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First Thoughts Blog

Day 28, Saturday (April 6) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

The Last Adam
Day 28   Saturday

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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).

ROMANS 5: 15-17
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
 
1 CORINTHIANS 15: 20-26; 45-49; 58
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
 
Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
 
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
 
CONSIDER
Jesus is the new Adam. He is the re-start of the human race. He is a new kind of human. No longer subject to death. Outfitted for an eternal embodied life in the presence of his Father. The new Adam is not weighed down by sin and mortal frailty.  
 
So when we are in Christ, we are new creations (2 Cor. 5: 17). We participate in his renewed humanity. We get transferred from being identified solely by the old Adam, prone to sin and condemned to die. We find our identity in the new Adam, Jesus, humanity perfected.

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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, Last Adam, clasp me by the heart’s hand, 
and join me to humanity made new in 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).

EPHESIANS 4: 21-24 (NEW KING JAMES VERSION)
If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
 
CONSIDER
Jesus is the new Adam. We are in Christ. Our task now is to choose daily, hourly, to live from the new man, to draw from the One who renews us in himself. This involves consciously dying to the lusts of the old man and deliberately choosing to live both from and for the last Adam, even Jesus.
 
Close by singing these verses from Isaac Watts’ classic hymn, 
 
Jesus shall reign, where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
 
Where he displays his healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more;
In him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
 
Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King,
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!
 
Isaac Watts. Jesus Shall Reign. 1719.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 27, Friday (April 5) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

Founder and Perfecter of Faith
Day 27   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).

HEBREWS 12: 1-4
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 
 
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 
 
HEBREWS 12: 7-8
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
 
CONSIDER
Another great title for Jesus from Hebrews is the “founder and perfecter” of our faith. Jesus is the author and completion, the initiator and the finisher, the start and the goal, the first one out of the blocks and the last one to kick the race home. His work encompasses our lives. 
 
Jesus has already run the course of faithful human living. He plowed through suffering, temptation and even unjust rejection and ultimate condemnation, never losing faith.  
 
Whatever stage of the human “race” we are in, we know that Jesus has gone before us. We draw from his victory. We trust that he will get us safely home. In the meantime, we can view our trials as creating maturity and deepening faith in us. We can see them as the necessary training, or discipline, that a loving parent provides a beloved son.

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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, Founder and Perfecter of faith, you began human 
faithfulness by your obedience, now perfect your salvation in 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).

HEBREWS 12: 11-15
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble. 
 
CONSIDER
Take some time to consider the difficulties you face in this stage of your life’s course. Consider Jesus who endured suffering and powered faithfully through even the cross. Ask him to strengthen your weary soul and body for the day ahead. Ask him to make even this seemingly senseless suffering become the discipline that deepens your sense of sonship. Draw strength as well from those faithful Christians who have gone before you and run their race to the finish.
 
Close by singing these verses from an ancient 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.
 
Laud and honor to the Father, laud and honor to the Son,
Laud and honor to the Spirit, ever three and ever One,
One in might, and One in glory, while unending ages run.
 
Anonymous. Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation. 7th c. Latin prayer,
trans. John Mason Neale. 1851.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 26, Thursday (April 4) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

Our High Priest
Day 26   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).

HEBREWS 2: 17-18
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
 
HEBREWS 4: 14-16
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
 
HEBREWS 10: 11-14
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
 
CONSIDER
The role of the high priest in ancient Israel was to offer the sacrifice of atonement. Wearing a breastplate on which was engraved the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, he entered the Holy of holies representing all the people. The sacrifice had to be offered once a year, for it was only symbolic of the hope of God’s mercy. Jesus made a perfect sacrifice that needs never to be repeated. He acted as both the priest and the offering, sacrificing his own blood for our sins.
 
Jesus’ priesthood continues as he prays for us, ever applying his forgiveness to our sins and ever offering us, by the Spirit, his righteousness to transform us.  
 
Hebrews notes that because of his humanity, and the temptations he faced throughout his days with us, Jesus is not aloof, but sympathetic to the trials we face.

__________________________________________________

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, great High Priest, 
who offered yourself a perfect sacrifice, intercede for me even now.

__________________________________________________

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).

HEBREWS 10: 19-25
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
 
CONSIDER
Hebrews urges us to draw near to God with full assurance. Our great high priest has provided a new and living way to God. He stands as our guarantee of acceptance before God. Thus we take courage and give courage to one another.
 
Explore this assurance as you close by singing this verse, 
 
Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong and perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is love,
Whoever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands;
My name is written on his heart.
I know that while in heaven he stands,
No tongue can bid me thence depart. 
 
Charitie L. Bancroft. Before the Throne of God Above. 1863.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 25, Wednesday (April 3) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

Advocate
Day 25   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).

