Category Archives: Lent

Where You There?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

Words and Music are a Traditional Negro Spiritual

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
Mark 15:25 – 37

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
John 20:25

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:40 – 42

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.
Luke 24:1 – 8

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:57


There are those songs that have come down through the ages. Songs that speak to our very souls. They come from a place of struggle and sorrow. They embody the deepest cries of our heart, those cries that we often can not even put into words. In America, we trace many of these songs back to some of the darkest days in our history. The days of slavery, when the cry of the heart was to be released from the oppression of this world. These songs place us in the events they describe. They transport us to a new place, a place that separates us from our situation and brings us to a place of hope. This is the case with the old Negro Spiritual, “Where you there?”

The the first verse starts our mind meditating on the events of that Friday two thousand years ago. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” So our minds begin a journey, looking back to that day. What must it have been like to stand there and see the events of Mark 15:25 – 37.

“It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

Imagine to have spent all those years with him. To have become friends and to have come to believe that he was the promised messiah, only to seemingly have it all ripped away. Imagine witnessing him dying the death of a criminal. The words of the verse continue with what is all to true. “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” We shake and tremble at the loss of the one we loved so dear.

The next verse now begins to go deeper into the crucifixion. We read, “Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?” This is the nature of the crucifixion. Perhaps the most brutal form of execution ever devised by man. To be nailed to a tree, arms stretched wide. Nails through your hands and your feet. (John 20:25) To have to lift your body’s weight to breath, causing the tearing of flesh in the your hands. Every breath excruciating until you finally give up your last breath. This is what was witnessed by those who were present at the crucifixion.

The hymn continues, “Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?” There he was, their Lord and Savior. The man they had followed, waiting to see God’s power revealed, dead on a cross. So they lowered him from the cross and laid him in a tomb. There he laid, motionless with no life remaining. John 19:40 – 42 tells us that “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” Once they were finished, the tomb was closed with a stone across the entrance and He was left there.

But this is not the end. This is not where the story closes. The next verses ask the question “Were you there when the stone was rolled away? Were you there when the stone was rolled away?” The stone had been placed to close the grave. It was a visual evidence that there was no life inside. It was a place that none would go. Yet we discover it has been rolled away. Luke 24:1 – 3 tells us that, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” Why would the stone be rolled away? Why would someone want to enter a grave?

But we learn that someone did not enter the grave, but left the grave. Luke 24:4 – 8 reads “but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.” He had risen. He was alive. So the hymn turns to asking not a question of sorrow, but a question of joy. “Were you there when He rose up from the dead? Were you there when He rose up from the dead?”

Our savior and messiah is not dead in a grave, but alive. He has conquered death and now He stands as our mean to the Father. When we stop to truly consider the message of the cross and the grave, we need not sorrow, but find joy that if our Savior has conquered death, we need not fear it. In Him we to can have victory. (I Corinthians 15:57) When we are filled with the awe that comes from knowing what he has gone through on our behalf, that he died and rose again, we for a whole new reason declare, “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”

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Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkenss hide
And shut its glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away –
‘Tis all that I can do!

Words by Isaac Watts, 1707
Music by Hugh Wilson, 1800

 


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4:25

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. Jesus said,“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
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.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Luke 23:33 – 49

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8 – 9


 

Have you ever stopped to consider all the things that have been done directly and indirectly for you. Things that have made you who you are.  Consider the sacrifices that have been made.  Perhaps your parents worked hours of over time to ensure you had food on your table and clothes to wear.  There are the men and women who have given their very lives to defend the people of our nation.  So much we have is because of the sacrifices of others.  But how often do you stop to consider the magnitude of the greatest sacrifice ever given on your behalf. This is the message found in the lines of Isaac Watts, “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?”

The hymn begins with the words, “Alas! and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sov’reign die?”  What profound questions? My Savior, the one who came to forgive my sins, the one who came to give me new life, shed His blood for me.  But He is not simply my Savior, He is my Sovereign. This is God Himself who died. He gave up His very life for me.

The hymn continues, “Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?” Why would the God of all creation willingly give up his life for me? I am nothing.  Some updated versions of the hymn read, “for a sinner such as I” but I think that Watts so recognized our lowly state when compared with a righteous and Holy God, that he wrote, “For such a worm as I.”  A worm, the lowliest of creatures.  A creature that lives below the ground. A creature that when it comes above the ground is squashed beneath our feet.  This is us. The statement is not that we are worthless, but that when compared with God, we are nothing and yet God loved us so much that He gave His very life for us.  A message that Paul shares with us in Roman 5:8 where we read “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Why would God do this? Watts continues his pondering by saying, “Was it for crimes that I have done He groaned upon the tree?” It was my actions that put Him there.  It was to save me from the punishment I deserved that He chose to take my place. Romans 4:25 tells us, “He was delivered over to death for our sins . . .” That he would willingly give His life in my place is beyond words.  Watts attempts to cover this act when he wrote, “Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!”

