Friday: Psalms 125 & 126; Nehemiah 8.13-38; Acts 23.12-35

From: Mark Booker

[Note: After a rest for much of Eastertide, we are restarting our Scripture reflections at the pace of 1-2x/week throughout the summer. These reflections are intended to help us 'chew' on Scripture together that we might come to greater life through the Word of God.]

Psalm 126.3 is a call to joy because of the great things that God has done...FOR US. 

We are in the stretch of the church calendar when we most explicitly remember the great things that God has done. We remembered the death of Christ 43 days ago. We celebrated the resurrection 41 days ago. Yesterday was Ascension Day, when we are reminded that Jesus ascended into heaven to take his place upon the throne as sovereign Lord over the entire universe. And in 9 days, we will mark the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people of God at Pentecost. Christ's death, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God has done great things.

But have you remembered throughout this season that these great things are FOR US—for you and for me? These acts heal our pasts. They direct our futures. They, more than anything else, define our present. They produce tongues that are filled with shouts of joy (v. 2) and genuine gladness (v. 3). Joy arises from God's acts for us. Lose the 'for us' and we sever the vital link in our lives to joy.

I met a pastor from Canada at a conference last week who is beginning doctoral work on the Christian life and joy. The reason? He sees the pervasiveness of joy for God's people in Scripture and yet its lack in the church today. I suspect the reason is that we've lost the 'for us' of these great acts of God that we are in the middle of remembering. 

If joy seems hard (and all of us can affirm this at one level), I would encourage you to sit with God with these great acts in mind and ask him to show you again, in a very personal way, how they were for you. 

   

Saturday: Psalm 31; Job 14.1-17; Matthew 27.57-66

From: Rachael Bailes

We learn more about Joseph of Arimathea from today's reading in Matthew 27.57-66. We know that he was rich, and a disciple of Jesus. Luke 23.50-51 describes him as "a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God." John 19:38 says he "was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews."

While Jesus lived and had his ministry, Joseph was looking for the kingdom of God, was a disciple of Jesus, but was too afraid of the Jews to stand against them. Once Jesus died, it was Joseph who went to talk to Pilate about giving Jesus a proper burial. It seems as if Joseph was given a new found courage to make public his devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 4.6 says, "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Our hope is in the RISEN Christ. May we not live in fear, but be courageous in being the light of Christ and sharing the hope of His salvation.

I live in Brighton with my husband and 3 kiddos. 

Friday: Psalm 22; Isaiah 52.13-53.12; John 18-19

From: Emily Hood

Today is Good Friday. On this day, we remember and reflect on the painful and pitiful death of Jesus on the cross. We read about his betrayal, his trial, his torture, and death, and it is called "good". Here is a quotation from John Piper,

"God wrote “good” on the single worst day in the history of the world. And there is not one day—or week, month, year, or lifetime of suffering—not one trauma, not one loss, not one pain, momentary or chronic, over which God cannot write “good” for you in Christ Jesus".

Heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise today for the incredible, incomprehensible sacrifice of "Good Friday." We ask that you would prepare our hearts for worship tonight. We know that our debt is unmeasurable, and yet, through Jesus it is forgiven and forgotten. Lord, we lift our brokenness, failures, and losses up to you, because you tell us that you will work good through them. Lord, we lift our hopes, joys, and accomplishments up to you, because every good gift comes from your holy hands. We ask your blessing of peace over our families, city, and church today. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.