were issued before her untimely death, when a runaway horse caused a buggy accident in Dubuque, Iowa.

The text of “Open My Eyes” was written in 1895 shortly before Scott’s death. Each stanza reveals an increasing receptiveness to the “Spirit divine.” Open eyes lead to “glimpses of truth.” Open ears lead to “voices of truth.” An open mouth leads to sharing the “warm truth everywhere.” An open heart leads to sharing “love to thy children.”

The image of open eyes is common in the Bible. In some cases, this is a sign of Christ’s healing power, as when Jesus gave sight to the blind man at the pool of Siloam in John 9. Closed eyes, on the other hand, could be a metaphor for avoiding the truth as in the case of John 12:40, a passage following the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem and beginning his journey to the cross: “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

The image of open ears is also significant in the biblical witness. Matthew often reprises the theme “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Closed ears become a metaphor for a lack of understanding: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

While the eyes and the ears are receptive organs, the mouth has the capacity to project. The mouth may project “cursing and deceit and fraud” (Psalm 10:7), or it may be an organ that projects praise, as Psalm 51:15 exhorts us: “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”

The heart is the only organ included in this hymn that is not visible. It may harbor deceit. Jesus asks in Matthew 9:4, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” But Jesus also realized that the heart has the capacity for purity: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Scott has given us not only a list of organs through which we may receive and project truth and love, but also provides the method in her refrain:

Silently now I wait for thee,
ready my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes,
illumine me, Spirit divine!

Learning to use these organs requires patience and reflection. The gentle 6/8 meter of Scott’s music provides a subtle sense of dancing in tune with the Spirit as we learn to see, hear and speak the truth from our hearts.

The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21 New International Version – UK 

A new heaven and a new earth

21 Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death”[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.’

Admittedly for some reason I do not like the tune to ‘The Holy City’ but it is a song about the above passage of scripture.

Although I may not like the tune what I do like is the image i portrays in your mind, a Jerusalem where there is no death,mourning,crying or pain.

Lets face it Jerusalem at the moment is a long way of that nowadays.

God also tells us he is the Alpha and the Omega and people will not go thirsty, also the victorious will inherit his kingdom. Wheres as the wicked will be condemned to hell.

“The Holy City”

Last night I lay asleeping
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there
I heard the children singing
And ever as they sang,
Methought the voice of Angels
From Heaven in answer rang
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Lift up you gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna to your King!”

And then methought my dream was chang’d
The streets no longer rang
Hush’d were the glad Hosannas
The little children sang
The sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Hark! How the Angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest,
Hosanna to your King!”

And once again the scene was chang’d
New earth there seem’d to be,
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea
The light of god was on its streets
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day,
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away
“Jerusalem! Jerusalem
Sing for the night is o’er
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna for evermore!”

Don’t Be Afraid!

Luke 2:42-52 New International Version – UK 

42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’

49 ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man

1.
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

R.
Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.

2.
If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell and death is at your side, know that
I am with you through it all.

3.
Blessed are your poor, for the kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn, for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked men insult and hate you all because of me, blessed, blessed are you!

The Guiding Star

Matthew 2 New International Version – UK

The Magi visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:

‘“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.”[b]

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  1. As with gladness men of old
    Did the guiding star behold,
    As with joy they hailed its light,
    Leading onward, beaming bright;
    So, most gracious Lord, may we
    Evermore be led to Thee.
  2. As with joyful steps they sped
    To that lowly manger bed,
    There to bend the knee before
    Him whom heav’n and earth adore;
    So may we, with willing feet,
    Ever seek Thy mercy seat.
  3. As they offered gifts most rare
    At that manger rude and bare;
    So may we with holy joy,
    Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
    All our costliest treasures bring,
    Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.
  4. Holy Jesus, every day
    Keep us in the narrow way;
    And, when earthly things are past,
    Bring our ransomed souls at last
    Where they need no star to guide,
    Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

Last night I was out Carolling with my local Salvation Army Band & Songsters. It was when we were asked to sing the above carol that I made the connection with ‘The Mercy Seat’(for those of you who do not know about The Salvation Army it has what is basically a piece of wood which acts as a place of prayer).

I also began to realise as I got into the next two verses that I suppose you could call this a prayer at Christmas time or anytime really.

Note: I aim to bring you Christmas blogs between 24th – 26th December and one will be a video.

God Bless!