Watts continues “Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut its glories in, When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.” His words draw us back to that Friday as Christ died on the cross.  In Luke 23 we read, “It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

When we stop to consider what Christ has done. When we begin to fully comprehend the magnitude of His sacrifice  we are left speechless. Watts puts it this way, “Thus might I hide my blushing face While His dear cross appears; Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, And melt mine eyes to tears.” When I stop to consider His gift to me I am driven to my knees with praise and I am driven to tears with gratitude.

But is this enough?  It still seems so shallow.  It seems my response can not meet the gift.  The final verse of the hymn reads  “But drops of grief can ne’er repay The debt of love I owe.” The debt that has been paid, I could never repay. He brought me from death to life.  In Him I will know eternity in His presence. And yet I need not give anything, for that is the nature of the gift.  It is free. We are reminded of this in Ephesians 2:8 – 9 which reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

So I respond to His gift. I respond to His love. I respond to His sacrifice with these words, “Here, Lord, I give myself away – ‘Tis all that I can do!”

 

 

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This is the more commonly known version with the refrain “At The Cross, At The Cross . . .” Music and refrain by Ralph Hudson, 1885.

 

 

Just As I Am

Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Words by Charlotte Elliott, 1835
Music by William B. Bradbury, 1849


“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

For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Matthew 26:28

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:31 – 32


We all do it. We worry about what others are thinking of us. It is probably most obvious when we first meet that someone special. We begin to put on a new face. We suddenly express an interest in the things the other person likes. We begin to find out where their going to be and we adjust a schedule for “chance” encounter. We begin to change our behavior so the other person will accept us.

There is a flip side as well. A side where we see the person as so beyond us that we feel we can never be worthy of their affection. We feel that we could never even be near them or speak to them because of the fear of being rejected. This is the fear that dwells in each of us to enter the presence of God. And it should, for we are entering the presence of a Holy God. But this fear need not stand in His presence for God has called each of us from where we are. He has declared,”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” We need not change before we can come before God. It is but the start of a journey and we may come exactly as we are. This is the message is Charlotte Elliot’s hymn, “Just as I Am.”

The hymn declares, “Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me. And that Thou bidst me come to Thee.” We do not need to be perfect to come before God. He came to call us from where we are. In Luke 5:31 – 32 “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” But how can we stand before a perfect and Holy God. It is only through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. It is through His shed blood that we are made acceptable in God’s sight. This is what Jesus declares at the last supper when he says, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) So he has called us to him, and all we need to do is respond.

So the hymn continues by describing the areas of darkness and trouble that we each come from. Elliott writes, “ though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings and fears within, without.” and “ poor, wretched, blind.” This is but a taste of where we each come from, unworthy of entering His presence. And yet, He bids us come.

We can not change to make ourselves to be worthy of entering His presence, but when we enter His presence He “wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.” He can change us to be worthy. So we come to Him, “Because (his) promise (we) believe.”

It does not matter where we have been, or what we have done. God is waiting for us to come to Him. He has opened the door with the blood of His Son, blood that can make us new. So we need not cower in fear of entering His presence, but can instead say, “O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

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Are You Washed In The Blood

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Words & Music by Elisha Hoffman, 1878

 


for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:14

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them
John 7:38

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:14


 

There is nothing more annoying that getting a stain on one of favorite pieces of clothing.  I can’t tell you how many shirts I have had that ended out with a permanent stain from an unfortunate drip. Now I have seen the commercials where they rub grass, blueberries and other such things into a piece of clothing to create horrible stains. Then they magically wash it with some astounding stain removing detergent and it looks as good as it did when it was new. Now I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a detergent that can really work like that.  No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be some residual sign of the stain.

This is not unlike the stains that sin leaves upon our souls.  Stains that continually build up upon each other slowly darkening our soul.  And just like the stains in my shirt, there is nothing that we can do to make them like new.   Of course many options are pitched to us by the world – doing good works, getting an education, going to church – and while these are good things, no matter how much we do them, they can not make our soul clean like new. Thankfully, God has given us the only way to make our souls clean. It is through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. This is a theme found in Elisha Hoffman’s “Are You Washed In The Blood?”

