VIDEO Farther Along

May 12, 2010

You won’t find a better trio of female artists than this : Dolly, Emmylou, and Linda. This is from the wonderful album “Trio”. Lyrics by W.A. Fletcher, music by J.R. Baxter, Jr.

The song talks about the trials and tribulations that we suffer, sometimes seemingly unfairly when others around us are living sinfully yet prospering. But the promise is that someday “we’ll understand it, all by and by”. Trust in the Lord!

Dying to Bear Fruit: A Life of Sacrificial Love

Could this be the Messiah?

After so many years, had God finally sent his Anointed One to deliver his people? Would the rightful King now take his throne?

Indeed, the Messiah had come—Jesus was here! His disciples believed in him. They publicly confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). They knew that he had come for their deliverance.

Yet even his disciples did not really understand what Jesus had come to do. They expected the Messiah to be a warrior king. They wanted him to reinstate the kingdom of Israel, to start a revolution, to overthrow their oppressors by force, to deliver them from Rome. But Jesus had a different deliverance in mind.

Deliverance through His love

“The reason the Son of God appeared,” we read in 1 John 3:8, “was to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus came to save his people not from Rome or from any other earthly oppression, but from their sins (Matt. 1:21). And his people include far more than Israel—Jesus came to deliver the whole world from sin.

His methods weren’t what the disciples expected, either. They expected Jesus to pick up a sword and fight, but he said that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). He instructed his followers to “love your enemies . . . and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:35).

Jesus knew that evil cannot be overthrown by force. Deliverance can only come through sacrificial love. His own glorification could only be achieved by laying down his life.

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23–24)

Jesus, God in flesh, willingly gave himself up. He took our sin and allowed the powers of darkness to do their worst to him. And in so doing, he broke their power.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Pet. 2:23–24)

Fruit for His kingdom

Through Jesus’ sacrificial death, we have deliverance. But we too must die if we are to bear fruit. We must die to our sins, and we must die to ourselves. Just as Jesus gave up his rights and died on the cross, we must give up the rights we think are ours. We must give up whatever it is we’re clinging to and live a life of sacrificial love.

But of course Jesus did not stay dead—God raised him back to life and vindicated his suffering. And so our sacrifice for Christ will not be in vain, either. From our death to self, God will raise up much fruit for his kingdom.

But are we willing to die?

by Chuck McKnight

Prayer in the Hour of Despair

Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus’ suffering did not commence with His flogging or with His slow, agonizing march to Calvary. Scripture tells us that the Lord suffered during His dark hours in Gethsemane, the place where He “began to be grieved and distressed” (Matt. 26:37). Knowing He would soon give Himself to the great horror of the cross, Jesus embraced the suffocating weight of all that was to come. The words He spoke to Peter, James, and John reveal His acute pain: “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death” (v. 38). The fact still stuns us: Jesus, the very Son of God, knew profound despair—He knew every human dread, every anxiety. There is no human temptation or fear that Jesus has not experienced.

John’s gospel takes care to note that Gethsemane was a garden (18:1), and his narrative abounds with creation imagery from the opening sentences to the resurrection scenes. The writer, it seems, wants us to connect Gethsemane with another garden, one where a serpent confronted Adam and Eve. John wants to be certain we understand that even though they succumbed to temptation, Jesus would not. Where the first man and woman failed, the Son of Man would succeed. Though we buckle under the burden of fear, self-preservation, or the allure of sin, Jesus triumphs.

But before the victory, there was death and isolation and seeming ruin. Before resurrection, there was a long stretch where it seemed hope had dissipated, where one wondered whether love had not, in the end, lost.

In the garden, as the evil hours neared, Jesus’ heart spilled out to God. Our Lord, in His despair, did the one thing His soul knew to do: Jesus prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me . . .” (Matt. 26:39). Jesus did not merely practice His spiritual discipline or provide us an example to emulate. Rather, His soul had been laid bare, and He went to the only One who can meet us in such depths. Jesus went to the Father.

At times we tend to think of prayer only as calm, meditative devotion. But praying is often born out of sheer necessity. We face ruin and have nowhere to turn. We stand at the brink, and the cry simply erupts: “Help!”

by Winn Collier

Christ Our Passover

“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

The Jews of the world have been keeping their annual Feast of the Passover for almost 3,500 years, fulfilling the ancient prophecy: “And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever” (Exodus 12:24). This was the beginning of the nation of Israel, when they left Egyptian slavery behind and started their trek to the Promised Land. The lamb had been slain and eaten, its blood placed on the door posts, and the Lord had spared all their firstborn sons when the Destroyer passed through the land of Egypt.

The feast was intended not only to memorialize the ancient deliverance, but also to anticipate the coming day when the “Lamb of God” would take “away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The night before Christ was crucified, He told His disciples, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).

Thereupon, the Lord established His Supper, which Christians will continue to observe to “shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). He fulfilled all that the Passover prophesied when He shed His blood on the cross, “for even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, . . . with . . . sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Now we look forward to an even greater supper when Christ returns, for the promise is this to all who believe: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). HMM

Thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways

Thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways.—Deuteronomy 8:6.
And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.— Luke 17:14.

GOD calls us to duty, and the only right answer is obedience. If it can be glad and willing and loving obedience, happy are we; but, in any case, whether we ourselves get enjoyment and blessing from the task or not, the call must be obeyed. The will of God must be done for the sake of God, not for the sake of ourselves. Undertake the duty, and step-by-step God will provide the disposition. We can at least obey. Ideal obedience includes the whole will and the whole heart. We cannot begin with that. But we can begin with what we have, God calls. It is better to obey blunderingly than not to obey at all.

The test of love is not feeling, but obedience. WILLIAM BERNARD ULLATHORNE.

If one fights for good behavior, God makes one a present of the good feelings. JULIANA H. EWING.

Draw me, we will run after thee

Draw me, we will run after thee. Song of Songs 1:4

I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. — I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love. — I, if I be lifted up from the eaith, will draw all men unto me. — Behold the Lamb of God. — As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. — We love him, because he first loved us.

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Jeremiah 31:3. Hosea 11:4. John 12:32. John 1:36. John 3:14,15. Psalm 73:25. 1 John 4:19. Song of Songs 2:10-13.

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me. Psalm 50:23

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. — Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Ye are a royal priesthood … that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. — Ye … as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. — By him … let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Colossians 3:16,17. 1 Corinthians 6:20. 1 Peter 2:9. 1 Peter 2:5. Hebrews 13:15. Psalm 34:2,3.