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First Thoughts Blog

Day 14, Saturday (March 23) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

Christ: The Messiah
Day 14   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).

MATTHEW 16: 13-18, 21
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
 
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
 
LUKE 24: 44-47
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
 
CONSIDER
The word “Christ” means anointed one. It is the Greek equivalent to the word “Messiah,” which also means anointed one. In the Old Testament days, kings were anointed with oil. They were set apart for the special office of leading the LORD’s people as the LORD’s chosen representative.
 
In Isaiah 61, one of the prophetic songs about the coming servant of the LORD who will redeem the LORD’s people, we read, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news. . . .” The coming Messiah would be anointed not with oil but with the Holy Spirit himself.
 
In his first recorded sermon, Jesus read from Isaiah 61 and then declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 21). Jesus understood himself to be the Christ, and he knew that this name meant not only power and glory, but the deep suffering of his faithful ministry and atoning death. 

__________________________________________________

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, anointed by the Spirit, you heal and you save, you bring hope and peace, for you brought the Kingdom of heaven to earth through your living, dying, rising and ascending; come again to set all things right!

__________________________________________________

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 2: 14-16a
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
 
CONSIDER
The anointing oil used on kings had a powerfully pungent aroma. To the friends of the King, this aroma meant the life and peace of a good king reigning. To the enemies of the LORD’s anointed, this aroma meant the threat of his rule interrupting their plans and their personal sovereignty. Even today, we who smell Christ-like, as those anointed with his Spirit, find that some are attracted and some are repelled by our Christ in us. 
 
How does it help you to know that both reactions to Christ are normal?
 
Would it be helpful to get the “smell” of Christ off of us so no one would have to be disturbed by our association with him?
 
How does the anointing of the Spirit upon us advance the spread of the Gospel?
 
How do we get more and more of the “smell” of our Christ upon us?
 
Close by praying through song this verse and chorus from Chris Tomlin,
 
He became sin, who knew no sin;
That we might become his righteousness;
He humbled himself, and carried the cross.
Love so amazing, love so amazing.
 
Jesus, Messiah; name above all names;
Blessed redeemer; Immanuel.
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from heaven;
Jesus, Messiah, Lord of all.
 
Christ Tomlin. Jesus Messiah. 2008.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 13, Friday (March 22) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

Master
Day 13   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 5: 4-6
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 
 
LUKE 8: 22-25
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
 
CONSIDER
The master is the one who knows how to get it done. The master knows more than the others and has the wisdom born of experience to use knowledge correctly. If we “master” a skill, it means we can wield that skill successfully, be it woodworking or surgery or plant-grafting.
 
The master is the one who has the right and authority to ask for obedience.
Over what does Jesus show mastery in these passages?
 
What did wind and waves represent to ancient people? To us?
 
What kind of authority does our Master, Jesus, have in the world? Why?
 
Into which waters and winds of life would you most like him to exert mastery today? Would you ask him?

__________________________________________________

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, Master of the storm and seas, save me when I sink, 
and rescue me from perishing. 

__________________________________________________

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

PHILIPPIANS 2: 5-7
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God . . . emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.
 
COLOSSIANS 4: 1
Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
 
CONSIDER
Jesus had the raw power to compel the obedience of the wind and waves. He certainly had the authority to compel obedience from humanity. Why, then, did he choose the way of servanthood?
 
How do we draw close to our Master when we exercise servanthood?
 
How can we act as servants even when we must exercise the leadership of “masters” in our work, family or professions?
 
Where today would you most like Christ to assist you in emptying yourself for others?
 
Close by singing this hymn:
 
O Master, let me walk with thee
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me thy secret, help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.
 
Help me to slow the heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.
 
Teach me thy patience! Still with thee
In closer, dearer company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In truth that triumphs over wrong;
 
In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broadening way
In peace that only thou canst give,
With thee, O Master, let me live.
 
Washington Gladden. O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee. 1879.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 12, Thursday (March 21) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

Prophet
Day 12   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).

DEUTERONOMY 18: 15-19
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
 
JOHN 6: 11-14
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
 
CONSIDER
A Biblical prophet is not a fortune teller. Nor a clairvoyant about the future. A Biblical prophet speaks the Word of God into a present situation with immediate actions for God’s people to take. The prophet speaks of the future only in regard to two present realities. 1) The LORD’s promises to the people based on his continuing character of covenant faithfulness. 2) The LORD’s warnings about future consequences based on how the people respond to him today.  
 
Moses was a great prophet because he relayed the LORD’s Word, both to the Pharaoh and to the LORD’s people, with constant application to present action. 
 
