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First Thoughts Blog

Day 38, Tuesday (April 16) - Living into His Name

THE COMING KING

The Lamb of God
Day 38   Tuesday

__________________________________________________

EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

EXODUS 12: 21-27
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 
 
1 CORINTHIANS 5: 7b-8
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
 
JOHN 1: 29-30
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’”
 
CONSIDER
To understand Jesus as the Lamb of God, we explore the event of Passover. The setting was the final days of four hundred years of slavery for the LORD’s people in Egypt. The final plague was coming upon the land to force Pharaoh to relent and let God’s people go. The Israelites put the blood of a lamb on their doorposts so that the angel of death would pass over their homes. Inside, they would cook and eat that lamb as a sacred meal confirming them as the LORD’s obedient people. The next day they were set free and soon passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea into freedom. 
 
Paul and John identify Jesus as the Lamb of God. He became the sacrifice that gives us life. His blood over our hearts causes the wrath of God against sin to pass over us, for Jesus took that wrath. His blood shed cleanses our sins. He leads us now to make the Passover through dying to sin and living in him. 

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PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us your peace. 

__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

1 PETER 1: 13-21
Therefore, preparing your minds for action . . . set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
 
CONSIDER
How is Communion related to the Passover? When next you partake, consider the Lord’s Supper as a celebration of being joined to Christ our Passover Lamb.
 
Close by joining your prayers to those of Christina Rossetti:
 
None other Lamb, none other name,
None other hope in heaven or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt or shame,
None besides thee!
 
My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart’s desire cries out in me
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to thee.
 
Lord, thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire thou art, however cold I be;
Nor heaven have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but thee.
 
Christina Rossetti, 1870.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S POEM

Day 37, Monday (April 15) - Living into His Name

THE COMING KING

The Living One
Day 37   Monday

__________________________________________________

EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

REVELATION 1: 17-18
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
 
CONSIDER
John, the writer of Revelation, had a vision in which he saw the ascended Jesus. The glory of Christ overwhelmed him. But this same Jesus assured him that precisely because of his Lordship, John need not fear.
 
Jesus has undertaken the hero’s journey on behalf of his people. English poet Christina Rossetti imagined Jesus asking us:
 
“Who else has dared for thee what I have dared?
I plunged the depth most deep from bliss above.”
 
Jesus died and entered the realm of the dead. He disappeared into what Shakespeare called “the undiscovered country,” the dark realm from which no one returns.
 
In his despair, Job asked what he thought was a rhetorical question which could only be answered forever as a No: “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14: 14). 
 
It seemed that Jesus had met that same fate. His words read literally, “Behold, I became dead.” That was his full identity following the cross. But not the final word. Countermanding all human loss and reversing the endless flow of mortality, the resurrected Jesus declared, “I am alive forevermore. I hold the keys of Death and Hades in my hands.”  
 
As we noted when we studied the Key of David, keys represent authority. Jesus the living one is now Lord of both death and life. He is, in Greek, the zoan, the Living One. By faith we get into the zoan of life!

__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, Living One, you died and yet behold, you are alive forevermore! You who hold the keys to Death and Hades, grant me peace 
and courage for these days. 

__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

2 CORINTHIANS 5: 14-15
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
 
CONSIDER
The death and resurrection of Jesus were unique events in his history among us. Yet, we spiritually participate in his dying and rising. The benefits of his journey are given to us! One day we will participate physically in our natural dying and in our supernatural rising to everlasting embodied life. 
 
For these days on earth, we are to live dying to the old life and living for the new life in Christ.
 
Paul sums up Jesus the Living One’s purpose applied to us when he says that believers should “no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
 
The Living One is our motivation and our power, our reason and our hope for living for his sake and according to his way, even amidst inertia, resistance, exhaustion and persecution.
 
Close by singing these triumphant words, written to match the same tune as the Christmas carol, “Angels from the Realms of Glory.”
 
Rise, O church, and lift your voices, Christ has conquered death and hell.
Sing as all the earth rejoices; resurrection anthems swell.
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the risen King!
 
See the tomb where death had laid him, empty now, its mouth declares;
“Death and I could not contain him, for the Throne of Life he shares.”
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the risen King!
 
We acclaim your life, O Jesus, now we sing your victory;
Sin or hell may seek to seize us but your conquest keeps us free.
Stand in triumph, stand in triumph, worship Christ, the risen King!
 
