This is the title to our new series on Sunday mornings at NW. During the season of Lent (which began this past Wednesday), we will be reflecting together on the last sayings of Jesus while on the cross. They are, as you would imagine, words that reveal to us the very heart of Jesus for us that we are then to share with others.
I’ve linked a short devotional on the seven last words of Jesus written by the folks at Breakpoint.org. I hope it will help you ready yourself for worship each Sunday as we consider together…”that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3.117-19)
In the Survey of God’s Goodness in Joshua 1-5, Pastor Larry Trotter described himself as a treasure hunter:
When you open your Bible, look for God. [Among] lots of fascinating, wonderful, delightful things in the Bible — God’s will, Geography, Culture, Language, Poetry, Literature, all kinds of things you can learn about, but I want to suggest right at the center of it all, we should open our Bibles to look for God.
I look for insights into who God is, to what he’s like. I’m looking for what the pages of scripture show me is good and beautiful about my God. I look for that intentionally. I’m on a treasure hunt of sorts — and God is that treasure.
When I was a college student, I had the privilege of being taught by Ruth Bell Graham, who opened her home to me on several occasions; and I was impressed by her personal “collection” of memorized verses. “Some people collect paintings and some collect coins,” she said, in effect, “but I collect Bible verses.”
Treasure collections concentrate value in a single place. Most coin collections are small, so you could easily see and examine them. A collection of family recipes may be bulky, but could be precious and highly useful.
I, too, have made a collection in my Bible study, similar to Larry’s and Mrs. Graham’s. I’m searching for passages that tell us just about God himself using clear statements. I just highlight these passages purple. My “oldest” treasure in the collection is:
Psalms 3:3 — But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
God is a shield. God is my glory. God uses his power to lift my head. This tells me a great deal!
Another in this collection is from Nehemiah:
Nehemiah 1:5 — And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,…
And another from Luke:
Luke 1:68-69 — Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
Every passage asserts something direct and specific about God. I pull them out in prayer and reflect on the God I’m praying to. I use these to open LifeChange Fellowship; if we’re to be Mature & Ministering Worshipers of God, these scriptures are a straight line to worship. After 6 years I’ve found over 300 direct statements that are eternally true about God. I’m proud of my collection.
And because I have highlighted them, I see them as I’m reading. These bright, clear statements occur in unexpected places, like:
Malachi 1:11 — For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
So go on your own treasure hunt. Buy a highlighter, and go searching. Wear out your highlighter, and treasure your collection.
Full disclosure — I don’t actually use a paper highlighter. Instead, I highlight in my Bible Reading app, Olive Tree Bible Reader. My highlights are automatically visible on my phone, my iPad, and my desk computer, and in every Bible translation I use. But beware: some apps won’t keep your highlights. For example, Amazon Kindle will delete your old highlights — don’t let that happen to your collection!
Second, if you are more into video-watching instead of article-reading, the Bible project video has a few helpful points regarding the destruction of Jericho. (And an article to boot in case you accidentally find yourself reading!)
If you would like a guide to help you reflect on the events of the last week of Jesus’ life leading up to Easter, here is a helpful free devotional from John Piper that has a brief reading for each day of this extraordinary week:
On Sunday (3/11/18) we explored the significance of Jesus’ cry in Matt. 27, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” If you would like to read more about the forsakenness/cursedness of Jesus on our behalf on the cross, this link to a sermon by R.C. Sproul is a powerful and weighty exploration of those themes.
Over the years I have complied a list of short Scripture Prayers that are useful in my own praying. You can easily write the ones you would like to use onto a 3X5 and carry them with you or you can pull them up on your phone or even commit them to memory! They are good stimulus to praying God’s good and perfect will for our friends and family and for our own souls.
What is Lottie Moon? It’s not a phase of the lunar calendar or a new drink at Starbucks. The question should be: who is Lottie Moon? Lottie Moon is the namesake of the international missions’ offering taken annually at Christmas time in Southern Baptist Churches (SBC) around the world to fund the work of Southern Baptist missionaries.
Lottie Moon was a hard-working, deep-loving, young lady who left America in 1873 to do missionary work in China so that all the people might know her Savior, Jesus Christ. Why was the offering named for this early missionary to China? Throughout her career, Lottie Moon wrote numerous letters home urging Southern Baptists to make great their mission’s involvement and support. One of those letters triggered Southern Baptist Churches to take an offering in 1888 for international missions at Christmas time – thus the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) was born. That first offering of $3313 was enough to send three new missionaries to China. From that point on Southern Baptists have been collecting the LMCO for the past 130 years. Today there are about 5000 SBC missionaries serving overseas whose salaries are funded primarily through this offering.
And that is the reason I am writing to you today. We are privileged at North Wake to have commissioned and sent over 45 missionaries in the past 20 years through the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Currently, the LMCO is providing funding for 20 of our Far-Flung Friends who are working diligently in some hard places around the world sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Every penny of your gift to LMCO goes to support them.
Once again, during the Entermissions weekend, you will have two opportunities to contribute to the LMCO. During our Saturday, Auction for the Nations, all the proceeds from the silent auction and 6 items from the live auction will go directly to Lottie Moon. On Sunday morning, separate from our regular offering, we will be collecting an offering at the end of each service that will go directly to Lottie Moon. So come to the auction on Saturday night, bid wildly during the silent auction, and then on Sunday, if you are able, plan to give to the LMCO at the end of the services. You won’t find a better eternal return on your money!