Last Supper

Justin Holcomb from The Resurgence writes on the theology of Maundy Thursday or The Last Supper. Holcomb states that remembering The Last Supper isn’t just remembering something past but also proclaiming something that is present and looking forward to something future:

Maundy Thursday, which remembers the Last Supper, is a celebration of the new covenant.

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:25–26

As we progress through Holy Week toward Easter Sunday, one of the traditional Christian feast days is “Maundy Thursday” (also known in various traditions as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, or Thursday of Mysteries). Coming before Good Friday, this day commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

Jesus’ Last Supper provides the basis for one of the most important observances of the Christian church: the Lord’s Supper, also known as Eucharist or Communion in different traditions. From the earliest days of the church, Christians have re-enacted the Lord’s Supper in accordance with Jesus’ instruction that his followers “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

THE NEW COVENANT
The significance of the Last Supper is seen in the fact that it is when Jesus instituted the new covenant with God’s people, as he explained, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The Mosaic covenant, which God had made with Israel, was constantly broken because of the sin of God’s people. In the Old Testament, God’s prophets declared that someday God would institute a new covenant with his people and put his law into their hearts: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31–34).

As he broke bread and passed around the Passover cup, Jesus was being very intentional. The broken bread foreshadowed his body being broken in death, and the cup foreshadowed the shedding of his blood and the absorbing of God’s wrath against sin.

Christ’s death is the basis for the redemption of all God’s people through the new covenant relationship with God that had been promised. The old Mosaic covenant was replaced with the new covenant through the work of Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection, which provided complete atonement for all the sins of God’s people: past, present, and future (Rom. 3:25–26; 2 Cor. 3:1–4:6; Heb. 8:6–13).

PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
There are many differences in the way various Christian traditions understand and celebrate the Lord’s Supper, but at the core is a basic unity in celebrating God’s redemption in the past, the present, and the future. We see all three of these elements in the Apostle Paul’s explanation of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:25–26.

As Jesus instructed, we take the Lord’s Supper “in remembrance” (Luke 22:19) of Jesus’ finished work of salvation through his life, death, and resurrection. The bread broken and the wine poured out serve as concrete, tangible reminders of Jesus’ real, physical life and sacrificial death, which occurred once-for-all in the past. As Hebrews says, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). The work of salvation is finished (John 19:30).

A FUTURE HOPE
Yet when Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it’s not only a way of remembering something past, but also proclaiming something that is present and looking forward to something that is future.

The Apostle Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:25–26, emphasis added). When Christians come together for the Lord’s Supper, we are celebrating and joyfully proclaiming the new covenant and the redemption through Jesus’ blood that is offered to all people. It proclaims the present power of the death of Christ and celebrates that we “who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). And as we eat and drink the elements Jesus said represent his body and blood, we acknowledge our constant dependence on Jesus as the “bread of life” who came down from heaven (John 6:35–59).

The Lord’s Supper is a joyful, thankful, hopeful celebration.
Finally, the Lord’s Supper looks forward to the future, because Jesus is coming again—“you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” As he gave his disciples the cup, he pointed them to his future return: “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). The book of Revelation portrays a great feast for “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:6–10), which was anticipated in the prediction of a messianic banquet in Isaiah 25:6–8, Matthew 22:1–14, and Matthew 25:10. Jesus intentionally points his followers toward this future hope at the Last Supper.

When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember God’s work of redemption in the past, we proclaim his grace in the present, and we look forward to Jesus’ return in the future. It’s a joyful, thankful, hopeful celebration as we reflect on God’s grace to us through Jesus.

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The Pleasure of Planning

Mark Alan Williams in today’s Church Plants devotional lists simple steps for planning to reach your goals:
We should make plans . . . counting on God to direct us. ~ Proverbs 16:9 (TLB) 
READING: Exodus 25 
We have a God who plans: He had a detailed plan for the Tabernacle (Exodus 25), He has a plan of salvation, a plan for eternity and a plan for your life. Clearly God enjoys planning and likes to see His plans come to fruition. He intends for us to have the same joy: the pleasure of planning. Yet sometimes we make planning more difficult than it has to be.
Here is a simple planning process to reach your goals: 
Write down your goal;
Set a deadline for achievement; 
List the obstacles you will need to overcome;
Identify groups and people you need to work with to achieve your goal;
List the necessary skills and knowledge you will need;
Develop strategies and list the tasks necessary to reach the goal;
List the benefits you will receive. 
Doing a simple plan, based on these seven steps, can catapult you to achieving your dreams. It would not take long to sit down and complete these seven items as you consider one of your strategic goals. You could probably sketch out what you’d need for each of these steps within a half hour or so. You will likely refine the plan later, but that half hour will launch the process that could take you places you have only dreamed about before.
Do you have a plan to accomplish the vision God has for you? If not, have some fun planning today. 

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Come to the end of yourself

A great devotional from Rick Warren today. This one hits home for many. The reason why we don’t move forward with God is because we are trying to be God:

“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT)

Life is a struggle, but what most people don’t realize is that our struggle, like Jacob’s, is really with God! We want to be God, and there’s no way we’re going to win that struggle. But we try anyway.

A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.”

We aren’t God, and we never will be. We’re humans, and the times when we try to be God are the times we end up most like Satan, who tried to be equal with God, too.

We accept our humanity intellectually but not emotionally. We give mental assent to the idea, but when faced with our own limitations, we react with irritation, anger, and resentment. We want to be taller (or shorter), smarter, stronger, more talented, beautiful, and wealthy.

We want to have it all and do it all and become upset when it doesn’t happen. Then, when we notice God gave others characteristics we don’t have, we respond with envy, jealousy, and self-pity.