Jack Hayforth. Worship Christ the Risen King. 1986.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 36, Sunday (April 14) - Living into His Name

THE COMING KING

We noted last week, that renderings of Christ as Pantocrator, ruler of all things, appear frequently on the high domes or ceilings of ancient churches. The Jesus we see appears kingly and full of authority.
 
But in the vault of another Ravenna church, we see a different depiction of our sovereign Jesus. The Basilica of San Vitale placed a mosaic of a lamb atop its vault. But this is no meek lamb. It stands strongly, and has a golden halo indicating divinity. Four angelic beings lift up their hands to hold the circle in which the lamb stands from every direction. We are reminded of the worship around the throne of God recorded in Revelation.
 
In his vision of heaven, John saw “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” and angelic beings sing the praise of the Lamb, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5: 6, 12). The God who reigns is the Lamb who gave his life to take away our sins.
 
And, this Lamb will return to the earth to set all things right. He has a future in store for us, “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7: 17). This week, we seek to live into the names of the reigning Jesus, the Lamb of God, who will soon return to this world. 
 

The Alpha and the Omega
Day 36   Sunday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

REVELATION 1: 8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” 
 
REVELATION 21: 5-8
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
 
REVELATION 22: 12-14
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
 
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
 
CONSIDER
The letters Alpha and Omega are the first and last in the Greek alphabet. This title for Jesus is similar to Hebrews 12: 2 in which he is the author and perfecter of our faith. It means that Jesus is the origin and destination of all creation. But more, it means that the Triune God is without origin and without end. He is before all. He is eternal. This is the Son of God who stepped into time to take up our humanity.
 
As you look over these three passages about the Alpha and Omega, consider how these passages describe the future for those who resist Christ Jesus. Both human pride and the power of evil act as if their power will go on forever. But how does Jesus claim he will bring such hubris to an end?
 
How do these passages describe the future for those who are in Christ? Identify at least three promises made to us.
 
__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, first and last, you have the whole world in your hands and I find my life only in yours.
__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7). 

ROMANS 13: 10-14
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
 
CONSIDER
As Paul draws his magnificent letter to the Roman church to a close, he turns from soaring doctrine to practical living. Because we know Jesus is the source and the destination, the Alpha and Omega, we are called to live a certain way.
Identify at least three behaviors we are to take off and three we are to put on. 
 
Consider today the plans you had for providing for your sinful flesh and ask for strength to nix those strategies.
 
Close by singing this beloved hymn (to either famous tune!):
 
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humbling dwelling, 
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion, 
Pure unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
 
Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit, 
Let us find that promised rest.
Take away our bent to sinning, 
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning, 
Set our hearts at liberty.
 
Charles Wesley. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. 1747.
 
 

Day 35, Saturday (April 13) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Name Above All Names
Day 35   Saturday

__________________________________________________

EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

PHILIPPIANS 2: 5-11
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
 
CONSIDER
Re-reading this passage, trace the journey of Jesus which Paul describes. Where did Jesus start? What five things does Paul name as part of Christ’s obedience? What was the surprising final destination? What future does the name of Jesus have in the universe?
 
How can a name command the power to cause us to kneel?
 
How much of the cosmos will ultimately confess his Lordship? What effect does that reality have on how you think and live today?

__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, Name above all names, before you every knee will bow, and this day I confess you as Lord and bow my heart to you.

__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

PHILIPPIANS  2: 12-16
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
 
CONSIDER
Paul follows his great hymn to the name of Jesus with this very practical passage about our daily response to his Lordship.
 
What is the relationship between our work and God’s work at the end of the first sentence?
 
Steve Childers has noted, “We work as God works in us. God works in us as we work for him.” What are the characteristics of someone living in the bicycle pedal like tandem of God’s work and our work?
 
What is the missional power in the dark world created by the way those who confess the name of Jesus live?
 
Close by singing this glorious and famous song:
 
All the hail power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, 
And crown him Lord of all.
 
Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail him who saves you by his grace,
And crown him Lord of all.
 
Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To him all majesty ascribe
And crown him Lord of all.
 
Edward Perronet. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. 1779.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 34, Friday (April 12) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Savior
Day 34   Friday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

LUKE 2: 11
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ
the Lord. 
 
1 JOHN 4: 14
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world
 
2 TIMOTHY 1: 8-10
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
 
CONSIDER
On Day 1 we explored that Jesus’ very name means “The LORD saves.” Today we will look at a related name. Jesus is Savior.
 
