Communion Meditation: God’s Work, Not Ours

(This is a communion meditation shared at my church to prepare us together. I hope it encourages you with the gospel of grace.)

This year we’ll be thinking about the Reformation, since it’s considered the 500thanniversary. As we take communion this morning I want to prepare our hearts by sharing one thing we can learn from the Reformers like Luther and Calvin.

One emphasis among the Reformers for baptism and the lord’s supper that many of us as evangelicals miss is these ordinances are first about what God is saying to us and what God is doing to us. While we respond and remember in baptism and communion, we cannot miss that they are first God’s work and provision. We primarily receive something in communion rather than do something. The Lord’s Supper is more about the claim Christ is making on us and the gift he is offering to us than what we do for him.

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives us a visible, chewable sign he has given us forgiveness and assurance through his body and blood. They give us greater confidence in God’s promises and faithfulness as we taste and touch them. The elements of bread and wine are God’s tokens, God’s visible word promising in Jesus there is redemption from our sin, shame, guilt, and bondage this morning.

That’s why when Jesus ate the first Lord’s Supper with his disciples, with both bread and wine he gave something to the disciples. At the table he was not receiving something from them as they ate but he was giving them something. He says take and eat, this is my body for you. He tells them, I am the bread of life that feeds you, and I am the Passover lamb whose body is broken so you might be whole. When he gives the cup he says, this is the blood of the new covenant for you, take and drink it.

He’s not asking them to focus on what they’ve done and see this meal as their time to do something, but it’s a time to receive something from Jesus who offers forgiveness, a covering for our guilt and shame, and life with God as our Father. The food is the gift of his faithfulness, provision, and promises not our faithfulness or devotion or activity.

My encouragement this morning is that if you’ve never said yes to God’s gift of salvation in Jesus, Christ still offers himself to you but the meal is for those who have trusted in Jesus’ sacrificial life and death as the one and only means of forgiveness and salvation. Our prayer is that even today you would receive God’s gift offered in the person of Jesus. If you are a believer, as we pass the bread and cup, take time to rehearse the gospel to yourself. What is it you bring in here today: Weariness, doubt, sin, the sense of feeling frenzied, a dry heart, guilt or shame? Jesus offers you something different through himself, so apply the gospel and find freedom and life in who Christ is for you.

 

On the night Jesus was betrayed he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said “take, eat, this is my body.” And he a cup the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying “Drink of it, for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured for the forgiveness of sins.”

(Saint) Patrick

Patrick“59…For beyond any doubt on that day we shall rise again in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ, made in his image; for we shall reign through him and for him and in him.” (Patrick’s Confessions)

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Lent and Living as Stewards

This past Sunday, Pastor Mark continued our All In series on stewardship. The focus this week: time. While none of us probably look forward to the conviction accompanying a sermon on how we use our time, it’s a necessary exhortation that actually frees up to focus on the things that matter most in our short lives.

Continue reading Lent and Living as Stewards

Learning to Pray from Paul

Paul’s prayers—like his letters in general—so overflow with richness that you feel like you’re working to catch every drop as it pours out. There’s always more to be seen and acted on than what you find in the moment. This makes studying the Bible exciting, knowing that there’s always more to be found later when we return (or “fresh grass” as Dale Shaw likes to say). Continue reading Learning to Pray from Paul

Books for your Christmas List

 

img_0262If you’re at all familiar with the idea of “love languages” (how a person communicates or receives love), then you should know that my love language is Books—and possibly sarcasm. I love books. I could wander through Half-Price Books for hours and not get bored. I like hearing about what others are reading, recommending or giving books that I think someone might enjoy, and I—of course—love reading books.

Continue reading Books for your Christmas List

Thanksgiving Resources

(For an updated reading plan different from what’s below, see this blog.)

If you’re looking for some additional resources and ways to practice giving thanks, here’s a place to start.

