Let’s begin our worship with the hymn, “I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me.”
‘With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!’ (Psalm 119:145).
Lord, You’re calling us to pray. There is nothing more important than this. If other things have become more important in our lives, we need to think about the way we are living. You want to send Your blessing into our lives: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). Your blessing will come to those who seek You with their whole heart: ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13). If we do not ask, we will not receive: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (James 4:2). Your blessing is not given to those who are half-hearted. You’re calling us to love You with our whole heart: ‘I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight’ (Psalm 119:174).
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “Lord, how can it be that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and my Father and I will come to them and live with them. 25 “I have told you this while I am still with you. 26 The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. 27 “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.
“I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. 3 You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. 4 Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. 6 Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. 8 My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples. 9 I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another.
Good News Translation (GNT)
Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society
Those who love the Lord are called to a life of obedience – keeping His ‘commandments’, keeping His ‘Word’ (John 14:21,23). We cannot live this life in our own strength. Christ must make His home in us (John14:23).
Once He has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (John 15:4). Jesus says to us, ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you.
‘The Holy Spirit teaches us all things’ (John 14:26). Christ’s ‘words’ abide in us (John 15:7).
We are called to a life of fruitfulness (John 15:5,15) – ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: ‘love, joy, peace…’ (Galatians 5:22-23).
Jesus loves us (John 14:21). He gives us His peace (John 14:27). He gives us His joy (John 15:11). Love, Joy, Peace: Let this ‘fruit’ be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. ‘Love one another… Go and bear fruit… love one another’ (John 15:12,16-17).
‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’ (Psalm 122:2).
Why, Lord, do we go to Your House? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:4). We seek Your mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’ (Psalm 123:3). We seek Your help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’ (Psalm 124:8). We receive mercy and help from You, Lord. Help us to worship You: ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (Psalm 124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to You, the Lord our God. We draw encouragement from Your Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’ – In Him we have the victory (Psalm 123:2; Psalm 124:1-5). Help us, Lord, to rejoice in Your blessing and to pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’ (Psalm 122:6).
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
As I was thinking about the wonder of God’s forgiveness, my thoughts turned to the gospel song, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” We ask our question – “What can wash away my sin?” God gives his answer – “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
May God bless you as you listen to and sing along to this great hymn of salvation.
If people persecuted me, they will persecute you too … This, however, was bound to happen so that what is written in their Law may come true: ‘They hated me for no reason at all.’ 26 “The Helper will come – the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send him to you from the Father, and he will speak about me. 27 And you, too, will speak about me, because you have been with me from the very beginning.
“I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. 13 When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come. 14 He will give me glory, because he will take what I say and tell it to you. 15 All that my Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit will take what I give him and tell it to you.
I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!
Good News Translation (GNT)
Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society
Jesus was ‘persecuted’. We will be ‘persecuted’ – ‘all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted’ (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12).
We have no guarantee that life will be easy. In all our difficulties, ‘the Spirit of truth’ directs our attention to Jesus, our Saviour (John 15:26; John 16:13-15).
Whatever our problems, we draw encouragement from Jesus’ words: ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Here, we have realism and faith.
The world is trying to squeeze us into its own mould (Romans 12:2). Sometimes, we feel like faith is slipping away. Sometimes, we feel like giving up.
What are we to say to all this? ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ – This is ‘our faith’ (1 John 5:4-5).
“… not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
What a difference there is between “my own righteousness” and “the righteousness which is from God”! When we “stand amazed in the presence of Jesus”, we realize that “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 54:6). All our attempts to please God end in failure. None of us can reach the standard He has set for us. We fail miserably – again and again and again … Our situation is not, however, hopeless. God has done something about it. He has provided, for us, His perfect righteousness. We cannot earn His righteousness. We can only receive it as His gift. Trying to keep “the law” will get us nowhere. There is, however, another way of receiving God’s righteousness. We receive it “by faith.” In faith, we look away from ourselves to Jesus Christ. Salvation is not about what we do. It’s about what Christ has done for us – “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand – all other ground is sinking sand.”
Now, listen, sing along – and be blessed.
‘I love the Lord… I will call on Him as long as I live’ (Psalm 116:1-2).
Our love for You, Lord, is to be a lifelong life. It is to be the love of our life. What are we to do when our love for You grows weak? We must remember Your love for us – ‘Great is His love towards us. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever’(Psalm 117:2). When we find it difficult to keep on loving You, help us to remember how much You love us. When we feel like giving up on loving You, help us to remember that You never give up on loving us. You love us when our love for You is strong. You love us when our love for You is weak. In love, You reach out to us. You bring us out of our weakness and into Your strength. May Your strong love reach out to us in our weakness and give us Your strength: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’(Church Hymnary, 450).
Our story is the story of sin – but there’s another story which breaks into our story – it’s the story of God’s grace. God looks at our sin – and, in His wonderful grace, He looks beyond our sin and gives us hope for the future. When it seems like we’re being overwhelmed by the darkness, we must not lose sight of the light of God’s love. Our sin is great. His love is greater than our sin.
Now, let’s listen, sing along – and be blessed.
Keep on praying for our troubled world – and don’t forget to thank God for answers to prayer.
May the Lord bless each one of you.
In this series. “From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday”, the next post, “Thursday in Holy Week”, will appear online from 6.50 pm (United Kingdom time) on Thursday 1st April 2021.