It begins with the words, “Have you been to Jesus, for His cleansing flood? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” A cleansing flood.  The hymn starts from the truth that we are all stained with sin.  Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is this sin that stains our souls. But there is hope. In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Even though these sins have so stained our lives, our souls can be made clean by being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

This is an amazing realization, our souls can be made like new.  Our lives can be restored. When we come to embrace this, we need not fear the stains. So the hymn continues, “Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” The question is not if we have found perfection, or if we are capable of eliminating any future sins from our lives, but do we trust in Him. When we do stumble and fall, we can trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  We can trust that he will forgive us and make us clean.

So we look forward to the day when we will be made perfect. The day when we shall stand before Jesus. A day when we will “Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin.”  We shall then be clothed in the perfection of Christ. This is the day that John saw and described in Revelation 7:14 when he writes, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Through His blood, we are made clean and we are given a new source of life that will well up within us.  As the hymn writer says, “There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean.” This fountain is our source of life.  It is the fountain promised by Jesus in John 7:38 when He told us that “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

When we put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will overflow with living waters “welling up to eternal life.” When we put our trust in Jesus, we will be washed in His blood, being made new.  (John 4:14) If the eternal joy of being in Christ is what we truly seek, then we should each ask ourselves “Are (we) washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

 

 

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At Calvary

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my king,
Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

Words by William R. Newell, 1895
Music by Daniel B. Towner

 


“‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.
Leviticus 4:13 – 14

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Ephesians 4:17 – 19


 

“I shouldn’t have been given a ticket for parking there.  I didn’t know it wasn’t allowed.”  I spent many years working in university security and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard these words.  It was not their fault, because no one told them it was not allowed.  Sound like it makes sense, but we all know that it is not an excuse. It’s something we have probably been told since we were very young. Nicole Flatow puts it this way in the opening of her article about a recent supreme court decision at “Think Progress.”  She states;

“There is one simple concept that law students learn in their very first weeks of criminal law class: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. This principle means that when an individual violates the law, it doesn’t matter whether or not they knew what the law said. If it’s a crime, and they are found to have committed the elements of that crime, they are guilty.”

Whether you knew it is wrong, or not, it was still wrong. Taken further, the question is, if we do not know what we are doing is wrong, how can we ever expect to make amends.  The short answer is that we can not, but there is someone who can. This is the message of William Newell’s “At Calvary.”

The song summarize the ignorance that most of us live in far too easily.  An ignorance that many seem to revel in. After all, the old saying is “ignorance is bliss”.  So the hymn begins with the words, “Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.”

This is how we so want to live our lives . . . for ourselves.  We are nothing new in this capacity.  Jesus, when speaking of the end times uses this description in Matthew 24:37 – 39, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” In the days of Noah, people lived to meet their own pleasure, oblivious to the circumstances around them.

This life of seeking our own pleasures is an offense to God Himself. We must then come to accept these action that violate God’s law, even when done in ignorance must exact a consequence. Leviticus 4:13 – 14 tells us, “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.”

One might argue, “well that was Israel. God has revealed himself to them so of course they had no excuse.  Paul answers this objection when he says in Ephesians 4:17 – 19  “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Jew or gentile, it makes no difference.  The axiom remains true. Ignorance of the law is not excuse.

So we today easily find ourselves doing the same. We are all to often unaware that our behavior is self-indulgent, and an affront to a Holy God.  But as the hymn tells us, the truth has been made known if we will but listen.  It says “By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.”

When we realize the magnitude of our actions.  That we have lived a life seeking our own, mocking God, whether intentionally or unintentionally, at every turn, we can not help but quake with fear.  This is the Holy God, Creator of all and we have dishonored Him at every turn.  But thanks be, that we are given the way to make things right. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.

When we turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can experience the forgiveness of all sins, whether intentional or unintentional. This is the only means of making amends and God has given it to us freely.  This is why Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we accept this gift, we can know “salvation’s plan!” We can know “the grace that brought it down to man!” We can begin to comprehend “the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!”

No, ignorance is no excuse.  We remain guilty, even when we did not know what we were doing was wrong.  But praise God that He did not abandon us in our ignorance, but that provide a way to forgiveness that we might be restored to fellowship with Him. When we accept this we can join with all believers declaring, “There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.”

 

 

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Do This In Remembrance of Me

 

I am taking a brief aside from my hymn reflections to look at another aspect of worship. In this Lenten season we begin by looking at Christ as our example. We reflect on the fullness of His life. His struggles, His triumphs, His sorrows, His joys and most importantly His sacrifice. We look to Jesus as not only our Savior, but our example of living a life in service to the Father. We follow His lead in the examples He set, in the parables He told, in His teaching and in the commands he gave. I want to look specifically at something in this last category.

