Good for the Worst

God Almighty, Lord of Heaven & Earth, God-Who-Sees, God-Who-Provides, Judge & Counselor, our sinful lays before You revealed, nothing is hidden, everything is known to You. The darkest corners of our hearts & the false impressions we put on to impress others are exposed for what they are in Your sight. There are no secrets we can keep from You, nowhere we can run or hide from Your gaze. You know our going in & our coming out, our lying down & our rising up again. Grant us this mercy today, remind us of Your best, the good You have provided because of our worst. Let us see You & be reminded of our own condition in the light of Your glory. Let us remember today, pace ourselves with the footsteps of Jesus along the Way of Suffering & the Hill of the Skull. May we be present there today & turn our hearts heavenward. Remind us, sweet Jesus, of Your love, mercy & grace over us. Forgive us our deep failings, every one & restore our hearts with Your blood & Spirit. We pray this in the power of Your precious Name, Jesus, amen.

Read slowly.
Close Your eyes & imagine at the paragraph breaks.
Be present, an observer in the crowd today.
Walk through today aware of what He did for you as your day progresses.

Luke 22:54-23:56

(Friday, Early Morning)
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”  And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”  And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.

 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”  And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

(Friday, Morning)
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
  And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”  And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”  But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

(Friday, About 9am)
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Friday, noon)
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

(Friday, 3pm)
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
(Friday, ~6pm)



Acts 13:13-41 // Remembering our story

“13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”
16 Then Paul stood up and motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors, exalted the people during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty arm. 18 And for about 40 years He put up with them in the wilderness; 19 then after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land to them as an inheritance. 20 This all took about 450 years. After this, He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for 40 years. 22 After removing him, He raised up David as their king and testified about him: I have found David the son of Jesse, a man loyal to Me, who will carry out all My will.
23 From this man’s descendants, according to the promise, God brought the Savior, Jesus, to Israel. 24 Before He came to public attention, John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 Then as John was completing his life’s work, he said, “Who do you think I am? I am not the One. But look! Someone is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on His feet.”
26 Brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God, the message of this salvation has been sent to us. 27 For the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers, since they did not recognize Him or the voices of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled their words by condemning Him. 28 Though they found no grounds for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have Him killed. 29 When they had fulfilled all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and put Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead, 31 and He appeared for many days to those who came with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people. 32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. 33 God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm:
“You are My Son;
today I have become Your Father.”
34 Since He raised Him from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, “I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings made to David.” 35 Therefore He also says in another passage, “You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay.” 36 For David, after serving his own generation in God’s plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed. 37 But the One God raised up did not decay. 38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, 39 and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. 40 So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
41 “Look, you scoffers,
marvel and vanish away,
because I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will never believe,
even if someone were to explain it to you.”

Acts 13:13-41

For the Jewish people, it was common practice to look back and remember the history of God’s interaction with them. It reminded them of what God had done, what He had saved them from and how He had been at work throughout their whole history. Every year, as a part of their Passover celebration, they would recountt this story, and be thankful for what God had done.

It would probably be a good idea to to the same for our own lives today. Thank back through your own life. Remember where God has shown you mercy, grace and celebrate His handiwork. Remember His goodness and be thankful. Remember your own sin & weaknesses & ask God to continue to guard your heart and to grow you in wisdom, faith and understanding.

When we know our own story by heart, it’s that much easier to GoLove others because we are very conscious of what God has done for us at any given moment & then He can use that readiness to speak into someone else’s story through us.

It’s definitely worth remembering & celebrating His goodness, mercy & love, wihtout them we would still be subject to His wrath & destined for hell. So be thankful, remember your story today & how God has worked to bring you salvation through Jesus Christ. Write it down if you need to, but take time today and remember what He has done.

Mark 9:30-32 // Reminders of His purpose

“30 Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but He did not want anyone to know it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after He is killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.”

Mark 9:30-32

Several times throughout His ministry, Jesus gave prophetic glimpses to His disciples as to what was going to happen to Him. He did this for multiple reasons, but one of the most obvious reasons was to keep their hearts and minds on track with God’s plan. It would be very easy t want what the crowds wanted, to desire Jesus as a physical, earthly King right then and there. It would have been normal to want freedom from the Romans, but they would then still be slaves to sin. 

Jesus was guiding them, preparing them, and helping them to develop a kingdom mindset that was based on His Kingdom and not on thier understanding of what the Messiah was ‘supposed’ to do.  What they wanted now would have only left them with a cheap imitation of what was really on the way. 

We need to thank Jesus for these times where He saves us from our own desires and keeps our hearts and minds on track with what really matters. We have dreams and goals and desires, and that’s fine, but they need to begin and end in God’s perfect will. 

Taking the call to GoLove seriously is not an option for the Christian. It is part of our life in Christ just as much as our salvation. It belongs to all of us. But sometimes we get drugged into silence by the things of this earth, the desire for more, for entertainment and comfort, and we leave behind the will and heart of God for a cheap imitation of Kingdom life. God will continue to warn and discipline and redirect us until that day Christ returns for us, but we shouldn’t want to press that envelope. Instead, we take Jesus’ warnings and redirections and listen to them, changing our understanding accordingly and pursuing the plan Go has laid out before us, trusting in Him.

