A Gift of Hope

 

A poem written by Lance Crumley before his personal testimony at the Chapel 8/27/17:

 

The winds of change now blow across the winter of my heart;
As the fibers of my soul absorb the breath of life
The thawing of my heart begins and with that, the pain;

The tears that fall
are the seeds of tomorrow’s garden;
As the seeds take root
in the garden of my soul.

So they must be fertilized
By the Words of God
the love of the Son
and the light of the Spirit;

A rose now grows where only darkness had its hold;
It began with a cry from the dark:
The darkness ended with a prayer from the heart.

~Lance Crumley 8/26/17

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Ascension Day 2017

shared by Nick and Diana Laninga

Today marks Ascension Day, the fortieth day of Easter. It would be good to reflect on the importance of this day with some appropriate text, verse and song as Christ returned to heaven.

“And He led them as far as Bethany, and He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” [Luke 24: 50-51].

W.H. Griffith Thomas rightly claims that the ascension is not only a great historical fact of the New Testament, but a great factor in the life of Christ and Christians, since it marked the consummation of His redemptive work. What a fitting climax was expressed when He ascended not a single promise was unfulfilled.

As J Oswald Sanders states “ He left His own in the very act of blessing. For this He had come, and blessing He departed, not as a condemning judge but as a compassionate friend and High Priest, with hands outstretched.”

Golden harps are sounding,
Angel voices sing,
Pearly gates are opened,
Opened for the King;
Christ, the King of glory,
Jesus, King of love Is gone up in triumph
To His throne above.
~F.R. HAVERGAL. [Author of “Take my life and let it be.”

Christ’s redemptive work is complete—the incarnation, crucifixion, and the ascension was a complete and final demonstration that His atonement had forever solved the problem of man’s sin.

If the Christ who had died had stopped at the cross, His work had been incomplete,
If the Christ that was buried had stayed in the tomb, He had only known defeat.
But the way of the cross never stops at the cross, and the way of the tomb leads on
To victorious grace in the heavenly place where the risen Lord has gone.
~Poem by ANNIE JOHNSON FLINT. [Author of “He giveth more grace”]

The gift of the Holy Spirit was dependent on His glorification.”The Holy Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified
John7:39.

Now the comforter has come and abides with us.
The Lord ascendeth up on high,
The Lord hath triumphed gloriously,
In power and might excelling;
The grave and hell are captive led,
Lo He returns, our glorious Head,
To His eternal dwelling.

The heavens with joy receive their LORD,
By saints, by angel hosts adored; O day of exultation!
O earth, adore thy glorious King! His rising, His ascension sing with grateful adoration.
Our great High Priest has gone before, Now on His church His grace to pour,
And still His love He giveth;
O may our hearts to Him ascend, may all within us upward tend
To Him who ever liveth.

~ARTHUR TOZER RUSSEL.

Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who was taken from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.
MARANATHA !!!

Please read song 291 in the Trinity Hymnal”:
SEE, THE CONQUEROR MOUNTS IN TRIUMPH”

Have a blessed Ascension Day. The Laningas

 

Names of God: The End

Jesus “The End”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Our very first Lenten meditation focused on the fact that Jesus is called “the Beginning”. He is both the Creator, who accounted for the beginning of all things, and He is the Redeemer, who by His death and resurrection brings a new beginning of eternal life.

But the same two verses that call Jesus “the Beginning” (Revelation 21:6 & 22:13), go on to also call him “the End”. Now, a measuring tape, a book, or a year has a beginning and an end, but how can the Eternal Christ Jesus who lives forever with his new creation ever be called “the End”?

The answer is found in the fact that our Bibles were not written in English, but in Hebrew and Greek. And so, that word “end” in Revelation (the Greek word is telos) has a more complex meaning than our English word “end”. Telos primarily means “fulfillment” or “goal”, and that is how we must understand it in regard to Jesus. He is the fulfillment, the goal, of all things.

So, for example, Paul said in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law;” but Jesus made that statement about the scriptures clearer, when He said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So, Christ Jesus is the fulfillment, the goal, the intended ‘end’ of all that God has said and done. “It is all about Jesus!”

This must be our focus as Christians: that at the end of history the Lord will be “all in all.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “from him, and through, him and to him, are all things;’ He is “above all, and through all, and in all.”

And if He is the reality that will fill eternity, we have nothing more important for our lives on this Resurrection Day.  It is all about Jesus!

Names of God: Shiloh

Shiloh
by Ben Gibson

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10

On Sunday, April 6th, 1862 the Union soldiers were still cooking their breakfasts when they heard shots in the distance. Camped out near Shiloh Meeting House, the open field was only supposed to serve as a pit stop on the trek down to the Confederate rail center in Corinth, Mississippi. However, a patrol of Union troops stumbled upon 35,000 Confederate soldiers on the outskirts of the Union camp and one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War ensued. With over 100,000 troops engaged and over 20,000 casualties by the end of the fighting, the Battle at Shiloh was the bloodiest occurrence on American soil up to that point in the country’s history.

At the center of all the fighting stood the small Shiloh Meeting House. The Messianic use of Shiloh, meaning “he to whom it belongs,” is found only once in Scripture, in Jacob’s blessing to his sons in Genesis 49. While Shiloh was also a town in Ephraim, the term is alone used with prophetic connotation by Jacob. In blessing his son Judah, Jacob declares that Judah’s tribe will hold the scepter until “he to whom it belongs” comes.

Christ, we know now, is the one to whom it belongs.

But it is not just the scepter that is Christ’s. We know from Colossians that all the world was created in and through him. Christ is Shiloh, he to whom it all belongs. I am often left wondering, however, whether Christ would still claim it? In a world where the events, such as the one at Shiloh, Tennessee, have become common place, why would a perfect God choose acknowledge ownership over such a messy reality?

In the incarnation, we are given the answer. Christ, in the incarnation, comes and shows, in taking on human flesh and human nature, in taking on our sin through his own suffering and death, that it all belongs to him.

In the incarnation, Christ claimed every moment from Jacob’s death to a spring morning in Tennessee and beyond. In the incarnation, God, in Christ, surveys all of creation and declares “…this is mine.”
~Ben Gibson

Names of God: Man of Sorrows

Man of Sorrows
by Nick Laninga

 

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
Isaiah 53:3b

This unusual title for Jesus draws us in to look at the work and person of Christ.

-Christ the second person of the Trinity-very God and very man. Christ, Creator of everything,  left the splendor of heaven.

-Who [II Cor.8:9], though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

-All for love’s sake He renounced the glory of heaven

=He took on the full sorrow and humiliation of life, choosing not only to die but to be born.

-He left his Father’s house giving up the fullness of a heavenly life yielding His life to death on a cross.

Look at His sorrow! His own rejected him. [Luke 14:24]
“O Jerusalem—–How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Just after the triumphal entry Christ weeps over the city [Luke 19:41-42]
“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace—–because you did not know the time of your visitation”

As P.T. Forsyth states “ It was not the sorrow of the world that broke the heart of Christ, but its wickedness. He was equal to its sorrow. He began by being the World’s Healer but what broke Him was its sin and rejection.”

Gethsemane — can we forget! We read in the gospels’ garden accounts “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Father, save Me from this hour” But for this purpose He came to this hour. Rom. 8:32a.”He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”

God forsaken of God!! Who can understand? Matthew 26:42

“ Thy will be done” No greater words than these

           Can pass from human lips than these which rent

           Their way through agony and blood and sweat

           And broke the silence of Gethsemane

           To save the world from sin.
           Studdart Kennedy.

Why we ask? He was forsaken that we might learn from the anguish and sorrow of His experience, the greatness of our sin! During the hours of darkness He “who knew no sin” was made sin for us. [ II Cor.5:21] that was the cause of His Fathers averted face.

It was not that God was ever hostile to His beloved Son——It was holiness turning away from sin. Great sorrow. Yes. Yet Heb.12:2b holds the key. “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What’s next? Comes again our glorious King all His ransomed home to bring! Hallelujah what a Savior!

We Worship Thee! What language shall I borrow to thank Thee dearest Friend.

     In every pang that rends the heart

         The Man of Sorrows has a part;

         He sympathizes with our grief,

         And to the sufferer sends relief.

         With boldness therefore at the throne

         Let us make all our sorrows known;

         And ask the aid of heavenly power

         To help us in this evil hour.
         SCOTTISH PARAPHRASES

Man of Sorrows — what a name for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim; Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

 

Names of God: Paschal Lamb

Paschal Lamb
by Kerry Garrett

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Paschal Lamb- (definition) Among the ancient Hebrews, the lamb slain and eaten at the Passover.  (Swiss Google)

As had been the case since just after the Exodus from Egypt, in the time of Christ, Jews were practicing the Old Testament tradition of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In the familiar passages (Mt 26:17-30, Lk22:7-23,,,) from the “upper room” Jesus observed the Passover meal in the traditional way while explaining that He was the fulfillment of this important observance: as they ate the Passover lamb He revealed that He had come to be the lamb that takes away sin. He raised the cup and said “this cup is the new covenant, in my blood, which is poured out for you” Lk 22:20. Easily one of the central moments in one of the central moments of all time. We Christians spend a lot of time reading and pondering these great moments, as well we should. I for one think mostly about the goodness and greatness of God and the sacrifice of Jesus of the cross.

But this morning I’m thinking more about Jesus the man, the afternoon before the Last Supper when a multitude of lambs were being slaughtered at the temple.  Did he step over a gutter thick with flowing blood? Were his knees knocking? (does Jesus as man only warrant a lower case “h”?)
Soon enough it would be his blood!

It’s no wonder He prayed so fervently at the Garden of Gethsemane the next night! It is perhaps easier to accept Christ’s great humility and sacrifice from the perspective of heavenly things, but I cannot begin to fathom his overcoming a basic human aversion to the horrendous pain and suffering only he knew he was in for. And further, the human pain of being abandoned by his closest friends in his terrible suffering. What a Savior!
~Kerry Garrett

Names of God: Author

The Author
by Dan Gibson

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:3

 

Have you ever thought of writing a book? Perhaps some of you have actually done so, while others of us have only thought of the possibility. In the passage above from the epistle to the Hebrews, Jesus is presented to us as author—the author of our faith. Ponder this for a few moments. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom John in the prologue to his gospel identifies as the eternal Word, source of all creation, is the author of our faith. He has written the story of life, including its salvation. What a story it is! Human beings, the finest, finishing creative touch of the Son, fell from the lofty heights granted them in the opening chapter of the story, to the depths of alienation and its accompanying misery. These real-life characters in the story, ourselves included, sought and continue to seek to wrench the pen from the hands of the author and write our own version of the story, full of backtalk, murder, mayhem, and self-congratulations.

Into this story, the author inserts himself, draws the errant story lines together, and writes in his own blood the message of rescue and reconciliation. He authors the entirety of the story, from our creation to our salvation, and himself brings it all to perfection at the end.

Oh, tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word. This story is life itself.
~Dan Gibson