1 JOHN 2: 1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
 
ROMANS 8: 31-35
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
 
CONSIDER
An advocate comes alongside us in court to plead our cause. As we study again this passage from 1 John, we see how Jesus addresses not only our past sins but our present ones. He argues our case when we sin, based not on excusing us for any merit we have earned, but based on the sufficiency of his propitiation. He made a complete atonement for us. So he advocates before the Throne based on his righteousness applied to us.
 
In the Romans passage, we see that Jesus even now intercedes for us. He prays for us. For he made atonement, peace between God and humanity, within himself. He ever lives as the God who is man and the man who is God. His very existence advocates for us. When we are in him, we have all that he is. Thus, nothing, not even our own sin, can separate us from the love of God in 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, Advocate at the Father’s right hand, 
ever plead your righteousness on my behalf.

__________________________________________________

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 TIMOTHY 1: 12-17
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
 
CONSIDER
Paul had once persecuted Christ’s people. Even years later, he considered himself the foremost of sinners. But his very awareness of his sinfulness led him constantly to an exalted view of the one who came to save such sinners. 
Offer to Christ Jesus today the sins he has already bought and paid for. Release them to Jesus and ask him to be your continuing advocate. 
Close by singing these verses from “The Solid Rock.”
 
My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
 
Refrain: On Christ, the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand.
 
His oath, his covenant, his blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay. (Refrain)
 
When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found;
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne. (Refrain)
 
Edward Mote. The Solid Rock. 1834.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 24, Tuesday (April 2) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

Atonement and Propitiation
Day 24   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).

ROMANS 3: 23-25
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
 
1 JOHN 2: 1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world.
 
EPHESIANS 2: 13-19
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
 
CONSIDER
Propitiate is not a word we use very often. But we actually all do it! When a husband brings home flowers after he has disappointed his wife, he’s making propitiation: turning aside anger and making peace. 
 
God has wrath against sin. Because sin destroys, diminishes, maims and kills the creation he loves. Our sin has caused incalculable harm to one another. And God takes that personally. Not because he is over-sensitive like some bully.
But because he is eternally invested in his creation. 
 
The kindling of wrath goes with making a free creation that could, and did, choose against God’s good will. The turning aside of that wrath was also part of the eternal plan of the Triune God. God planned a way to make peace without overlooking or ignoring just wrath caused by the harm of sin.
 
The eternal Son of God, Jesus, stepped into the world ultimately to bear wrath against sin on the cross, and in so doing to make an atonement, an at-one-ment, between God and humanity. He created reconciliation in himself.
 
How would you feel if God simply let Hitler, Gosnell, Stalin and Hussein get away with their harm? If there were no accounting for our evil, would the new creation seem just?
 
How can we fathom the cost of taking the accumulated just wrath against humanity’s collective sins upon one person? Only a divine person could bear it. God paid the price himself to create a future world of justice and mercy, a world that begins now in faith.

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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, Atoning Sacrifice, who interposed your precious blood between my sin and God’s holiness, wash me anew. 

__________________________________________________

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 12: 1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
 
CONSIDER
Because Jesus has offered himself as a propitiating sacrifice, we need no longer make sacrifices (animal or otherwise) to attain God’s favor. Yet we are called to offer ourselves to God in grateful response. How does Paul describe the qualities of being a living sacrifice?
 
Close by praying in song these verses from “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” 
 
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God.
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed his precious blood. 
 
O to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to thee!
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave thy precious love,
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for the courts above. 
 
Robert Robinson. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. 1758.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 23, Monday (April 1) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

Mediator
Day 23   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).

1 TIMOTHY 2: 5-7
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
 
HEBREWS 9: 15
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
 
CONSIDER
A mediator brings two parties together. The mediator seeks to reconcile conflict and restore harmony. Jesus as our mediator is closely related to his being the new covenant. He “mediates” this covenant, this new agreement, because he has paid the ransom for our sins so that the way is clear for us to be reconnected to the Father. 
 
Often people in conflict cannot even speak directly to one another. They speak through a mediator. Jesus our Mediator came to speak the Father’s words and will to us. And he speaks back to his Father our need, our longing and our faith. He offers God to us and offers us to God. We meet through the one true Mediator.
 
Though sin has been atoned through Christ’s reconciling work, we will yet always meet the Father through the mediator. For Jesus remains fully God and fully human into eternity. He holds God and humanity together in himself forever.
 
As you pray today, remember that you do so because Jesus takes our feeble prayers and makes them his own, cleansing them, and offering them to the Father who delights to answer his Son.

__________________________________________________

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, true Mediator, ever bridge the chasm between eternal God and my stained, frail humanity.  

__________________________________________________

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).

HEBREWS 12: 22-25
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 
 
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.
 
