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Meditations Contents
Series Theme:   Lent Meditations - Why the Cross


Meditation Title: Overview


PART ONE : The NEED for Easter
Prologue    Failure to Appreciate God
1    Death brings perspective
2    Failing to be good
3    Our deceitful heart
4    Nothing outside of Christ
5    I'm a Sinner?
6    The reality of sin in me
7    Clueless, godless & worthless!
8    A false security
9    Turning to our own resources
10    Turning to superstition
11    Turning to rule-keeping
12    Preferring to walk by sight


PART TWO: The Long-Term Plan of God

13    Planned before the world began

14    God's Preplanned Salvation

15    God's Sovereign Foreknowledge

16    The Son - comes at the right time

17    The Son - working to a Schedule


PART THREE: The Prophetic Work of the Son seen in Isaiah

18    The Son - exalted but disfigured

19    The Son - a man of sorrows

20    The Son - a carrier of our infirmities?

21    The Son - pierced and crushed

22    Us - wandering sheep?

23    The Son - oppressed and afflicted


PART FOUR: The Wider Work of the Son

24    The Son - the triumphant Lamb

25    Us - redeemed from an empty life

26    Blessings & Curses

27    Us - our Freedom Bought

28    Redemption & Forgiveness

29    Repentance opens the door

30    God's revulsion at my sin

31    God's hatred of sin

32    Us - blind to the truth?

33    God has no pleasure in our death

34    Cross-centred salvation

35    Us - reconciled to God

36    The Son - Jesus the substitute

37    The Son - the lamb without defect

38    The Son - creates access to God

39    Us - put right with God

40    Surface Praise


PART FIVE : Jesus' Seven Words on the Cross

41    Sinful Ignorance

42    Death-Bed Confessions

43    Caring - Part 3!

44    The Sin Bearer Crushed

45    The Sin Bearer Exhausted

46    The Task Completed

47    The Father's Will Completed






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Series Theme:   Lent Meditations - Why the Cross

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Meditation No. Prologue

Meditation Title: Failure to Appreciate God


(NB. This series is designed to be read throughout Lent starting on Shrove Tuesday and finishing on Easter Sunday)


Shrove Tuesday, so called from the old ritual known as shriving whereby a person confesses their sins and receives absolution from them. It also has been a day of celebration, the last day before the beginning of Lent. For this first week we will consider the NEED behind Easter.


Rom 1:20,21 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.




We may make excuses but the Bible is quite explicit: anyone with eyes to see should be able to look at Creation and realise that it was not an accident, but was instead the work of a Supreme Being. It was that early scientist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton, who said, “This most beautiful system could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” He could see it, so why can't so many today? Voltaire said, The world embarrasses me, and I cannot dream that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.”


It was William Paley in 1802 who argued for a creator of such a complex world, like a watch has a watchmaker. Since then, a variety of people have sought alternative solutions. What is it in us that doesn't like the idea of a Creator? Can it be that thing the Bible calls ‘Sin', that is self-centred and doesn't like any thought of having to be answerable to a greater Being? It is a hard hearted person who can see a beautiful sunset, stand before the Canadian Rockies or the Himalayas , gaze up on a clear night, and be unmoved.


Why should we be moved? Why should a meaningless bunch of molecules have a sense of ‘awe' or ‘beauty' or ‘meaning'? No, the fact is that we are contaminated by this thing called Sin and it blinds us to the truth, and allowing ourselves to remain blinded, refusing to even dare to believe the obvious, we refuse to give thanks, and thus we are condemned.


No, we have a problem which, much of the time, we subdue and pretend is not there. The problem? There are signposts all around us and we refuse to take note of them, we refuse the truth that HE IS THERE, and so we remain isolated from Him, for He will not force Himself on us. He's given us the means to see it if we want, it's just that so much of the time we don't want.




Lord, as we go through Lent this year, open my eyes that I may see. Show me, Lord, my blindness, show me the reality of my folly, show me yourself, show me your wonder, show me what you have done. Lord, with my limited ability, I want to pause and thank you for my senses, the wonder of sight (and the things I can see), the wonder of hearing (and the things I can hear), the wonder of smell (and the scents of your world), the wonder of taste (and the staggering variety of your provision) and the wonder of touch (and the world I am enabled to contact. Thank you so much.