Moses foretold that the LORD would one day send again a prophet of his stature. By Jesus’ day, people were looking for a Messiah to save them from oppression and set the world right. They often called this expected Messiah the Prophet.
 
When Jesus began his ministry of miracles, people were reminded of the miracles that occurred in the days of Moses, and they hailed him as the long-awaited Messiah Prophet who brought God’s Word in power to a desperate people. 
 
So through the centuries theologians have considered Jesus to have three “offices,” or roles, he fulfills with authority. One of these is the office of prophet, for like no other he who is the Word made flesh brought God’s Word to bear in the present moment as he gave people hope that the future kingdom of God would indeed dawn.

__________________________________________________

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, giver of the law of love, prophet of truth and architect of earth’s future, shape me by your Word this day.

__________________________________________________

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

1 CORINTHIANS 14: 1, 3
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy . . . the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 
 
CONSIDER
The office of prophecy continues in the community of Christ’s people. Again, this was not magical foretelling of random events. This was, and is, the present application of God’s Word to particular circumstances that also have future implications.
 
How are sermons and Bible studies prophetic?
 
Recall a time when you heard Scripture explained in a way that seemed to address exactly a situation you were going through. 
 
How do you hope Jesus would fulfill his title of Prophet in your life today?
 
Close by singing through these verses from Isaac Watts. The words fit the same tune as “Rejoice the Lord Is King.”
 
Great Prophet of my God, my tongue would bless thy name:
By thee the joyful news of our salvation came, 
The joyful news of sins forgiven, 
Of hell subdued and peace with heaven.
 
My Savior and my Lord, my Conqueror and my King,
Thy scepter and thy sword, thy reigning grace, I sing:
Thine is the power, behold I sit in willing bonds beneath thy feet.
 
Isaac Watts. Join All the Glorious Names. 1707.  

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 11, Wednesday (March 20) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

Teacher
Day 11   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).

MARK 1: 21-22
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
 
MATTHEW 22: 15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
 
CONSIDER
What was the quality of Jesus’ teaching that so astonished his listeners? The word authority here literally means “out of being.” Jesus knew what we talked about because he knew the mind of his Father. How do you see Jesus’ brilliance as a teacher in his reply to the question of taxes?

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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, Teacher of truth, 
you have the words of eternal life: speak to me today.

__________________________________________________

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

JOHN 20: 15-18
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
 
CONSIDER
Jesus surprised Mary in the garden, calling her by name. The title “Rabonni,” teacher, was the first word out of her startled mouth. What does that tell about her relationship to Jesus?
 
Why do we feel affectionately toward those who have taught us important things?
 
What new information about his future did he give Mary to share with the other disciples?
 
How might we consider Mary’s words to the disciples to be the heart of our witness to Jesus our Teacher?
 
COLOSSIANS 3: 16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
 
CONSIDER
Life in Jesus our Teacher means a continuing dynamic: we learn from him and we teach others of him. We receive and we give. All the while we discover the wonderful truth that never did you learn something so well as when you teach it.
 
Thus, a community of Christ is always a vibrant gathering to be sent, learning and teaching, being filled and pouring out, loving and being loved with the truth of our Teacher at the still center of our pulsing life together.
 
Speak to Jesus this morning of all you have learned from him. Thank him for things you know about him. Thank him for insights you have received recently. Speak, or sing, back to him who you have discovered him to be.
 
Close by singing these hymn verses:
 
Savior, teach me, day by day, love’s sweet lesson to obey;
Sweeter lesson cannot be, loving him who first loved me.
 
Teach me thus thy steps to trace, strong to follow in thy grace,
Learning how to love from thee, loving him who first loved me.
 
Love in loving finds employ, in obedience all her joy;
Ever new that joy will be, loving him who first loved me.
 
Jane Leeson. Savior, Teach Me, Day by Day. 1842.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 10, Tuesday (March 19) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

Son of Man
Day 10   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).

DANIEL 7: 13-14
“I saw in the night visions, 
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,        
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
 
MARK 2: 10-11
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 
 
MATTHEW 26: 63-64
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
 
CONSIDER
To the people of Jesus’ day, the title “Son of Man” meant more than just being another human being. Son of Man harked back to the mighty vision of Daniel 7, in which a mysterious figure, who was like us, but more than us, was given all rule and authority.
 
The mystery of Daniel 7 could not be unraveled until the Son of God incarnated as the Son of Man and then, following his redeeming work, was exalted in his ascension as the Son of Man who now rules over all things. 
 
