1365.) Psalm 51

July 25, 2014

Psalm 51 (New International Version)

This week is a collection of some of my favorite Bible passages.

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Detail of “David’s Punishment” by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (German artist, 1794-1872), woodcut illustration

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Music:

“Miserere,” by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), is a setting of Psalm 51 composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel as part of the Tenebrae service on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week.  HERE  it is, sung by The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.  This piece always brings tears to my eyes.

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How to confess our sins? 
David shows us in this prayer.  He prays a prayer of–

1) confession.  No downplaying; David freely admits his sin.  God is not interested in our excuses, but He is always willing to hear us say we are sorry for our sins.

2) contrition.  David can’t stop thinking about his sin, or get away from it.  Sin should bother us.

3) cleansing.  Sin is a stain, an unseen poison.  He needs the burden lifted.  The only cure is the blood of Jesus.

4) consecration.  David wants the joy of salvation again.  To be consecrated is to be set apart for God’s work, and David is eager to tell others what God has done for him.

–from Steve Patton

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

whiter than snow

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

Wait — but God had instructed the Israelites to bring him sacrifices and burnt offerings!  So if that type of offering no longer works, then what?  What can we bring to God as a sacrifice, which the Lord will deem acceptable and excellent?  What does God want from us?

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

God asks that I bring him a broken heart, broken by my sorrowful awareness of my own sins and the sins of the world.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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Music:

“Have mercy on me, O God . . .”  David begins his confession.  In doing so, he teaches us how to confess our own sins to the Lord.  And the Lord has promised that our repentance will be met by his mercy.  HERE  is “Thy Mercy”  sung by Sandra McCracken.

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Have mercy tulips.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/havemercyonmeogodaccordingtoyoursteadfastlove.jpg
Carolsfeld.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/images/carolsfeld_davids_punishment420x376.gif
whiter than snow.    http://crystallewis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/img_0446.jpg
Create in me a clean heart.    http://bibledaily.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/psalm51c.jpg
Restore to me the joy and rainbow.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm51_12ljm.jpg
Man with a broken heart.    http://restoringwholeness.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/young-man-kneeling.jpg

1364.) Acts 3

July 24, 2014

Acts3 Crippled-Man

Acts 3 (New Living Translation)

This week is a collection of some of my favorite Bible passages.

Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money.

3. Peter heals

6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (English Standard Version)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

“Far more abundantly” God has in mind,  for the beggar and for us (and yes, that includes you!) —

“Imagine yourself as a living house.  God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.  He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.  What on earth is He up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.  You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.  He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

—C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Peter Preaches in the Temple

12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this.

Peter knows that simply seeing the miracle is not enough to bring the people to faith.  As Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” So Peter tells the story, the only story that can save lives.

This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.

Psalm 103:1-5 (The Message)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 Moses said,

‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’

23 Then Moses said,

‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’

24 “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. 25 You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”

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Music:

The book of Acts has been called “The Gospel of the Resurrection.”   Peter reminds the crowd again and again that he is a witness to the fact that God raised Christ from the dead.  This song captures some of that confidence!   “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow”

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
a lame beggar.  http://ap.lanexdev.com/user_images/Discovery/image/magazine/2013/07/Crippled-Man-iStock_000003227021Large.png
Peter heals the crippled beggar.   http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Standard%20Bible%20Story%20Readers,%20Book%20Four/images/scan0051.jpg
Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria.     http://mipper.com/images/ill_aff/Belvedere-Palace.jpg
Bless the Lord, o my soul.    http://www.proclaiminghim.com/ph/images/stories/BlessTheLord.jpg

1363.) Luke 15

July 23, 2014

“The Prodigal Son” by Liz Lemon Swindle

Luke 15 (New International Version)

This week is a collection of some of my favorite Bible passages.

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.    Luke 19:10

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

1Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

“The Lost Sheep” by Alford Usher Soord.

3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

Isaiah 53:6 (English Standard Version)

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

a stained glass window in St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church, Anna, Ohio

8“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

“The Prodigal Son Taking Leave of his Father,” by Mary Ann Willson, 1815 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

11Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“The Prodigal Son” by John Macallen Swan, 1888 (Tate Collection, London)

17“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Malachi 3:17 (Amplified Bible)

And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

“The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt, 1669 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

“Often I have asked friends to give me their first impression of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son. Inevitably, they point to the wise old man who forgives his son: the benevolent patriarch.