Communion, The Lord’s Supper, The Eucharist, The Bread and The Wine. What ever term you use for it, as Christians, we are called to partake of it. The words of Jesus echo down through the ages. “Do this in remembrance of me.” This is the command that Jesus gave us, a command with a deeper meaning. It is not like the slogan of Nike, “Just Do It.” which carries not reason or meaning other than enjoying yourself. This call has real meaning. There is a reason we are to partake. Jesus said, “Do this . . . in remembrance of me.”

We find the account of the Lords supper in Luke 22 and then find Paul recounting the events with further explanation in 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 32.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Luke 22:7 – 20

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:23 – 32

In Remembrance of Me

Now I realize that we could get caught up here in a debate on the substance of the Lord’s Supper, but the final conclusion will be that people hold many different position from Transubstantiation to Memorial. But from whichever belief you come, as believers we are to take part in The Lord’s Supper with remembrance of Christ.

We remember that He was born into this world in human flesh. John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” This is of utmost importance, for the manger and the cross are intrinsically linked. Remove one and the other becomes meaningless. You can find more of this in the article, The Real Meaning of Christmas.

We remember that while he was born fully man, He was still fully God. John 1:1 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” He was Emanuel, God with us. Not a God who remained distant from us, but a God who dwelt among us. He walked among us that He might know us and we might know Him.

We remember that he faced the very temptation we face in this life. Temptations to meet physical desires, to meet the lust of the eyes and the desire to elevate our selves above God. Yet the scriptures tell us in Hebrews 4:15 that He was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.”

We remember that he came to “give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) He paid the penalty for our sins when He hung upon the cross, His body broken, His blood shed so we might not know death.

We remember that He rose triumphant from the grave so that we need not fear death. He opened the door to eternal life. This is why 1 Corinthians 15:20 – 22 tells us, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

We remember that Through Christ, we have become joint heirs with Him. We have become children of God. That we may stand before God not in trembling fear of judgement, boldly as children before a loving Father. So Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

A Word of Warning

When we come before the Lord’s table our attitude should be one of remembrance and reflection. For while we remember Christ in all of these ways, we reflect on our lives. Have we remembered to give Christ the recognition He is due? Have we confessed the sin in our lives? Have we sought to live our lives Honoring Him? Have we surrendered our lives to follow Him?

These are the questions that we must ask of ourselves as we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Supper, for Paul has warned us in 1 Corinthians 11:28 – 29 that “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” When we fail to properly prepare for the Lord’s Supper and when we fail to remember the real reason that we partake of the Lord’s supper, we make it meaningless. We take the incredible sacrifice that the Lord has given and make a mockery of it. This is the judgement Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 11:29. For we have forgotten that Jesus gave everything for us.

So, as we go through this Lenten Season may we be reminded of this truth. May we prepare each day to come before the Lord’s Table. May we remember Jesus and what He has done for us. Let us truly partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him.

Power In The Blood

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Words and Music by Lewis E. Jones, 1899

 


I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:14

There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.
Psalm 38:3 – 4

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:7

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:18

I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Psalm 104:33


 

People have searched for it since the beginning of time. Many have spent their entire lives trying to gain it.  They have schemed, plotted and even murdered to find it.  They are looking for control and influence over others. They are looking for power. But this power is simply a cheap imitation of true power.  A fleeting reflection.  For A king can be overthrown.  So, if this is not real power, then what is true power? According to Webster’s, it is the ability to produce an effect. This is the power described in Lewis Jones’ hymn, “There’s Power in the Blood.”

This is power that can effect true change. Power that can redeem those enslaved to sin and bring home the lost. Power that can give new life and make us children of God. Revelation 7:14 gives a picture of this power when it says, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

It is this power that can make us “free from the burden of sin.” A burden we can not bear on our own. A truth presented in psalm 38:3 – 4 which tells us, “For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.”

It is a power that can give us victory. A victory presented in 1 Corinthians 15:57 which tells us “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is power that can cleanse the most unclean. As 1 John 1:7 tells us, “the blood of Jesus . . . purifies us from all sin.”

It is power that take the darkened sinful heart and make it “much whiter than snow”. This is what Isaiah 1:18 tells us when it says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow

This is real power.  Power that does not control us, but changes us.  Power that opens the door to God.  Power that is found only in the in His Son Jesus Christ.  Kings may rule, Presidents may direct, but their power will fade and leave them. Only the true power remains.

So as we close out, let us cry out His daily praise “I will sing to the LORD all my life.” This is our highest calling. To praise God for all He is. To worshp Him at all times. Psalm 104:33 tells us that “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

True power is in the blood of Jesus Christ.  It is power that can effect our entire person.  It is power that can make us new. It is power that can save out souls. It is in reaction to this power that I declare, “There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r In the blood of the Lamb; There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r In the precious blood of the Lamb”.

 

 

Read more about, “Power In The Blood.”