Tag Archives: Christ

“Risen”: A Fresh and Moving Perspective on the Resurrection

I just came back from seeing the new movie, “Risen”.  I recommend it highly.

I have seen a lot of Bible-themed and faith-based movies over the years. Risen is something encouragingly different. You see, the problem with most bible-themed and faith-based movies is they fall short in at least one of the major category. Either the writing is transparent, the acting weak, the directing is misguided or the production is cheap. Risen is a clear difference, hitting on all four cylinders.

Joseph Fiennes solid portrayal in the lead is moving and draws viewers into a well-told story. The story is summed up with one statement. When asked, “What frightens you?” Clavius (Fiennes) responds, “Being wrong. Wagering eternity on it.” Yes, Clavius is a non-biblical/fictional figure, but he becomes the personification of each and every person who has faced the truth of the resurrection and said, it can’t be true. As he proceeds on behalf of the Roman empire in an attempt to prove the false claims, we are reminded of the words of Sherlock Holmes, in The Sign of the Four “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” This is where Clavius finds himself.

For those who are familiar with the account of Jesus resurrection, “Risen” provides a fresh perspective. For those who are not, they will find a compelling investigation as they see events through the eyes of a skeptic who must reconcile what he believes to be true with all the evidence that is laid before him.

Act Your Age

1031121453Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 1:27 – 30

 

Every kid has heard it at some point whether from a parent, a teacher or even a friend. You know when your just having lots of fun and your behavior begins to cross the line between silly and crazy. What is it they say, “Why don’t you act your age!” This of course leads to the inevitable question, “how is someone my age suppose to act?” It is a reasonable response, I mean who knows what the proper way to act is for someones age. (Well apparently mothers know, but none of the rest of us do.)

The truth is that there is no clear definition of how people act at a certain age. The real meaning behind what is being said is that your behavior is embarrassing me. When you are out in public, you represent this family and you behavior is making all of us look bad. Your conduct is leaving a bad impression on people who are seeing you . It should serve to remind us that the way we conduct ourselves can effect the way people view us or those we represent.

In Philippians 1:27 Paul reminds believers of this fact when he says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” He is saying, “Don’t forget that you represent Christ to the world around you. What you do, will reflect on people’s impression of Christ.”   This is the same message that Peter reminds us of when he writes, “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15 – 16)

This is what we are called to do. To “conduct (ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” And so that is what we do as a Christian. We always act the way we should. . . . That would be nice, wouldn’t it, but far to often we find ourselves not living in a manner worthy of Christ. Instead we find ourselves caught up in our own self-interest. We worry more about what people will think of us, than what they will think of Christ. We find ourselves caught up in petty squabbles with those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As a result the world does not see the unity in Christ that should abound, but a people divided and tearing each other apart. We allow our self-righteous indignation to replace the love of Christ. As a result, the world sees only judgement and not forgiveness.

Paul reminds the Philippian believers that when their conduct is worthy, it will be evident. He writes, “whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit.” Yet at the same time, we are to stand for the truth. We must strive “together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose” the gospel. It is only when we stand solid in God’s truth, while “conducting (ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” that the world will see Christ in us. It is through seeing Christ in our lives that the world will come to know Him.

So the next time you catch yourself acting in an unworthy manner, stop and ask yourself. Is this really how I want to represent Christ? Will people know Christ for who he is and what he offers through my behavior? If not, then take a step back and choose a new course of action that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Everyone Wants To Go To Heaven, But No One Wants To Go First

I had a friend in fire safety who used to use the expression, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go first.” I would dare say there is great truth in this statement. Think about it, most of us are excited about the prospect of going to heaven, of being in God’s presence surrounded by fellow believers.  Yet there are so many things in this world that we want to experience first. We have what is often called a “Bucket List.”

For many we want to go to college. We want to get married. We want to have children. We want to see our children grow up. We want to see our children get married. For others there are things like, I want to see the Grand Canyon. I want to visit every continent. I want to climb a mountain.

So many things we have that we want to do in this life. Once we have done these, then we will be ready to go to heaven. Once we have experienced all this life has to offer, then we will be ready to experience the next life. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go first.”

So how is it then that Paul can declare with such confidence, in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” “To die is gain?” Is Paul saying that dying is better than living? Is he saying that he wants to die? I certainly don’t think this is the case.

