Did You Know?

Thirteen men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2017.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of March 5-11, 2017, is Matthew 26:36-46.  In this passage, we see that although Jesus is the Son of God, He is also very much the Son of Man.  He is human!  With emotions and weaknesses that we all have!  Can you imagine how you would be acting if you knew that you were to soon die a horrible and excruciating death?

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray.” And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me.”  And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying,“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire.”  And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter,“What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour?  All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Again a second time He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done.”  And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep.  So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words.  Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of especially wicked sinners [whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God].  Get up, let us be going! See, My betrayer is at hand!”  (Matthew 26:26-46, AMP)

 

Have you ever questioned this passage?  It seems abrupt and how could the disciples fall asleep that fast?!  This passage is not a short as it first seems.  Jesus’ prayer went on all night!  We are only given a brief overview of His prayer.  Jesus was continually praying that night; asking His Father for another way!  Jesus was struggling!  He loved His Father, our Father, and wanted to honor Him.  He loved us deeply and wanted to save us.  Jesus’ prayer that night would be worthy of its own book!  We can learn from His brief, but powerfully recorded prayer.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, honestly evaluate your prayer life. 

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of February 26-March 4, 2017, is 1 Corinthians 1:4-17.  Paul begins with a message of thanksgiving.  Paul is thankful to know the church of Corinth.  Any believer would welcome receiving a message of thanksgiving such as this.  Building upon the message of thanksgiving, Paul addresses a troubling issue that has come to his attention, division within the church.

I thank my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, so that in everything you were [exceedingly] enriched in Him, in all speech [empowered by the spiritual gifts] and in all knowledge [with insight into the faith]. In this way our testimony about Christ was confirmed and established in you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift [which comes from the Holy Spirit], as you eagerly wait [with confident trust] for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [when He returns]. And He will also confirm you to the end [keeping you strong and free of any accusation, so that you will be] blameless and beyond reproach in the day [of the return] of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

But I urge you, believers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in full agreement in what you say, and that there be no divisions or factions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your way of thinking and in your judgment [about matters of the faith]. For I have been informed about you, my brothers and sisters, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are quarrels and factions among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you says, “I am [a disciple] of Paul,” or “I am [a disciple] of Apollos,” or “I am [a disciple] of Cephas (Peter),” or “I am [a disciple] of Christ.” Has Christ been divided [into different parts]? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? [Certainly not!] I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say that you were baptized into my name. Now I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know if I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be made ineffective [deprived of its saving power]. (1 Corinthians 1:4-17, AMP)

 

There once was a small, local church.  Its members were like a family.  They diligently studied and taught from Bible, letting it be their guide in all that they did.  The members grew their spiritual gifts, and used those gifts to expand the church, to reach into the community and share the Word of God with more and more individuals.  The church grew until it had thousands of members, with a variety of different spiritual gifts to contribute to and administer their different programs.  But something happened, the members of the church began fighting amongst themselves about who should lead programs and how money should be spent.  The Bible was no longer their guide in all that they did.  The church fractured, until it was a shadow of what it once was.  Unfortunately, this story is all to common.  It is also far from a new occurrence.   Paul recognized that if he did not act, a fracture could and would happen to the church in Corinth.

  

Baptist.  Catholic.  Lutheran.  Nondenominational.  Orthodox.  Evangelicals.  We may differ on meanings of Biblical passages.  We may not agree on how to structure a worship service.  But we all believe in that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, defeated death on the third day, and rose again. We are united in our faith.  This week, we ask that you pray for Christian unity.  As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider who or what is leading your life.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of February 19-25, 2017, is Psalm 22:27-31.  This psalm is commonly referred to as the Psalm of the Cross.  It is a Messianic Psalm, that is a psalm that refers to the life of Jesus Christ.  This psalm refers to His suffering on the cross, however the final verses, the verses chosen for study this week, refers to Jesus’s work on the cross being completed.

 

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow down and worship before You, for the kingship and the kingdom are the Lord’s, and He is the ruler over the nations.  All the mighty ones upon earth shall eat [in thanksgiving] and worship; all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive.  Posterity shall serve Him; they shall tell of the Lord to the next generation.  They shall come and shall declare His righteousness to a people yet to be born—that He has done it [that it is finished]!  (Psalm 22:27-31, AMP)

 

Because Jesus was willing to suffer and die, because Jesus was willing to be cut off from His Father, because Jesus loved each and every one of us, we are all able to be saved from our sins.  Jesus completed His task.  He died and rose again!  Just for you!  Because of Jesus, we can rejoice!  As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this weeks passage, consider what Jesus has done for you.

The Bible passage for mediation, prayer, and reflection, for the week of February 12-18, 2017, is Romans 14:1-4.  The merging of Jewish Christians with Gentile Christians was not an easy process.  Jews were accustomed to following a strict set of laws and continued to follow many of these laws after becoming Christians.  They assumed that all Christians would embrace the laws.  Gentile Christians came from an environment of relative few religious rules.  They were accustomed to great freedoms and were astounded and resentful at being asked to follow the strict rules.  Paul was aware of these differing opinions and did his best to address the problem.

 

As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions.  One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables.  Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him.  ho are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand. (Romans 14:1-4, AMP)

 

Judgement is the theme of this passage.  We should not judge how others choose to worship, for each will be held accountable before the Lord.  Jewish Christians were judging the worship habits of Gentile Christians, who were unfamiliar with worship of the Lord.  Paul is stressing in this passage that one who truly loves the Lord and has their relationship right with Him, would not do anything to drive away those who want to worship the Lord.  They would be willing to help teach and encourage, without passing judgement.  As you meditation on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider if your relationship is right before the Lord.  Do you pass judgement on others?

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection, for the week of February 5-11, 2017, is Genesis 22:1-14.  This passage shows the tremendous faith of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice anything for the Lord.

 

Now after these things, God tested [the faith and commitment of] Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Take now your son, your only son [of promise], whom you love, Isaac, and go to the region of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then he got up and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day [of travel] Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham said to his servants, “Settle down and stay here with the donkey; the young man and I will go over there and worship [God], and we will come back to you.” Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on [the shoulders of] Isaac his son, and he took the fire (firepot) in his own hand and the [sacrificial] knife; and the two of them walked on together. And Isaac said to Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself a lamb for the burnt offering.” So the two walked on together.

 

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood, and bound Isaac his son and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He answered, “Here I am.” The Lord said, “Do not reach out [with the knife in] your hand against the boy, and do nothing to [harm] him; for now I know that you fear God [with reverence and profound respect], since you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son [of promise].” Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son. So Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide. And it is said to this day, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be seen and provided.” (Genesis 22:1-14, AMP)

 

Isaac was the son for which Abraham had waited 100 years!  And now he was being asked to sacrifice him!  Abraham trusted the Lord.  He trusted the Lord’s promise that he would father a nation, but how was that to happen if he had to sacrifice his son?!  Abraham loved his son, however he also wanted to honor the Lord.  Can you imagine what Abraham must have been thinking during his three-day trek to where the alter was to be built?  Can you imagine his heartbreak and anxiety?  Can you imagine Isaac’s horror and terror when he realized he was to be the sacrifice?

 

Isaac, the son of Abraham, was not sacrificed that day.  Thousands of years later, Jesus, the Son of God would be sacrificed for the sins of the world.  It is believed that Jerusalem was built on the same mountain as Isaac was almost sacrificed!  Here, at the beginning of the Israeli nation, God was foretelling the salvation that was to come.   God was also testing Abraham’s faith.  Abraham would go on to not only father a nation, but to become an example as a pillar of faith for all.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider what is the Lord is asking you to sacrifice for him?  Look to this passage for encouragement and motivation to stay strong, for the Lord has a plan.

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