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Meditation No. 1

Meditation Title: Death Brings Perspective



Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. A day of penitence, for cleansing the soul before the Lent fast. We continue to consider the NEED for Easter.


Gen 2:7 The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.


Gen 3:9 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.




Sometimes we completely lose perspective. Scientists so often seem to get so involved in the nuts and bolts of life that they seem to lose sight of the big picture, even those who gaze at galaxies. It was Francis Bacon who said, “ Science is but an image of the truth.” Somebody else once said, “ Science is a game we play with God, to find out what his rules are.” The church of the middle ages had a bad time with science and made some silly wrong dogmas about the world that were proved untrue. Sit back and let scientists tell you how it all works and marvel. Then ask them why it is here and listen to the silence.


We fill our libraries and now our computers with more and more information and, if we are silly, we think it makes us wiser and bigger. And then one day a severe illness strikes accompanied by fear, and the great unknown, death, leers at us. It has a remarkably sobering effect. Solomon that king of great wisdom, declared, It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man.” (Eccles 7:2) What was he saying? You get a better perspective on life at a funeral than at a party! Until we have looked death in the face we can never appreciate the wonder – and the frailty – of life. Going through a life-threatening experience enables us to see life in proper perspective, possibly for the first time.


How the Bible dashes the pride of mankind. It says we come from the dust of the ground – and we'll end up as dust again when our body lies down for the final time. If that was all life was, how terrible it would be, how utterly meaningless, how utterly pointless, but that is not all it is. God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” (Gen 1:26), God put energy into the dust-man and that energy was what made him in God's image a living, communicating, wondering, thinking, rationalising, artistic, creative being for three score years and ten – and then dust and possibly something so much more glorious! It was Job who said, Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21 ). He had a right perspective, he understood!




Lord, forgive me my folly, when I sometimes have delusions of grandeur, when I lose contact with reality and believe I am invincible. I acknowledge my life is a gift from you and I am so thankful. Left to myself I am a pile of active dust, but with your energy, your life, your Spirit, within me, I am a living, purposeful being.








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Meditation No. 2

Meditation Title: Failing to be Good


Lent is an old English word meaning to lengthen as we see it happening in spring, when the days start to lengthen. In the church it has been the period of forty days, beginning with Ash Wednesday, that run up to Holy Week and Easter. We continue to meditate on the NEED for Easter.


Isa 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.




The starting point for real understanding is always our own state outside of Christ. There are clues throughout Scripture that say we are in dire need of a saviour. The verse above is one of those clues. In that chapter, Isaiah looked back to the time when Israel met God at Sinai, when they had entered into a relationship with the Lord. They had been called to obey the Lord and follow His ways. A reading of Deuteronomy, chapters 4 to 11, reveals Moses calling Israel again and again to obey the Lord when they go into the Promised Land, to learn His ways and live under His sovereignty – but they failed!


Isaiah, facing this failure, comes at the end of verse 5 to ask, “How can we be saved?” Then comes our verse above as he accepts the situation. Sins are moral dirt and they are like a dirty person. Indeed even the apparently good things they do are the equivalent of dressing themselves in rags and tatters, filthy, tainted rags at that! The effect of our failures makes us want shrivel up and these very sins condemn us so that we scurry away and hide (e.g. Gen 3:8). Once we've become a Christian and received the forgiveness of God and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, our temptation is to forget what we were like. But the truth is that the past is still there, lurking, waiting to reveal you as you truly are outside Christ.


Sometimes the Lord allows trials to come our way that reveal our frailty, our weakness and our tendency to failure without Christ's presence and help. When the light of God's love shines on our innermost being, we're able to accept the truth that left to ourselves, even our apparently good deeds have bad motivation. We do things to appear good, to impress others. Moreover, if we can face the inner ‘me' we find a host of bad thoughts just waiting to rise up given half a chance. We speak words of gossip that are only partly true and we view others with attitudes that are less than gracious. Yes, left to ourselves we are definitely not nice people – but, as we said, it needs the love of Christ to help us face that truth.




