Look! The Lamb of God

Posted by admin on December 29, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

     This year’s late November Thanksgiving plummeted us into the season of Advent, looking ahead to Christmas, perhaps before we were ready to celebrate it.  Now the New Year advances upon us.  Maybe if we had celebrated Advent as a season of reflection, maybe if we had rested in the promises of Christ’s coming, maybe if we had not gotten tangled in Christmas preparations, just maybe we might feel ready for a new year.  But are we ready?  Am I ready to see Emmanuel and follow Him?    

Read John 1:29-42.

     John’s mission was to prepare the way for the Lord, to turn hearts in repentance toward the coming Messiah.  He himself did not know Who this might be, although he and Jesus surely met as boys at Passover in Jerusalem.  Two serious young men, devoted to the Scriptures, strong in the Lord, might well have looked forward to their annual reunions. Did they ever discuss the stories related by Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Zechariah, tales of miraculous births, mysterious prophecies, and angelic proclamations of their very names and destinies? 

     Perhaps, but there in the wilderness, baptizing at the Jordan River, John was not at all sure Who was coming.   Crowds surged to hear his message of repentance and be baptized; Pharisees questioned his identity and authority.  He was sure of his calling as forerunner and herald.    Yet, like all of us, John needed the Spirit of God to open his eyes.

     Then Jesus came to be baptized, and, suddenly, John saw Him, saw his cousin for Who He really was–the One who never sinned, the Son of God, the prophsied Messiah. He protested, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)  Jesus insisted; He wanted to identify Himself with sinners, a first step in obedience to God’s plan of salvation.  And so He was baptized.  The heavens opened up, the Spirit of God descended on Him, and the Father proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son.  I delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

    “Look! The Lamb of God!” John exclaimed.  “Here is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about.”  So enthusiastic was his witness that some of his own disciples left to follow Jesus.  That was all right with John.  He was totally prepared to be eclipsed by the Messiah.  He was filled with joy and kept on baptizing, telling everyone that the Son indeed had come. (John 3:22-36)

    Lord, once I walked in darkness, no, cowered in darkness.  Darkness consumed me until You came into my life.  Then I saw You, Lamb of God, Savior, Lover of my soul!  What a relief, what a joy to turn my eyes to You, and walk in Your light!  Help me see You at work this year in my life and all around me.  Give me that holy enthusiasm of John to point others to You, even in my present circumstances and season of life!  For You are with me, Emmanuel, ever present, Faithful and True. 

    Thank You, Lord, for Your words of assurance from Scripture, even as You faced the cross: “Your heart must not be troubled.  I go to prepare a place for you.  The world does not see me, but  you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:1,2b, 19 paraphrase)

     Look! The Lamb of God!

 

God Is Love–Rejoice!

Posted by admin on March 30, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

 

 

 God proves His loves for us

in that while we were still sinners

Christ died for us!   

Romans 5:8

God is love. . .  

God sent His one and only Son

into the world

so that we might live through Him.   

                                                                                                                             I John 4:8-9

 

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

You created us to be Your children.

We rebelled and ran away from You.

But You came in flesh to save us,

And on the Cross forgave us.

Now, no matter what, I know it’s true:  You love me!

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

Now I have the joy of my salvation;

Your Spirit’s with me everywhere I go.

And I can trust You, Jesus;

You are the One who frees us.

You changed my heart,  You changed my life.

You healed my very soul–forever!

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

In this world we have sorrow

While sin is on the throne.

But we wait for that tomorrow

When You’ll come to take us home.

And in Your perfect timing, by Your perfect plan,

You’ll descend in clouds of glory,

And Earth rejoice again, in You, Lord!

 

God is love!  Let all within me praise Him,

All within me praise Him!

God is love!  Let all within me praise His holy name!

Let all within me praise His holy name!

 

 

 

Words and music by Lela Satterfield.  Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved.

Dearly, Dearly He Has Loved

Posted by admin on March 28, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

A Green Hill Far Away

Yellow, pink, mint green, and robin’s-egg blue–in popular culture those are the colors of Easter, the colors of bunnies, chicks, lilies and eggs!

But in my mind the colors of Good Friday and Easter cry out–the  stones stained with scarlet streaks of blood, the mournful gray sky, the rough wooden cross black with blood and dust, and Jesus’ ashen bodied carried to the tomb. 

When the earth quaked Sunday morning, the dawn was shrouded in grief.  But an angel of the Lord descended like  lightning and rolled away the stone, exposing the empty grave.   On cue, the sun leaped up rejoicing.  Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth, had risen from the dead!  (Matthew 28:2-7)

I recall the shadows of one Good Friday service:  No candles lit the altar or illumined the stained-glass windows.  I walked in procession with the other children toward the cross, draped in black.   Solemn and pale in our little white robes, we sang shrilly:

      There is a green hill far away,

      Without a city wall,

      Where the dear Lord was crucified,

      Who died to save us all.

      There was no other good enough

      To pay the price of sin.

      He only could unlock the gate

      Of Heaven and let us in.

Then the earnest refrain:

     Oh, dearly, dearly, He has loved,

     And we must love Him too,

     And trust in His redeeming blood,

     And try His works to do.*

The Holy Spirit burned that stark message into my soul as I sang.   A few weeks later, I kneeled down to ask God to forgive my sins and make me His child.  “Help me live for You,” I whispered.