In the first century, Caesar Augustus claimed for himself the title “The Savior of the World.” What edge does that fact give to the angel proclamation in Luke 2 about the baby born in a manger? What challenge to the way of the world might 1 John 4 have been offering?
 
In the last sentence of this passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy, what does he claim that Jesus has done in his role of Savior? 
 
In this same passage, when does Paul say our Savior first acted toward us? So what is past, what is present and what is future about our Savior’s work?
 
What does it do for your sense of this day to know that you have been given Christ’s own purpose and grace from before the world was made?
 
What does it say to the challenges you face to know that in Christ death has already been abolished?

__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost, have mercy on me.

__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

2 TIMOTHY 1: 13-14
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
 
2 PETER 3: 18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
 
CONSIDER 
Though we are already saved by our Savior, what urgent tasks do these passages lay upon us? By what power does Paul tell Timothy we can do these things? Will you call upon the Spirit right now to guard the good deposit of the gospel within you and grow the seed into maturity?
 
Close by singing this famous hymn of dependence on our Savior:
 
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood, from thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power.
 
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; thou must save and thou alone.
 
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress, helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me Savior, or I die!
 
While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.
 
Augustus Toplady. Rock of Ages. 1776.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 33, Thursday (April 11) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

The Cornerstone
Day 33   Thursday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

ACTS 4: 10-12
“Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
 
EPHESIANS 2: 19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
 
CONSIDER
Psalm 118 recounts the struggles of one who came near to dying by the attack of strong enemies. But the LORD answered his prayer and provided salvation. During his praise for the LORD’s deliverance, the psalmist noted the wonderful irony: “The stone that the builder’s rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118: 22-24).
 
The first Christians saw in this psalm a foreshadowing of Jesus. He was rejected by his own people, condemned by the handlers of God’s Word as dangerous and blasphemous. But in raising Jesus, the Father countermanded the verdict of humanity against Jesus. He took the rejected stone and made it the foundation of a new building: his living temple, the church. Each new believer becomes a new stone in Christ’s ever growing building, a “house” that ever resounds in praise!

__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, rejected by men, but chosen by your Father to be the 
Cornerstone, grant me to build my life on you alone.

__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

1 PETER 2: 4-5, 9-12
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . .
 
. . . you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 
 
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
 
CONSIDER
In what way is Christ’s spiritual house, the church, heavenly? In what way is it earthly? Think of this upside down picture: our foundation stone is not below us but above us, because Christ our cornerstone is in heaven!
 
What’s the connection between “offering spiritual sacrifices” and “proclaiming the excellencies of him who called” us?
 
How important is it to the lost world that we live on earth as sojourners passing through, not permanent residents?
 
How is the beauty and stability of a well-made house a picture of how Christ’s temple, the church, should fit together? 
 
Close by singing these verses from this famous hymn,
 
Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the church in one;
Holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone.
 
To this temple, where we call thee,
Come, O Lord of hosts, today:
With thy wonted lovingkindness
Hear thy people as they pray,
And thy fullest benediction,
Shed within its walls alway.
 
Anonymous. Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation. 7th c. Latin prayer,
trans. John Mason Neale. 1851.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 32, Wednesday (April 10) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

First Born and Heir
Day 32   Wednesday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

COLOSSIANS 1: 15b, 18
He is the firstborn of all creation. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 
 
REVELATION 1: 4b-5a
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
 
HEBREWS 1: 2
 . . . Whom he appointed the heir of all things.
 
CONSIDER
In ancient Israel, the firstborn son was the principle heir in a family, inheriting a double portion from his father. The firstborn had privileges and responsibilities related to carrying on the family, the land and the well-being of his people. 
 
Today we see that Jesus is the Father’s heir (even though, of course, the Father will never die!). This means the Father loves the Son and has given him all he has. 
 
As we have seen, the eternal Son was not a creation. But when he entered our world in flesh and blood as a man, he became the firstborn of all creation, the preeminent one. When he rose from the dead as a resurrected man, he became the firstborn of all those who would rise to eternal life in him. Jesus has first place in glory. Jesus the God/man is first in all creation and first in life out of death.
 
The Father even gave us to his Son as a love gift. And the Son has returned us, now redeemed, to his Father as a love gift in return! (John 17: 6-9). So we are swept up in glory when we participate in letting Jesus be first, of all.

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PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, First Born from the dead, Heir of all things,
unite me to you, that I might die to self and live to you.  