“The longer I look at ‘the patriarch’, the clearer it becomes to me that Rembrandt has done something quite different from letting God pose as the wise old head of a family. It all began with the hands. The two are quite different. The father’s left hand touching the son’s shoulder is strong and muscular. The fingers are spread out and cover a large part of the prodigal son’s shoulder and back. I can see a certain pressure, especially in the thumb. That hand seems not only to touch, but, with its strength, also to hold. Even though there is a gentleness in the way the father’s left hand touches his son, it is not without a firm grip.

“How different is the father’s right hand! This hand does not hold or grasp. It is refined, soft, and very tender. The fingers are close to each other and they have an elegant quality. It lies gently upon the son’s shoulder. It wants to caress, to stroke, and to offer consolation and comfort. It is a mother’s hand….

“As soon as I recognized the difference between the two hands of the father, a new world of meaning opened up for me. The Father is not simply a great patriarch. He is mother as well as father. He touches the son with a masculine hand and a feminine hand. He holds, and she caresses. He confirms and she consoles. He is , indeed, God, in whom both manhood and womanhood, fatherhood and motherhood, are fully present. That gentle and caressing right hand echoes for me the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you. Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

–from Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son:  A Story of Homecoming, based on his contemplation of the painting by Rembrandt, above.

21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Proverbs 28:13    (NRSV)

No one who conceals transgressions will prosper,
but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

“The Prodigal Daughter” by Charlie Mackesy

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

Jesus came into our broken world to provide a way to get the prodigals back home.  He wanted to purge the rebellion from our hearts so we would not only come home, but also enjoy being home, so we would rejoice in the privilege of being a part of the family we had abandoned.  Jesus paid the price for our return and healing.

As the years have passed, a conviction has deepened in my soul that Jesus wants to do far more for us than most of us imagine.  So often we think in quite selfish terms about what Christ came to do.  Yet in fact Christ died to do more for human beings than we have ever dreamed.  If we do not dream a little bigger, we are never going to experience the deeper reality of his presence.

The reality is that Christ came to do more than just keep us out of hell.  He wants to develop a personal relationship with each human being for whom he died.  He died to save me not just from my sins, but also from my own self.  “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Self-interest is the ultimate definition of sin, and the Cross holds the power to set each person free from self-interest.  A French Catholic priest in the court of King Louis the XIV one day said, “Oh, God, isn’t there anybody left anywhere who loves you just for who you are?  Can’t you find one such person?  And if you can’t find one, couldn’t you make one?”  That is why Jesus went to the Cross:  to bring me to the place where I love him simply because of who he is and not because of what he can do for me.

The ending of the story of the Prodigal Son would have been terribly disappointing if the son had merely returned for more of his inheritance without an apology to and an interest in his father.  Once the father saw his son coming home, the relationship between father and son became the thing of paramount importance, and the reader forgets that the son ever needed anything except his father.

25“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “

The opening sentence from the short story “The Capital of the World” by Ernest Hemingway:

Madrid is full of boys named Paco, which is the diminutive of the name Francisco, and there is a Madrid joke about a father who came to Madrid and inserted an advertisement in the personal columns of El Liberal which said: PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA” and how a squadron of Guardia Civil had to be called out to disperse the eight hundred young men who answered the advertisement.

. . . all seeking reconciliation with their fathers.

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Music:

Chris Rice and his moving “Untitled Hymn.”

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Swindle.    http://www.markmallett.com/blog/wp-images/Prodigal3.jpg
Soord.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/d2dd5-the2blost2bsheep2ba2bu2bsoord.jpg
woman sweeping for coin.    http://crosstippedchurches.blogspot.com/2009/04/parable-of-lost-coin.html
Willson.    http://americanartgallery.org/uploads/pictures/005914/x_mawillson10.jpg
Swan.    http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=14076&searchid=7991&tabview=image
Rembrandt.    http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rembrandt/rembrandt139.html
Mackesy.     http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/00c17-prodigaldaughter.jpg
“The Prodigal Son” by Nigel Cox.    http://www.traceymcnee.com/artists/images/cox/web/the_prodigal_son_large.jpg

1362.) 1 John 1

July 22, 2014

Another John!  Portrait by Thomas Sadler, 1684.  John Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English preacher and writer, most famous for writing “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” a book which has been translated into over 200 languages.  In the story, the protagonist, Christian, journeys from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, while facing many trials and difficulties.

