890.) Psalms 107

September 28, 2012

Psalm 107   Good News Translation (GNT)

In Praise of God’s Goodness

“Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal!”
Repeat these words in praise to the Lord,
all you whom he has saved.
He has rescued you from your enemies
and has brought you back from foreign countries,
from east and west, from north and south.

God rescues wanderers.

Some wandered in the trackless desert
and could not find their way to a city to live in.
They were hungry and thirsty
and had given up all hope.
Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.
He led them by a straight road
to a city where they could live.
They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
He satisfies those who are thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

These verses make a lovely table grace:

“We thank the Lord for His constant love,
and the wonderful things He does for us.
He satisfies those who are thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.”

God rescues prisoners.

10 Some were living in gloom and darkness,
prisoners suffering in chains,
11 because they had rebelled against the commands of Almighty God
and had rejected his instructions.
12 They were worn out from hard work;
they would fall down, and no one would help.
13 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.

Romans 6:22

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

14 He brought them out of their gloom and darkness
and broke their chains in pieces.
15 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
16 He breaks down doors of bronze
and smashes iron bars.

God rescues the sick.

17 Some were fools, suffering because of their sins
and because of their evil;
18 they couldn’t stand the sight of food
and were close to death.
19 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

20 He healed them with his command
and saved them from the grave.
21 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
22 They must thank him with sacrifices,
and with songs of joy must tell all that he has done.

God rescues the storm-tossed.

23 Some sailed over the ocean in ships,
earning their living on the seas.
24 They saw what the Lord can do,
his wonderful acts on the seas.

25 He commanded, and a mighty wind began to blow
and stirred up the waves.
26 The ships were lifted high in the air
and plunged down into the depths.
In such danger the sailors lost their courage;
27  they stumbled and staggered like drunks—
all their skill was useless.
28 Then in their trouble they called to the Lord,
and he saved them from their distress.
29 He calmed the raging storm,
and the waves became quiet.
30 They were glad because of the calm,
and he brought them safe to the port they wanted.

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Click  HERE  to hear this passage combined with a story of Jesus from Matthew 8.

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31 They must thank the Lord for his constant love,
for the wonderful things he did for them.
32 They must proclaim his greatness in the assembly of the people
and praise him before the council of the leaders.

33 The Lord made rivers dry up completely
and stopped springs from flowing.
34 He made rich soil become a salty wasteland
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He changed deserts into pools of water
and dry land into flowing springs.

A Prayer for the World
by Rabbi Harold Kushner

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.

Amen.

36 He let hungry people settle there,
and they built a city to live in.
37 They sowed the fields and planted grapevines
and reaped an abundant harvest.
38 He blessed his people, and they had many children;
he kept their herds of cattle from decreasing.

39 When God’s people were defeated and humiliated
by cruel oppression and suffering,
40 he showed contempt for their oppressors
and made them wander in trackless deserts.
41 But he rescued the needy from their misery
and made their families increase like flocks.
42 The righteous see this and are glad,
but all the wicked are put to silence.

43 May those who are wise think about these things;
may they consider the Lord’s constant love.

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Music:

Back to the title, if you will, of this psalm — “In Praise of God’s Goodness.”  This is a piece that sings the same idea.  Delirious (a British Christian rock and modern worship band) and probably their most famous song, “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” from 1994.  Sing along in your heart — it’s good practice for Heaven!

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Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
verse 1.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HR66UXhgl1I/T8FVOogaMzI/AAAAAAAAAeo/7XWH1_rUTtA/s1600/Psalm+107.jpg
breakfast plate.   http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/Photos/37/exps27737_CFT862013D39C.jpg
freedom.    http://jacsgod777.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/freedom-in-christ-copy.jpg?w=360
Jesus healing a blind man.   http://tiberjudy.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/healing-touch-of-jesus.jpg
sailboat.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nQWCqrr96FU/TxIDK-_YtvI/AAAAAAAADaU/eUsmcOk8ZF8/s1600/psalm+107.jpg
Jesus calms the storm.    http://www.valleysprings.org/Websites/valleysprings/Images/Jesus%20Calms%20the%20Storm.jpg
saguaro.   http://www.gospelgifs.com/art_pages_10/images/cact1.gif
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889.) Psalm 106

September 27, 2012

Psalm 106  (ESV)

Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!

