Archive | April, 2010

April 6th – The God-Forsakenness of God



I was reading in bed, as I do every night before switching off the light, and I was quite drowsy as I came across the heading which stabbed me broad awake.It was a sub-heading in a Jurgen Moultmann book, and it read “The God forsakenness of God”. Sleep fled. My mind was racing as I pondered again the central question in the Christian doctrine of the atonement. How could Jesus, the sinless Son of God,truly experience total dereliction.How could he, who knew no sin, enter the realm known only to sinners? In fact, how, as Paul put it, could “He who knew no sin become sin for us”? But how else could he rescue us from our self-chosen prison of self, without entering it himself?

He did not only become one with us, in our human struggles and suffering, for he was “buried alive” in Nazareth for most of 30 years. Not only one with us in our home-sickness for God, but he became one with us in our sinfulness. He came to this leper colony called earth, and not only lived with and loved us lepers, He died as one of us.

The result of this supreme act of love is that he broke down the prison walls – smashed the gates.No one needs stay in sin’s prison.He leads out all who trust him enough to follow him, from dereliction into freedom.The God foresakenness of God was God’s way of searching for us and finding us where we had chosen to hide.

We shouldn’t find this too surprising really, after all he made this plain, and no one imagined that God would go this far. This is from Mark Chapter 2:

“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?” On hearing this Jesus said to them “It is not the healthy who need a doctor,but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” Mark 2: 16-17

Adoration: O the depths and heights of the Love of Christ. He has done all things well.

Now read one of the Psalms which Jesus learned as a boy, but only he understood: Psalm 22.

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April 5th – The Derelict Deliverer



At 3 p.m. on the 15th of Nizan, a cry was heard which was so startling, so unexpected,so sacred,(narrators retained the original words untranslated), so scandalous that if you or I had been reporting it we would have omitted the words altogether.
For 2000 years all Christendom has felt the pain of those words, and has tried to explain them away or soften the implication, by saying ‘He was only quoting Psalm 22′, or ‘Someone else said it,not him’, that strangely uniquely perfect man crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem that day.But the sentence is the very heart of what we call the mystery of Christ’s Passion, or sufferings of Jesus. The words were:
“Eloi – Eloi: Lama Sabachthani; My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
and Christians have struggled with them in every age.How could he, the Son of God, who had lived in the unbroken communion with his Heavenly Father, be forsaken?, abandoned? derelict?:and that adds to the truthfulness and faithfulness of the witnesses who reported it.
The deepest root of all human experience is,and has been since the Garden of Eden, that there is an area which deliberately shuts God out of his creation.I mean, the human heart, which demands its freedom from God. ‘Leave me alone. I’ll decide what’s right and wrong for me’.That realm of darkness of guilt was an area which God chose not to invade-thus it was an area of God forsakenness, deliberately chosen by people like us;all of us; to keep God out. We call it ‘free will’. ‘I’ll do it my way, and I’ll do it myself, to please me. ‘I will be as God.’
Well, that was the area which Jesus of Nazareth entered that day, six hours into his crucifixion. He went into that place that only sinners can ever go, and in which all of us sinners choose to live in Godlessness-self-chosen Godlessness – God forsakenness. More about this tomorrow, but for now ponder these words:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions,it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2: 4-5

A Prayer:
Today, Lord, when you knock on my inner door,I vow to open up and invite you in.

Now read II Corinthians Ch. 5 and marvel at v.21, which Luther described as the most awesome words in all scripture.

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April 4th – And can it be that God should die for me?



I sometimes wonder if there were one man who could see what was happening 2000 years ago when some could see nothing but an execution of condemned men, and others could see only a senseless brutality and tragedy. I mean the death of Christ – the one and only truly human being who had ever lived: the light of the world, tortured to death – a lingering public execution on a Roman cross ending in him being laid in a borrowed grave.
But perhaps there was one man who was in a position to see beneath the horror of it all and glimpse what was going on.That man was Barabbas, the bandit who was released, and whose place Jesus took.Of course he might have taken his release from death row as good luck, or a further opportunity to go on murdering for his benighted cause, but he also may have said: ‘Truly this man died in my place.That was supposed to be me there they crucified.He literally died instead of me’.
If he did see that, then he would have glimpsed a sight of the climax of all history.

We recognise that when a woman saves a child from being knocked down by a truck, even though she herself is killed: or when a father dies saving his children from a blazing bedroom;we even understand when people will die trying to rescue a dog from a frozen pond!To die saving someone is a living part of our human story.Yet to die to save the entire human race is simply mind-boggling.
That’s what Christians mean when they say “Jesus Christ died for me, and for all of us, to save us from the human destroyer of us all – sin”.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” I Corinthians 15: 3-4

A Prayer Song:
“There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of Sin There’s a door that stands open and you may go in.At Calvary’s Cross- that’s where you begin
When you come as a sinner to Jesus”

Now read Romans Ch. 6.

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April 3rd – A Commentator’s Record



The first audio commentary of which I can find evidence in history is given probably by the sighted leader of a line of blind people, on a day of celebration as the King of Israel ceremonially entered the city with great pomp, accompanied by a great throng of musicians, dancers, royal guards, envoys of foreign nations, marching bands and choirs. As they processed through the city gates, I see in my mind’s eye that line of blind people, and leading them one who would say :
Your procession has come into view, O God, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens playing tambourines.
“Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them, there the great throng of Judah’s princes, and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
Summon your power, O God; show us your strength, O God, as you have done before.Because of your temple at Jerusalem, kings will bring you gifts. Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush will submit herself to God. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord.”
Those are verses from Psalm 68. Perhaps the first audio commentary of a state occasion in history.

A Prayer:
Lord what a joyous sound is made by your people uniting all their God given gifts together in praise of your name.

Now read Psalm 72. It sets out the uniquely divine kingship, set forth for Israel’s monarch.

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April 2nd – Welcome Your Rightful King



In the days when Israel had a king ruling from Jerusalem, there was an annual ceremony which was full of pomp, pageant and splendour. Each year a great procession would form on the road down from the Mount of Olives, winding up, through the Vale of Gethsemany, up the Great Hill to where the Golden Gate lead into the City of David, Jerusalem, and the Temple Courts.The procession, led by marching bands and military royal guards, consisted of envoys from other nations, bringing gifts; dancing girls with tambourines; singers, and in the place of honour, riding on a war horse, the King of Israel: the anointed of the Lord.His annual enthronement signified one great doctrine:namely that the Lord God was King of Israel His anointed king was merely the representative of God’s rule.He was not the ruler in his own right and glory, but God’s-not to do his own will, but God’s.He was God’s Messiah, or anointed King.

The orchestral music and mighty choral music in the procession was matched by the music and singing from the crowded walls and within the temple courts just beyond the walls.
The procession sang: “Who may ascend into the Hill of the Lord?”.
Those within sang: “Who may stand in his Holy Place?”.
The whole chorus thundered: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart”,
And so the great procession continued. “This is the generation of them that seek Him, so open up the gates”.
“Lift up your heads O you gates”, Roared the procession.
“Who would enter?”, thundered those inside.
“The King of Glory”, they sang.
“Who is the King of Glory?” shouted the City
Then, all together:
“The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord glorious in battle. Who is He? He is the King of Glory”
Admit Him to his City and his throne over his people.

That was the cultural memory which Jesus revived when he entered the City on what Christians call Palm Sunday.The crowds responded thunderously.
The crowds that went ahead of him, and those that followed shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.Hosanna in the highest”.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” Matthew 21: 9-10

A Prayer:
You alone Lord Jesus are the rightful King of all, even you alone are my ruler and Lord.

Now read Psalm 24 and join in the acclamation of our King.

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April 1st – Who’s Fool Are You?



A young woman was telling the police about an accident. “No, I was not speeding”, she said. “O, then what gear were you in?” said the policeman. “Actually it was an apricot two-piece, and a picture hat, with matching medium high heels ….”.

“How did this accident happen sir?” said the same policeman to another driver.
“My wife fell asleep in the back seat”

There was another accident when an upholstery salesman was thrown into the samples in the back of his van. He is now fully recovered.

A small man who was a lorry driver, went into a pub and five hells angels picked on him and threw him out. “He was no fighter” said one – “He’s an even worse driver” said the landlord: “He came in to tell me he’d just driven his truck over five large motor bikes”.

In case you’re wondering, Polish mathematicians tell us there are three kinds of people in this world: those who can count and those who can’t …..

Today’s reading is from the book of Hezekiah, and we suggest you look it up and read it. Hezekiah Chapter 3, or, if you prefer, there’s a similar reading in Isaiah Chapter 68, the first 15 verses.

You heard about that open air preacher who walked down the road inside a sandwich board? Everyone knew he was a religious maniac, especially as on the front board it said (quoting Paul the Apostle) “We are fools for Christ”.
The back board read: “Whose fool are you?”

Well, after all, it is April Fool’s day today, isn’t it?

Oh yes, this is from Proverbs Ch. 26:

A whip for a horse, a halter for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!

And from Proverbs 26: 3-4:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

And, if you’re American, “Have a nice day”.

Now, if you are up to it, read Proverbs 23: 29-34 and smile.

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Thought 4 The Day

Faith may be simple, but its effect is sublime. (Charles Stern)

Through the year calendar

April 2010
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Click on any previous date in the above calendar to read the relevant Through The Year post
Believe it or Not
Sometimes you just can't believe it's true!
A Word in Time
Life has a funny way of connecting us all!
Cooke's Tour of The Bible
Frank Cooke's journey through the Old and New Testaments
Take 2
Some useful life lessons
Mind Stretchers
An open mind is a healthy mind!
Bible Bloopers
Even the Bible has its funnies!