CONSIDER
This vision in Hebrews points us to the great day of Judgment and Reconciliation when God calls this life in this world to a halt and makes all things new. Our survival of that day is based on the mediating work of Jesus. And we will discover that it is much, much more than getting through divine scrutiny. It will be a day of high beauty and inexpressible joy as we join angelic beings in glorifying the God who saves. The final warning reminds us that joy is serious business. We dare not refuse the terms of the Mediator.  
 
Close in prayer this day, accepting freshly the terms of peace he has established for us! Explore this assurance by singing these verses from Wesley’s great hymn:
 
Arise, my soul, arise, shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my Surety stands, 
My name is written on his hands.
 
He ever lives above, for me to intercede,
His all redeeming love, his precious blood to plead:
His blood atoned for every race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
 
Five bleeding wounds he bears, received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers, they strongly plead for me.
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”
 
My God is reconciled; his pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for his child, I can no longer fear;
With confidence I now draw nigh, 
And “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.
 
Charles Wesley. Arise, My Soul, Arise. 1742.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 22, Sunday (March 31) - Living into His Name

A PRESENT AND ACTIVE SAVIOR

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Past, present and future. Jesus who came to us in flesh and blood died once for all upon the cross to atone for our sins. Jesus who died is now, right now, risen and ascended. He actively mediates between the Father and us, Christ’s brothers and sisters. He applies the work he accomplished in the past to us in the present.
 
This Jesus who died once and lives now is not finished with this world. He will come again. He will set all things right. He will complete in us the process of becoming conformed to his image.
 
This week we study names of Jesus related to his present ministry among us that is based on what he has accomplished in the past and what we anticipate he will do in the future. We will see how active Jesus is among us today.
 
So our mosaic depicts the risen Jesus walking with two disciples on Easter Sunday along the Emmaus Road. It all looks so normal! Traveling companions on the way from one place to another. Jesus addressing people amidst ordinary life. But Luke tells us that something extraordinary was happening: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24: 27). 
 
Don’t you wish you were part of that Bible study? Well, you are! By his Holy Spirit through his church, Jesus still teaches us who he is as his Word is read and interpreted. He is still with us on every daily path. He still walks through the world toward Home.
 

The New Covenant 
Day 22   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).

EXODUS 24: 7-8
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
 
MARK 14: 24
And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
 
ISAIAH 42: 6-7
“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
 
JEREMIAH 31: 31, 33
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”
 
LUKE 22: 20
“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” 
 
CONSIDER
A covenant is a binding agreement between people. In Scripture, a covenant expresses the LORD’s commitment to us and the response he requires. After the Exodus, the LORD gave the commandments to his people through Moses on Mt. Sinai. Their agreement to his Word was sealed through blood. Moses threw the blood on the people (!) as he declared, “This is the blood of the covenant.”
 
Jesus echoed these words in the Upper Room when he lifted the third cup of wine at the Passover meal and declared “This is my blood of the covenant.” A new deal was being made. New terms for the relationship between God and his people.
 
Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah in which the LORD said of his special Servant King: “I will give you as a covenant to the people.” He also fulfilled the prophecy spoken through Jeremiah in which the LORD promised that the new covenant would be written not on tablets of stone but within the human heart. 
 
The new covenant is Jesus himself. He fulfilled the binding terms from both God’s side and our side. He kept the covenant from the depths of his heart and in all his faithful actions. So Jesus is the “place” where we meet and enter renewed relationship with the Father. If you are in Jesus, you are in the new covenant. If this is true, what would it mean to your life today?
 
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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, you are the new covenant between God and man, 
sealed in blood. In you, God and man meet, and are reconciled. 
Graft me into this promise!

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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). 

HEBREWS 8: 6, 10
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
       after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, 
and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God,
       and they shall be my people.”
 
CONSIDER
The longing inside us to keep covenant with our God is evidence of the work of the Spirit in our hearts. Now we are people in conflict. For we have still the sinful, selfish nature of the old self residing next to the Spirit of the new covenant. Can you feel your longing for the day when only the new heart for God remains? Invite the Holy Spirit to work more deeply within you today. 
 
Close by praying this beautiful benediction from Hebrews 13. Pray it first for yourself, then for someone you love:
 
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
 
 

Day 21, Saturday (March 30) - Living into His Name

JESUS SAID, "I AM"

One with the Father
Day 21   Saturday

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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 10: 24-34
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” 
 
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?”
 
CONSIDER
Jesus outrageously claimed, as a man, that he was “one” with God the Father. That means that who we see Jesus to be is what God is actually like. That means that what we see Jesus do is what God actually does in us and for us. That means there is no hidden God behind the back of Jesus. There is no secret God who will turn out to be other than who we see and hear Jesus to be.
 
