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First Thoughts Blog

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? 

__________________________________________________

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. 

__________________________________________________

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?

__________________________________________________

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

 

Day 5, Thursday (March 14) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

The Key of David
Day 5   Thursday

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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 9: 6-7
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
 
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore. 
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
 
ISAIAH 22: 22
And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
 
REVELATION 3: 7
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.’”
 
CONSIDER
Today’s name continues the theme of David’s everlasting kingship being fulfilled in Jesus. Keys can be symbols of authority. The one who has the key has the authority to open the door. It could be the door to a treasure house, throne room, armory, intimate chamber or secret passage. Having the key means access, including the right and the power to use it.
 
From our passages today, how do you imagine Jesus wielding the power of David’s keys?
 
What doors in particular would you like Christ to unlock or seal shut?

__________________________________________________

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, Key of David, key to the everlasting promises of God,
open my mind to know you and my heart to receive 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). 

ACTS 14: 27
And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
 
1 CORINTHIANS 16: 9
For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 
 
CONSIDER
How have you seen Jesus open doors of faith in your life and in the lives of others?
 
Pray particularly for doors to open for Christ’s work through you today.
 
Close by praying this name of Jesus, first through the more literal translation of this O Antiphon, 
 
O Key of David and scepter of the House of Israel,
You open and no one can shut;
You shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house;
Those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
 
And then, as you sing this verse of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,”
 
O come, thou Key of David, come 
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high, 
And close the path to misery.
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 4, Wednesday (March 13) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

Root of Jesse and Son of David
Day 4   Wednesday

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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 11: 1-5, 10
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. 
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, 
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
 
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
 
LUKE 1: 67-72 (ZECHARIAH)
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,        
 
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us 
in the house of his servant David,  
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,  
that we should be saved from our enemies 
and from the hand of all who hate us; 
to show the mercy promised to our fathers 
and to remember his holy covenant,
 
CONSIDER
Isaiah 11 is a prophecy of the coming Messiah. In this passage, note how the prophet speaks of both a shoot from Jesse and the root of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s great Shepherd/King. The idea of a shoot from Jesse’s lineage makes sense. The Messiah would be a distant offspring of King David.
But how could a man yet to be born be the root, the source, of Jesse who lived long ago?
 
Only the One who is both God and man could exist before David, yet be born after David. Paradoxically, Jesus is both the Son of God who created the world and then came in a particular time to us as a particular man, born in the lineage of King David himself. 
The LORD had made promises to David of an eternal line of kings (see 2 Sam. 7: 13). When Israel went into exile, it appeared those promises were broken. But then Jesus, David’s long distant heir, entered the world to become king, not only of Israel but of the world. 

__________________________________________________

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, father of David and son of David, 
you are the eternal promise come true. 
Extend your steadfast love and faithfulness to all the earth.  

__________________________________________________

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). 

REVELATION 22: 16-17
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 
 
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
 
CONSIDER
The last chapter of the Bible records Jesus himself taking up the title of both the root and descendant of David. There follows the longing of Christ’s bride, the church, for this new David to return. And there follows an invitation for all who thirst to drink from the deep roots of the true David, to be grafted into his family tree.
 
Take some time today to acknowledge the eternal story of Jesus and invite him to graft your life’s story into his great redeeming plan.  
 
Close by praying this name of Jesus, first through the more literal translation of this O Antiphon, 
 
O Immanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God. 
 
And then sing this verse of “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,”
 
O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem, 
Unto your own and rescue them;
From depths of hell thy people save, 
And give them victory over the grave.
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 3, Tuesday (March 12) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

Son of God
Day 3   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).

ISAIAH 9: 6
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

LUKE 1: 30-33 (MARY)
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

CONSIDER
Imagine how strange this news was to Mary. The God who made her would be born from within her! The one who fashioned her being would be fashioned inside her womb. The God who spoke the world into being would humble himself to speak only infant cries against her breast.

When we confess that Jesus is the Son of God, we do simply mean that he was a child of God like any created human being. We mean that he is the eternal Son of the Father, through whom all things were made, stepping into our world in flesh and blood as Mary’s son. That same person would, when his work was done, return to his Father as the ascended King of all.

Let your mind stagger at such joyful paradox today!

__________________________________________________

PRAY THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

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

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

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

Lord Jesus Christ, eternal Son of the Father, 
who came in time as Mary’s son, include me in your Sonship. 