Galatians 5:22-23    (NLT)

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you save them,
that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory with your inheritance.

Both we and our fathers have sinned;
we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
did not consider your wondrous works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
and he led them through the deep as through a desert.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Psalm 106:9  —  He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

“Led” means there “caused to go on.”  We all want to go on, not through the shallows but through the depths of prayer.  The wild donkey of the Mexican deserts digs and digs in the sand until it finds water.  It invariably does.  What our wonderful God can do for His donkeys in the natural world He can do for those of us who are just that in the spiritual.

Let us allow all sorts of things to act as reminders, as calls to prayer.  For example, once when held up by traffic on the road, the friend with me talked of someone who was lonely; thereafter, to be held up on the roads reminded me to pray for the lonely of the earth.

Then there is the flash of memory.  A name, place, person, or something seen or heard or read flashes for one second across the mind.  It can be lost or turned to prayer; the choice is with us.

As we go on practicing prayer in this simple way we can trust that He who caused His people to go through the depths as through an open wilderness will cause us also to go through these deeper places of prayer.  The patient Spirit will help us in our weakness, for though we do not know how to pray as we ought, He Himself prays for us (Romans 8:26).

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As a child growing up on an Iowa farm, I was given the task of the family’s ironing (see picture above, ha ha!).  My mother taught me to pray for the person whose clothing I was ironing.  It is a habit I do not choose to break, even though I do precious little ironing these days!

Joyce Meyer suggests hanging plaques of Bible verses around the house, to remind us to pray, to give thanks, to praise, to confess.  Others listen to Christian music as they work at home or as they travel to keep themselves in a prayerful frame of mind and heart.  I encourage us all to be more intentional in taking every thought and every minute captive to Christ, that He may lead us deeper and deeper into fellowship with Him. 

10 So he saved them from the hand of the foe
and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.
11 And the waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them was left.
12 Then they believed his words;
they sang his praise.

13 But they soon forgot his works;
they did not wait for his counsel.
14 But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness,
and put God to the test in the desert;
15 he gave them what they asked,
but sent a wasting disease among them.

I like how the King James Version puts verse 15:

And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

Let us not seek the material gifts if they come without spiritual blessing!  Better a thin body, and a thin pocketbook, than a thin soul!

16 When men in the camp were jealous of Moses
and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord,
17 the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
and covered the company of Abiram.
18 Fire also broke out in their company;
the flame burned up the wicked.

19 They made a calf in Horeb
and worshiped a metal image.
20 They exchanged the glory of God
for the image of an ox that eats grass.

by contemporary artist Wilfried Joye of Belgium

21 They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
25 They murmured in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the Lord.
26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them
that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations,
scattering them among the lands.

Which countries in the world have the largest Jewish population?

According to Wikipedia:  Israel and the USA each have over 5 million Jews.  Next is France, with less than 500,000.  Then Canada, the UK, Russia, Argentina, Germany, and Brazil.

28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
29 they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was stayed.
31 And that was counted to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.

32 They angered him at the waters of Meribah,
and it went ill with Moses on their account,
33 for they made his spirit bitter,
and he spoke rashly with his lips.

34 They did not destroy the peoples,
as the Lord commanded them,
35 but they mixed with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.

from Luther’s Small Catechism:

The First Commandment.

Thou shalt have no other gods.

What does this mean?

Answer:  We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and played the whore in their deeds.

Joining themselves to a false god, they became spiritual adulterers. 

Lord, where am I playing loose with You?  Where do I not fear, love, and trust You above all things?

