Sat, 17 March 2018
(Jer.31:31-34; Ps.51:3-4,12-15; Heb.5:7-9; Jn.12:20-33)
“Father, glorify your name.”
Jesus cries out in supplication to Him who is “able to save Him from death,” but He prays not to be saved from death, not to be saved from the sacrifice He must make, but only that in His death the Father might glorify His name. His “hour has come,” He knows. He hears from His apostles of the Greeks who seek Him, and He knows it is now time for Him to return to the Father and for His apostles to take over the work He has begun – to carry His salvation to the nations. And though He is “troubled,” knowing “the kind of death He would die,” knowing that it is the only path to the Father, yet He does not ask to be saved “from this hour.” His only desire is to fulfill the Father’s will by being “lifted up from the earth” in crucifixion and resurrection that He might “draw everyone to [Him]self” and to the glory in the Father He knows.
And of course “He was heard because of His reverence.” Because His cry is sincere, is a laying down of His life in perfect humility and perfect love, the Father readily answers His prayer. Even in “a voice c[o]me from heaven” He responds, speaking not for the sake of His Son – who needs no such assurance, who is dead to Himself and serves the Father perfectly – but for those whom the Son would save by His “fall[ing] to the ground” in death. For them, for us, the Father answers, for this is the Son’s wish.
And if we are holy as He, we “all, from least to greatest, shall know” the Lord our God just as He knows Him – we shall have our prayers answered as readily as the cries of supplication of our Savior. And so we shall be saved; and so we shall be preserved from death… and so we, too, shall glorify the Father’s name. As the Lord listens to David when he cries out in his penitent psalm, so shall God come and make our hearts clean: so shall He come and write His name upon them as we cry out to Him. And we shall be blessed as Jesus, and we shall stand just as steadfast. Renewed in spirit, our offenses wiped out, we shall stand in the Son’s stead upon the cross and in the kingdom.
“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” O Lord, for it is the proof of your presence within me; it is the seal of your Son and His blood upon my soul. By your Spirit I know I shall be protected from death; by His touch I am led to my salvation. Father in heaven, glorify thy name in me as in thy Son.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Sunset Bleeds Me Clean" (1st half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may we be made perfect as your Son
as we join Him in His sacrifice.
YHWH, the Cross of your Son is the source of our eternal salvation. In His blood is written the New Covenant you promised your people. For by His sacrifice our sins are removed and our hearts made new, that your Name might be written upon them. Our sins are forgotten by you that we might remember your glory forever.
And we are called to lay down our lives with Him: where He is, so shall His disciples be. And so, upon a cross we must find ourselves, a grain of wheat fallen to the ground. If we hold to our lives in this world, what shall we do but die, LORD? But if we hate the world and even our own lives, we shall find eternal life in you through your Son.
Jesus is our Savior. In Him your Name is glorified, O LORD. May your Name be glorified in us as well, as in His blood we are cleansed of our sin and joined to Him in your kingdom.
Sat, 10 March 2018
(2Chr.36:14-16,19-23; Ps.137:1-6; Eph.2:4-10; Jn.3:14-21)
“By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept.”
For “practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple,” the people of God “were carried captive to Babylon.” For all their “infidelity” they were forced to watch as “their enemies burnt the house of God [and] tore down the walls of Jerusalem.” And so did their “tongue[s] cleave to [their] palate[s]” in a foreign land; so they “hung up [their] harps”; so their “right hand[s] [were] forgotten”… They could not sing the praises of the Lord; they could not strum to His glory – all the works of their hands were stilled. They could but weep in desolation.
So are we like them in our sins. So do our transgressions silence our tongues and make us lame and ineffective. So were we dead as these before Christ Jesus came to save us. And as the Israelites were called back to the city of peace and entreated to build the Lord’s house there once again, as they found their release from exile by the king of Persia speaking in the name of God… just as these could enter in once more to the “song of the Lord,” so we now find our freedom from the chains which bound us, and to the Lord’s temple come proclaiming His gracious salvation.
No more should we cry, brothers and sisters. No more should we sit idly as the streams of this world pass us mockingly by. No, now we must come resolutely to the Christ of God, for the word has gone forth to the ends of the earth that all who love Him should come into His light. “By grace [we] have been saved”; by the Lord’s immeasurable kindness we have been redeemed – in His love we must now sing our song. “For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance,” and so our work must now be accomplished in Him.
“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” And so “saved through faith” we must now bring before Him the offering of our lives. There is no longer cause to hide. There is no longer need to weep for our sin, to find the oppression of the world and the devil too much to bear. No, the gates of Jerusalem are opened once again, and the Lord God has “seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.” Here in this light let us now find our home. Here in His presence let us begin to live the Lord’s eternal salvation. Our tears of weeping, with our condemnation, have passed.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "A Guitar" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us leave behind our sinful past
and come into the light of your presence.
YHWH, we were dead in our sins till you sent your only Son to save us, to bring us life by the grace upon Him. Light has indeed come into the world, the light of Christ shining now in our midst. Let us come to that light that we might escape the darkness into which we’ve fallen and be raised up to be seated with Him.
Jesus has been lifted up for our sakes, that all who believe in Him might have eternal life with you, Father, in Heaven. Though our transgressions have been severe, you have mercy upon us still, and call us to faith in your only Son. Though we have failed to listen to the prophets you sent to speak in your Name, let us not fail to heed the One in whom your love has come to perfection, the One who shares your own place on high.
No more can you love us than by sending us Jesus, and so, no further opportunity will we have to repent and return to you. Let us live now in your truth and your light, that our works might be done in you.
Sun, 4 March 2018
(2Kgs.5:1-15; Ps.42:2-3,43:3-4; Lk.4:24-30)
“There is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”
“There is a prophet in Israel,” brothers and sisters, and this prophet is God. Jesus Christ has come, salvation from the Jews. Do you recognize Him? Will you accept Him?
It is only in “the waters of Israel” that we are made clean. As wonderful as may be the waters of our native land, it matters not, for it is these alone that are blessed; these alone will make our flesh again “like the flesh of a little child.” For a little child has come through these waters, has been baptized in this River, and it is His blood which baptizes us all and makes us clean as the flesh of God.
“Bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place,” our souls should sing with our psalmist as they seek “the running waters” of “the living God” that alone will satisfy all our needs. Oh to “behold the face of God,” to “go in to the altar of God” in “gladness and joy”! How we should search for His grace and His presence! Like Naaman who came from a distant land upon the word of a servant girl, so should we obediently seek the grace that comes only from God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. He is our dwelling place, the Temple of God.
“No prophet gains acceptance in his native place,” Jesus proclaims to those of His hometown. And His prophecy is true. For though salvation is from the Jews and they are Jews who serve as its foundation stones, yet the Church shall be constituted greatly by those of other lands. The Jews who follow Him shall be greatly persecuted by their own, and the Word shall bear fruit to the ends of the world before the eyes of the Chosen shall be opened to the living water, the healing grace, in their midst.
Come in faith, brothers and sisters, to this holy mountain where the Lord does dwell, to find the cleansing of your sins. Through none else does salvation come; in no one else is the Word made known. The flesh of God is Jesus alone.
O LORD, let us not turn away
from your Word to our souls
but be compassionate as you.
YHWH, you are a compassionate God calling us to your mercy and love. Forgive us all our transgressions against you that we might know your favor. Though we have sinned and done what is evil in your sight, though we have rebelled against you and your command, refusing to listen to the Word of truth you utter in our midst, hear our cry for deliverance from the prison into which our sins have cast us. Save us in your love!
O LORD, if we do not judge we shall not be judged. If we do not condemn we shall not be condemned. If we but forgive others their transgressions against us, you will forgive our transgressions against you. And we shall return to your pasture.
Help us to give, O LORD, to give as you give, to give as your Son gives… to lay down our lives for the sake of others – to seek pardon for their sins. Jesus stands in the breach to reconcile us to you and one another; may we join Him in His mission of love.
Sat, 3 March 2018
(Ex.20:1-17; Ps.19:8-11; 1Cor.1:22-25; Jn.2:13-25)
“The fear of the Lord is pure,
Is it not fear of the Lord, Jesus would instill in the people as He makes “a whip out of cords” and drives those who buy and sell out of the temple? Is His great zeal not to purify His Father’s House of all corruption? And will the Temple He will raise up not endure forever?
David tells us that “the law of the Lord is perfect,” and it is so; and so our worship of the Lord should be perfect as well – it should match the perfection of the Lord and His Word. Thus does the Lord give us His commandments, to refine us in His light and make us like Himself. Thus should we rest on the sabbath day as He has done, and indeed do all things according to His way, having “no other gods besides” Him. He alone is worthy of our worship, and He alone is worthy of imitation. His words alone will enlighten our eye.
And how do we know this “wisdom of God” except by the blessed presence of His Son? And how do we know it most fully but in His crucifixion? Here is the wisdom of God upon the cross, calling us to what is far beyond us – beyond this world and our lusts. “Human nature” He knew quite well, assuming it in all but sin as He has, and so He knows it must be nailed to the cross if we are to gain redemption. And what wisdom is greater than that which effects salvation? To what greater place could we be led than the kingdom of heaven?
And “Christ crucified” reveals not only the wisdom of God but “the power of God” as well, for what makes the devils tremble more than our Savior on the cross? What forces them to realize the vanity of their efforts to destroy man than to see Him dead, and know that He shall live again? (And we with Him… and we with Him.) “The weakness of God is stronger than human strength,” and here God’s weakness comes to full power. And with absolute force it shall drive all evil from the world, and from our souls.
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” are the Lord’s prophetic words. The Temple of His Body once destroyed now is made to last forever, for it can never be destroyed again. Now that He is raised from the dead, death has no more dominion. Purified of all darkness and sin is the kingdom; and in awe of the Lord’s humble majesty we come there with open eyes and hearts on fire, to dwell with Him in eternal life.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Nothing You Can Buy (The Spirit Is)" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we join your Son in obedience
even unto death,
we shall be raised with Him.
YHWH, your Son has died to raise us all to new life; only His death could bear such fruit. And should we not therefore put faith in Him, Him whom you have declared your Beloved? Should we not thus come to a great love of you who have loved us so greatly? And would we not then come to glory, the same glory He shares with you this day?
A sign you give to us this day, dear LORD, a sign of your eternal glory, a glory that comes to us by the death of Jesus the Christ. And so, we should not be afraid of the death we must die, of the offering we must make of our lives in His Name. For as we are joined to Him in sacrifice, so will we be joined to Him in your heavenly kingdom.
O LORD, bring many souls, souls as countless as the stars, into the land you promise us and which you bring to fulfillment in the death of your Son. For this grace let us praise your Name forever in your House.