__________________________________________________

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). 

GALATIANS 3: 26-27
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

1 JOHN 3: 2-3
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

CONSIDER
Jesus the Son of God became one of us in order to include us in his Sonship!

He took up our humanity so that he could adopt us into his eternal relationship with his Father as he gives us to share in his own Spirit.

Jesus is far, far more than a good man who showed us a good way to live and so came to be called a son of God. He is the eternal one opening up his Triune family to us. We are God’s children through Jesus his Son: right now!

Close by praying (and singing!) this verse from “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” 

Christ, by highest heaven adored';
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.”

Charles Wesley. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. 1739.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Day 2, Monday (March 11) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

Immanuel: God with Us
Day 2   Monday

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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 7: 14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
 
MATTHEW 1: 22-25 
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
         
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel
 
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
 
CONSIDER
In what way were Joseph’s circumstances the fulfillment of a prophecy made seven centuries earlier?
 
The name Immanuel means that God is with us. What would change if the meaning of Jesus’ name was “God is beyond us?” Or, “God is against us?” Or, “God is within us?”  
 
Try finishing this sentence several ways, “Because God is with us in Jesus. . . .”
 
__________________________________________________
 
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, God in flesh, who simply would not be without us, 
draw near 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: 4-7).
 
2 PETER 1: 3-8
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
CONSIDER
This passage contains the fuller context of the verses we pray every day in this section. According to Peter, for what purpose has God given us his precious and great promises?
 
Based on God’s gift in Christ of “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” what are we to do now, according to this passage?
 
Which one of this list of qualities would you like to focus on doing today?
 
Several days this week, we will close using the ancient Latin prayers called the “O Antiphons.” An antiphon is a type of short prayer used in worship. They each begin with “O” and they each speak of one of the prophecies about Jesus in Isaiah. The first paragraph below is the O Antiphon literally translated to English. The second is the way the O Antiphon was set to music in the Advent carol, “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” if you wish to sing your prayers!
 
O Immanuel, our King and lawgiver
Expected of the nations, and their Savior,
Come to save us, O Lord our God!
 
O come, O come, Immanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here, 
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
O Come, O Come, Immanuel.
Ancient Latin prayer, trans. 
John Mason Neale. 1851.
 

Day 1, Sunday (March 10) - Living into His Name

COME, LONG EXPECTED JESUS!

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the LORD I AM promised he would visit and redeem his people. Though humanity had fallen into a cycle of sin and death, God pledged to break through and recreate his world.  His own particular people Israel repeatedly failed in their mission to be a blessing to the world. Yet the LORD continued to promise that he would enter the world to make things right.
 
The accounts of Jesus’ birth indicate that the first Christians saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies. His very name “Jesus” means “The LORD saves.” This week we will explore how from his conception and infancy Jesus received mighty titles indicating that he embodies the hope of the Scriptures. 
 
The mosaics in the Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo were completed in the early 500s. They run along the length of both sides of the sanctuary. In one row, a procession of consecrated women flow toward the infant Jesus on his mother’s lap. They are preceded by the three wise men bearing gifts to the newborn king. In this week’s mosaic, you can see Jesus making a sign of blessing as he receives those who come to him. Jesus is depicted as appearing older than he was in the Biblical account, an early artistic way of showing the paradox that he was both truly human and truly divine.
 
This is the child for whom Mary and Joseph have waited. This is the Redeemer for which the world has pined! He is here now, the desire of nations and the hope of every heart, drawing people to himself. The incarnate Son of God is the key that unlocks centuries of prophecy by his surprising arrival. This week, we will explore the prophecies expecting Immanuel, God with us.
 

Jesus: The Lord Saves
Day 1   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).

ISAIAH 60: 1-2; 16b
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 you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
 
MATTHEW 1: 18-21
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
 
CONSIDER
The name Jesus means, “the LORD saves.” This is not any old god! This is the LORD I AM, the Triune God of Grace who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the God who created the heavens and the earth. 
 
He called a particular people, Israel, to himself with a plan that they should bless the world with the knowledge of the one true God. This is the LORD who came himself to save us when we had gone astray.
 
The way he chose to come to us was as the child Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. As we think of his name, we wonder, “From what do we need to be saved?” 
 
Keep pondering until you come up with at least three items!
 
How is it that only the LORD can save us from these things?