Surrendering to God is not passive resignation, fatalism, or an excuse for laziness. It is not accepting the status quo. It may mean the exact opposite: sacrificing your life in resistance to evil and injustice or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed. God often calls surrendered people to do battle on his behalf. It’s not for cowards or doormats.

Surrendering is not putting your brain in neutral and giving up rational thinking. God would not waste the mind he gave you! God does not want robots to serve him. Surrendering is not repressing your personality. God wants to use your unique personality. Rather than being diminished, surrendering enhances your uniqueness.

C. S. Lewis observed, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become — because he made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

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Quiet time should follow a simple plan

Rick Warren explains in Ministry Today how quiet time with God begins with a simple plan:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.

The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.

You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:

A Bible — a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase) with good print, preferably without notes.
A notebook for writing down what the Lord shows you and for making a prayer list.
A hymnbook — sometimes you may want to sing in your praise time (see Colossians 3:16).
Wait on God (relax). Be still for a minute; don’t come running into God’s presence and start talking immediately. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV; see also Isaiah 30:15; 40:31). Be quiet for a short while to put yourself into a reverent mood.

Pray briefly (request). This is not your prayer time, but a short opening prayer to ask God to cleanse your heart and guide you into the time together. Two good passages of Scripture to memorize are Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 119:18. You need to be in tune with the Author before you can understand his Book!

Read a section of the Scripture (read). This is where your conversation with God begins. He speaks to you through his Word, and you speak with him in prayer. Read your Bible:

Slowly. Don’t be in a hurry; don’t try to read too large an amount; don’t race through it.
Repeatedly. Read a passage over and over until you start to picture it in your mind. The reason more people don’t get more out of their Bible reading is that they do not read the Scriptures repeatedly.
Without stopping. Don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to go off on a tangent and do a doctrinal study. Just read that section for the pure joy of it, allowing God to speak to you.
Aloud but quietly. Reading it aloud will improve your concentration and help you understand what you are reading better because you will both see and hear what you are reading. Read softly enough, however, so that you won’t disturb anyone.
Systematically. Do not use the “random dip” method—a passage here, a chapter there, what you like here, an interesting portion there. You’ll understand the Bible better if you read it as it was written—a book or letter at a time.

http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-life/prayer/19879-rick-warren-quiet-time-should-follow-a-simple-plan

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Palm Sunday message from Billy Graham

Today, Christians around the world are celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (which we usually call “Palm Sunday,” because the crowd welcomed Him by spreading palm branches in His path). Those who greeted Him were convinced He was the Messiah (or “anointed one”), sent by God to establish His Kingdom on earth.

Why did the crowds turn against Jesus so quickly? One week they welcomed Him, and the next week they demanded He be crucified.

Billy Graham addressed this important question numerous times in his My Answer column.

“No events in human history were more important than Jesus’ death and resurrection, and yet many people (even Christians) never take time to study them.

It must have been a dramatic sight as Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey (which was a sign of His humility). The Bible says that “the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices … ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Luke 19:37-38). Even those who weren’t part of that welcoming crowd listened eagerly to His teaching during the next few days.

But not everyone in Jerusalem welcomed Him; the very next verse says that “the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’” But soon many turned against Jesus and demanded His death: “‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked. They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’” (Matthew 27:22).

These weren’t necessarily the same people who had welcomed Him—but the reversal is still striking. Were they disappointed because He refused to establish an earthly political kingdom? Probably. But Jesus didn’t come to set up a new political system. He came instead to change our hearts and save us from our sins by His death and resurrection. He declared during that last week, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight. … My kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). This deeply disappointed those who hoped He would throw out the hated Roman occupiers. They may also have disliked His demand that they repent.

Where would you have been on that first Palm Sunday? Among the disciples who welcomed Him—or among the skeptical crowds? It’s easy to condemn those who condemned Jesus—but would we have acted any differently? We too are sinners, and we too have rebelled against God.

But the central message of Easter is that God still loves us, and because of Christ we can be forgiven. He came for one reason: “Christ died for sins once for all … to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). May you welcome Him into your life during this holy season.”

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Warren: God uses people with simplified lives

Rick Warren wrote on something I personally struggle with. Life is busy. Being busy makes it hard for me to be available for God:

“So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.” (Heb. 12:1b, GNT)
This means we should remove anything from our lives that would get in the way and hold us back. If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. He’ll even keep you so busy doing good things that you won’t have time for the best things.
That’s why the Bible tells you to simplify your life. You have to get rid of the unnecessary baggage in life. Don’t try to do it all. Do what matters most. A serious runner focuses on the race.
I’ve heard people say, “I would love to live my life for God’s purpose, but I just don’t have time.” The reason they don’t have time is they haven’t taken the time to simplify their life. 
There are all sorts of things that can keep us from simplifying our lives. How do any of the following distract you and keep you from simplifying your life?

Trying to be like others instead of being who God created you to be
Trying to make everybody happy
Trying to meet the arbitrary expectations of others
Too many hobbies or too much time with a hobby
Social media, movies, or television
The wrong kinds of relationships
The mistakes of your past

http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/culture/19911-rick-warren-god-uses-people-with-simplified-lives

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5 ways to encourage teens in spiritual disciplines

Greg Stier of Christian Post created a list to help you grow your teen in spiritual disciplines:

1)Explain what spiritual disciplines mean
2)Show them how they can engage in these disciplines via a smart phone
3)Teach them how
4)Show them know
5)Get your teens sharing their faith

http://m.christianpost.com/news/5-ways-to-get-your-teens-engaged-in-spiritual-disciplines–92014/

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