Note how Jesus claims this title for himself before the high priest. Just before he was condemned to die a shameful death, Jesus had faith to predict his coming his ascension and return!

__________________________________________________

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, Son of Man, at the Father’s right hand 
who reigns in power, I bow to you as Lord this day.

__________________________________________________

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

MATTHEW 5: 44-45

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
 
CONSIDER
How does Jesus show us what it means to be truly human? 
 
How does Jesus put the lie to the phrase “I’m only human” as an excuse to act according to animal instinct?
 
How does loving enemies and praying for persecutors particularly elevate us to the image of the Son of Man?
 
Close by singing these verses from the hymn “At the Name of Jesus:”
 
Humbled for a season, to receive a name
From the lips of sinners, unto whom he came,
Faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious when from death he passed.
 
Bore it up triumphant, with its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures, to the central height,
To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast,
Filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.
 
Caroline Noel, At the Name of Jesus. 1861.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 9, Monday (March 18) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

Beloved of the Father
Day 9   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).

ISAIAH 42: 1-7
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.

MARK 1: 9-11
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
 
JOHN 5: 20, JOHN 17: 25-26
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.
 
O righteous Father . . . I made known to them your name . . . that the love with which you have loved me may be in them.”
 
CONSIDER
We pick up the first verse from the Isaiah passage we studied Saturday. The servant of the LORD is one in whom the LORD delights. He is the beloved. And we discover that he is Jesus. This prophecy of Isaiah was echoed in the baptism of Jesus when the Father spoke, “You are my beloved 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, beloved Son in whom the Father delights, 
I find his acceptance through 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). 

EPHESIANS 1: 3-6 (NEW KING JAMES VERSION)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as son by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he has made us accepted in the Beloved.
 
EPHESIANS 5: 1-2
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
 
CONSIDER
The Father has made us accepted in his Son, the beloved one! We are beloved in the Beloved. Because the Beloved One has joined himself to us forever. And the Spirit has joined us to the Beloved One through faith.
 
So Paul goes on to show us how knowing the wonderful romance of this truth leads to direct application: be imitators of God the way beloved children imitate the parents who love them.
 
What qualities of the Beloved do you especially wish to show forth this day?
 
Close by making this French baptismal prayer your own, 
 
For you, little child, Jesus Christ has come, 
he has fought, he has suffered. 
For you he entered the shadow of Gethsemane and the horror of Calvary. For you he uttered the cry, “It is finished!” 
For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes — for you, little child, even though you do not know it. 
But in this way the word of the Gospel becomes true. 
“We love him, because he first loved us.” 
 
James Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace
Downers Grove: IVP, 1996.

TODAY'S PRAYER

 

Day 8, Sunday (March 17) - Living into His Name

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?

For thirty years, Jesus lived in relative obscurity in Nazareth, learning the carpenter’s trade from his stepfather Joseph. But as Jesus turned 30, he stepped onto the public stage when he was baptized by his cousin John. He soon called 12 disciples to join him.

 
This week’s image is also from S. Apollinare Nuovo. It comes from a row of mosaics above the procession to the newborn king described last week. This upper row depicts scenes from Christ’s ministry. So today we see Jesus’ calling to the fishermen Peter and John. Their nets have snagged a wondrously large catch of fish. Peter, seeing the miracle, would fall to his knees as he realized that Jesus was indeed God come among us. And Jesus would summon Peter with the mission, “from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5: 10).
 
Peter was always bold in his declarations, for better or worse. So Peter would come to display his great heart of faith the day Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?” After Christ’s mighty miracles and amazing teaching, everyone was talking about him. Who can speak about the Scriptures as if he wrote them? Who can open the eyes of the blind and raise the dead? Peter spoke aloud what no one had yet dared to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matt. 16: 16).
 
The question of Jesus’ identity continues to be the question for everyone who encounters him. Jesus does not allow us to stay indifferent to him. He demands a response. This week, we will explore names given to Jesus during his ministry and how we can enter the faith of his earliest followers.
 

Creator Word of God
Day 8   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 1: 1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
 
1 CORINTHIANS 8: 5-6
For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet 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.
 
CONSIDER
John 1 starts like Genesis 1: In the beginning. In Genesis a first curtain is pulled back on the stage of the world, and we see that the earth exists because God made it. In John 1, a second curtain is pulled back and we see that God the Father created the world through his Word, Jesus his Son.
 
