April 29, 2014
From the Rev. Bryan Owens’ Easter sermon:
The Easter message that God raised Jesus to bodily life again after bodily death turns the world upside down. It flies in the face of experience and common sense. It mocks the pretensions of human wisdom. It undermines our faith in the all-sufficiency of reason. It boldly announces that a Power has been unleashed into this world against which tyrants and bullies, sickness and disease, loss and grief, fear and shame, sin and evil, and death and decay are powerless. And it proves a staggering truth: that God loves this world in all of its dazzling diversity, and that God loves each and every one of us, so very much that He will go to any lengths to guarantee our salvation, including suffering the ravages of death and hell so that we don’t have to.
April 29, 2014
Luke 2:18-19 NIV
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
You have shared our humanity. You saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
At creation, Your Father instructed us to subdue the earth and take dominion, but the devil sowed the seed of doubt in the hearts and minds of humanity.
When You came to earth, You gave us authority to trample on all the power of the devil. By Your death and resurrection, You reclaimed all authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth and commissioned us to make disciples of all nations.
Lord, we stand in Your authority and proclaim that as Your people walk over the ground in Israel, their feet will tread on snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy. Fill their feet with the fire of the Holy Spirit. We declare that nothing will harm them. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Genesis 1:28, Luke 9:1-2, Hebrews 2:14-15
April 28, 2014
Adding to the praise report Jill posted about Muslims coming to Christ, here is an Arabic worship song for Easter: Al Masih qam, bil haqiqatan qam. The Messiah is risen – He is risen indeed!
The song is a traditional Arabic Christian song for Easter, performed by the Better Life team in Egypt who have produced a number of excellent Arabic worship CDs.
Here’s a translation provided by one of the commenters on the original YouTube post:
Jesus is risen…Truly He is risen He carried our sorrows… He forgave our iniquities In His stripes there is healing …He is the spring source of peace The thorn of death He broke…when He rose and triumphed He illuminated the way …And removed the darkness If the cross put an end to the story of Your love.. I would not have been alive and chanting, “Christ is risen! “.
I’ll be back to posting more hymns and CCM classics, and contemporary worship music from my own Easter music playlist tomorrow.
April 28, 2014
Pastor Scotty Smith posted a wonderful Easter-themed prayer yesterday at Heavenward, rejoicing in the LIVING HOPE we have in Christ:
Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being shielded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5
Dear heavenly father, on this first Sunday after Easter, I praise you for the calling to ponder the magnificent and measureless implications of the resurrection of Jesus, best described, in Peter’s words, as hope—living hope. Not a “fond hope”—fragile and uncertain; not “hoping against hope”—a wistful yearning; and not “hoping in hope”—groundless optimism, but a living hope.
We dare live with hope because Jesus is alive—raised from the dead. He’s not our dead model to imitate; he’s present Savior, to know, love and trust. We can live with hope because we too are alive, a second time—having been given new birth, a new life, and a new creation story through the gospel. You cannot love us more and you’ll never love us less.
Father, thank you for your endless mercies, measureless grace and steadfast love, all lavished on us in Jesus. Thank you for a most certain inheritance, kept in heaven for us—the legacy, heirloom and new-birthright of the life in the new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Everything broken will become unbroken. Every tear will be wiped away—no more death or mourning, only life and the perpetual new morning of a grace-full eternity.
And, Father, thank you that this inheritance is not only being kept for us, but that we are being kept for it—shielded by your power until the Day Jesus returns, and you finish your good work in us. Hallelujah, many times over! We can no more keep ourselves saved that we were ever able to earn a relationship with you.
Through the riches of this living hope, may we live and love to your glory; may we suffer and wait patiently by your grace; may we love and serve Jesus increasingly (1 Pet. 1:8), and fret and fear, less and less. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ bold and beautiful name.
April 27, 2014
From Christianity Today: Historically, Muslims have been resistant to conversion to Christianity. However, today there are several movements of Muslims leading one another to Christ. An estimated 2 to 7 million people from a Muslim background worldwide now follow Christ. I thank God for the high privilege of living in such a time as this.–JW
April 27, 2014
From the Soundings blog
Alleluia. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
What a joyous proclamation of our faith! So much is captured in this opening acclamation of the Easter Season. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death, and opened the gates of heaven to all who believe in his name. But this is not only a future hope: his sacrifice has made possible true, lasting, and profound reconciliation between man and God, here and now.
This Sunday we are reminded that the Church is God’s instrument for that reconciliation:
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room on that first Easter Day. He breathes on the disciples and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:22b-23)
What an awesome responsibility, and what an awesome joy, Christ has given to his Church. As a priest of the Church, it has been my greatest honor to pronounce absolution upon men and women who come to the Lord with contrite hearts. That forgiveness is available to us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.
There is a bit more at Soundings
April 27, 2014
From Reuters: There is a growing conviction among Western capitals that President Bashar al-Assad has failed to come clean about Syria’s chemical weapons program despite his promises to end it.
You came to Gideon hiding from the Midianites by a winepress, and You gave him a new name—“O Mighty Man of Valor.” We ask You to come now to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and give them a name of courage.
You told Gideon to throw down the altar of Baal and build an altar to You in its place. Reveal to the OPCW the altars in their hearts that You would have them throw down that You may be honored in Syria.
You revealed to Gideon what You would have him do, how You would have him do it, and when You would have him do it. Open the eyes and ears of the OPCW that they may discern Your will. Yield their hearts to obey You.
Just as the barley loaf knocked down the tent of the Midianites, we call out for Jesus, the Bread of Life, to knock down the chemical weapons program in Syria.
You gave Gideon a miraculous victory in the valley of Moreh. Using only trumpets and pitchers, his small band completely routed the Midianites. We pray for the establishment of Your kingdom within Syria. We say, “The sword of the Lord shall slay the enemies of God encamped around His people.”
Gideon pursued the Midianites from the valley of Moreh to Bethshittah to Tabbath to Bethbarah to Succoth to Penuel to Karkor. Empower the OPCW, Lord, to persevere in this protracted, drawn-out battle. Give them the courage to pursue all the chemical weapons that oppress Your children. May they proceed in the confidence You are with them each step of the way. May they build an altar in their hearts and name it Jehovah-shalom, “The Lord is peace.” Amemn.