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LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

TITUS 3: 3-8
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
 
CONSIDER
We adopted children have been written into the will! We will share all that the firstborn, begotten Son of God has in eternity. When the day of consummation comes, Christ Jesus will be hailed as the heir and firstborn. And he will share that glory with brothers and sisters. We are called to live now not with an orphan mentality but as privileged heirs. To live not fearing scarcity but assured of abundance. To face suffering confident of the future he has promised. To engage loss not in despair but in trust of restoration and resurrection. To live not deceived by the world’s vainglory but faithfully entrusting ourselves to the path of the savior through suffering to eternal glory in God. 
 
Close in prayer using words from this hymn by Martin Luther:
 
Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, for our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand he stands and brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be and sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah. Hallelujah!
 
It was a strange and dreadful strife when life and death contended;
The victory remained with life, the reign of death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith that death is swallowed up by death,
His sting is lost forever. Hallelujah!
 
Martin Luther. Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands, adapting
the medieval prayer called Exultet. 1524. 

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 31, Tuesday (April 9) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Radiance of Glory
Day 31   Tuesday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

HEBREWS 1: 1-3
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
 
COLOSSIANS 1: 15a, 19
He is the image of the invisible God. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
 
JOHN 5: 19-20
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
 
CONSIDER
Jesus told Phillip, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14: 9). We see the invisible God made visible in Jesus. To look directly upon God would be to die (Exodus 33: 20). For we would be incinerated with a glory that dwarfs the sun. But in taking up our human form, Jesus showed the glory and truth of God in a way we could bear to see. Jesus radiated the glory of God truly. God is none other than what he is to us in Jesus Christ. But Jesus represented God’s reality in a way we could apprehend.
 
Paul said that Jesus is the icon, the very image, of God. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus in bodily form.
 
This great mystery is meant to inspire our worship and assure us that we may trust wholeheartedly that all we need to know about the eternal Triune God can be found in Jesus Christ.

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PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, perfect Radiance of your Father,
shine on me and shine in me, that I may reflect your glory. 

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LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

2 CORINTHIANS 3: 16-18
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
 
CONSIDER
It takes a miraculous work of the Spirit to open the eyes of our heart to see that Jesus is indeed God come among us. But once we do, gazing on the glory of God in Jesus transforms us to be like him. We become like that which we look steadily upon. That’s why we’re doing this study! So we can look daily upon Jesus in his majesty. 
 
Are there any places you gaze too much, which deflect you from looking at Jesus: The mirror? Internet sites? The success of others? Turn your eyes upon Jesus this day. Look full in his wonderful face!
 
Close by praying this hymn:
 
Jesus, you are the radiance
Of the Father’s glory.
You are the Son, the appointed heir,
Through whom all things are made.
You are the one who sustains all things
By your powerful word.
You have purified us from sin,
You are exalted, O Lord,
To the right hand of God.
Crowned with glory,
Crowned with honour
We worship you.
 
Scriptural words adapted by David Fellingham. Jesus You Are the Radiance. 1985.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 30, Monday (April 8) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Only Begotten Son
Day 30   Monday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

JOHN 1: 14, 18 (NEW KING JAMES VERSION) 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 
 
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. 
 
JOHN 3: 16 (NEW KING JAMES VERSION)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
 
ROMANS 8:32
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
 
CONSIDER
In the Apostles’ Creed we affirm that we believe “in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son our Lord.” Jesus is the Son of God in a unique way. He is eternally the Son. We are created beings. Once we were not in existence, now we are. Once we were not God’s children, but then he recreated us in Christ. But Jesus has always been God’s Son.  
 
The Son was not created. He was, as the Nicene Creed declares, “begotten not made.” We humans make objects by using our intelligence and craft to bring forth instruments, art, stories or houses. But these are not us. However, we “beget” children. Because what comes from the union of man and woman is human; the child is literally one of us. 
 
The mystery of our God is that from before time he was ever a God in relationship. He was, and is, and always will be love. Love means relationship and always there was the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in loving glory.
 
In the fullness of time, God sent forth the eternal Son into our world. The Son of God became as well a son of Adam. Jesus is uniquely God’s Son. And so Jesus alone can truly show us who the invisible God really is.  
 
When we consider the unique intimacy of the relationship between the Father and the Son, we stagger to consider that the Father spared not his own Son for us. As T. F. Torrance has said, “In Jesus we see that God loves us more even than he loves himself!” 

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PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, only Begotten Son of the Father,
cause me to be born again in you, from the despair of sin to a living hope.

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LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7).

JOHN 1: 12-13
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 
1 PETER 1: 22-23
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.
 
CONSIDER
By the gift of the only begotten Son, we can be adopted as children of God. And it’s more than a legal adoption: we receive the Spirit of sonship in our hearts (Rom. 8: 15). We get made new, taken into the eternal relationship of love that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
This makes Christianity so much more than an ethic for living. And Jesus is so much more than a teacher to follow. We proclaim a mystic union between Christ and his people, by which we are born anew as sons and daughters in Christ. 
 
Close by singing two more verses from “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,”
 
O ye heights of heaven adore him; angel hosts his praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before him, and extol our God and king;
Let no tongue on earth be silent, every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore!
 
Christ, to thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory.
Evermore and evermore!
 
Aurelius Prudentius, AD 400, trans. John Mason Neale. Of the Father’s 
Love Begotten. 1854.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 29, Sunday (April 7) - Living into His Name

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Unique among religions, we worship a God who emptied himself of all privilege and power to come among us an ordinary man. Paul says he “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant . . . becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2: 7-8). Jesus was abused and abased for our sake. But the Father did not leave him in such a state: “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2: 9). So now Jesus is the Lord of all the cosmos. The infant in the manger, the man tortured on the cross, is revealed as the Ruler of all things. He is exalted on high. 
 
This week’s mosaic depicts Christ as Pantocrator, the ruler of all things, things “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2: 10). Often in Christian art, a painting of Christ Pantocrator is found in the center of the high ceiling or dome of a church. The congregation feels how Jesus is ruling over all. 
 
Our image, however, is from the side of the long sanctuary of S. Apollinare Nuovo. It faces the image of the infant Jesus on Mary’s lap that we studied in week one. The incarnate God and the reigning King look across to each other. Jesus’ beginning among us and his final destiny embrace the congregation. We live contained in the story between Jesus’ birth and his exaltation. 
 
The row of mosaics on this side of the church depict those who gave their life in martyrdom making their way to cast their crowns before the true King. Each one streams to the throne to acknowledge the Name above all names.
 
This week we explore the most exalted titles for Jesus given to him in the New Testament. Taking these names on our lips, reaching upward with them in our minds, and letting them take root deep in our hearts will lift us up as we exalt Jesus.
 

My God!
Day 29   Sunday

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EXPLORE THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

For us there is one God, the Father,
from whom are all things and for whom we exist,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8: 6).

JOHN 20: 24-29
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 
 
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
 
2 PETER 1: 1
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. . . . 
 
CONSIDER
We call him “Doubting Thomas,” but that does him a disservice. Thomas, once he saw the resurrected Jesus, spoke the most exultant words of faith yet uttered about Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” Thomas got down to the heart of it. The man who got up from the dead is Lord of all. The man who defeated death and the devil is God.
 
The earliest Christians worshiped Jesus as divine. Though it would have been blasphemy for Jews to give such devotion to a mere man, they felt compelled. Though it would have seemed absurd to the Greek culture around them that flesh and blood could be given the place of exaltation, Jesus’ disciples could not withhold their worship.   
 
Thomas said it as clearly and passionately as any ever could. Peter echoed it in the opening of his letter, too. This is our bottom line affirmation. Beholding Jesus crucified and risen we cry out, “My Lord and my God!”
 
__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Begin with the Jesus Prayer. Pray it reflectively several times, for yourself or on behalf of another. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then pray the day’s prayer slowly and repeatedly for at least a minute (that’s about seven times). Allow the prayer to take you into the meaning of the day’s facet of Jesus’ name. Pray it for yourself and/or on behalf of another. Take your time and trust this process!

Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, I am yours, and yours alone.

__________________________________________________

LIVE INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, 
so that through them you might become partakers of his divine
nature . . . For this very reason, supplement your faith with
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness,
brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1: 4-7). 

TITUS 2: 11-14
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
 
CONSIDER
Paul also heartily affirmed that Jesus is God. He rejoiced that “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” appeared in the world. He showed up on the world stage.
 
To redeem us from the old life and start in us a new life as a people passionate to do good works for God in thanksgiving for his salvation. How will you live this passion of new life today?
 
Close by singing these verses from this beloved hymn, 
 
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and Man the Son: Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.
 
Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor,
Praise, adoration, now and forever more be thine.
 
Anonymous. Fairest Lord Jesus. 17th c. German Hymn.