1 John 1 (New Living Translation)

This week is a collection of some of my favorite Bible passages.

Introduction

1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

John was one of the original twelve disciples; at the time of this letter, he is an older man and perhaps the last remaining apostle.  He writes with authority to his “dear children” to assure them of the truth of their faith in Jesus Christ.  Can you hear the resonance between this opening and the Gospel of John chapter 1?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.”

2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

How is it possible for one to identify with God in such a way that one can share in the fellowship of the Trinity without actually becoming God?  How is this closeness compatible with the incredible otherness between human beings and God?  In Islam there is no possibility of such friendship; God is completely other and cannot have close interaction with human beings.  On the other hand, in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and in New Age philosophies, human beings can so completely identify with God that they become part of the “divine soul.”  The distinction between humans and God blurs until humanity is lost in divinity.  Neither of these approaches is consistent with biblical thought about humanity’s relationship to God, which allows for both fellowship and distinction.

In Christianity a person can be in God but can never be God.  Otherness of being is never lost.  God can become human, and at one moment of history he did become human, but the process can never take place in the other direction.  The basis of this is the Trinity, in which three persons maintain their total distinctiveness and yet have complete unity.  It is a unity with otherness.  It is a mingling without the formation of a compound.  The fellowship and unity between members of the Godhead is ontological—it is part of their essence.  The fellowship between human persons is psychological and ethical.  The fellowship between human persons and the Trinity is conditional.    We can have fellowship with God while he retains his otherness and we retain our personal identity.  Our fellowship with God makes us more truly human than we have ever been before.  It heals our humanity and completes our personhood.

4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

Living in the Light

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

_________________________

Music:

Written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick — “Shine, Jesus, Shine.”

_________________________

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

“Let us gaze at the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to His Father, because, poured out for our salvation, it brought the grace of repentance to all the world.”

–Clement, early Church Father

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

“If you have sinned, do not lie down without repentance; for the want of repentance after one has sinned makes the heart yet harder and harder.”

–John Bunyan

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Bunyan.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/John_Bunyan_by_Thomas_Sadler_1684.jpg
symbol of the Trinity.    http://threes.com/cms/images/stories/food/pretzel/trinitysymbol.jpg
the blood of Jesus.   https://afruitinseason.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/the-blood-of-jesus-takes-my-sins-away.jpg

1361.) Mark 5

July 21, 2014

“Raising of Jairus’ Daughter” by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, 1871 (The Museum of the Academy of the Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia)

Mark 5 (New Living Translation)

This week is a collection of some of my favorite Bible passages.

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man

1 So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. 3 This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.

6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”

9 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.

11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby.

12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”

13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.

They cared more for their swine than for their souls, more for bacon than for true belief.

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him.

“That is a striking name for a man, ‘he that had been possessed with the devil.’ It would stick to him as long as he lived, and it would be a standing sermon wherever he went. He would be asked to tell the story of what he used to be, and how the change came about. What a story for any man to tell!”

–C. H. Spurgeon

19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.

John Oxenham wrote a short and poignant poem about this occasion — read it  HERE.

Jesus Heals in Response to Faith

21 Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. 22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23 pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

24 Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Matthew 9:20 says she touched the hem of His garment, and that actually means one of the borders of the outer garment that all Jews wore.  Barclay says, “Every devout Jew wore an outer robe with four tassels on it, one at each corner. These tassels were worn in obedience to the command in Numbers 15:38-40, and they were to signify to others, and to remind the man himself, that the wearer was a member of the chosen people of God.”

29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

“Faith that Heals” by Darlene Slavujac

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

St. Augustine said of this story, “Flesh presses, faith touches” — and Jesus can tell the difference.

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

This is the only time recorded in the Scriptures that Jesus ever used this term “daughter.”

35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”

36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.