When we take the time to look at this statement in context, the real meaning begins to become clear to us. Paul had been arrested, basically, for preaching the Gospel, for fulfilling the call that God had placed on his life. When he was about to be beaten for declaring the truth he revealed to the Roman guards that he was a Roman citizen. As a result he was not beaten, but taken in to be questioned.  After bouncing around to a few different locations, it began to become clear that he was not guilty of what the others had charged him with. As the time went on  he took an unexpected step, he chose to appeal his case to Caesar, the right of a Roman citizen. As a result he had been transferred to Rome where he was held prisoner awaiting trial. While he awaited trial, he continued to preach the gospel to those who would listen. While under house arrest in Rome he learned that others were continuing to preach the gospel with passion. This is where we find Paul. Invigorated by the opportunity to preach the gospel to those in Caesar’s palace. Encouraged by the news that the Gospel continued to be preached by others. Yet keenly aware that Caesar could quite possibly order his death.

It is in this light that Paul declares, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul realized that his whole life was declaring the gospel of Christ, and that as long as he lived he could continue to encourage others in seeking Him. “To live is Christ.” Yet at the same time Paul longed to be in the presence of his Lord and Savior, a place he knew he would be should the end result be death. “To die is gain.” What a position to find himself in. What an attitude to have. This is what Donald Sunukjian refers to as a “Win – Win situation” in his book, “An Invitation To Philippians.”

As I think about it, I have to ask myself, “Could I have this same attitude?” “What would it take for me to view my life the same way?”

I certainly understand the first part of embracing my life for what I value, what I find important. But how can I bring myself to see the end of my life being even better? Part of the answer is found in my embracing what is important to my life and what Paul embraced as important to his life.  Paul did not say, “to live is to spend time with my family.” He did not say, “to live is to see amazing things.” And he did not say, “to live is to enjoy life.”

No, what Paul said was “to live is Christ.”  Now do you see the difference, “Christ.” What was important in Paul’s life was Christ. This is not to say that he did not enjoy things of this world, but that he saw everything he did as being for Christ. Christ was the center of his life. “To live is Christ.” This is the key to Paul being able to say, “to die is gain.” For if Christ was his whole life, what greater conclusion could there be than to stand in His presence. What greater joy could there be than to hear his Savior declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) It is no wonder that Paul could say that “to die is gain.”

As believers in Christ there is no doubt that we do want to go to heaven. I pray for the day that I shall stand in his presence and hear his voice welcome me home. But are we ready to say that to die is gain and mean it? Are we ready to set aside the things of this world that hold our attention and distract us from Christ?  Only when we embrace that the purpose of our lives as believers is to glorify God and to make Him known.  Only when we live our lives for Him will we truly be able to join with Paul and declare with true belief that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

He Lives!

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

In all the world around me I see His loving care;
And tho’ my heart grows weary, I never will despair.
I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing will come at last.
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind. [Refrain]
He lives, He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!

Words and Music by Alfred H. Ackley, 1933

 


But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
I Corinthians 15:12 – 21


 

There are lots of things that we learn over the years. After all, we spend at least 13 or the first 18 years of our lives in school. We read books, we learn facts, we study and we test our knowledge. Yes,at the end of the time we know a lot. (In fact as most of us have observed, 18 year olds often seem to think they know everything.) But as much as we have learned there is so much more that we do not know. Book knowledge only gets us so far, but real knowledge comes from experience. There are somethings that can really only be known through experience. It is this knowledge that runs through Alfred Ackley’s, “I Serve A Risen Savior.”

The hymn declares that “I know that He is living, whatever men may say.” This is the challenge that so many of us face. The world around us questions, “How can you know that Jesus is alive?” A valid question, after all just because we read something is a book, does not make it true. Yes, the book in question is the Bible, the inspired Word of God which we believe as an act of faith, but there is something more than simple faith to knowing the Jesus lives.

So the hymn continues, “I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.” Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have experienced something that goes beyond words. They have been forgiven, renewed and restored. They have experienced the very presence of God in the mercy he has poured out. They have felt His presence in those darkest moments, when they felt all alone and forgotten. Christ was there, saying “Come to me.”

And so the hymn continues to build on the truth of knowing Jesus as we read, “In all the world around me I see His loving care.” We live in an amazing world. A world that sits in a tedious balance, a balance that necessary for the very existence of life. And while all experience tells us that things eventually wind done and fall apart, this world remains. It maintains this balance. This is the very hand of God, holding the world together. We can see it all around us.

It continues, “And tho’ my heart grows weary, I never will despair. I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast; The day of His appearing will come at last.” It is because of this knowledge that we can have true hope. (I Corinthians 15:12 – 21) Not simply wishful thinking, but a confidence in what the future holds. This is the hope about which Ackley speaks when he writes,”The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find.”

Why can we say that we know? It is simple in that if we believe in Jesus Christ, all will begin to come clear. Yet it is challenging, in seeing past the business of our lives to look and listen for Him.

