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

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

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

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

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 blog on 25th December! Merry Christmas

God Bless!

Righteousness and Peace

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Isaiah 32 New International Version 

The Women of Jerusalem

You women who are so complacent,
    rise up and listen to me;
you daughters who feel secure,
    hear what I have to say!
10 In little more than a year
    you who feel secure will tremble;
the grape harvest will fail,
    and the harvest of fruit will not come.
11 Tremble, you complacent women;
    shudder, you daughters who feel secure!
Strip off your fine clothes
    and wrap yourselves in rags.
12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,
    for the fruitful vines
13 and for the land of my people,
    a land overgrown with thorns and briers—
yes, mourn for all houses of merriment
    and for this city of revelry.
14 The fortress will be abandoned,
    the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
    the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
    and the desert becomes a fertile field,
    and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
    his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
    and the city is levelled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
    sowing your seed by every stream,
    and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

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.

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!

Grief

John 11 New International Version

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Jesus comforts the sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

23 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’

24 Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’

25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

27 ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.

‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’

37 But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Verse 1
O Christ, You wept when grief was raw,
and felt for those who mourned their friend;
Come close to where we would not be
and hold us, numbed by this life’s end.

Verse 2
The well-loved voice is silent now
and we have much we meant to say;
collect our lost and wandering words
and keep them, till the endless day.

Verse 3
We try to hold what is not here
and fear for what we do not know;
Oh, take our hands in Yours, good Lord,
and free us, free now to let our friend go.

Verse 4
In all our loneliness and doubt
through what we cannot realise,
address us from Your empty tomb
and speak of the life, that never dies

Healing the Brokenhearted

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Psalm 147 New International Version

Psalm 147

Praise the Lord.[a]

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.

He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
    and for the young ravens when they call.

To heal the broken heart he came,
To free the captive from his chain;
The blood he spilt when he was slain,
Brings guilty sinners home to God

Do you remember you’re Conversion?

Acts 9 New International Version 

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”Image result for saul's conversion

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptised, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

O what a wonderful, wonderful day – day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Saviour I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend – He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart.

Chorus:
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
My sins were washed away –
And my night was turned to day –
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

Born of the Spirit with life from above into God’s fam’ly divine,
Justified fully thru Calvary’s love, O what a standing is mine!
And the transaction so quickly was made when as a sinner I came,
Took of the offer of grace He did proffer – He saved me, O praise His dear name!

Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure after the passing of time;
I have a future in heaven for sure, there in those mansions sublime.
And it’s because of that wonderful day when at the cross I believed;
Riches eternal and blessings supernal from His precious hand I received.

The words to the above song ‘Heaven came down’ is a brilliant and fitting song for someone who has just been converted. Below is a video of Salvation Army timbrelists doing a display to the march ‘Heaven Came Down’