Lord, I'm not sure that I dare be as open as David and say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psa 139:23,24), for I know the truth deep down, that without you, I am not nice. Thank you for the wonder of your salvation, thank you for the wonder of your Holy Spirit that you gave me when I came to you through Christ, thank you for all your goodness that is now in me. Open my eyes even more to see the wonder of your salvation.






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Meditation No. 3

Meditation Title: Our Deceitful Heart


We continue, throughout this first week of Lent to focus on the somewhat unpleasant subject of the NEED for Easter – our sin!


Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?




The Bible says a lot about ‘the heart'. Of course it doesn't just mean that muscular valve that pumps the blood round our body. Vines Expository Dictionary identifies ‘heart' as meaning, the ‘inner man' (Deut 30:14), the seat of ‘desire or inclination' (Ex 7:14 ), the ‘emotions' (Deut 6:5), ‘knowledge and wisdom' (Deut 8:5), ‘conscience and moral character' (Job 27:6), ‘rebellion and pride' (Gen 8:21 ).


Consider some of those for a moment: desire or inclination, emotions, knowledge and wisdom, conscience and moral character. Do you trust these things? Jeremiah said the heart is deceitful. Now consider these descriptions in the light of this verse, one by one.


Your desire or inclination are deceitful? Of course! Do you know why you want to move in a particular direction always? No, the driving force is often way below the conscious level, and should it surface we realise our motivating force is not a good one!


Your emotions are deceitful? Of course they are. Do we always know why we're feeling what we're feeling? No, of course not! Often they're responding to deep down issues we're afraid to face.


Knowledge and wisdom ? You know and understand all things? You know and understand what you feel, why you act? You're an unusual person, a unique person if you always do. No, we often act instinctively rather than out of knowledge, without thought rather than with consideration, and if we did consider what is happening, we might act very differently!


Conscience and moral character ? OK for most of the time, as long as we do keep letting conscience (and the Holy Spirit) check us. But do you ever find yourself rationalising a course of behaviour, why it's really all right? That's just you being tricky, deviously overcoming your conscience, and then the next time your conscience will allow that path to be followed without qualm. Oh yes, conscience can be deceived and deceitful!


On a good day when we obey the word of God and the prompting of His Spirit, all may be well, but on the day when we trust our own inner motivations we'll find our desires are haphazard, our emotions all over the place, unthinking responses ruling, and conscience justifying. No, we desperately need a Saviour to deliver us today and every day. We are prime objects of these con-merchants!




Lord, I place no trust in my own desires or inclinations, I won't let my emotions be the arbiter of truth, I confess my unthinking approach to life so often, and I ask for your Spirit to stir and challenge my conscience, that I may walk in your ways. Please lead me and guide me today. I cannot trust myself but I can trust you, indeed I trust you to save me from these deceptions.







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Meditation No. 4

Meditation Title: Nothing outside of Christ


So we continue to consider our NEED, the need for the Cross, the need for Easter.


John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.




Yesterday we started to think about how our own resources, what the Bible refers to as our ‘heart', deceive us and cannot be trusted. When Jesus came, he gave his followers a very graphic picture, that of a vine and its branches. He said he was the vine and we, his followers, are the branches. Where does the life in the branches come from? The main stem of the vine. Where does the moisture come from that helps growth for the branches? Up through the main stem. Cut a branch off so it is separated from this life source and it dies and shrivels. How is a branch going to produce fruit? By receiving from the main stem. Cut it off and it produces nothing because it dies.


The Bible indicates that when we become a Christian be become joined to God Himself, through His Son. When we repent and come to our senses and come to Him for forgiveness and cleansing, He places His own Spirit within us and the Bible then, again and again, refers to us being “in Christ”. We are joined to him by his Spirit. If we weren't, we wouldn't be receiving his life, we wouldn't be receiving his resources, we wouldn't be able to do anything ‘spiritual'. In others words, as Jesus said, we “can do nothing”.