“The raising of Jairus’ daughter” by Edwin Long

41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

_________________________

Arwoods

The account of Jesus raising the little girl is a story with great personal meaning to me.  Twice I have sat at my daughter’s bedside in a hospital, fearing that she would die, thinking of this story, praying to the Lord to “heal her, so she may live.”  The first time Maureen was 11 months old and required open-heart surgery.  The second time she was in first grade and had contracted Toxic Shock Syndrome.  Both times the Lord heard my cry and answered with kindness.  How grateful I am that now she is alive and well, married to a man who loves her and mothering the sweetest children ever!  Here’s a picture of Maureen, my miracle child, with husband Will and kids Liam and Calli.

_________________________

Music:

God, there is none like You!  Because of You and Your grace, we are alive!  “You Alone”  by David Crowder.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Polenov.     http://allart.biz/up/photos/album/P/Polenov_Vasily/raising_jairus_daughter_1871.jpg
pigs.    http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/piggy.jpg
bacon.    http://www.impactwatch.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/bacon_slices.jpg
Slavujac.    http://www.biblicalartist.net/mywebsite/faith700.jpg
Long.     http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jairus-daughter-edwin-long.jpg

1360.) Psalm 149

July 18, 2014

Ps149 dance

Psalm 149 (ESV)

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Ps149 water dance

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.

For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people – Let them rejoice on this account. He loves them; he approves their conduct; he bestows his favors upon them. All this should add to their joy, and fill their hearts with gladness. The Hebrew word here rendered “taketh pleasure” conveys the idea of complacency, satisfaction, delight. It is the opposite of being pained or offended. God has complacency in his people. He delights in their welfare; he delights in doing them good.

–Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834]

Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.

200066555-001

Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

Ps149 God be praised_________________________

Music:

HERE  is some sacred dance on a beach.  Only in heaven will I have any chance of being so graceful in movement!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Let them praise His name in a dance.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/e4/f6/c5/e4f6c55fa49c89a39252480afb9abde9.jpg
Children dancing in the water.    http://ih1.redbubble.net/image.12398342.5366/flat,550×550,075,f.jpg
smiling woman in hospital bed.    http://cache2.asset-cache.net/gc/200066555-001-elderly-woman-smiling-lying-in-hospital-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=TaG4inCydQFz%2BqpQhUywYVDg5CKDVWRJebSmp1qyJVKpXZ3pTot8B4vpANOMD5ZO
God be praised.    http://media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com/236x/21/5c/61/215c610736f74198a3ff0c52c5c43380.jpg


1359.) Malachi 4

July 17, 2014

Mala4 flowers sky

Malachi 4  (ESV)

The Great Day of the Lord

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.

Mala4 healing wings
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

–Charles Wesley, 1739

You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

The last few words of the Old Testament are a call back to the Law, because under the Old Covenant people related with God on the basis of Law. Thank God for the New Covenant — for the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.

It is significant that in these closing words of the Old Testament, God makes reference to both Moses and Elijah. They both met God at Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:1; 1 Kings 19:8-18). They also both met Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5).

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers,

Mala4 fathers children

. . . to their earthly fathers and, more importantly, to their Heavenly Father . . .

lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Clearly Malachi’s message says, “Unfinished.”  The rebuilding of the temple in the postexilic period did not usher in the kingdom of God. But Malachi heightened Jewish expectations by engendering a fear of judgment and a hope of healing.

Christians believe that fulfillment of these expectations comes in at least two stages:  the First Advent of Christ, providing salvation for all who believe in him; and the Second Advent, bringing the final judgment and ultimate salvation.  Malachi, like the other prophets, does not make this distinction.  Rather, he sees the near and the distant in a single view.  Further uncovering of God’s plan had to await the new revelation of God in Christ, as heralded and interpreted in the New Testament.

–from “Malachi” in Old Testament Survey, by William Sanford Lasor, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush

The End of the Book of Malachi
and
The End of the Old Testament

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Music:

HERE  is Robin Mark and “Days of Elijah.”

This song mentions Christ “shining like the sun,” as in Malachi 4:2 above. The song also says that we are the voice in the desert crying “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”  This is an obvious reference to John The Baptist, who is prophesied of in Malachi 4:5 — “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:”

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Malachi 4:2.    http://i805.photobucket.com/albums/yy331/tdhack99/christian_malachi_4_2_1.jpg
the sun of righteousness.    http://truebeautyministries.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/sun-of-righteousness-healing-in-his-wings-malachi-4-222.jpg
fathers and children.    http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/236x/fe/3d/ff/fe3dff58d6389281d8e7ed068b3a11f7.jpg

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