January 23, 2018

He Loved Me To The End

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I won’t give up, He loved me to the end
I will press on, He loved me to the end
I set my mind on things above, He loved me to the end

And so will I love Him
I have to give Him everything

Be faithful unto death
Oh, He loved me to the end

To be with Him in paradise, He loved me to the end
I’ll be clothed in a robe of white, He loved me to the end
I’ll cast my crown at the feet of Christ, He loved me to the end

We have overcome
We have overcome
We have overcome…by His blood

Oh, He loved me to the end

International House of Prayer-KC
written by Jenny Powell
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The Lord God Almighty, our Heavenly Father, had it in His heart to provide a Savior for all mankind.  A Redeemer who would save us from eternal damnation and would be THE Way to eternal life and grace for all time.  God purposed throughout mankind’s history to bring His plan into existence.  Nothing ever thwarted or deterred our God from bringing His perfect plan—a plan of love and grace—into fruition. And His Son, our Lord, willingly sacrificed Himself to execute His Father’s plan.

From early in His earthly ministry, Jesus told His disciples about this.

…but there is One Who has come down from heaven—the Son of Man
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole],
so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross],
In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him]
may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever!
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world
that He [even] gave up His only begotten Son,
so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him
shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
For God did not send the Son into the world
in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world,
but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
John 3:13-17

God’s Son came to the earth and lived His life on this earth single-mindedly to do His Father’s Will.  God’s plan was one of Love, and Jesus’ life was all about Love—Love to the end.

[Now] before the Passover Festival began, Jesus knew (was fully aware)
that His hour had come to depart from this world and return to the Father.
Having loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the end.
John 13:1

Jesus purposed to share a final last meal and communicated many important things with those closest to Him.  The Gospel of John, chapters 13 through 17, records just some of Jesus’ words to them (and to us) that He spoke during this Last Supper just prior to His betrayal, His persecution, and His death.  He spoke to them (recorded in chapter 13) about loving one another in the same way that He had shown His love to them (verses 2-19), and demonstrated it through the lowly task of washing their feet…He clearly pointed out exactly who His betrayer was (verses 20-31)…He again commanded them to love one another (verse 34).

In chapter 14, Jesus shares with them about the Comforter—the Holy Spirit—Who He was sending to take His place.

In chapter 15, Jesus shows the importance of dwelling with Him and abiding in Him.  He talked with them in so much detail about His and the Father’s love…and how our love toward Them is proven by our obedience.

In chapter 16, Jesus is deeply concerned that they will be prepared for His leaving.  He communicates, with encouragement as well as admonition, as He tells them again about the Comforter.

And in chapter 17, Jesus prays for them.  We ‘hear’ as He speaks with the Father of His great concern and love that He had for them.  How beautifully and compassionately He asks the Father to care for them.  He truly loved them to the end.

And, wondrously, He even spoke of us:

Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching,  That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me. (verses 20 and 21)

Our Lord, Who knew exactly what was transpiring and how His betrayal was imminent prayed these final words for them:

I in them and You in Me,
in order that they may become one and perfectly united,
that the world may know and [definitely] recognize
that You sent Me and that You have loved them
[even] as You have loved Me.
Father, I desire that they also
whom You have entrusted to Me [as Your gift to Me]
may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory,
which You have given Me [Your love gift to Me];
for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You
and has failed to recognize You and has never acknowledged You,
I have known You [continually];
and these men understand and know that You have sent Me.
I have made Your Name known to them
and revealed Your character and Your very Self,
and I will continue to make [You] known,
that the love which You have bestowed upon Me
may be in them [felt in their hearts]
and that I [Myself] may be in them.
(verses 23-26)

Perhaps this coming week as we are contemplating and considering just what it took for God to fulfill our redemption through our Lord’s suffering and death, you could read the Gospel of John, chapters 13 through 17.  Nowhere else in the Scriptures, is so much communicated to help us know beyond a shadow of a doubt of our Father’s and our Lord’s unconditional love for us.  Our Lord’s entire life was all about love…and He truly and completely and perfectly loved us to the end.

This Week…I AM The Light of the World (John 8:12)

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Recorded in the Gospel of John, our Lord made seven statements referring to Himself as I AM…

I AM The Light of the World
I AM The Good Shepherd
I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I AM The Bread of Life
I AM The True Vine
I AM The Door
I AM The Resurrection and the Life

Each week during this season of Lent, here on the Seeking Him blog, we will be focusing our devotionals on a different aspect of Jesus’ revelation of Himself as I AM. The aim of Lent should be to prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice—His trial and torture, the Crucifixion and His death…and above all, the celebration of His Resurrection from the dead. We pray that this will be a great encouragement to each of you who read them. And that all of us will consider the significance of Jesus’ words and, through them, be helped as we remember and are thankful for all Jesus went through during the last few weeks of His life on this earth.

Once more Jesus addressed the crowd.
He said, I AM the Light of the world.
He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark,
But will have the Light which is Life.
John 8:12

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This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, we have had the joy of being reminded of our Lord’s words in John 8:12.  What encouragement to hold to His promise that if we follow Him—the Light of the World—we will not walk in the dark and will have the Light which is Life!

Please listen to some highlights of what Tina, Laura, Cynda, Ann, and Ahmee……….

In I AM the Light of the World, Ann drew some parallels between what physical light IS and what Jesus, as the Light of the World, IS:

“Now Jesus is coming to tell us that He is THE Light of the world, what does that mean? This means:

  • He removes darkness and deception by illuminating the right way to God and salvation.
  • All those who follow Jesus are delivered from the darkness of sin, the world, and Satan. Those who still walk in darkness do not follow Him (John 1:6-7).
  • “Whoever follows Me…” is a present participle, depicting a continuing action—“whoever keeps on following Me…”. Jesus recognized and requires only a persevering discipleship.

Now physical light travels faster than sound, so therefore Jesus must travel fast, therefore people should receive Him in no time since He will brighten their lives immediately.”

In Eternal Flashlight, Laura shared these points….

“When we accept Christ into our lives, the light is turned on for us.  We are brought out from the darkness and into the Light of Jesus.  When we decide to follow Jesus, we are no longer in the dark but are walking in the Light.  Jesus’s Light is eternal and ever-present in those who have accepted Him.  As long as we follow His Light, we will be healed and comforted.  We will not walk in darkness.  We will have life.”

In Light of Lights, Cynda reminded us of the light that God provided to the children of Israel…and the relation to Jesus being our Light.

“One of the most important symbols of light in the Old Testament is the pillar of fire.  The pillar of fire is mentioned in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Psalms and Revelations.

Nehemiah 9:12 (NASB) states:

…with a pillar of fire by night to light for them the way in which they were to go.

That is what Christ does for us, He illuminates the way for us to go…IF we choose to follow. I love how John 12:46 (NLT) puts it:

‘I have come as a Light to shine in this dark world,
so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark.'”

In Jesus IS The Light, Tina reminded us of God’s faithfulness.

Always know that God is watchful over us.  He knows our comings and goings, He knows our needs now, just as then.  He will always be a Light to us in our world. When we seek His ways and obey His words we will have His Light in all areas of our minds. We will never have those dark places unless we let it back in.

In Follow The Light, Ahmee also encouraged us to remember to follow…

“…Jesus is important to us; especially when it comes to navigating this dark world.  We do not have to aimlessly wonder around the world, merely existing and lost.  God will show us what we need to do.  God will show us where we need to be.  The key is to follow Him.  If God goes left and we go right, are we really following Him?  No.  Therefore, if He is not in the lead, then our Light is not in front of us, we cannot see.  We must face the Light at all times, and stay with Him for the Light to be of use to us.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

We have no reason to wander.  No reason to be scared.  With one simple action we can help ourselves.  Follow the Light.  He will lead you.”