It's at this point that a self-righteous, self-centred, self-seeking, self-serving, self-conscious, self-glorifying echo from our old life tries to rise up or (if you've never truly become a Christian) simply to maintain its control and sovereignty, and challenge all that we've said today and in previous days. “Surely,” it says, “it's not that bad? There is some good in me? Left to myself, surely I can still do some good?” What is ‘good'? Look at all those descriptions at the beginning of this paragraph. ‘Good', unless you have truly surrendered your life to Christ, is purely something that panders to your “self”.


No, the truth is that without Christ, you can do nothing of any virtue, real virtue and significance in God's eyes. Everything you do, and you can do a lot of human activity, will have ‘self' at its heart and at its conclusion. Even ‘really good' deeds that you do, will have been done because you thought it was a good idea, and would even make you feel good. If you've never faced it before, it's time to face the truth: You NEED Christ!




Lord, I've never seen it so clearly before and as much as I struggle with it, I accept the truth, that without Jesus I am lost and can do nothing that warrants your approval. I acknowledge that, left to myself, I am utterly self-centred, and do things because I think they are a good idea and will benefit me. Please will you forgive me? Please will you give me a new life, with your own Spirit living within me to motivate and empower me? I need you Lord so much.







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Meditation No. 5

Meditation Title: I'm a Sinner


Yes, we're continuing on with this unpleasant but essential task of facing our own need, the need which brought about Easter.


1 Tim 1:15,16 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.




The Bible sometimes can have the effect like an earthquake in our lives. One minute all is peace and calm. Then we ponder the words of Scripture and suddenly we're turned up side down. The apostle Paul in these two verses starts off with a simple principle: Jesus came to save sinners. Yes, I can accept that, no problem! “Of whom I am the worst”?????? To make it worse he repeats it: “me, the worst of sinners”. Just a minute, we say, doesn't he mean that in the past? Well that wouldn't lessen the impact, but anyway no, he means now, in the present. Once a sinner, always a sinner! (Please note that doesn't mean you have to sin, just that you still have the propensity to sin – and that you can give in to or fight against it with God's help.)


What is particularly upsetting to our sensibilities is what we know of Paul as shown in the New Testament. Before he encountered Christ on the Damascus road, he was a highly devout and fervent religious believer. He had been a fervent Pharisee upholding God's name, and whose daily behaviour was faultless (see Phil 3:5,6). If he lived today he would go to church twice on Sundays, probably once or twice in the week, and be a pillar of the church and the community, a really good man. Yet he denounces himself as a foremost sinner. It gets worse: after he came to Christ, he travelled the world sharing the Gospel and establishing churches wherever he went. He wrote a number of letters that have become almost the backbone of Christian belief. And he still declares himself to be a foremost sinner. If he said that about himself, what would he say about us???


Why does he say this? For the reason we indicated above. He knows he was a sinner and is still a sinner. He preaches against sin and he beats himself up to not sin, but he still knows his propensity. Read Rom 7 if you are not clear about this. It's at the end of that chapter that he cries, “Who will rescue me… Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v.24,25). He then goes on in the next chapter to explain how Christ does it – by his work on the Cross and the work of his Holy Spirit, but the truth is still there – without these two things, we're doomed! Later in the month we'll examine them both and see how it works.




Lord, I'm beginning to see it. Without your work and your Spirit I'm lost. The propensity to sin is still there and I need you daily to deliver me from it. Thank you for your salvation that does this. Thank you that you have set me free so that I don't have to sin – but I still recognise it lurking there.







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Meditation No. 6

Meditation Title: The Reality of Sin in Me


So we continue with our quest, to more fully understand our NEED of the Cross, our NEED of Easter. Until we can clearly understand the need, we will not appreciate the wonder of Easter.


I John 1:8-10 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.




