Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Perfect Name for Sunday

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day..." (Rev. 1:10).

Someone has said, "Our great-grandfathers called it the holy Sabbath; our grandfathers, the Sabbath; our fathers, Sunday; but today we call it the weekend."

But John, on the island of Patmos near the end of the first century, calls Sunday the Lord's Day.  The perfect name for it.  The Holy Spirit, the Divine Author of all Scripture, calls it the Lord's Day.  And may it be said of us, "They called it the Lord's Day."  We can do this!

Why is Sunday called the Lord's Day?  Because on it the Lord Jesus Christ rose.  And so Sunday, as one scholar has put it, "was set aside from the very beginning as the most suitable day for Christian worship."

"The Lord's Day" is a call to the Christian congregation to come together around Christ who says, "I died, and behold I am alive forevermore" (Rev. 1:18).  Nothing could be more beautiful and blessed than the Lord's Day in the Lord's House with the Lord's Word, the Lord's Prayer, and the Lord's Supper!*

What would happen if we started using this perfect name?  If we said to each other, "See you on the Lord's Day!"?  I'll tell you what would happen.

Attendance would go up.  Faith, hope, and love would grow stronger.  And our congregations would come alive at the feet of the Lord who is "alive forevermore"!

*It's worth noting that the Greek word for "Lord's" is used only twice in the New Testament: here in Rev. 1:10 ("the Lord's Day") and in 1 Cor. 11:20 ("the Lord's Supper").

Monday, April 22, 2019

See It?

Take a moment to study this picture.

It was taken on Easter 2013 at an outdoor sunrise devotion.  We sang, prayed, and read Luke 24:1-12, including:

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb...."

Do you see what we saw?  The strange cloud just to the left of the sunrise now seemed to be "the stone rolled away from the tomb."  It was incredible!  Then someone suggested that the pole in the foreground resembled a cross!

"Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen; He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell..." (Mark 16:6-7).

Friday, April 12, 2019

Encouraging Jesus

Something to think about on Holy Tuesday, April 16.

"He looked up..." (Luke 21:1).

In addition to the words of Jesus, we should listen to His body language.  In recording the story of the widow's offering, Luke writes that Jesus "looked up," and that's when He saw the poor widow putting in her two mites.  But it begs the question: Why was He looking down in the first place?

My guess (because we are not told) is that He was sad and wondering whether God's love was making a difference in anyone's heart!  Consider the events that surround the story of the widow: He could only weep over Jerusalem (19:41-44); the temple was being misused (19:45-46); priests and scribes questioned His authority (20:1-8); they tried to "catch Him in something He said" (20:19-26); Sadducees denied the resurrection (20:27-40); He condemned the scribes (20:45-47); He foretold the destruction of the temple (21:5-9) and city (21:20-24); He foretold wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and persecution (21:10-19); they "were seeking how to put Him to death" (22:1-2); and "Satan entered into Judas" to betray Him (22:3-6).

(And I talk about having a rough week!)

The lone bright spot: this widow and her offering.  It wasn't much but it was everything.  And it was all our Lord needed to see.  I sense that it picked Him up - this humble, true faith and love of one person.

It happened on Tuesday of Holy Week.  That's when Jesus looked up and saw her.  What I like to believe is that three days later she looked up and saw Him giving His offering.

But the lesson here would be that we have the ability to encourage Jesus.  He must be in need of it.  He has had to witness the sin, unbelief, and deep sorrows of many centuries.  You can do something about it.

When you give from your heart out of love for the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, you, small though you are, strengthen the heart of the living Lord!  Just like the widow.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Fourteen Words (Part 2)

"Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven."

The only thing more important than prayer is to become silent so as to hear the Word of God - the voice of God from the lips of Jesus.

When you pray, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner," what does this God say back to you?  His reply is found in Matthew 9:2: "Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven."  Understand that you are the one to whom these words are addressed.

"Take heart."  This means a cheerful, confident heart, full of courage.  For when you hear and believe that your sins are forgiven, then nothing big or small can take away your joy and strength.  Your heart becomes a place in which a bright morning sun is always rising.  Yes, the trials still come, but the verdict is in and it is final: Your sins are forgiven.

"Child."  Use the word "child" to remember your Baptism.  And will not the one who calls you "child" always love and care for you in every way?  Other times, in place of the word "child," use your full first name.  This can be a very powerful experience!  Try it: "Take heart, [name], your sins are forgiven."

So now you have your seven words: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."  And God has His: "Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven."

Enter into conversation with Him often.