Have you had the opportunity to read through each of these blogposts this week?  If not, I would encourage you to do so!  Our bloggers have made these as well as some other wonderful points to direct us towards Jesus, Who is The Light of the World.

At The Cross (Love Ran Red)

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There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the Cross
At the Cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You, Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

Here my Hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down

Written by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jonas Myrin, Matt Armstrong, Matt Redman

  *  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

The center stage of our Christian faith is the Cross.  There our Savior, Jesus Christ, allowed Himself to be hanged on that torturous cross to bleed, suffocate, and die.  Why would anyone do such a thing? Because,

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Sin and shame imprison everyone.  They bind us in chains that cannot be broken—but for God.  God in His mercy (His compassion) and grace (unmerited favor) loved(s) us, His creation, so much that He chose to make the perfect sacrifice for all people through the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus.  Jesus’ blood was more powerful than any sin or shame that we have ever endured or will ever endure.  Jesus shed His blood for each of us.  His blood dripping from that Cross was His love running red, flowing down into the very depths of our soul to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Here are just a few Scriptures that make it clear that we in our sins are powerless, but that the blood from God’s perfect sacrifice, Jesus His Son, is powerful enough to wash our ugly sins as white as snow.

All of us also lived among them (children of disobedience) at one time,
gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
But because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions
—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:3-5

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous.
He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.
For God presented Jesus as the Sacrifice for sin.
People are made right with God
when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.
Romans 3:22-25

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

The Royal blood of Jesus is more powerful than all our sins.  His “love ran red and my (our) sin washed white.”  There at the Cross sin is powerless.  There at the Cross is where love, forgiveness, hope, and peace are found.  When we personally accept Jesus’ great sacrificial love for ourselves, we are made right with God.  From that point on we can have a personal relationship with Him.  His Holy Spirit will dwell with us.  And we can be assured that we will spend eternity with God.

If you have not yet accepted God’s love for you, please take the time today to do this.  God gave His Son.  Jesus gave His blood.  What are you willing to give for such love?  I pray that you give Him your all.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

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Dear Jesus, thank You so much for allowing Yourself to be the Sacrifice, once and for all, to save us from our sins and shame.  We bow before You on holy ground with our arms open wide, because here at the Cross Your blood (love) ran red so our sins could be washed white. You have saved us.  Herein is our Hope.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!  In Jesus’ Name we praise and worship our God of Love.  Amen, It is so!

 

Start A Fire

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This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see

Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me

You only need a spark to start a whole blaze
It only takes a little faith
Let it start right here in this city
So these old walls will never be the same

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
They need to know
I need to go
Spirit won’t You fall on my heart now

You are the Light on the darkest day
We have the hope, we bear Your name
We carry the news that You have come to save
Only You can save

Writer(s): Jon Lowry / Chad Mattson / Seth Mosley

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I’m not a New Year’s resolution-type of person, due to the fact that I forget the next day.  So instead, I make lists of how good my God is and all that He has done for me. And in return, I want to tell all the world of His goodness and mercy and grace.  I want to be the light that shines for Him, so that when people see me, they see all that God has redeemed and restored.  Oh, I’m not perfect nor am I always the Jesus-follower I should be, but I keep following.

In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in Heaven.
Matthew 5:16

I don’t think it means that we are to do all this good all for the world to see—just to shine the light on ourselves.  It means that all we do and say should reflect the One Who created us and glorify Him—Jesus!!!—so that all will want what we have.  And what a perfect time to ask for a fresh start…a rekindled fire…so that there is no doubt that it is God that we need.

As the song says, He is the Light on the darkest day and we cannot keep this hope to ourselves!  It’s just too good to keep in.  We live in such a dark, hurting world that is full of so much pain.  There are so many sad people that truly need a Savior and we need to share what we have with all the world!  Love, love His people by reaching out to them.  Not just people you don’t know but also those you work with, go to church with, live with…shine no matter where you are.

