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The Crucifixion

27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”38Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way. 45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”55Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 57When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:27-61, NRSV)

My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? Why did Jesus say this if he was God? How can God forsake God? Some say this is the point where God had to leave Jesus in order that he could die, or that Jesus wasn’t actually God all along, or that maybe this wasn’t Jesus on the cross. Besides the fact that it would be physiologically impossible for a man who was on the cross as long as Jesus was here to even mutter a sound, we are hung up on the words Jesus says. But here Jesus says the first line os Psalm 22. And it is my understanding that in Jesus day for a person to pray the entirety of a psalm all they had to do was say the first line. So maybe Jesus was praying Psalm 22, which is a psalm that starts out it seems with God forsaking the person, but in the end, it is that God has never left them at all and has vindicated them. So is Jesus asking why he was left, or saying hold on, I’ll be right back?

 

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Esther Leads

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. When Esther’s maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why. Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people. Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.” When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. (Esther 4:1-17, NRSV)

What do you do when you are faced with a big decision to make? Who do you consult with?

Esther is advised of the decree that went out that her people are to be killed, and she is also advised by her uncle that she should go to the king and talk to him about it. But she also knows that any person who goes to the king without being called to the king will be killed. So does she risk being killed or know she will be killed?

She asks Mordecai to ask the Jews to fast and pray as she has her court fasts and prays. They seek the counsel of God in the decision.

Whose counsel do you seek?

 

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Josiah’s Reign and Reform, part 4

The king commanded all the people, “Keep the passover to the Lord your God as prescribed in this book of the covenant.” No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem. Moreover Josiah put away the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. Still the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. The Lord said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel; and I will reject this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.” Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him; but when Pharaoh Neco met him at Megiddo, he killed him. His servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. The people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in place of his father. (2 Kings 23:21-30, NRSV)

What is missing from your life that you should be doing to honor God?

Josiah found out that the people should be remembering the Passover when God freed them from bondage in Eygpt. And so he told the people to do so.

But what is missing from your life that you should be doing?

Reading the Bible daily?

Praying Daily?

Worshiping Weekly? (Notice I said weekly and not weakly…)

Giving of yourself, your time and your treasures?

Serving others?

Being in relationships with other believers?

There is probably something more we can do to give our hearts to God, who gave His all for us.

What can you add in?

 

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A Prayer for Israel’s King

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. 
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. 
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. 
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. 
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. 
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. 
May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust. 
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts. 
May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. 
He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.  (Psalm 72:1-14, NRSV)

How many of us pray for our leaders?

Whether we agree with them or not.
Whether we like their policies or not.

They are our leaders and we should pray for them. We should pray that God would work in and through them. That their hearts would be open to the leading of the Spirit and that God’s peace would be brought to this land through their deeds.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all prayed that God would move our leaders.

 

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A Plea for Redemption and Transformation


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51:10-19, NRSV)

Help me, O Lord to be in your presence always and help me to remember the joy of being there. Help me to always want to be with you and to remember what you want from me.

Here David tries to remember what is good about the Lord and asks the Lord to not leave him and to help him.

This is what we all should pray.

 

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God’s Riches

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23, NRSV)

Who do you thank God for?

Who are the people you are always thanking God for having in your life?

God in His immeasurable greatness has placed people in your life for a reason. We are all surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who help us every day and we need to thank God for those people.

So who do you thank God for?

 

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Epilogue

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal. (1 John 5:14-17, NRSV)

Sin is any wrongdoing that separates us from God. There are sins that lead to death, mortal sins, and sins that do not lead to death. And if a sin is not mortal you can pray to God for help for those you see committing these sins. And that will give life to others.

So request that God give life to those you see that are separated from Him.

By praying for others you are also bringing life to yourself.

 

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