In the Corinthians passage that we read every day this Lent, we see another astounding insight. It explodes as if Paul had split the atom! Watch:
 
Deuteronomy 6: 4 is the great confession of the Hebrew faith, recited daily by faithful Jews. It is a bedrock affirmation, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” There is no other god. Only the LORD I AM is God and he is one, unique, complete. The phrase “The LORD our God” is a profound assertion of monotheism. There is only one God. In the world where the ancient Hebrews lived, this was the pulling back of the curtain to expose all the local pagan gods as nothing compared to the LORD. 
 
But with the coming of Jesus, another curtain was pulled back. And so Paul splits the atom of Deut. 6: 4. He sees in the phrase “The LORD our God” room for Jesus the Son.  
 
So he says, for us there is one God, the Father from whom are all things. And one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things. The Creator God is the Father and the Son. The world was created by the Father through the Son.
 
Further reflection would reveal that the Spirit is also God. After all, as far back as Genesis 1: 2, we read that the Spirit hovered over the waters, shaping the young world. And so latent in Scripture is the idea that would be developed in the coming years: the one God is three. 
 
Today, let your mind reel with this news! The man who walked among us as Jesus spoke to the wind and the waves as if he had made them. Because he had!
 
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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, Word of the Father, through whom all things were made, by a mighty act you have made me new.  

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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). 

COLOSSIANS 1: 15-16, 19-22
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 
 
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 
 
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
 
CONSIDER
By the Son of God all things were made. This Son came to us as a man. He gave his life to reconcile the world he had made. His very body is the place where God and man meet, the place where God and man are made one again.  
 
If this is true, that Jesus the Creator is Jesus our Reconciler, how will you live today?
 
This prayer can be sung to the tune of “Rejoice, the Lord Is King,”
 
We come, O Christ, to you, true Son of God and man,
By whom all things consist, in whom all life began:
In you alone we live and move, and have our being in your love.
 
Margaret Clarkson. We Come, O Christ, to You. 1957.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 7, Saturday (March 16) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

Servant King of the Nations
Day 7   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).

ISAIAH 42: 1-7

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
“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.
 
ROMANS 15: 8-9
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,  
 
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name” (2 Sam. 22: 50).
 
CONSIDER
This passage from Isaiah 42 is the first of four “servant” prophecies in which the LORD promises salvation through the work of a faithful redeemer who represents his people in triumph that comes through suffering. What personality qualities of this servant do you find in this passage?
 
What are his activities on behalf of the people?
 
Where do you see the promise of this prophecy extend beyond Israel?
 
How does Paul confirm this world-reaching work of the servant king in our Romans passage? 

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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, sent as servant to save the nations, 
reign as king in my heart and throughout this world. 

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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). 

MATTHEW 2: 13
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
 
MATTHEW 20: 26-28
It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
CONSIDER
When the wise men came to worship the newborn king, Herod immediately considered Jesus to be a rival. In what areas of life do you consider Jesus to be a rival to your desires?
 
In Jesus’ words from Matthew 20, we see that our King, the desire of nations, considered himself to be a servant of all. Jesus goes on to liken our mission to his mission as the servant. To what kind of life are we thus called?  
 
In what areas of your daily life might such service play out today?
 
Close by praying this name of Jesus, our Servant King, first through the more literal translation of this O Antiphon, 
 
O King of the nations, and their desire
The cornerstone making both one;
Come and save the human race,
Which you fashioned from clay.
 
And then, by singing this verse of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,”
 
O come, O King of nations, bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease, 
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
O Come, O Come, Immanuel. 
Ancient Latin prayer, trans. 
John Mason Neale. 1851.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

 

Day 6, Friday (March 15) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

The Sunrise
Day 6   Friday

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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).

ISAIAH 60: 1-3
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
 
MALACHI 4: 2
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
 
LUKE 1: 76-79
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
 
CONSIDER
Sunrise brings hope. As Psalm 30: 5 so famously says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The days of Jesus among us were like a sunrise. What greater day does his dawn promise in these passages?
 
Where in this weary world do you particularly long for light to shine in the darkness?
 
What is it like when the reality of Jesus dawns on us?
 
For which people in the dark do you most ardently pray?

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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, radiant light of the Father’s love, dawn in my heart, 
and shine through every word and deed this day.  

__________________________________________________

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). 

MATTHEW 2: 1-2
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 
CONSIDER
What three things did the wise men do when they saw the star of the king?
 
How do they provide a pattern for our conversations and life in Christ today?
 
Close by praying this name of Jesus, first through the more literal translation of this O Antiphon, 
 
O Morning Star, splendor of light eternal
And sun of righteousness;
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death.
 
And then, by singing this verse of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,”
 
O come, thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, 
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
O Come, O Come, Immanuel.
Ancient Latin prayer, trans. 
John Mason Neale. 1851.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN