Listening Through Lent: Near the Cross

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Refrain

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Refrain

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Refrain

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

Refrain

 (Words by Fanny Crosby)

 

I’m sure some of you don’t consider this a traditional Easter hymn. You might wonder where the resurrection story is located. While rising on the third day isn’t specifically mentioned, the “healing stream” from “Calvary’s mountain” is certainly there, as is the resurrection hope of my “raptured soul” finding “rest beyond the river.”

This hymn usually gets stuck in my head in the days and weeks following Easter and I don’t mind one bit. I need it! Even though we might not sing it at the Chapel, I force it into my head one way or another. I need this to be my daily prayer all year long – my constant cry to the Lord as I stumble through each day. The words redirect me to where and how I should be traveling through this life.

When I get up in the morning,

Jesus, keep me near the cross.

When I need forgiveness,

There a precious fountain.

When I stumble and sin and fall,

There is a healing stream.

When I’m feeling lost,

Help me walk from day to day.

When I’m feeling tired and worn,

There is rest beyond the river.

 

Jesus, keep me near the cross!
~Nicole Moore

 

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The Cross of Jesus

When asked if I would like to do a second topic for the Lenten meditations I decided I would not…..until the next morning’s reading in my devotions and the insight I believe the Lord gave to me from it. Then I knew that, yes, I must, and address the next topic which was “the cross.”

The passage given me was John 13:34-35 where the basic message is that Jesus’ love is love that takes upon itself the cross that is love that is for us as we are.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s devotional, “God is on the Cross,” says “Even today I can believe the love of God and forgive my enemies only by going back to the cross of Christ, to the carrying out of the wrath of God. The cross of Jesus is valid for all.”

If I’m forgiven, then how can I not forgive someone else? I have long felt the weight of that fact!

But, it was a passage in Luke 23:26 that I read that morning that prompted me to write this today. The passage says: “And when they led Him away, they laid hold of Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.”

I was stopped in my tracks as the passage jumped off the page to me, a passage that I have read hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times in my lifetime but didn’t spend much time thinking about.

This time, I heard someone asking:

“What cross has been placed on YOU?”

I thought of the many passages where Jesus told His disciples; “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,” such as in Matt. 16:24 or Matt. 10:38.

For some, “the cross” is cancer. It could be a rebellious child, a spouse that abandons the marriage or is hard to live with, a regular struggle to retain what is studied for a test at school, a fruitless job, depression; you fill in the blank with your cross.

I believe the book of James even teaches that our “crosses” (trials) WHEN they come (not IF they come) are custom-made for us individually, but that’s another meditation for another day.

What struck me is this GOOD NEWS!

“While I may be compelled to carry a cross in my life………I will never be NAILED to it.”

Jesus DID THAT for ME!
~Lee Mielke

Our Hearts Melt

Lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil. 
Matthew 6:13

Do you remember going to the county fair with your family when you were a young child?  Your parents told you to stay near and stick with the family.  You went through the barns and saw all the giant Clydesdales and the little ponies.   Then you ran into the Gibsons,  with their beautiful golden Haflingers.  After a little visit, your family  continued walking along.  Something interesting caught your eyes. Maybe it was another child with an interesting prize that he won at the game area.  You momentarily forgot about your family and became transfixed on this new toy. Before you knew it, you lost track of your family and they were out of sight. You took your eyes off your parents and became temporarily lost.  That is what happens when we are tempted to do wrong.

God wants us to keep our eyes on Him, to follow him. But we sometimes take our eyes off Him and follow other things.

We are told in the Bible that there are 3 things that tempt us. The world, the flesh, and the devil.  The devil is really behind them all. So, how do we withstand temptation?  We pray like Jesus taught us to pray, so that even though we are tempted, we would not give in to the temptation.  We ask for Jesus to  deliver us from the evil one [the devil].

Though we do this year round, the cycles of the church calendar focus our attention on how this prayer is answered. At Lent we look at the cross and we see that Jesus paid for all the times that we did take our eyes off Him and gave in to temptation. But, in the death and resurrection  of Jesus, we also see that He has freed us from the tyranny of the world, the flesh, and the devil. As we pray this prayer we are also asking the Father to send us His Holy Spirit.  He will help us to live by the Spirit instead of by the flesh. When our hearts are melted by the height, depth, and width of this great sacrificial gift that God has given us in the death and resurrection of His Son, it can’t but change us and make us glad.
~John Doesburg

“Be glad. celebrate! Lose your mindless fear, and take courage today. No, don’t ever be afraid, no matter what’s happened to you before.  That’s right, don’t be afraid, no matter what you may see coming.  Take courage because Christ was crucified for you.”
~Catherine of Siena