The place that seems to be the hardest is home, anyone agree?  We tend to let our light fizzle a bit here.  We think, “they know us, they know we love Jesus,” so we lose patience with the ones closest to us and we forget that they, too, need to see the light of Jesus in us.  And moms…our children will imitate us and talk like us to each other.  I know that is something to really think about and pray about.  So before your feet hit the floor, ask Jesus to fill you up  each day so that His light spills over to those you come in contact with!  Let’s pray for each other, shall we?  And look up those verses in His Word today that give hope and write them on cards and put them to memory.  Teach them to your children and watch your world get a little brighter…and carry that light with you wherever you go.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Matthew 5:14

And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it.
John 1:5

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:7

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Let us pray: Dear God, thank You for walking with us into this new year of 2015.  You are our light in this dark world, our hope that we hold onto when all is falling apart, and our song that we sing when the world is so loud.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy and love.  I pray that we can be that light to all Your children, ones that are walking in darkness and need You so much.  Nothing is wasted, Lord; You make good out of everything. and the way we handle the hard will glorify You if we keep You at the center.  Help us to keep shining for You and to not keep this awesome joy and this peace (that only You can give) to ourselves.  Start a fire in us and keep it burning until You come again.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Rose of Bethlehem

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There’s a Rose in Bethlehem
With a beauty quite divine
Perfect in this world of sin
On this silent holy night

There’s a fragrance much like hope
That it sends upon the wind
Reaching out to every soul
From a lowly manger’s crib

Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure, and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

There’s a Rose in Bethlehem
Colored red like mercy’s blood
‘Tis the flower of our faith
‘Tis the blossom of God’s love

Though it’s bloom is fresh with youth
Surely what will be He knows
For a tear of morning dew
Is rolling down the Rose

There’s a Rose in Bethlehem
With a beauty quite divine
Perfect in this world of sin
On this silent holy night

 Songwriter: Lowell Alexander ~ Performed by Selah

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

One of the favorite flowers of most women, and many men, is the rose—especially the red rose.  There’s a special perfect beauty to it and usually a wonderful sweet fragrance.  At Christmastime over 2000 years ago, a “rose” of great beauty and sweet fragrance was given to us in the form of a baby boy.

And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus,
for He will save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

He was born in Bethlehem just as the prophecies of old had said.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village
among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on My behalf.
Micah 5:2

I’m sure you have heard people refer to Jesus as the rose of Sharon, however, there is no such reference in the Bible.  But when speaking of the hope of restoration Isaiah says,

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the rose and the autumn crocus.
It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the excellency of [Mount] Carmel and [the plain] of Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty and splendor and excellency of our God.
Isaiah 35:1-2 AMP

Our hope of restoration (returning to God) is found only in Jesus.  “And His Name will be the hope of all the world” (Matthew 12:21).  Jesus reaches out like a sweet fragrance to every soul.  This hope came at a great price.  Jesus wore the thorns on His head (Matthew 27:29).  In God’s great mercy toward us, Jesus’ blood was poured out for each of us (Matthew 26:28).

Jesus said, “For I have come down from Heaven to do the will of God who sent Me, not to do My own will” (John 6:38).  How lovely, pure, and sweet is that!

Jesus was born, lived, and died so that He might glorify His Father in Heaven.

Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say,
‘Father, save Me from this hour’?
But for this purpose I came to this hour. ‘Father, glorify Your name.’
Then a voice came out of heaven:
‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’
John 12:27-28

In Christ Jesus we now see His majestic splendor just as Peter wrote in one of his letters.

We saw His majestic splendor with our own eyes
when He received honor and glory from God the Father.
The voice from the majestic glory of God said to Him,
“This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.”
2 Peter 1:16

In this special season, let’s take in the beauty and sweet fragrance of hope that the “Rose of Bethlehem” so willingly sacrificed Himself to give us.

Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Dear Jesus, You are truly like a rose to us in all Your lovely beauty and sweet fragrance.  Thank You for being willing to come as a babe in a lowly manger, and then to walk the road to Golgotha with thorns piercing Your brow.  You did it all to glorify Your Father, and to give each of us eternal hope.  Thank You, Father God, for loving us so much that You willingly “gave Your one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Tis the flower of our faith, ‘Tis the blossom of God’s love.”  In Jesus’ lovely Name, Amen.

Joy in the Night

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For hundreds of years the Jewish people had prepared for and hoped for the Messiah to come. Finally the time had arrived, but it didn’t come as many had expected—with great fanfare and pomp. (Not that angels lighting perhaps a moonless sky wasn’t pretty fantastic!) But there was no big parade in the middle of the day down the center of town for all to see. Instead it came to a few. Instead it came to the forgotten of society. Instead it came in the darkness of night.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them,
and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.
They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born….
Luke 2:8-11

The joyful news of the arrival (the Advent) of the long awaited Savior, the Messiah, came at night. Not only was the world dark with physical night-time. I quote from Reverend Billy Graham,

“It wasn’t night because the sun had gone down. It was night because the world was surrounded in spiritual and moral gloom. People were driven by greed, intolerance, and lust for power. Religion had become a device for the rich in the exploitation of the poor. Men robbed and swindled and profiteered under the cloak of religion; they even fought wars in the name of religion. In every arena of life, it was night when Jesus came.”

excerpted from Arrival, Preparing to Celebrate Christ’s Birth.
(click here for a free download of this devotional)

And all this is still true today. People still live in darkness—the darkness of all kinds of sin and its repercussions. But the joyful news is that Jesus came, and He brought light to all mankind.

The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The One who rules righteously,
Who rules in the fear of God,
is like the Light of morning at sunrise,
like a morning without clouds,
like the gleaming of the sun
on new grass after rain.’
2 Samuel 23:2-4

Jesus, the Light of morning, came for all people so that none of us would have to walk in darkness.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.
John 8:12

Jesus knew that His Light would bring life and joy to all who choose to follow Him. Even in His last major prayer for His disciples He said this:

“Now I am coming to You <His Father.>
I told them many things while I was with them in this world
so they would be filled with My joy.
I have given them Your Word.”
John 17:13-14

If you feel forgotten, if you are mourning, if you are still walking in darkness, then now is the time to allow Jesus, the Light of the world, to step into your world and give you His life and His joy.  Rejoice with great joy!  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is the Light of the morning!  We don’t have to walk in the darkness of night (sin), because JOY comes in the morning!

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!
Psalms 30:4-5, 11-12

Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people
and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
Isaiah 49:13

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Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great compassion.  Thank You for Your joy that comes when we walk out of our “night” and into Your Light.  For those who make that decision during this Christmas season, I pray they will experience Your Light and Joy like they have never experienced anything before.  For those of us who already walk in Your light, we thank You for Your Joy, unspeakable joy!  You are our Light of Life!  All honor and glory belong to You, our Savior and King!  IT IS SO!

Proclaim Allegiance to His Name

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Through Him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of lips which confess His name.
Hebrews 13:15

The New Living Translation says it this way:

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God,
proclaiming our allegiance to His Name.

The phase “proclaiming our allegiance to His Name” popped out at me. It sounded so different than the other translations that refer to “the fruit of lips that confess His Name.” I just had to do a little research to understand what this verse is really saying.

  • To “confess” God’s Name is to declare, state, acknowledge His Name
  • To “proclaim allegiance” is to announce publicly, or to declare something one considers important with due emphasis, which in this case would be one’s loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior

What sacrifice do I/we offer to God for the sacrifice He made for us by giving His Only Son, Jesus?

What sacrifice do I/we offer to Jesus for Him sacrificing His very lifeblood to cleanse us of our sins?

I thought about missionaries on a foreign field who have sacrificed their house, their car, their homeland, and perhaps even their safety, to proclaim their allegiance to God and to share the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice. Truly in God’s eyes, that is a continual sacrifice of praise to Him.