__________________________________________________

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, Savior of your people, be your name to me today; 
be Jesus, the LORD who saves. 

__________________________________________________

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). 

LUKE 2: 11, 15-16
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
 
Consider
The angels announced the arrival of the God who had made the journey from heaven to earth to be our Savior. 
 
What did the shepherds have to do?
 
In what ways could we today “go to Bethlehem” to see what God has done? And to make it known?
 
Pray through the words of this hymn (It’s to the tune of “Love Divine, All Love Excelling” if you want to sing it!).
 
Jesus! what a friend for sinners! 
Jesus! Lover of my soul.
Friends may fail me, foes assail me, 
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior! 
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving, 
He is with me to the end.
 
J. Wilbur Chapman. Our Great Savior. 1910.

LISTEN TO TODAY'S HYMN

Introduction (March 9) - Living into His Name

Your name is the desire of our soul (Isaiah 26: 8).

 
The earliest devotion to Jesus was the same as that given to God. His name was reverenced. Titles quickly became associated with his name. “My Lord and my God!” cried out Thomas (John 20: 28). “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul called him often (Eph. 1: 3, Rom. 5: 11). So did Peter (1 Pet. 1: 3) and Luke (Acts 28: 31). In another letter Paul went even further, speaking of “Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2: 13). More than 80 times, though, he uniquely used the address, “Christ Jesus.” The title “Christ” magnifies the name “Jesus” with both adoration and awe. What man has ever evoked such ardor across the centuries?
 
From the beginning Jesus inspired hymns to be written about him full of ascriptions of majesty (See Col. 1: 13-20 and Phil. 2: 5-11). His birth was sung by angels, “For unto you is born this day . . . a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 11). And in the book of Revelation a combined earthly and heavenly choir sings: “Worthy is the lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5: 12). The words and works of Jesus of Nazareth have awakened the mightiest powers of adoration in human language. 
 
Exalting the name of Jesus brings us into relationship with him in the most intimate way. While no ordinary human could live up to such praise, nor handle the worship, with Jesus it is most appropriate. In fact, we know that no matter how much we say about him, we have never said all that he is, nor proclaimed his glory sufficiently.  
 
So exploring the names associated with Jesus will necessarily engage our minds and hearts, our thoughts and affections. We will seek to gush over the titles for Jesus revealed to us in Scripture. We will stretch our minds to reach toward the heights and depths to which he has gone to save us. We will strive to sync our daily lives up with the will of the Lord Jesus Christ for his creation.
 
When I began this study, I wondered if I could find 42 names for Jesus in the Bible. Now I am sorry we are limited to just 42! I’m glad you’re along for this journey of praise of our only Redeemer and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
 
How to Use This Study 20 Minutes a Day
 
I invite you to spend the next six weeks exploring day by day 42 of the many names in Scripture for the person and work of Jesus. Each day we will take up a new name. Plan to spend about 20 minutes in the process. The day’s work is always divided into three sections: 
 
1) Explore the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we will read Scriptures that include the day’s name. We will use our minds to ponder the significance of the name through comments and questions. The daily names are grouped into themes for each week. I was astounded to see the rich tapestry of revelation and praise contained in the Biblical titles for Jesus. 
 
2) Pray the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this middle activity, we want to let what we learned sink down into our hearts even as it rises in our praise. I will invite you to take up specific prayers exalting the name of Jesus. This, I believe, will be the most formative part of our daily work. 
 
We will use daily the ancient Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer fits naturally into the rhythm of breathing. Repeating it several times actually opens our souls. The testimony of millions of believers is that this prayer takes us far beyond any fear of “rote repetition” we might have into deepening intimacy with Jesus. 
Then, we will add a prayer in the same style that expresses the particular name of Jesus for that day. Again, we will pray it for about a minute straight so the words sink deeply into us. 
 
3) Live into the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we will read Scriptures that direct us to the application of the particular name of Jesus in daily life. And once again I will invite you to pray, this time using the reliable words of hymns both ancient and modern. 
 
Often, I will invite you to sing (!) during these prayers. I have consistently found that my experience of connecting to Christ Jesus strengthens as I sing as well as say prayers. Don’t worry, no one will hear you! We provide audio recordings on the church app should you want to hear or sing with the tunes.
 
The Challenge: What Can You Get for 14 Hours of Your Time?
 
