170402 Devotional Guide

In Worship by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

 This week’s devotional guide is the first in a three-sermon series on the Cross and the death of Jesus in preparation for Easter, April 16, which is the final sermon in this series.  The first sermon explores how the cross shapes us as disciples of Jesus, hence “cruci” formed.  Cruci is from a Latin root which means cross.  Read this week’s devotional guide and learn what it means to be cross-formed.

Daily Bible Readings:

Monday, March 27. Read Deuteronomy 21:22-23.  1) What kind of execution is described here?  2) What was the view being expressed of someone who is executed in this way?  What provisions must be kept in such a case?

Tuesday, March 28. Read 1 Corinthians 1:20-23; 2:1-5.  1) How did Paul say that people regarded preaching?  What was the core message of his preaching?  3) How did Paul say that he presented himself in his preaching?  4) What importance did the crucifixion take in his preaching?

Wednesday, March 29. Read Galatians 6:14-16.  1) If there is to be any boasting, what did Paul say that boasting should be about?  2) He says it doesn’t matter if you are circumcised or not. What does matter, according to Paul?  

Thursday, March 30. Read Ephesians 2:14-16.  1) What did Jesus accomplish on the cross?  2) What effect does the cross have on the relationships between Jews and Gentiles? 

Friday, March 31.  Read Colossians 1:15-20.  1) What are some of the things that Paul says about Christ?  2) What did God accomplish through Jesus’ death on the cross?

Saturday, April 1.  Read Matthew 10:37-39. This is Sunday’s sermon text.   

Prayer for the Week:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn of the Week:

In the Cross of Christ I Glory by John Bowring, 1825     

In the cross of Christ I glory,

Towering o’er the wrecks of time;

All the light of sacred story

Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,

Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,

Never shall the cross forsake me,

Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming

Light and love upon my way,

From the cross the radiance streaming

Adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,

By the cross are sanctified;

Peace is there that knows no measure,

Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,

Towering o’er the wrecks of time;

All the light of sacred story

Gathers round its head sublime.

Devotional Article of the Week:

Cruciformed Disciple

by Phil Ware

Years ago as a boy, one of the greatest birthday gifts I ever received was a VAC-U-FORM [VID] by Mattel. You would heat up a piece of plastic to make it pliable, then quickly press that piece of plastic over a desired form while pushing down a lever which vacuumed all the air out around the object. When you were done, you had a piece of plastic formed into the image of an object.

The warmer the plastic became, the more pliable and ready to be “VAC-U-FORMed” into its new shape it became. However, there was a point where the plastic became too hot and burned up and was unusable. Knowing how hot to get the plastic to make it pliable without ruining it was always the challenge.

The Holy Spirit is at work to transform us. To use more Jesus-focused language,the Holy Spirit was at work to “cruciform” us into the image of Christ:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18; cf. Romans 8:28-29).

But, how do hardened hearts become pliable?

How do old habits of self-will and old patterns of egotism and selfishness become open to change?

The cross of Jesus changes everything about us if we let it. The cross becomes our template, our “desired form” over which our pliable will is stretched, and we are transformed (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus’ crucifixion is a triumph of love, obedience, and service over hate, selfishness, and evil.

Through all of Jesus’ work in Peter’s life, the Lord had the transformation of the cross as the goal. To be a disciple, a true follower of Jesus, Peter had to be willing to see Jesus’ example as his transformation’s desired destination (Luke 9:23-26).

Peter met the resurrected Lord one morning by the Sea of Galilee and was “cruciformed” by the Lord’s grace into the servant leader he became.

  • “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15).

  • “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16).

  • “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:17).

Peter was deeply pained because Jesus asked him this simple question… three times! Just as Peter had denied his Lord… three times!

Peter had spent much of his time with Jesus over-promising and under-delivering.

Despite Peter’s promise that he would not abandon Jesus even if all of the other apostles did (Mark 14:29), Peter denied the Lord three times.

Despite Peter’s promise that he would lay down his life for his Lord (John 13:37), Peter denied ever knowing Jesus.

Now, in the presence of all the other apostles, Jesus made Peter face his failure of faithfulness. Peter’s brashness needed to be transformed into boldness to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

His impetuousness needed to be converted to a passion for reaching the lost. His desire to be seen as important desperately needed to be changed into a heart that would sacrifice everything to follow Jesus and shepherd Jesus’ followers. Peter needed to be “cruciformed”; he needed to be molded into the Lord’s “desired form”.

So, with every question challenging Peter’s claim to love faithfully, the Lord also responded with an affirmation of Peter’s call to minister as a shepherd to Jesus’ followers:

  • “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15).

  • “Take care of my sheep” (John 21:16).

  • “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).

Jesus was not only affirming Peter’s forgiveness and his ability to minister, but he was also calling Peter back to shepherd (“take care of” and “feed”) Jesus’ sheep! More than just forgiveness, Jesus was bringing restoration and renewal of purpose to Peter.

If you are like most of us seeking to live for Jesus, you’ve had your meltdown moment over your own unfaithfulness to the Lord. You’ve been broken by your sin, shocked by your hypocrisy, frustrated by your weakness, or disappointed in your lukewarm faith.

So let Peter’s restoration by Jesus be your turning point. You see, the Lord didn’t confront Peter to destroy him, but to make him pliable. Peter needed his will to be conformed to the cross — to be “cruciformed”! Once transformed, Peter’s outlook was changed. All that he once failed to achieve by ego, the Lord accomplished through him by grace.

If the Lord can transform Peter with all of his failures, imagine what he can do with you! Don’t let your failures make you despondent, bitter, or fatalistic about your sin. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to use your failures to make you pliable. See the cross for what it is — the place the Lord meets us in our most flawed moments, forgives us, and calls us back to be used as his “cruciformed” disciples.

Peter reminded us:

He himself [Jesus Christ] bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:24-25).

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