Context: As my energy dwindles, I’m becoming less able to receive and write new material every day. This means I sometimes have to use a piece I wrote a while ago.
I always try to choose the most appropriate, and to bring it up to date as best I can. However, it’s hard not to feel a sense of letting you all down when I do so.
Early yesterday morning, while I was praying, I realised that it’s not a personal failure when I don’t receive and write something new. In fact such days can be extremely helpful, because they give me time to process and absorb what God has already shown me. It can also be a relief to rest more that day, without the pressure of having to express something new in words.
Later on, whilst saying grace over my breakfast, I found myself ending my prayer with these words: “Let it be unto me according to thy will.”
When I looked this phrase up, I discovered that it is not a direct quote from any of the Bibles I use, though this had been my working assumption. Instead, it draws on four separate verses:
Mary’s response to the angel at the Annunciation: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38; KJV).
The sentence given to us by Christ when he taught us how to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV).
Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he fully faced the inevitability of the cross: “I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
Simeon’s prayer when he took Jesus in his arms at the presentation in the temple: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (Luke 2:29; KJV).
I plan to incorporate the first three of these verses into my prayers every day, and to use Simeon’s dedication as I’m dying. But may my last words be Christ’s final cry on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46; KJV).
Reading: Luke 2:21-32; NLT
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
1. I remember the stories –
The shepherds, the star;
The stable, the manger,
The kings, from afar.
2. I remember the temple,
The questions, the joy;
My parents; their wrath –
I was only a boy.
3. I remember the wedding
At Cana, the wine
Transformed from fresh water –
My first ever sign.
4. I remember my baptism,
The preaching, the healing;
The scribes and the priests.
5. I remember the mountain,
The voice, and the light –
God clothed me in white.
6. I remember the colt,
The procession, the crowd;
The palms and the cloaks –
People shouting so loud!
7. I remember the supper,
The bread, and the wine;
The friendship, the sharing
With those who were mine.
8. I remember the garden,
The darkness, the fear;
The kiss of betrayal
When Judas drew near.
9. I remember the scourging –
I knew all was lost;
The robe, and the thorns,
And the weight of the cross.
10. Now all that is left
Is the blood, and the pain;
The thirst, and the dying,
As I call your name.
1. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them (Luke 2:6-7; NIV).
2. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious leaders, listening to them and asking questions (Luke 2:46; NLT).
3. This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory (John 2:11; NLT).
4. One day when the crowds were being baptised, Jesus himself was baptised. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy (Luke 3:22; NLT).
The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant (Matthew 21:15; NLT).
5. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them (Mark 9:2-3; NIV).
6. The next day, the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13; NIV).
7. He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20; NIV).
8. He went on a little further and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT).
9. Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face (John 19:1-3; NLT).
Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the Place of the Skull…
10. …There they nailed him to the cross (John 19:17; NLT).
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Mark 15:34; NLT).
1. God is not the dream of angels,
Nor a vision,
Nor a creed.
2. God is not just wishful thinking,
Nor a longing,
Nor a need.
3. God is neither male nor female,
Storm, nor earthquake,
Fire, nor flood.
4. God is Father, Son, and Spirit,
One forever —
God is Love.
1. This is […] the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God [and] sees a vision of the Almighty (Numbers 24:3-4; NLT).
2. I yearn for the Lord, more than watchmen do for the morning (Psalm 130:6; NET).
3. He is not a human being (1 Samuel 15:29; NIV).
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NKJV).
The Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire (1 Kings 19:11-12; NLT).
I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing (Genesis 6:17; NLT).
4. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; NIV).
The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4; NASB).