A Prayer Prompted by God’s Gift of His Son

Heavenly Father,

You have given us more than we could ever repay.  You have put us eternally in your debt by sending your Son Jesus to live a real human life and to die a very human death for our sins.

We thank you for his humility, and the fact that he would be born as any normal human child and grow up through his teen years into adulthood like any other human being.

And we thank you for your salvation.

As the psalmist asks, what can we give you for all these benefits that you have given us?

We will receive the gift, receive your salvation and receive the free gift of eternal life.

Help us to live that life that we live completely for you, beginning now but lasting forever.

In Christ,

Amen.

 

A Prayer Prompted by Mark 15:22-41

Dear Lord Jesus,

You said during the time of your ministry, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Little did your disciples know at the time how that would happen or how it would look.

Now, having been accused, tried and sentenced, we see what you went through for us.  The humiliation, the pain and the suffering were all to pay the price for our sins.  You paid this ransom so that we could walk free.

You refused to come down from the cross.  You endured the abandonment of your disciples, which was tragic, but also of the very Father who sent you, at your greatest moment of need.  Such grief is thankfully beyond our experience. 

How fitting that those who passed by derided you, illustrating how badly we all needed the work your were completing at that moment.  How perfect also was the darkness that descended, dimming the view of the worst of your suffering from those present, and likewise from the rest of us who would read of it later,  And you died among thieves, like the worst of common criminals.

All of this you did for us.  We thank you for bearing our sin.  We thank you for paying the price for our salvation.  We thank you for the humility you expressed so that we might be glorified with you someday, and will know that glorified state for all eternity.

This is how we know what love is.

Thank you Jesus.

Amen.

Christ’s parable of the wedding feast – Matthew 22:1-14

The Parable of the Wedding Feast continues a string of parables that Jesus began in Matthew 21.  The full text of the parable is here.

The king represents God and his son is the Messiah.  The invited guests would be the nation of Israel up to the time of Jesus.  Their poor treatment of many prophets and messengers is well documented in the Old Testament and continued to the time of John the Baptist.

God’s response was to destroy their city, Jerusalem, and this happened more than once.  Jesus seems to be looking to what would be a future destruction from his own perspective.  

Since the invited guests refused to take part in the festivities, the king encourages anyone at all to come.  The point is that the wedding is going to take place with or without the originally invited guests.

In the ancient world, there were examples of kings who handed out special clothing to their guests.  One outcome of this was that everyone was on the same level — no pride for the wealthy and stylish, no shame for those who were poor.  All of them were honored guests of the king.  (See Gundry 1994).  

One man was wearing his own clothes, apparently thinking they were good enough.  He has no answer for the king when he is confronted.  He is thrown out immediately.

Here are a few things we should take to heart from this parable:  

  1. Not all those raised with a religious background accept God’s invitation to the royal wedding of his Son.
  2. For example, many of the Jews in Old Testament times or the time of Jesus refused.
  3. Many raised in the church today do the same, ignoring the invitation and belittling God’s messengers.  They believe they know better.
  4. Even if we say yes, we must remember that we are allowed in only on God’s terms not on our own. 
  5. The result is that many who are “bad” as well as those who are “good” (v.10) end up as guests in the wedding when the party starts. They all came in at God’s invitation and on his terms.  Those who refuse Christ’s offer or try to negotiate something other than entrance as a result of his free gift find themselves left out.

Saved by Grace – Ephesians 2:1-10

ephesus-grand-theatre - from Ephesus Breeze
Saved by Grace – Ephesians 2:1-10

After praying that our hearts would be opened, Paul now describes in greater detail what it means to be saved.

 

Ephesians 2.01-10.pdf        Ephesians 2.01-10.mp3

Every Spiritual Blessing: Ephesians 1:1-14

ephesus-grand-theatre - from Ephesus Breeze

Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 1:1-14

Paul begins this letter praising God for all he has done for us.  It turns out God has done an awful lot.

Ephesians 1.01-14.pdf

Ephesians 1.01-14.mp3

 

Central Reflections: Marks of Conversion (or not)

Top-10Barry Atwell walks us through the Letter of 1 John, pointing out the Top Ten Marks of Conversion.  These can give us assurance that we are truly born again.  The lack of these marks, or the presence of their opposite, would indicate that our conversion has never happened.

          1 John.mp3 (Barry Atwell)

          1 John.pdf