Final Orders

April 28, 2014

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:33-35

“Clean up the kitchen after you eat. Feed the dog and let him out. Make sure you get your homework finished and get to bed by 9:00.” Similar instructions are given to responsible children in countless households by parents who are about to leave them home alone for an evening.

Jesus gave his disciples some instructions when he knew that he would be leaving them soon. His instructions were very simple: “Love one another.” By dealing with one another in love, not only would the followers of Jesus be obeying his command, they would also be making it clear to others exactly who they are – disciples of Jesus.

What is this love that we are to have for one another? Jesus tells us that it is to be the same kind of love that he has for us. His love caused him to go to the cross and give up his life for us so that we don’t have to be punished for our sins. His love focused on our greatest need and was willing to do whatever it took to meet it even if that meant he would have to suffer tremendous pain and even die.

Because of his love for us and what that love caused him to do, we know that our sins have been forgiven, and our relationship with God restored. Such wonderful news motivates us to want to live for Jesus, and he tells us how to do so: “Love one another.”

By lifting our eyes off of ourselves to see others and their needs, and then working to meet those needs even if it means personal sacrifice on our part, we obey our Savior’s command to love one another. When we do, other people will notice that there is something different about us. They will recognize that we are disciples of Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, my Savior, thank you for loving me enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. Help me to show that same sacrificial love to others that it may be evident to them that I follow and obey you. Amen.

 

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Second Sunday of Easter

April 27, 2014

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What Happened? Christ is not in the Tomb!

April 21, 2014

Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. – Luke 24:12

I was driving into St. Louis. Suddenly I noticed three police cars speed by with their lights flashing and sirens wailing. Soon these were followed by two fire trucks. The procession came to an end with two ambulances. Since they quickly disappeared I could only wonder, “What happened?” Soon I came to understand what did happen. I slowly passed by the scene of a multi-car accident. Now, I knew what happened because I witnessed the scene.

While seeing often leads to believing, it didn’t help Peter right away. After he arrived at the tomb, he peered into the empty cavity. He saw the strips of linen where Jesus’ body had been. Still he couldn’t believe his eyes. He walked away wondering what happened.

I face the same confusion. Through the words of the Bible I am invited to the empty tomb, and I am invited to look inside. There I see the strips of linen. There I see the place where Jesus’ lifeless body was laid. What I don’t see is Jesus. If I try to rely only on my eyes, I will remain like Peter. I will wonder what happened and remain confused about Jesus and his precious work.

I need to rely on the Bible to find out what happened. God’s Word tells me Jesus went to his death and the grave to secure my freedom from the punishment I deserved. Everything God the Father required, Jesus fulfilled fully and perfectly. His proclamation prior to his death is my certainty: “It is finished.”

God’s Word also tells me Jesus rose from the grave and proclaimed he is alive. With his resurrection he assures me I can put my faith in him and trust all he has done. The proclamation at his resurrection is my certainty: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

The benefit of Jesus’ work is mine through faith. This faith, worked by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, takes hold of everything Jesus said and did. It removes all doubt. It even tells me I am his now and forever. Equally important is the confidence I can have that Jesus always stands by what he says. I do not have to rely on sight. Nor do I ever have to wonder what happened. I know. Jesus rose from the grave. The tomb is empty. Life is mine.

 Prayer: O blessed Savior, send me your Holy Spirit to strengthen my faith. Use your Word of Truth to remove all doubt. Give me the confidence to know you are my living and loving Savior. Amen.

 


The Resurrection of Our Lord

April 20, 2014

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Good Friday

April 18, 2014

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Maundy Thursday

April 17, 2014

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The Proper Attitude

April 14, 2014

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:5-11

How much the Holy Spirit packs into these words he gave the Apostle to write! Here’s the wonder of what our Savior did.

First, note who Jesus is. He is God. But he did not come to this earth parading his almighty splendor. He came as a servant to do his Father’s will. Rather than displaying his equality with the Father, he became obedient to death, even death on a cross! How he humbled himself!

But why? What led him to the cross? Nothing from us attracted God’s favor. But despite the sinners we are, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). Jesus came because of his gracious love that we in no way merit or deserve.

What did he accomplish on the cross? “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7). He ransomed sinners, because he took the place of every human being. That’s why, although he is God, Jesus also became human, like us in every way but without sin. He humbled himself to death on the cross as our Substitute to pay for our sins and redeem us.

How can you be sure? Because the Father raised Jesus from the dead. “God exalted him to the highest place.” He accepted Jesus’ death as payment in full for your sins. Believe this Good News.

Now as you follow Jesus, humbly serve others with the same attitude as his. For his cross has made things right between you and God. And he will take care of you no matter what others do to you, for all must bow before him.

 Prayer: Dear Jesus, let my heart ponder your cross and my life glorify your Father. Amen.