Yes, He live and wants to be part of our lives, if we will put our faith in Him. When we do, we can join with the final truth of the chorus as we declare, “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

 

 

Read more about “I Serve A Risen Savior.

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.”

Read more about “Where You There?

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.

There Is A Redeemer

There is a Redeemer,
Jesus, God’s own Son;
precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One.
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.

Jesus, my Redeemer,
name above all names,
precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
hope for sinners slain.
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.

When I stand in glory
I will see his face;
there I’ll serve my King forever
in that holy place.
Thank you, O my Father,
for giving us your Son,
and leaving your Spirit
till the work on earth is done.

Words and Music by Melody Green, 1982

 


I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
Job 19:25

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:15

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:31

This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.
Isaiah 48:17

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9 – 11

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

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Revelation 22:4


 

As we enter the Lenten season we begin to prepare ourselves for the remembrance of Holy Week and the joyous celebration of Easter. With this in mind I want to take these weeks to reflect on the incredible gift that God has given us through his sacrifice and resurrection. The gift of redemption, for those who have put their faith in Christ have a Redeemer. We are reminded of this in the simple, and beautiful words of “There is a Redeemer.”

The words begin by reflecting on different titles for Jesus. The first verse reads “There is a Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son; precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One.” When we look at each of these titles, we begin to have revealed a full picture of our Savior.

We have a “Redeemer”, the one who paid the price we owed and restores us to fellowship with God. Job, who had everything taken from him, could stand and say in chapter 19, verse 25, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”

“Jesus”, the name we know the Savior by, is in fact the Greek form of the name Joshua (Yeshua) meaning Salvation. This is why the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

It continues with the words, “God’s own Son”. Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 4:15 tells us that “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”

Next we find the title, “Lamb of God.” A direct reference to the sacrificial system for making atonement for sin. In John 1:29 we read the words proclaimed by the John the Baptist when he “saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins in our lives.

“Messiah” and its Greek counterpart, Christ, refer to the prophesied deliverer of Israel. The anointed one of God. Jesus is the prophesied deliverer. John 20:31 tells us,“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

He is the “ Holy One”, the one who is set apart. Isaiah 48:17 tells us, “This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” God Himself is the Holy One.

Each of these titles carries great weight and meaning. Each tells us of the characteristics of Jesus. When we take time to understand these titles we come to a profound understanding that He has a “name above all names.” A truth that is shared by Paul in Philippians 2:9 – 11 which says, “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Yes, He is the “Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son; precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One.” For these reasons and so many more, He is not simply someone to be praise, He is “hope for sinners.” A hope that is founded in His great sacrifice, for he was “slain” that we might live. This is the message of Romans 5:8 which tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is this hope that we can stand in. We can know that we “will see his face” and that we will “serve (our) King forever in that holy place.” A promise to all who believe. As the Bible comes to a close in Revelation 22 we read in verse 4 that, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”

God has given us hope. Hope that is not based in wishful thinking, but in the truth the Jesus is our redeemer. And in a final thought we are reminded that through all of this, we are not left alone. The Holy Spirit dwells within those who have put their trust in Jesus. So we join with other expressing the feeling in our hearts, “Thank you, O my Father, for giving us your Son, and leaving your Spirit till the work on earth is done.”

 

 

Read more about “There is a Redeemer.”

Blessed Be The Name

All praise to Him Who reigns above
In majesty supreme,
Who gave His Son for man to die,
That He might man redeem!
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!

His Name above all names shall stand,
Exalted more and more,
At God the Father’s own right hand,
Where angel hosts adore.
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!

Redeemer, Savior, Friend of man
Once ruined by the fall,
Thou hast devised salvation’s plan,
For Thou hast died for all.
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!

His Name shall be the Counselor,
The mighty Prince of Peace,
Of all earth’s kingdoms Conqueror,
Whose reign shall never cease.
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!
Blessèd be the Name! Blessèd be the Name!
Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!