If you have been following these meditations since last Tuesday, you'll know we have been following this same train of thought, that we are sinners in need of a Saviour. The apostle John, in his first letter, followed this line of thinking. Put simply it is that recognition of our state, and repentance over it, is the starting place (and continuing process) for the Christian life. Read this quote by theologian Richard Lovelace and the italics are ours for emphasis:


“The lifelong process of mortifying sin involves a gradual detection process by which the particular forms in which sin expresses itself in our lives… are uncovered to our view. Some of this discovery of sin occurs early in our Christian lives, but the subtlety of indwelling sin is such that many of its deeper roots remain under the surface of consciousness, where they will continue to distort our lives if they are not uncovered later….. The child who has been converted at eight faces a new crisis of repentance at puberty…. Even conversion itself opens up new possibilities of “spiritual flesh”: pride in spiritual gifts and achievements, envy of the spirituality of others, a gluttonous dependence on spiritual experience which cannot reconcile itself to an obedient walk of faith independent of sight” (Dynamics of Spiritual Life).


God warned Cain (Gen 4:7), “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” When we come to Christ we surrender our lives to him and we become ‘redeemed sinners', otherwise known as ‘children of God' (1 Jn 3:1) who shouldn't be sinning but sometimes do (1 Jn 2:1).


The New Testament message comes through again and again – we have been delivered from sin and the power of Sin over us has been broken (we'll see this more later), but we are still prone to tripping up, the tendency is still there. We may triumph over one area of sin today, but another will appear to be fought tomorrow. Can we do this on our own? Definitely not! We need a daily Saviour, and that is what the Cross is all about.




Lord, your word calls me to be alert (e.g. 1 Pet 5:8), because I am vulnerable, a prey to the old sin factor, a tendency for getting it wrong. I am aware that I don't only need you to save me for eternity, but I need you to save me today. I see there is a battle and I have to challenge the sin-tendency that Satan would seek to resurrect within me. It seems frighteningly easy to forget you, to turn away from you, and then fall. I so need you today Lord.






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Meditation No. 7

Meditation Title: Clueless, Godless, & Worthless


We have been moving on in these meditations from recognising our frailty and weakness and need for salvation and new birth, to see our need on a daily basis for His salvation. The work of the Cross is a work for a one-off new life AND for a daily deliverance.


Rom 3:9-12 Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;  11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”




We quoted, yesterday, from Richard Lovelace on our awareness of Sin in us. Let's let him speak again about it generally:


“The structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than the isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience commonly designated by the word. In its biblical definition, sin cannot be limited to isolated patterns of wrongdoing; it is something much more akin to the psychological term complex : an organic network of compulsive attitudes, beliefs and behaviour deeply rooted in our alienation from God.”


In his famous book, “The Normal Christian Life”, it was Watchman Nee who usefully distinguished between ‘sins', the individual acts of wrong I commit, and ‘Sin', an inner power that drives me to commit rebellion against God, to go my own way, ignoring Him.


In our verses for today the apostle Paul, quoting the Psalmist, declared that both Jew & Gentile are under this power of sin, and then he declares (v.10) there is no one who is righteous (on their own – implied), and then gives a three fold description (v.11,12) of that lack of righteousness: clueless, godless and worthless. What a condemnation! Clueless – we don't understand what it's all about. Godless – we don't seek after God and more than that, we turn away from God. Worthless – what value is there now in this created being who is running off the rails.


Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, when preaching on this worthlessness said, “The word that is used here… is the word used for milk when it has gone sour… The milk that was meant to be food and meant to give satisfaction has turned sour, and is useless…. good for nothing but to be thrown on to the rubbish heap.”


That's what our state was like before we knew Christ: clueless, godless and worthless – only good to be thrown away! God could have looked at the earth, looked at fallen mankind and decided to scrap the lot – but He didn't, He sent Jesus instead!




Lord, in my blindness, I've never quite realised how awful our plight was, I never really realised that we were tainted through and through, really only good to be thrown away. It seems almost beyond comprehension that instead you sent your Son for us. Please help me take it in.







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Meditation No. 8

Meditation Title: A False Security


We've been considering this NEED for Easter for over a week now, but we must keep on with it a bit more yet.