40 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
41 he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes
and were brought low through their iniquity.

44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
when he heard their cry.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
46 He caused them to be pitied
by all those who held them captive.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord!

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Music:

Jewish music with pictures of synagogues around the world.  The first song is “Oseh Shalom” and the second is “Am Israel Chai.” They are both sung by Sam Glaser who also plays the piano.  Click  HERE  to listen.

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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:
verse 1 with pumpkins.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_UQt1weDeKG4/TKKrF2B60uI/AAAAAAAAAkw/9zryHX58_0Y/s1600/Psalm106_cont8x10.jpg
Girl Ironing, photograph by Russell Lee, Feb. 1939, Harlingen, Texas.   http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/historic_sites/ccc/new_deal_texas_html/media/images/girl_ironing_600x403.jpg
Joye.    http://www.wilfriedjoye.com/images%5Cpsalms%5C2.jpg
menorah.   http://img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a06/kp/l5/music-traditions-sephardic-jews-morocco-1.1-800×800.jpg
idol worship.    http://www.somepcguy.com/FactFantasy/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/idol-worship.png

888.) Matthew 28

September 26, 2012

What Happened on the Cross

by John Damascene (c. 675 – 749)

By nothing else except the death of our Lord Jesus Christ
has death been brought low:

The sin of our first parent destroyed,
hell plundered,
resurrection bestowed,
the power given us to despise the things of this world,
even death itself,
the road back to the former blessedness made smooth,
the gates of paradise opened,
our perfected nature seated at the right hand of God,
and we made children and heirs of God.
.   .   .

Matthew 28   (NRSV)

The Resurrection of Jesus

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Music:

“Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today”  sung by Steve Green.

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After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

28. jesus'_tomb_&_angel_1

from Edges of His Ways,
by Amy Carmichael

Mark 16: 3,4 — [The women] said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?  And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away:  for it was very great.

Matthew 28: 2 — And the angel of the Lord . . . came . . .and sat upon it.

Let us look out for angels when impossible things lie ahead.  Think of impossibilities being turned into seats for angels!  Have we not a wonderful God?  So whatever the difficulty is–something we do not know how to do, or some inward matter–we shall see it rolled away, and more than that, turned to some unexpected good.  I do enjoy that calm word, And the angel sat upon it.

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5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.

There are several examples in the Bible of people being resuscitated before this, such as the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44).  Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected.   Each of them was raised in the same body they died in, and raised from the dead to eventually die again.  Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body, based on our old body, perfectly suited for life in eternity.   Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.

–David Guzik

Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Hymn:  “Go to Dark Gethsemane”  (verse 4)

Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom.
Who has taken him away?
Christ is ris’n!  He meets our eyes.
Savior, teach us so to rise.

–James Montgomery (1771-1854)

The Report of the Guard

11While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

28-6. BC cartoon

The power of God is now and has always been the power to raise us from the dead.  Period.  It is not about us.  It is about God.  Our only role is to stick our feet straight up in the air and admit that without God we might as well be put to bed with a shovel.  Now that is a message that can empty a church out fast.

–from God in Pain, by Barbara Brown Taylor

The Commissioning of the Disciples

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

“We believe in this power, and we rest in it.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“When Christ saith, ‘I will be with you,’ you may add what you will; to protect you, to direct you, to comfort you, to carry on the work of grace in you, and in the end to crown you with immortality and glory. All this and more is included in this precious promise.”

–John Trapp

I CAN TELL MY WORLD about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

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Please share with your online “DWELLING in the Word” Bible-reading community what the Gospel of Matthew has said to your heart, soul, and mind.  Click on  “Leave a Comment”  below.  Thank you!

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Easter lily.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YGz1La85fUI/T2dJ021EYmI/AAAAAAAABlA/Oh2rr7pxwJQ/s1600/Easter+Lily.jpg
angel at the tomb.  http://www.clipartheaven.com/clipart/religion/biblical_scenes/jesus%27_tomb_&_angel_1.gif
Garden Tomb.   http://gointosail.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/garden_tomb_sunshine-729942.jpg
BC cartoon.  http://www.maryannnunez.ws/files/users/d/535D646A34422048E040A8C0AC002D4E/bc_heisrisen.gif
globe.   http://janbierens.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/globe.jpg

887.) Matthew 27

September 25, 2012

contemporary Mexican icon

Matthew 27  (NRSV)

Jesus Brought before Pilate

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

Various scholars on Pontius Pilate:

“Pilate was in fact appointed prefect or procurator by Tiberius Caesar in a.d. 26. Prefects governed small, troubled areas; and in judicial matters they possessed powers like those of the far more powerful proconsuls and imperial legates; in short, they held the power of life and death.”

–D. A. Carson

“The ordinary residence of procurators was Caesarea, on the sea coast, but it was their custom to be in Jerusalem at Passover time, with a detachment of soldiers, to watch over the public peace.”

–F. F. Bruce

“Philo, the ancient Jewish scholar from Alexandria, described Pilate: ‘His corruption, his acts of insolence, his rapine, his habit of insulting people, his cruelty, his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never-ending gratuitous and most grievous inhumanity.'”

–William Barclay

The Suicide of Judas

3When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

5Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

“Judas Hangs Himself” by Jean Colombe, 1485 (Musee Conde, Chantilly)

6But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” 7After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Pilate Questions Jesus

11Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus said, “You say so.”

12But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Barabbas or Jesus?

15Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.

19While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”

“Le Rêve de la femme de Pilate” (“The dream of Pilate’s wife”). Engraving by Alphonse François (1814-1888) after Gustave Doré.

20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.

21The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”

And they said, “Barabbas.”

22Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”

23Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?”

But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

“Jesus Before Pilate” charcoal print by Jan Richardson

24So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

Spurgeon marvels that Pilate could commit murder, and then disclaim it.  Oh, the lies we tell ourselves about our own sins!

25Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

26So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

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Hymn:  “Go to Dark Gethsemane”  (verse 2)

Follow to the judgment hall,
View the Lord of life arraigned.
Oh, the wormwood and the gall!
Oh, the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss;
Learn from him to bear the cross.

–James Montgomery (1771-1854)

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The Soldiers Mock Jesus

“Le Christ aux injures” by contemporary French artist Macha Chmakoff

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Music:

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”  — Fernando Ortega, with verses of Scripture and pictures from the movie The Passion of Christ.

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27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

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Music:

“Were You There when They Crucified My Lord?”  by Johnny Cash and the Carter Family, 1960.

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The Crucifixion of Jesus

“Jesus is nailed to the cross” stained glass window from St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Layton, Utah.

32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.

There is reason to believe that Simon came to know what it really meant to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus, for there is some evidence to suggest that his sons became leaders among the early Christians (Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13).

33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

Psalm 69:21 (New American Standard Bible)

They also gave me gall for my food
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him.

Psalm 22:18 (New American Standard Bible)

They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.

37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

38Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

Psalm 22:7 (New American Standard Bible)

All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head.

The Death of Jesus

45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46And about three o”clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Psalm 22:1 (New American Standard Bible)

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.

47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.

54Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

55Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

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Hymn:  “Go to Dark Gethsemane”  (verse 3)

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb;
There, adoring at his feet
Mark that miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!”  hear him cry;
Learn from Jesus Christ to die.

–James Montgomery (1771-1854)

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The Burial of Jesus

57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The tomb of Jesus, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

The Guard at the Tomb

62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”

65Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” 66So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

from Meditations on the Cross,
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945):

We stand between Good Friday and Easter, the days of God’s overpowering deeds in history, the deeds in which God judgment and grace were made visible to the world:
–Judgment, in those hours when Jesus Christ, the Lord, hung on the cross;
–Grace, in the hour when death was devoured by victory.
No human beings acted here.  No, God alone did this.  He walked the path to the people in endless love.  He judged what is human.  And He gave grace beyond merit.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Mexican crucifixion.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/27-mexican-crucifixion.gif?w=450
Colombe.   http://www.christusrex.org/www2/berry/DB-f147v.jpg
Francois.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_dream_of_Pilate%27s_wife_by_Alphonse_Fran%C3%A7ois.jpg
Richardson.   http://janrichardson.com/lentencharcoalseries.html
Chmakoff.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/27le-christ-aux-injures.jpg?w=450
hand nailed to cross.   http://www.stroseoflimacatholic.net/Station10.jpg
Holy Sepulcher.   http://www.jerusalemshots.com/i/holly_sepulcher/Holly_Sepulcher72.jpg

886.) Matthew 26

September 24, 2012

“Praying at Gethsemane” by Chinese artist He Qi

Matthew 26   (NRSV)

The Plot to Kill Jesus

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.

Psalm 2:2 (New American Standard Bible)

The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed.

5But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

They didn’t want to put Jesus to death during the Passover feast, but that is exactly how it happened. This is another subtle indication that Jesus was in control of events, as they in fact killed Him on the very day that they didn’t want to.

–David Guzik

The Anointing at Bethany

“A Woman Anoints Jesus” by Floridian artist Jan Richardson, 2006.

6Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table.

8But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? 9For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.”

10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Nothing we give to Jesus is ever wasted, but may indeed be greater than we think.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

No high and noble motives here — Judas betrays Jesus for his own greed, and for a relatively small amount of money.

The Passover with the Disciples

Jews celebrate Passover today with a meal which includes a Seder plate. Often the food on the plate is roasted egg, bitter herbs, roasted lamb shankbone, an apple-walnut salad called charoset, horseradish, and parsley. Matzo bread, red wine, and salt water are also important to the meal.

17On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

20When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

Psalm 41:9 (New American Standard Bible)

Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

25Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

He replied, “You have said so.”

A final call to repentance for Judas.

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

“Bread and Wine” by Norwegian painter Kjersti Timenes, 2003.

26While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

27Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks

In the ancient Greek language, “thanks” is the word eucharist. This is why the commemoration of the Lord’s Table is sometimes called the Eucharist.

he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

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Music:

“Come to the Table”   sung by Michael Card.  Yes, you are surely invited!

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Peter’s Denial Foretold

31Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

33Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”

34Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

35Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

The traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.

36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”

39And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

Psalm 40:6-8 (New American Standard Bible)

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

40Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.

45Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

_________________________

Hymn:  “Go to Dark Gethsemane”  (verse 1)

Go to dark Gethsemane,
All who feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see.
Watch with him one bitter hour;
Turn not from his griefs away:
Learn from Jesus Christ to pray.

–James Montgomery (1771-1854)

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The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Judas kisses Jesus — fresco by Giotto di Bondone at the Arena Chapel (Cappella Scrovegni), Padua, Italy, painted between 1304-1306.

50Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.”

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”

55At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus before the High Priest

“Christ Before the High Priest” by Garrit van Honthorst, 1617 (National Gallery, London)

57Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.

59Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.

Psalm 27:12 (New American Standard Bible)

Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.

At last two came forward 61and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”

62The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 63But Jesus was silent.

Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66What is your verdict?”

They answered, “He deserves death.”

67Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”

Peter’s Denial of Jesus

69Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”

71When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

73After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!”

At that moment the cock crowed. 75Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

_________________________

Music:

The St. Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach, BMV 244, composed in 1727, sets Matthew chapters 26 and 27 to music.  Here is an excerpt with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and soloists.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.   http://www.heqigallery.com/GALLERY%20NT%20A/images/23praying_at_gethemane.jpg
Richardson.  http://paintedprayerbook.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/blog-womananointsjesus.jpg
Seder plate.  http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/kM/passover-sader-plate-fd-lg.jpg
Timenes.   http://www.kjersti.timenes.net/paintings/symbols/1%20brdogvin.jpg
Gethsemane.   http://z.about.com/d/christianity/1/0/9/6/11IsraelGardenGeth800x600.jpg
Bondone.  http://www.awesomestories.com/images/user/thumb_ccdd57eed0.jpg
Honthorst.  http://www.katapi.org.uk/images/Art/ChristBeforeTheHighPriest-GvanHonthorst.jpg
rooster.   http://www.lonestarphotos.com/Images/Nature/rooster.jp

885.) Matthew 25

September 21, 2012

“Ten Girls” from Vie de Jesus, MAFA

Matthew 25   (NRSV)

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

All ten of the maidens slept, because the bridegroom was delayed.  But the wise ones were prepared to act immediately when they were unexpectedly awakened. The foolish maidens were not prepared.

“The Wise Virgins” by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum).

6″But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

7“Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

9“But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

“The Foolish Virgins” by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum).

10“And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.

11″Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’

12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

13“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The point of this parable is simple – be ready. The price for failing to be ready is too high.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”  a pop-rock gem by Chicago, a 1982 performance.

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The Parable of the Talents

“The Parable of the Talents” by Rembrandt, 1652 (Louvre).

14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

A talent was a weight, not a coin.  So the value of a talent depended upon what was being weighed.  But suffice it to say that each of the three slaves received a large amount.

16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19“After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’

21“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22“And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’

23“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

“It is better to be faithful in the infant-school than to be unfaithful in a noble class of young men.  Better to be faithful in a hamlet over two or three score of people, than to be unfaithful in a great-city parish, with thousands perishing in consequence.  Better to be faithful in a cottage meeting, speaking of Christ crucified to half-a hundred villagers, than to be unfaithful in a great building where thousands congregate.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

He didn’t work.  He didn’t even try.  All he did was offer excuses.

26“But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.

28″So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Some think that readiness for Jesus’ return is a very spiritual and abstract thing.  It really isn’t — it is a matter of being about our business for the Lord.  In light of this parable, we must ask ourselves: What have we done with our knowledge?  Our time?  Our money?  Our abilities?  The sins of omission [what we don’t do] may ultimately be more dangerous than the sins of commission [what we do].

–David Guzik

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“Buried Talent”

Based on the parable of the talents, this video tells a story:  A rich man hires three artists to paint for his wife.  He leaves them with an incredible opportunity to paint with real gold.  Twelve minutes long, but engaging!  Click HERE to watch!

_________________________

Giver of every perfect gift,
You shape my life from womb to grave.
Reveal Your good and gracious will
that plants me in this time and space.
Display the gifts assigned to me.
Make me a witness to Your name.

You planned and know the gifts I have;
Creator God, from You they come,
unique and special, from Your heart,
intended for a chosen role.
Thrill me to find and recognize
the talents only You can give.

Revealing Word, sent Son of God,
proclaimer of the Kingdom’s dawn.
It is for You, because of You,
that every talent is bestowed.
You have a part for me to fill,
a purpose for this life of mine.

Enabling Spirit, Gift of gifts,
empower me, stir up my faith,
make me an instrument of grace,
of mercy, blessing, peace, and joy.
Let me not miss another day
in seeing what Your gifts can do.

–K. Lee Scott

The Judgment of the Nations

“The Last Judgement” by Eric Gill, 1917 (Tate)

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

34″Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

40″And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael:

Matthew 25:40 —  “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”

Think of it, every little thoughtful kindness we do for someone in need, our Lord notices.  He takes it as service done to Him.  Let us serve Him by serving others, however humbly, today.

41″Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

44″Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

45″Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

46″And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
MAFA.   http://www.jesusmafa.com/anglais/imag43.htm
Tissot:  Wise.   http://cdn2.brooklynmuseum.org/images/opencollection/objects/size3/00.159.179_PS1.jpg
Tissot:  Foolish.   http://cdn2.brooklynmuseum.org/images/opencollection/objects/size3/00.159.180_PS2.jpg
Rembrandt.   http://www.pravmir.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/rembrandt_pritcha_dluzhnik.jpg
Gill.   http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=5237&searchid=4721&tabview=image
helping an elderly woman.    http://images.wisegeek.com/elderly-assistance.jpg

884.) Matthew 24

September 20, 2012

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Matthew 24   (NRSV)

The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.

After the destruction of Solomon’s temple, this temple was originally built by Zerubbabel and Ezra (Ezra 6:15). Herod the Great (who ruled when Jesus was born) greatly expanded and improved it. This temple was the center of Jewish life for almost a thousand years – so much so, that it was customary to swear by the temple (Matthew 23:16), and speaking against the temple could be considered blasphemy (Acts 6:13).

After Herod’s work, the temple was huge: nearly 500 yards or meters long and 400 yards or meters wide. Herod’s plan for rebuilding started in 19 b.c. and was only completed in a.d. 63, taking more than 80 years. The temple was finished only seven years before it was destroyed.

But the Second Temple wasn’t just big; it was also beautiful. The Jewish historian Josephus said that the temple was covered with gold plates and when the sun shone on them it was blinding to look at. Where there was no gold, there were blocks of marble of such a pure white that from a distance strangers thought there was snow on the temple.

–David Guzik

2Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Signs of the End of the Age

the Mount of Olives (Church of All Nations in foreground)

3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8all this is but the beginning of the birthpangs.

Romans 8:22-24   (ESV)

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

Persecutions Foretold

9“Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael:

Matt. 24:13:  He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  (KJV)

He that shall endure unto the end — these words come three times in the Gospels.  In Hebrews 3: 6 and 14 we have firm unto the end, steadfast unto the end, and twice the thought of hope is linked up with the word.  If we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, and The full assurance of hope unto the end (Heb. 6:11).

How much easier it would be if we knew when hearts that are holding out against the Lord would yield, or when some private trial of our own would pass.  It was like that in Bible days; there was the same temptation to tire in hope and to fail in the joy of hope, to weaken and get slack.  So we have those glorious, strong words in the Gospels and in Hebrews, and there is another that is sheer joy — 1 Corinthians 1:8:  Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also keep you steadfast to the very end.

So we can turn Jude 24-25 into praise and thanksgiving.  “Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy . . . be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.  Amen.”

Reflection question: What specific thing could you begin to do that would help you to “endure to the end”?  Or what could you share with other people to help them continue to be faithful?

14And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

The Desolating Sacrilege

15“So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), 16then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; 18the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 19Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ —do not believe it. 24For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25Take note, I have told you beforehand.

. . . so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

26″So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

The Coming of the Son of Man

“Angel Playing Trumpet no. 2” by Andrzej Filipowicz .

29“Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree . . .

32“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Necessity for Watchfulness

36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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Music:

“I Wish We’d All Been Ready”  written by Larry Norman (1947 – 2008), who has often been called the “father of Christian rock music.”

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The Faithful or the Unfaithful Slave

45“Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.

What work are you doing for the Master today?

47Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Planet Earth.  http://www.soil-net.com/album/Places_Objects/slides/Globe%20Planet%20Earth%20NASA.jpg
Mount of Olives.   http://www.padfield.com/israel/Jerusalem/images/mount-of-olives-02.jpg
Endure.    http://www.eaf.net/pantinghart/wp-content/endure-unto-the-end.jpg
lightning.   http://www.windsun.com/pictures/Lightning1.jpg
Filipowicz.  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YaBr_2ODT3g/SYRNw1uLFdI/AAAAAAAAAQA/Av844XYJKD4/s320/Angel_Playing_Trumpet_andrzej_Filipowicz.jpg
fig leaves.    http://1902victorian.com/fig_leaves_web.jpg