Words by William H. Clark,
Music by Ralph E. Hudson

 


Blessed be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 113:2

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
Philippians 2:9

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit
1 Peter 3:18

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:6 – 7


 

Now I don’t claim to be an expert at the English language, even though I have spoken it all my life.  Like most of us, my apologies to those of you who are English teachers, we tend to speak without thinking about the rules that go with it. And let’s be honest, there are a lot of rules in the English language.  It is down right confusing at times.  We have different words that mean the same thing such as sad and unhappy. We of course call these synonyms.  There are also words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and mean different things such as there and their. These are homophones.  There are words that are spelled the same and pronounced the same but have different meanings such as fair (just) and fair (carnival). These are homonyms.  Then there is what seems one of the strangest ones of all, words that are spelled the same, but are pronounced differently and have different meanings. We call these homographs. One such example is blessed. In one form it is the past tense of the verb bless, meaning, to consecrate or to make holy.  The other is pronounced bless-ed and is an adjective based on the same root word describing something or someone as being consecrated or holy.  (Okay, maybe I am being a little loose with characterizing this as a homograph, like I said, I am not an expert in English, but it is one of those words that just strikes me.) Our focus is on the second usage which is found in the hymn, “Blessèd Be The Name.”

The theme of the hymn is to focus on one specific characteristic of God, that His name is blessèd. This is not something that is bestowed upon Him, but who He is.  He is holy, consecrated and set apart.  His name is blessèd. So the hymn presents us not with things that make Him blessed, but rather items that demonstrate the truth that He is blessèd.

So the hymn begins with the words, “All praise to Him Who reigns above In majesty supreme, Who gave His Son for man to die, That He might man redeem!” Clark tells us that God truly is set apart from all else.   We can see the evidence laid before us. He reigns supreme and He gave His son. We see this in John 3:16 where we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Who else could make such a sacrifice, only one who is truly blessèd.

The hymn continues “His Name above all names shall stand, Exalted more and more, At God the Father’s own right hand, Where angel hosts adore.” His name is above all and now He sits at the Father’s right hand. Philippians 2:9 tells us that “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” Yet again the evidence shows us that God is blessèd for no other name lives up to His.

And it continues by declaring “Redeemer, Savior, Friend of man Once ruined by the fall, Thou hast devised salvation’s plan, For Thou hast died for all.” He is our Savior and friend who gave his life for all.  We are reminded that “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) He has done what no one else has done, what no one else can do.  Truly He is consecrated for a special purpose.

The hymn echos the words of Isaiah 9:6 – 7  when we sing, “His Name shall be the Counselor, The mighty Prince of Peace, Of all earth’s kingdoms Conqueror, Whose reign shall never cease.” Truly there is no one like Him.  He is set apart, holy.  A Holiness that knows no end.  A truth that the author of Psalm 113 declares in verse 2 were we read, “Blessèd be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forever.”

We are blessed by God. We are made holy in Him.  But He is not made holy, He is not consecrated by anyone else.  He is Holy, set apart, consecrated.  He is blessèd. So we cry out in praise and adoration the words that so many have said, “Blessèd be the Name of the Lord!”

 

 

Read more about “Blessed Be The Name.”

Rise Up

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!

Words by William P. Merrill, 1911
Music by William H. Walter, 1872

 


“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13 – 16

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Luke 10:27


 

It’s an old idiom, “rise up.” To rise up means to come to the surface. It is what happens in a bucket of water when the water has been stirred. As the water comes to a stop, the lighter debris floats to the top. It separates to become evident. The phrase can also be applied to people. It describes the underlying thoughts of people coming to the surface. It is used to describe, taking part in a rebellion or to take a stance in support. The people rose up against the tyranny of the King, They stood up for what was right seeking to change the status quo. It is the meaning behind this idiom that we find presented in Wiliam P. Merrill’s “Rise up, O Men of God.”

The hymn begins, “Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength, To serve the King of Kings.” Here we find the phrase “rise up” applied to the people of God.  But what is it to which we are taking a stance of support and what in the world does,  “have done with lesser things mean”? The answer to both of these questions is found in the remainder of the this stanza.

Our stance of support is “to serve the King of Kings.”  This is not always an easy stance.  It is a stance that we take in the face of a culture that does not stand for God, but for its own selfish interest. We are called to rise up, to make a difference.  Matthew 5:13 – 16 tells us, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are to rise up and impact the world around for God, that He might be glorified.

So what about, “have done with lesser things.” It is an odd phraseology, but the key to understanding it is found in the statement, “Give heart and mind and soul and strength.” You see, we might understand our call to “rise up” but how much do we put into it. Too often we find ourselves giving an  insufficient effort.  We split our energies between several things.  We go through the actions, with out the commitment.  We have not risen up, we have done with lesser things.  But we are to give our all in standing for Christ. This is the greatest commandment that Jesus gave us.  In Luke 10:27 we read, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.'”

Rising up to stand for God is not something for the timid or the faint of heart.  It for those who are willing to put themselves out on a limb. Those who are willing to risk everything for Him. For those who will give every last bit of their being to see the world changed for God. When we rise up we each serve our part to “bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.”

 

 

Read more about “Rise Up O Men of God.”