Mt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Lk 22:31,32    31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you [ a ] as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”




You might think that simply living alongside the Son of God would be sufficient to keep you on the rails – but you would be mistaken! One of the staggering things about the incarnation – the bodily coming of the Son of God in human form – is that this holy expression of God in the flesh, could actually live among human beings and not utterly destroy them. That must be one of the great mysteries. But here is Simon Peter who has been with Jesus for about three years. He has watched the incredible things that had been happening every day. He knew the Lord's standards, his ways, his abilities. This, surely, must have had a transforming effect upon Peter? When it comes to the Last Supper, Jesus is explaining to them what will soon be happening, but they struggle to cope with what they are hearing.


Jesus warns Peter specifically what is going to come on him, but he's still living with a misguided view of himself: “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” (Lk 22:33). Well actually Peter, no you aren't, but you don't realise that yet. Some Christians, as they gaze on the downfall of their brother or sister, rashly say, “That could never happen to me!” Really? Perhaps you've never yet been in the same position as them? It is said that there was an American Indian saying: “Never presume to give advice to someone else until you have walked in their moccasins.” The apostle Paul understood this when he said (1 Cor 10:12 ), “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall !”


It's easy on a good day when the sun is shining and you feel strong and healthy and everything is going your way, to feel so secure that you will rashly say, “That will never happen to me.” It simply means you don't know yourself. If we weren't vulnerable, we would not need the exhortations of Scripture to “be alert” (e.g. Eph 6:18 ) or to “watch out” (e.g. Mt 24:4). That was why Jesus taught us to pray, “deliver us from the evil one.” He knew we were vulnerable. He knew we needed help. He knew we needed him to be there for us, supporting us, encouraging us, guiding us, providing for us, picking us up, cleansing us, and forgiving us. We needed all of those things, and they could only be possible after he had been through the Cross and we had received him afterwards as our personal Saviour.




Lord, if someone like Peter, who had walked so closely with you, was prone to fall, how much more must I be. I thank you that, as a Christian, I have your Holy Spirit within me to teach me and guide me and empower me, and I thank you that His presence became possible because of the work of the Cross. Thank you that you came and did this at Easter.








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Meditation No. 9

Meditation Title: Turning to our own Resources


We're still with the subject of the NEED for Easter. We've got to stay here a bit longer yet.


Jer 2:13 "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.




We said earlier in these meditations, that throughout the Bible there are clues that indicate that we, in the human race, are in dire need of a saviour. Our verse today is part of a prophecy that the Lord gave to Jeremiah about His people and in it He identifies two sins that are actually at the heart of all Sin, and therefore we can identify them in every person.


The first of these sub-sins is that of forsaking God. We have already considered the apostle Paul's words to the church at Rome , that God's anger is upon the human race since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” (Rom 1:19).


When preaching to the people of Athens (Acts 17:26 ,27) he said, “he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him .” i.e. the way history works should set people searching for the meaning behind it, and find God.


Solomon similarly wrote, He has also set eternity in the hearts of men (Eccles 3:11), again indicating this same thing, that by the way God has made both us and this world, we should be finding Him in it. But what instead happens? People forsake God who is, in fact, the source of all life. They turn away from the revelation they have. We believe that the Lord speaks to every single human being, and if that is so, then it is all the more amazing that they turn away. There can be no other explanation than the fact of Sin which shows itself in our folly.


But we show this folly even more; we “dig our own cisterns”. What does this mean? We try to make our own provision, we try to get by on our own, we have our own coping mechanisms – anything but God! How stupid is this! If God, the all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving One is there to provide us with the things He knows we need (because He's designed us that way), how stupid is it to turn away from Him and try and provide our own resources. Why do we do it? We do it because we don't like submitting to anyone else, as great and as glorious and as loving as He is. That is the stupidity of Sin that we need rescuing from!




Lord, the signs are there and I didn't heed them. I have only come to this place because you drew me. Thank you for doing this, thank you for stirring this need within me. Help me, Lord, to understand the awfulness of these truths and the wonder of your love revealed through Easter.









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Meditation No. 10

Meditation Title: Turning to Superstition


We are approaching the end of this first section looking at the NEED for Easter, but we have just three more meditations yet to consider. Here's the first.


Jer 7:4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD , the temple of the LORD , the temple of the LORD !"