Now from the other side of life, I thank God for answering that prayer. 

The Father-Artist who splashes rainbows across stormy skies and buries the sun in fiery seas is passionate toward me and all creation.   He is faithful and purposeful; He will not be thwarted.   He will not surrender His creation to chaos and despair.  He is working out His divine plan.  In His good time,  He will reign in the glory of the new heavens and the new earth, forever and ever.

We cannot yet see this masterpiece; the canvas stretches from infinity to infinity.  But in the center is one iconic scene: a hill far away, stained with blood, crowned with a cross–and an empty tomb nearby.

“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgatha (which means Skull Place).  Then they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:22,24) 

 

 

*  “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” by Cecil F. Alexander and George C. Stebbins

A Song of the Cross

Posted by admin on March 25, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

 

A meditation for Holy Week:  Read the words and scripture below (aloud, if possible) then click on the link (and close your eyes) to listen to the song of the Cross:

      1. The Cross On Jesus' Back

“What should we say then?  Should we continue in sin? 

We were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that we too may walk  in a new way of life.  

“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him

in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished . . .

Now if we died with Christ, we will also live with Him.”

(from Romans 6)

 THE CROSS ON JESUS’ BACK

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of Him who brings Good News!

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of Him who brings Good News!

Where I could not go,  what I could not do,

Jesus picked me up and brought me through.

* * *

For I was the cross on Jesus’ back.

I watched His dusty feet

As He stumbled along the tortured track

All the way up Calvary.

But still His arms were strong

To carry me on

On His bleeding back.

He heard the mocking laughs;

He bore the brutal slash,

When He could have just turned back.

* * *

I was the cross on Jesus’ back–

The heavy weight of sin.

Helpless, I heard His forgiving words

As the nails were pounded in.

They hung Him there to die, 

A living sacrifice, 

Gave His perfect life for me.

He conquered death and hell

(What I deserved full well)

And His love poured down on me.

* * *

Now I have new life; I have been transformed

By His resurrection power.

His Spirit leads the way; I walk by faith today.

He gives me grace for every hour.

* * *  

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of Him who brings Good News!

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of Him who brings Good News!

Where I could not go, what I could not do,

Jesus picked me up and brought me through.

How lovely . . .                                                               

“I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live in the flesh, but Christ lives in me. 

 The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God,

Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:19-20 HCSB)

HALLELUJAH!  CHRIST IS RISEN!

A song of the Cross:  

      2. The Cross On Jesus' Back
. * © 2010 by Lela Satterfield.  All rights reserved. 

*based on a devotional by Dr. Bill Gaultierre www.soulshepherding.com

Seeing Denali

Posted by admin on December 19, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

After the glories of the cruise through Glacier Bay, our view from the lodge was not really breathtaking.  Scrubby Alaskan Christmas trees pointed to empty sky.  Jagged teeth of a low mountain range ringed the horizon.  “Only twenty per cent of our visitors ever see Mt. McKinley,” the tour guide warned us. 

We were celebrating our fortieth anniversary (and my survival after cancer treatments).  We had three days to tour Denali National Park and see  North America’s tallest peak–Denali, “the big one.”  But the phantom mountain kept her privacy and veiled herself with clouds.

Fog obscured everything the next morning.  We boarded a tour bus to the park.  We explored forest ranger stations, tramped over windswept hills, and gazed into valleys where moose drank from wandering streams–but no Denali was anywhere to be seen. 

For all we knew, Denali did not exist.

The following day we had to board the Alaska Railway. The double-decker train would carry us far inland, past mountains, valleys, and streams, all the way to Fairbanks and our flight home.   

“Dear Lord,” I prayed earnestly at bedtime, “You made Denali.  You are the only One who can roll the clouds back and let us see her.”

The third day dawned bright and clear! We headed toward the lodge for breakfast.  But first, was it possible?  We clambered upstairs to the wide wooden deck crowded with tourists. 

Every eye was fixed on the sky and what filled it–the immensity and grandeur of Denali! 

Peak upon peak mounted the sky.  The saw-toothed mountains below were lost in shadow.   The improbable, impossible, brooding majesty of Mt. McKinley, over 20,000 feet robed in ice and snow, revealed itself.  But still we could not comprehend the weight of its glory; its height and depth and width surpassed imagination and sight.

Denali had been there all the time.

Today I visited the cancer clinic and thanked my doctors and nurses for their part in my healing–four years’ remission from breast cancer.  I walked through the chemo room and peeped into the radiation oncologist’s office to give hugs and thank you’s.  I talked to a couple of  patients and promised to pray for them . . . Rosa and Karen, with their cheerful woolen caps pulled low over bald heads.  “Gloria a Dios, Rosa.”  “Si, Gloria a Dios!” she exclaimed.

Yes, Lord, all glory to You.  You were there all the time.  “Emmanuel”–God with us. 

The world is dismayed by clouds of sorrow, evil, and doubt.  Where is God when we need Him most?   Behind the clouds but ever watchful, and sometimes breaking through into glory!

In the dusty little town of Bethlehem, in the dead of night, He emerged from His hiding to be born in a stable. 

“And she gave birth to her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 

“And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people:

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'” (Luke 2:6-14 NASB)

 No earthly trials can separate us from our Emmanuel now. 

“If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death,nor life, nor angels,nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39 NASB)

God rest ye merry, gentle friends!  Emmanuel is with us!