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Showing posts from February, 2018

Heart to Heart: Sackcloth and Ashes to Robes of Righteousness

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Joel 2:12–19 “Even now,” declares the Lord,“return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God,for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,declare a holy fast,call a sacred assembly.16 Gather the people,consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders,gather the children,those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his roomand the bride her chamber.17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” 18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity…

Get behind me, Satan!

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Mark 8:31–3831Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law; be killed; and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking plainly to them. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But after turning around and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have your mind set on the things of God, but the things of men.” 34He called the crowd and his disciples together and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36After all, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38In fact, whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, th…

Worship Helps for Lent 3

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Christ chasing the Moneylenders from the Temple Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Worship Theme: For centuries Christians have spent Lent meditating on Jesus’ suffering and death, which atoned for our guilt. Lent is the “serious season” of the church year in which we put extra emphasis on recognizing and confessing our own sins. Congregations with special mid-week services usually keep a somber, reflective tone. The Sundays in Lent, however, serve as “mini Easters”; their readings and hymns bring comfort to the believer who is reflecting on his/her sins and Jesus’ passion. The third Sunday in Lent reminds us of God’s perfect law and his demand that we fear and love him. Thankfully, Jesus has fulfilled God’s law in our place.
Old Testament: Exodus 20:1–17 Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, where you were slaves. 3You shall have no other gods beside me. 4You shall not make any carved image for yourself or a likeness of anything …

Mountain to Mountain: Mount Moriah to Mount Zion

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Between my sophomore and junior years in college, I spent the summer working in Yakima, Washington. I stayed with Joe Johnson, a college classmate and a native of Yakima. One weekend, Joe and I decided to climb one of the smaller mountains in the Mount Rainer National Park. It took us several hours to reach the top of the mountain. It was a hard, sweaty, worthwhile climb. However, we had misjudged how long it would take us to get to the pinnacle of that mountain. So, we only had a few hours to get back down before nightfall. We had to do double-time coming down the mountain. Sliding down loose gravel; holding onto small trees; always watching for loose rocks or dangerous holes. The last hour was the scariest because it got real dark, real fast. We were extremely grateful when we finally made it down the mountain. Joe’s ugly orange pick-up never looked so good. The two of us felt excitement when we started our climb, but were filled with anxiety when we were coming down the mountain. Tho…

Battling temptation in the wilderness

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Mark gives the temptation of Jesus only a few short sentences in his Gospel: “The Spirit immediately sent Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels were serving him.” It goes by so quickly in Mark, you almost miss it. Still dripping wet from His baptism in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit casts Jesus out into the wilderness. Later in Jesus’ ministry, we will hear how Jesus did battle with the devil’s demons by casting them out. Before He can do that, though, the Holy Spirit casts Jesus out to do battle with the demon’s general, Satan, himself. The pages of the Bible are filled with times of testing and tempting. These times are counted in periods of forty. Forty days of pounding rain during the flood. Forty days of Israelite spies infiltrating and inventorying the Land of Canaan. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Forty days that Goliath provoked the cowardly army of Israel. A fort…

Worship Helps for Lent 2

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Jacob’s dream Bartolome Esteban Murillo
Worship Theme: Lent has to last a while and come around every year if for no other reason than this – that it is so hard for us to get the points made so strikingly in Lent. This Sunday we see God’s seriousness in Lent in this: Salvation and suffering go hand in hand, for Jesus and for us too!
Old Testament: Genesis 28:10–17 10Jacob set out from Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11He came to a certain place and decided to spend the night there, because the sun had set. He took one of the stones from that place, put it under his head, and lay down to sleep in that place. 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway set up on the earth with its top reaching to heaven. There were angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13There at the top stood the Lord, who said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. The land on which you are lying, I give to you and to your descendants. 14Your descendants will be like the dust of…