We have been looking at the folly of sin as we see it so clearly expressed in human beings. Our verse today again comes from a prophecy that the Lord gave through Jeremiah. There is almost a sense of modern day humour in the way it is presented. Jeremiah had been told by the Lord (v.2) to stand at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem and speak this word to the religious people who were coming there. There was coming a double call to repentance (v.3,5) because of their sins, but here between the calls is a warning not to trust in deceiving words.


What were the people doing? Living in sin but trusting in superstition! Why superstition? What does superstition mean? A dictionary defines it as “a widely held but unjustified belief in the effects or nature of a thing.” What form did this superstition come in? They believed that simply because the temple was there, if they went to it for ‘services', it would be all right and it wouldn't matter what else they did in the rest of their lives. Wrong!


Some people “go to church” out of superstition. Some people bow down before idols out of superstition. Other people cause pain to themselves out of superstition. Others go to holy war out of superstition. Remember what superstition is? It is a widely held but unjustified belief. There is a form of religion that says, IF I do this THEN God will have to do that. That is superstition. God will not be manipulated. It's actually a form of magic based upon fear. It's the sort of thing that was at the heart of pagan worship rites, sacrificing something to the gods to get them on their side (very different from the Mosaic sacrificial system that prefaced the work of Jesus Christ). If we are nice to the gods then they will be nice to us – perhaps!


Perhaps if you have never really understood the things that are being and will be covered by these Lent meditations, you have never known the security of God's love as revealed through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary. Perhaps you have so far relied upon methods of ‘appeasing' God. It's a common enough thing. So many people start from the premise that somehow they have to get God ‘on their side'. Joshua did this (Josh 5:13 ) and was basically told, God doesn't take sides, He's God! He rules! Because we are tainted by Sin, our thinking has been warped and we expect God to be harsh against us. Instead, quite to the contrary, He has come to save us, bless us and make us His children.




Lord help me stop trying to manipulate you, stop trying to impress you with my good works, my prayers or whatever. I come to you with empty hands, acknowledging my need and put my trust in your mercy and your grace, and trust you to do what you have said you will do – save me.







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Series Theme:  Lent Meditations - Why the Cross

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Meditation No. 11

Meditation Title: Turning to Rule-Keeping


Only two more to go in the section considering the NEED for Easter, and the problem that we had, for which Easter is the solution.


Gal 3:2, 11 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? ….. are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?....Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”




Yesterday we thought about how people try to use various means to ‘appease' God, which is superstition. When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia he was writing to a people who had gloriously and simply received the Gospel. Paul had told them about Jesus dying on the Cross for their sin and they had gladly received that. Salvation had come simply as they believed and received what they had heard. Part of that package was receiving the Holy Spirit (v.2) but subsequent to that there came those who said that wasn't enough, they needed to obey Moses Law. So, now they started trying to keep the rules in order to obtain their salvation. The church at Colosse got into the same bind and Paul had to chide them for now relying upon rule keeping in respect of eating or special days etc. (Col 2:16-23).


What is rule keeping? It is a form of religion that puts its trust in keeping made-made rules and you find it in every religion. The only thing such religion guarantees is failure and guilt. If you live by rules you can be sure you will break some of them. We then get into guilt or we start justifying why this rule broken is all right, but deep down we worry. The thing about rule keeping is that it is self centred and if we do well on a good day, pride says, aren't you doing well, and that has nothing to do with God. Rule keeping is humanistic religion. It is promoting a form of spirituality that doesn't need God – it's still godless.


Are you saying we should break the rules then, somebody asks? Of course not, but the rules don't become the way to achieve God's approval, they are simply an expression of our love for God, after we have received His love. So, for example, will not getting drunk get God's approval? No, rule keeping doesn't win his approval, simply believing in Jesus and his work on the Cross (see later) does. When we realise what he has done for us, and we receive it and him, we find we are on the receiving end of his love. As his love impacts us, we find we no longer want to do those harmful and foolish things we did before and so, as in this example, we no longer get drunk. It is a result or outworking of our faith and love, not a means to get to it!