The most striking thing I am going to ask you to do each day this Lent is read and pray repetitively. 
 
I’m going to ask you to trust the process. To keep going past the strangeness until this becomes a natural way to pray. To realize this ancient method is not “too Catholic” or “too spiritual.” It arose in the Christian soul long before we were separated into Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant believers. I’m asking that you ask the Spirit to form you through the repeating of Scriptures and prayers just as much as through study of the new passages each day.
 
By the end of Lent, I want you to have studied over 100 passages teaching you the meaning of the names of Jesus and how these titles apply to your life in Christ today.
 
I want you to have memorized two passages of Scripture because you have read and prayed them every day for 42 days. Trust that these two verses are potent enough to bear 42 days of exploration. And when you are finished, they will belong to you, for they will reside in your memory!
 
I want you to have prayed the ancient Jesus Prayer more than 200 times so that it will always be a part of your life, part of your very breath. 
 
I want you to have prayed each of the 42 names of Jesus multiple times as you meditate on the Biblical meaning of these titles and thus allow the knowledge of Jesus to move from your head to your heart.
 
All of this in just 14 hours! That’s 20 minutes a day for 42 days. 
 
I promise if you take this challenge, you will know Jesus in a fresher and deeper way.
 
Because the Scriptures are that powerful. 
 
The Spirit is that faithful. 
 
These forms of prayer are that reliable.
 
And Jesus is that worthy of our attention. 
 
Fare forward, beloved congregation! How great will be our joy Easter morning when we sing of the Risen Savior after these 42 days of prayer together!
 
A Word About This Year’s Art
 
Each of our six images come from churches in Ravenna, Italy which date back to the fifth and sixth centuries. They are mosaics: pictorial representations created from thousands of tiny pieces of colored glass. Their vivid colors have endured through the centuries.
 
Ravenna is a small city in central Italy, near the Adriatic Sea. Beginning in 402, this little metropolis became for several decades the imperial capital of the western Roman empire as the pressure of “barbarian” invasions made Rome itself unstable. In the 500s Ravenna came under control of the eastern Roman Empire for several centuries. East and West met with this infusion of Christian artistic energy and imperial wealth. So in the century between 450 and 550, stunning churches were built which contain unsurpassed mosaic art.
 
Today, little Ravenna contains eight buildings designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
 
The spiritual impact of the Ravenna mosaics surpasses even their technical artistic beauty. Pilgrims feel caught up in the worship of Jesus Christ when surrounded by these mosaics. Personally, I experienced a mystical quality of being taken up into the world of Scripture and the adoration of the Triune God. The theme of offering flows across the individual churches. In the mosaics, we see in dozens of ways how God offers himself to humanity: through his prophets, the revelation of his Word and above all in the life, death, resurrection and reign of Jesus Christ. In the mosaics we also see how we give ourselves back to God through the offering of faith and worship, especially from those who sacrifice their lives in martyrdom.   
 
I hope you feel drawn upward to Christ through the reproductions of these six beautiful mosaics.  
 
Gerrit Dawson
Senior Pastor
 
 

Far and Near - Missions Conference Report

The 2019 Global Missions Conference was a joy to see the Holy Spirit work in the hearts of our missionaries in Lebanon, Peru, and Malaysia. Rebecca and Nour Botros from Beirut, Lebanon shared their hearts with us, and were vulnerable about what God is doing in their lives as they pour into Syrian refugees. Ralph and Marilynn Toliver from Peru presented our church with a New Testament that they spent thirty years translating into the Ambo-Pasco-Quechua language. MacGregor Magruder shared all the Lord is doing in their family as they serve in Malaysia.
 
Valerie Gastinel and the IFP team planned an International Friendship Luncheon in the gym that was a blessing for the 50 international students who attended along with 150 from the FPC family. If you are interested in being an International Friendship Partner, please contact Valerie Gastinel, 225.241.1386.
 
On Sunday morning, Scott Castleman preached from Ephesians 2 “Preaching Peace Far and Near.” His passion for missions was evident in his heart as he poured his life into us. God is leading us into a season of renewed enthusiasm as we prepare for our next mission trip to Romania, June 7-16. Our next Romania meeting will be Sunday, March 10 after worship from 12.15-12.45. Please join us in room 202 in the Educational Building if you are planning to go to Romania this summer. 
 
By Whitney Alexander
Associate Pastor of Missions