I also thought about the pastor of a little struggling country church. He has confessed, proclaimed allegiance to God by faithfully serving for years with little or no salary, so that others would hear of Jesus’ sacrifice for them. Yes, that, too, is a continual sacrifice of praise to God. 1 Peter 2:5 (AMP) says,

[Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house,
for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices
[that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

God is calling each of us through Jesus Christ to sacrifice ourselves, to be dedicated and consecrated, to the position (priesthood) of pleasing God with our proclamation of allegiance. We don’t have to be a missionary or a country pastor to please God. What pleases God is our private and our public continual sacrifice of praise and declaration of Him and His salvation through Jesus Christ.

Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
Say to Him,
Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
so that we may offer You our praises.
Hosea 14:2

Our sacrifices are to be in the manner of adoration, worship, prayer, thanksgiving, allegiance, confession, and dedication. God is great and greatly to be praised. Our genuine praise will have no end.

Great is the LORD!
He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure His greatness.
Psalm 145:3

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Dear Lord God, we come to You today with our sacrifices of praise on our lips.  You are worthy beyond words to receive all of our praise, and not just those of thanksgiving but also those of public confession and allegiance.  Holy Spirit, please help us to be strong and brave as we express publicly our thankfulness and our allegiance to God.  May our sacrifice of praise show others the way to You through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  In Jesus’ Name we ask these things, Amen.

Count Your Blessings

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
[*And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—*money cannot buy [*wealth can never buy]
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
*Alternate text

Written by Johnson Oatman, Jr ~ Music by Edwin O. Excell ~ Sung by Ann Williamson

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Written over a hundred years ago (1897), this hymn is still sung today and is still reminding us that we have much to be thankful for.

Be thankful in all circumstances,
For this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

When I sing the first verse, I think of the disciples out on the stormy sea.  Actually, there are two accounts I want to share.

Matthew 8:23-27, tells the story of Jesus and His disciples in the boat when a fierce storm came up.  The water was swamping the boat, and the disciples were panicked! Jesus was calmly sleeping because the storm wasn’t bothering Him.  In the midst of the storm, Jesus was right there with them.  Instead of seeing Him as their example to stay calm and trust God to protect them, they cried out to Jesus for Him to use His faith to save them.  Thankfully He was there, He did intercede for them, and commanded the wind and the waves to be calm.  The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ power, and were counting it a blessing that He was with them.

In the next account (recorded in Matthew 14:22-33), Jesus sent the disciples out in the boat without Him.  Night came, and a storm developed.  The disciples were fighting the strong winds and heavy waves, but to no avail.  They hadn’t even thought to call out to God, evidenced by the fact that when Jesus came to them walking on the water, they didn’t even recognize Him.  But He came, because He loved them, and never had planned on leaving them helpless.  Peter even walked on the water—until he took his eyes off of Jesus.  When Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, the storm died and the waters calmed.  The disciples (maybe especially Peter!) were surprised and blessed that Jesus came to them and saved them.

In our lives there are times when we are ‘tempest-tossed,’ and we do become very ‘discouraged, thinking all is lost.’  As believers, we can count on Jesus to be there for us.  He’s in the boat with us.  He is our example of trust.  And even in the times when we are trying to carry our heavy cross alone, He’s walking on the water toward us.  He just wants us to call out…even to walk out to Him…and He will lift us up. What a blessing!

Proverbs 10:6, tells us that “The godly are showered with blessings.”  Do you count your land, your home, your money as blessings?  Yes, they are, but they are just to help us get by here on earth.  God has so much more for you/us. Do you count your salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, God’s love for you, your family’s love, your reward in Heaven, and other spiritual gifts as blessings?  Money can not buy any of those because they are priceless blessings from God.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is by His great mercy that we have been born again,
because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance
—an inheritance that is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled,
beyond the reach of change and decay.
And through your faith, God is protecting you by His power
until you receive this salvation,
which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”
1Peter 1:3-5

“So amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, (remind yourself) God is over all. Count your many blessings.” It will lift you up, and it just may surprise you to see what the Lord has done!

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Dear Lord, in this season of Thanksgiving we come to You with our hearts bursting with thanksgiving.  We, as Your children, have so many blessings to count!  Truly, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).  All day and all night, in every season, we count our many blessings and our voices lift up praises to You, the Giver of all good gifts!  Praise the Lord!  It Is So!

Love is the Home for Both

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In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, starting with verse 11, we read the story of the prodigal son.  I’m sure you have read or heard this so many times but bear with me for a minute.  The actual word ‘prodigal’ means the squanderer or the waster. And the “prodigal son” did squander his inheritance and totally wasted all that his father gave him.

If you think about it, we have all played both roles at some time in our lives. Maybe at one point we are the older, responsible son—keeping everything in order and never disappointing our Father, and looking down on those who do and those who give the sinner a break. We have also been the younger one—wasting our inheritance from our Father, turning to anyone or anything that will make us “happy”, and running so far the other way.  But instead of finding happiness and freedom, we find ourselves in slavery to this other life that we thought we wanted so desperately.  We find ourselves starving for real substance and we are desperate for the life we had before.

And then there’s the father who never gave up on his son, and continued to search and wait and believe that they will one day be a family again. The son returns and the father lavishes love and compassion and hugs. He gives him his best robe and a ring and acts as if nothing happened. Even when the older son gets mad and protests, the father does not judge him. He is fair and just, resembling our Father in Heaven.

Here is the story:

Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)
The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 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.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So 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. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.  Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But 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. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

Which son do you relate to?  Have you run so far or are you a slave to something other than God?  Have you wasted all that God has given you for something you thought was better?  Or are you the older brother, looking down on the one who made the bad choices, and maybe a little bitter when he is given mercy by others?

God is your Father and He loves you.  If you have run away, He is ready to meet you where you are.  He is willing to accept you just the way you are and give you the finest life and the abundant blessings that are yours!  All you have to do is ask.  God’s arm reaches so far and you can’t ever outrun Him.

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Do you know this Father I’m talking about?  Do you want this unconditional love that you’ve just read about?  Then pray this with me:

Dear God, I know I am a sinner and I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus, Your Son, died on the cross to save me from my sins and I will have Him in my heart forever.  I love You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

There’s Within My Heart A Melody

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still
In all of life’s ebb and flow

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest Name I know
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife
Discord filled my heart with pain
Jesus swept across the broken strings
Stirred the slumbering chords again

Feasting on the riches of His grace
Resting ’neath His sheltering wing
Always looking on His smiling face
That is why I shout and sing

Though sometimes He leads through waters deep
Trials fall across the way
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep
See His footprints all the way

Soon He’s coming back to welcome me
Far beyond the starry sky
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown
I shall reign with Him on high

Words and music: Luther Bridges

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The Name of Jesus is more than enough to take care of every need in your life:

  • Who saves us from our sins?  Jesus

He is the One all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His Name.
Acts 10:43

  • Who heals the brokenhearted?  Jesus

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”
Luke 4:18

  • Who gives us mercy and grace?  Jesus

Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

  • Who shelters us with His Wings?  Jesus

He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Psalm 91:4

  • Who leads us through the storms and trials of life?  Jesus

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2

  • Who can we follow and be secure?  Jesus

The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need…He guides me along right paths,…Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me…
Psalm 23

  • Who is our peace so we need not fear?  Jesus

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27

  • Who is coming again to welcome us Home!?  Jesus

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
John 14:1-3

Jesus is truly the sweetest Name I know!  The power and the love that resides in the Name of Jesus, is more than enough to make me sing!  How about you?!

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Precious Jesus, You are worthy of all of our praise and worship!  You are our Savior, our Healer, our Protector, our Security, our Peace, our soon-coming King, and so much more!  Thank You, Jesus, that we can rest assured that all of our needs—spirit, soul, and body—can be satisfied in You.  In the Life-Giving Name of Jesus, Amen.