Lord, please forgive me for that tendency that I have to try to earn your love. I realise when I think about it, that you give it to me freely. I realise that even my best efforts are so often self-centred, and I know you want to take my eyes off me and on to you. Please help me. Please open my eyes to see the wonder of your love for me as shown through Jesus.








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Series Theme:   Lent Meditations - Why the Cross

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Meditation No. 12

Meditation Title: Preferring to Walk by Sight


We could go on and on looking at the signposts towards the NEED for Easter, but we'll stop here today so that tomorrow we can go on and look at the wider picture. Let's look at this one final need.


Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.




  Hebrews 11 is a wonderful chapter all about faith, but this verse can be rather disconcerting if you are trusting in your own strength, making our own provisions, being superstitious, or trusting in your own ability to keep the rules (as covered in the last four meditations). The trouble is that it's like someone once said, faith is spelt R-I-S-K and a risky lifestyle can be uncomfortable, because we like to be in control. We can do the religious thing, going to church once or twice a week. We can try to be nice. We can try to pray once (or five times) a day. We can read and even memorise Scriptures. All these things we can do quite easily – quite easily without God! And that's where it falls apart, because the one thing God wants is us to have a relationship with Him, because the moment that happens He's able to express His love toward us and bring change and blessing. Because He is love (1 Jn 4:8,16) everything about Him wants to express goodness in our direction. That's what He wants to do because that is natural to Him, and when He's able to do that our lives get transformed. And why should that all be? Because of the Cross of Christ at Calvary !


But let's get back to this verse. The sin thing in us struggles with the concept of not being able to see – we like being able to see, it helps our feeling of being in control! Yet the writer to the Hebrews says we must have faith if we are to please God. Why is that? Because He is unseen and if you come to Him desiring a relationship with Him (as He wants), then you have to believe there is someone there you are talking to when you pray.


But even more than that, you need to believe that He responds to us when we seek Him, and that response is twofold: He speaks to us and He does things. He forgives us, cleanses us, puts His Spirit in us, makes us His children, provides for us, guides us, protects us – and all these things are invisible, so it takes faith to believe they have happened or are happening. Faith needs a focus, and that is one of the things that we need and which is satisfied in the Cross of Jesus Christ. We have to believe that God is there, and we have to believe that Jesus is God's Son who came and lived and died and rose from the dead – all for us. The Cross is the pivotal point of Jesus' activity which challenges our faith.



Lord, you call me to a life of faith, yet if I am honest I prefer to be in control, I prefer to see. I realise that is the sin element still working and I purpose, with your help, to be a believer, focusing on the Cross, focusing on the resurrection, receiving all your goodness today before of those incredible events.




Before we go any further, it is perhaps wise that we recap where we have been and note the things we have considered:


We should be able to see the handiwork of God in Creation and give thanks – but so often we don't!
We should realise that:
  • We came from dust and will return to dust unless God does something.
  • Moral failure leaves us unclean and in need of cleansing and forgiveness.
  • Our heart is deceitful and cannot be trusted.
  • Outside of Jesus, we can do nothing of any real virtue.
  • We are inherently sinners, who need God's transformation.
  • We are tainted with sin though and through and it is ready to rise up in us unless we get God's help.
  • Without God we are clueless, godless and worthless.
  • Left to ourselves we are prone to fall to temptation.
  • We will often turn to our own resources and reject the Lord's provision.
  • In the absence of God's love we will so often turn to superstition to create hope for ourselves.
  • So often we try to make ourselves acceptable in God's sight by ‘keeping the rules'
  • We're called to a life of faith, but prefer a life of sight where we are in control.


We should realise these things but so often we don't. Perhaps we've never thought about them, or perhaps we simply forget them.


Why have we been saying these things? Because until we see them, understand them and accept them, we will not see the need for Easter, we will not understand why Jesus went to the Cross, we won't see our plight, either in eternity or on a daily basis, and we won't be thankful


Why did Jesus go to the Cross?


  • because of my sin and your sin,
  • because of that self-centred, godless inner nature that deserves condemnation
  • because without his work we are helpless and hopeless, prone to getting it wrong, prone to creating a self-centred, self-seeking religion as a substitute for a relationship with the living God.


THIS is why Jesus went to the Cross!