Why debate Baptism? Why rely on works? // Galatians 3

“For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Galatians 3:18-29 ESV

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

There is a video floating around on Facebook right now from an old sermon by Francis Chan. It’s a 6 minute clip from the sermon where he talks about the essential nature of baptism. It’s not something to separate out from the salvation process, it’s not something that was ever intended to be a matter of debate. As we come to Christ, we repent of our sins, are baptized into Him and become His disciples, living daily for Him.

And it’s true. Every time we see someone come to Christ in the New
Testament, they are convicted by what they hear, they are immersed and then they begin their life in Him. From the day of Pentecost, through Phillip and the Etheopian, to the jailer and his family to Cornelius and his family, all we find is this singular pattern:
The Gospel message is presented
They are convicted/cut to the heart by what they hear
They repent and are baptized into Christ
They begin their walk with Him as a apart of His bride, the Church

And that’s really all there is to it. It isn’t complicated, and it was never meant to be complicated. No extra steps, no month of classes ahead of time to make sure they we ready by some human standard, no series of meetings to make sure they understood every nuanced particle of the faith.

“I heard about Jesus and I need to be forgiven. Here is some water, why not right here, right now?”

We cannot earn our salvation, and it doesn’t come from a knowledge of the Law. It is by grace through faith in Christ that we come, baptized into Him to put Him on, rather than our own efforts, and receive His loving mercy in salvation. We cannot debate baptism. It is essential. It is our identifier with Christ, and it is part of the decision that we make as we repent and come to Him.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

There is no room for debate here. Look at Romans 6:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 6:1-11 ESV

Baptism is not a work we do that saves us. It is a grace given to us that participate in with Christ. It is a part of the salvation process, not just a moment in time that saves us that we can then ignore. It’s not an item on our spiritual punchcard to prove we can get into heaven. It is how we identify with Christ in His passion for us, His suffering, death, burial and resurrection, it is where we “put on Christ” to begin our walk with Him. This is what identifies us as heirs of the promise God gave to Abraham, and confirmed in Christ. Scripture calls us co-heirs with Christ, and this comes as we, in grace, come to identify ourselves with Him in baptism. It is essential and it is not debatable. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would even ask if it was…

If we want to put on Christ, then we must be baptized into Him.
This isn’t a work of the Law, but of grace.
It isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card if we choose to ignore it later in life.
It isn’t something we do to earn salvation.
It is our identification with the suffering of Christ and the seal of our union with Him.
It is something done in faith, and as the marker of the beginning of our walk with Him.
It is for everyone who comes to Him, desiring to share in His mission to GoLove all nations in the Name of God, proclaiming the joyful news of the Gospel of love and salvation.

There is plenty more to be said on baptism, but if you are debating taking part in it, the process must begin here.

He has gone on ahead of us

i think zack morris set this one up...

you’ll see this on tv shows & movies sometimes. a man will take a woman out for a walk, or on a date…whatever somewhere nice and unassuming. while they are out, they will ‘just happen to stumble upon’ either a picnic, a romantic dinner or some other such set up, that the man had prepared ahead of time. the woman is pleasantly surprised and impressed that he went to all this trouble, and they then enjoy the effort together and their love increases.

it sounds pretty smarmy, but it works. we like to know that someone cares about us. it’s a double bonus to find out that they will go above and beyond the norm in order to show us that we are important to them. yes, it’s an ego boost, but more than just that, we see further into the depth of their love, and that is always a good thing.

whatever the effort, this kind of preparation is always impressive, and it does show how much someone cares…

bookending Jesus’ passion, we have 2 accounts of Jesus going on ahead to prepare something. the first time, we see that He had prepared for their passover meal. the donkey for the triumphal entry had already been taken care of, and the room was readied for them. Jesus knew that every moment He had remaining with His disciples was important, and didn’t need to be wasted on trying to pull all these details together at the last minute. they would have been distracted and wrapped up in the prep work. So, He set everything up ahead of time (we don’t know how or when) so that these last few days could be spent with them free of any extra hassle. thee days would be hectic and difficult enough on their own.

these events lead up to and through His passion & resurrection (which we just celebrated yesterday.) the next instance of going on ahead Jesus tells us about in John 14. He tells His disciples that He is going on ahead to prepare a place for them, and us, so that where He is, we may also be…

this one isn’t just for a three day stay. this preparation is in anticipation of eternity. this place He prepares is the New Jerusalem. this is so far beyond a romantic dinner, or a surprise getaway. this is the work of God that began with the sacrifice of Jesus, and will consummate with His return to bring us home with Him. we have a glimpse of what He is preparing for us that He has shown us in john’s revelation. suffice it to say, it is beyond our understanding or perceptions, but we know that it has been lovingly done, with us in mind…even though we will never really understand what it is God sees in us.

and in the mean time, while we wait in eager anticipation, God was kind enough to prepare in advance something for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. we have a way to express our love and appreciation for Him up until the time when we will be with Him forever. and that is so awesome…because what couple has a one sided love? how could we wait in anticipation for our groom and act as though we do not care?

so, while we wait, we sing our love song to God, as He has already been singing to us since the creation of the world.

what songs are you putting on your mix tape for God?