What does Jesus’ oneness with the Father have to do with his declaration that he gives his sheep eternal life?
 
What does it have to do with our security that no one can snatch us out of his hand?

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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, one with the Father, you are I AM,
the one true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no other.

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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).

1 CORINTHIANS 12: 12-13, 26-27
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 
 
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 
 
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
 
CONSIDER
Jesus is one with his Father in the bonds of the Spirit. He declares that we who are joined to him are one body with him, the one who is one with the Father.
That means we are one with each other for we share the same Spirit.
 
How does this reality challenge my idea that spirituality is an individual choice?
 
What does this oneness of Christ’s people have to do with the choices I make to pursue others who belong to him? To pursue reconciliation? To love those who are harder to love? To gather wandering sheep? To make the effort to show up? To open my heart? To seek greater expression of oneness in Christ who is one with the Father?
 
Close by singing these verses from the mystical ancient hymn “Of the Father’s Love Begotten:”
 
Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, he the source, the ending he,
Of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!
 
At his word, the worlds were framed. He commanded; it was done.
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining of the moon and the burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!
 
He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish in the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!
 
Aurelius Prudentius, AD 400, trans. John Mason Neale. Of the Father’s Love Begotten. 1854.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 20, Friday (March 29) - Living into His Name

JESUS SAID, "I AM"

The True Vine
Day 20   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).

JOHN 15: 1-11
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
 
CONSIDER
Grapevines were all over ancient Israel. Wine was a staple of life and vineyards were crucial to the life and economy of God’s people. Also, Israel herself was likened to a vineyard planted by the LORD (Isaiah 5). Across the Temple was a gilded grapevine symbolizing a special people. But the prophet declared that the people had failed to produce a harvest. They were barren of faithfulness.
 
How does this context help us understand why Jesus likened himself to a vine?
 
How is Christ’s faithfulness necessary to our faithfulness and fruitfulness?
 
How does Jesus tell us to remain, or abide, in him, the Vine?

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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, True Vine to my small branch,
hold me fast today and grow your fruit through me
that the world might taste 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).

PSALM  52: 8-9
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
 
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.
 
GALATIANS 5: 22-25
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
 
CONSIDER
The fruit of living from Jesus the Vine is a life that tastes like this Galatians passage. What tips does Psalm 52 give us for things we can do in order to live more as a fruitful vine?
 
What is the connection between living from Jesus and living for Jesus?
 
Close in prayer as you meditate on lines from this hymn, 
 
Thou true life-giving Vine, let me thy sweetness prove;
Renew my life with thine, refresh my soul with love.
Rough paths my feet have trod, since first their course began;
Feed me, thou Bread of God, help me, thou Son of Man.
 
John S. B. Monsell. I Hunger and I Thirst. 1866.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 19, Thursday (March 28) - Living into His Name

JESUS SAID, "I AM"

The Way, the Truth and the Life
Day 19   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).

JOHN 13: 36-14: 9
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
 
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 
 
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
 
CONSIDER
On the last night before his crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples were worried that he was leaving them. They wanted to know where he was going and how they could follow him. Jesus did not give them a map, or even a list of instructions on how to reach him in heaven. Jesus assured them that he himself is both the road and the destination, both the goal and the plan. He is all, and we must be in him, not just knowing about him. 
 
In the 4th century, Augustine preached, “Christ-God is the country where we go, Christ-man is the way by which we go.” Jesus the man provided the way that we might go to live in and with Christ Jesus our God. 
 
What is the hard news in Jesus being the exclusive way to the Father?
 
What is the good news in Jesus being the way? 
 
What does it mean for your life that Jesus himself is the truth about God, life, the world and everything?

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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, Sure Way and Only Truth,
lead me forth in your truth and teach me, 
for apart from you I have no good. 

__________________________________________________

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).

PSALM 16: 1-2, 11
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 
CONSIDER
Recall times in your life when you “sought your own truth” apart from God. What were the effects of that?
 
Recall times when you “sought fullness of joy” apart from Christ. Describe the disappointment in such independent quests. Consider how the presence of the Triune God actually does fulfill us. What activities enhance the experiences of that presence?
 
Close by singing three verses from this hymn based on John 14: 7. The tune is the same as “Rejoice, the Lord Is King.”
 
You are the Way to God, Your blood our ransom paid;
In you we face our Judge and Maker unafraid.
Before the throne absolved we stand,
Your love has met your law’s demand.
 
You are the living Truth! All wisdom dwells in you,
The Source of every skill, the one eternal True!
O great I AM! In you we rest, 
Sure answer to our every quest.
 
You only are true Life! To know you is to live
The more abundant life that earth can never give.
O risen Lord! We live in you
In us each day your life renew!
 
Edith Margaret Clarkson. We Come, O Christ, to You. 1946.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN