Easter Worship

For this year’s Easter post, I thought I’d share an abbreviated version of what we do at my church. We’re a tiny congregation, which affords us the luxury of some habits which would be more difficult in larger congregations. On holidays, particularly Easter and Christmas, our worship service involves Scripture readings by members of the congregation, with our hymns and praise songs interspersed. The Scripture readings are hand-picked to tell the story of God’s redemption of mankind, from beginning to Christ. I pray that you are blessed by what you read here.


Man Made a Little Lower than God

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” …God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:27, 28, 31a)

O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet. (Psalm 8:1, 3-6a)

Man Sins Against God

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come…For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 5:12, 14; 6:23a)

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

God’s Compassion for Man

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:8-11)

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.

Now the Lord saw,
And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him. (Isaiah 59:1, 15b-16)

‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

Jesus Refers to His Death and Resurrection

They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” (Mark 10:32-34)

And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24)

Christ Crucified

Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (Matthew 26:59-66)

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (John 19:17-19)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30)

Christ’s Resurrection and Exultation

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:2-7)

 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.

When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight...And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

…While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:13-16, 30-31, 33-34, 36-39)

[God] raised [Jesus] from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19-23)

Forgiveness and Righteousness in Christ

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)

Accept Christ — Repent of Your Sins and Be Saved!

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:8-9)

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”

(1 Timothy 1:15)

Happy Easter to you all!

Book Meme Day 30: Favorite Book of All Time

Well if you are going to deal in absolutes, then fine. The Holy Bible. Old and New Testaments. Not a word more nor a word less. Preferably the New American Standard translation, but as long as a translation is meticulously accurate, it counts as my favorite. You see, there really is no book nearly as important or wonderful or perfect as the Bible. It sheds Light on every aspect of human existence, and it is always invariably correct.

Oh, what’s that? Yes, I know I excluded the Bible from this meme at the beginning to prevent it from sweeping all the positive “awards.” But the phrasing of today’s topic—the final topic—left me no choice. Favorite book of all time? All time? If we are speaking about eternity, then all books will fade away but this one, because it is the Scripture bearing the gospel of the infinite God. It all seems quite simple to me—with the qualification “of all time,” literally no other book can even be considered a candidate, because all other books are the words of finite men trying, whether they realize it or not, to grasp at the mind of God.

In fact, it is the word “favorite” which is irrelevant in this topic. What has my opinion got to do with anything relating to eternity? The Bible is The Book of All Time, and it is my good fortune (and grace from God) that I wholeheartedly love it.

Are you not satisfied yet? What did you expect me to write about, my favorite novel? That’s not the meme topic, now is it? And besides, you already know my favorite series, my favorite story by the author of my favorite series, my favorite books by my favorite authors, my favorite “classic” book, my favorite male and female characters, two of my favorite quotes, my favorite romance in a book, my favorite childhood book, and my favorite book title.

It would be ungenerous of me to call these an overabundance of favorites, for the very concept seems ludicrous to me, especially concerning books, where each one may prove more dear than others to a person at different points in their lives, and it is very possible for multiple books to be on a shelf of favorites, as it were, all at the same time, with none taking particular precedence. When ranking such subjective things like books and movies, I prefer to think of them that way—a highest level of “great” stories that are among the best ever told and which are the most important to me personally, and then successive levels below. The number of stories which may occupy any given level is, theoretically, infinite.

By reading these month’s posts, you have already gained a pretty solid idea of my favorite stories. However, since I do love title-dropping, I’ll indulge in just a little more. If you want more information or discussion on any of the titles below, just ask. They make for great discussion!

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (my review!)
Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
Phantastes by George MacDonald
Mossflower by Brian Jacques
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Odyssey by Homer
Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas
Mere Christianity by Lewis
Miracles by Lewis
Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis

(and so. many. more.)

Oh, and yes, this is the end of the meme. Unfortunately I shall not be updating every single day. However, I do have a few new reviews in the pipeline, so fear not, the month of June will not be an empty one!