  • Read a book specifically on thanksgiving or gratitude. Some recommendations would be Thanksgiving by David Pao; The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney; One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss; or God is the Gospel by John Piper.
  • If a book seems like a bit too much of a commitment right now, read one of the following articles.
  • Listen to a sermon on thanksgiving.
  • Sing Christian hymns or worship songs related to the theme of giving thanks.
  • Do something as a family that makes this an enjoyable and memorable experience, such as a gratitude tree.
  • As you interact with other Christians—in formal settings such as small group or informal settings like work or a restaurant—ask them what God has done for them that they’re thankful for.
  • If things like gratitude trees are a bit too artsy for you, just keep a list of things you can thank God for. Keep a journal, a sheet of paper in your Bible, or use something on your phone like “Notes” to record and revisit these reasons for thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Verses
Below is a list of 30 verses that mention giving thanks, thanksgiving, or thankfulness. I’d encourage you to read them at the start of your morning and meditate on (chew on) then throughout the day. There are plenty of related words in the Bible tied to this theme we could have looked at, or even words showing the problem with a lack of thanksgiving (such as ingratitude or murmuring). A quick word search on Logos resulted in 132 occurrences of thank/thanks/thankful and 38 occurrences of thanksgiving. So this is meant to be a starter rather than an exhaustive list. Hopefully it helps cement the importance of and joy in giving thanks in your heart, as well as providing some specific examples of what it looks like in the Bible.

Day 1: 1 Chr. 29:10-13
Day 2: Ps. 30:4
Day 3: Ps. 100:4
Day 4: Col. 1:3, 12
Day 5: Col. 2:7
Day 6: Col. 3:15-17
Day 7: Col. 4:2
Day 8: Ps. 107:1, 21-22 
Day 9: Ps. 118:1, 19-21, 28-29
Day 10: Luke 17:16 (see 17:11-19)
Day 11: John 6:11, 23
Day 12: John 11:41
Day 13: Ps. 50:23
Day 14: 1 Cor. 11:23-24
Day 15: 2 Cor. 2:14
Day 16: 2 Cor. 4:15
Day 17: 2 Cor. 9:11-15
Day 18: Eph. 5:4
Day 19: Eph. 5:20
Day 20: Ps. 147:7
Day 21: Ps. 136:1-3 (see all of 136)
Day 22: Phi. 1:3
Day 23: Matt. 15:36
Day 24: Acts 27:35
Day 25: Ps. 138
Day 26: 1 Thess. 3:9
Day 27: 1 Thess. 5:18
Day 28: 1 Tim. 4:3
Day 29: Rev. 4:9
Day 30: Rev. 7:12

Communion Meditation: Signs & Symbols

(This post is a communion meditation shared at my own local church.)

The Lord’s Supper deals in the realm of symbols and signs. Signs and symbols are visible, tangible representations pointing us to something behind the symbol. The thing itself is a signpost reminding us of something bigger and grander than the symbol. Let me give a couple examples.

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Communion Meditation: Contention or Communion

(This is a mediation shared with my local church to prepare our hearts for communion. I hope the gospel of grace in Jesus encourages you.)

We often call this time together “communion.” Do you ever ask yourself why we use that word? If you look up definitions for the word “communion,” it means to be united, to be one, to share intimacy together or to participate in something together. The word likely combines two Latin phrases: com, meaning “with,” and unus, which means “oneness” or “unity.” The Latin-speaking Catholic church referred to this as communion because it was with oneness or unity.

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Communion Meditation: A Shared Table

(This is a communion meditation shared at my local church. I hope it can encourage your heart with the gospel of grace in Jesus.)

When we think about Communion we often talk about who Jesus is and what he has done for us individually. In light of today’s message, we should also think about the corporate dimension we celebrate in communion. What promises does God make to us as a body when we eat and drink? What are we saying and acknowledging to one another when we partake?

Continue reading Communion Meditation: A Shared Table

Communion Meditation: Focusing on God’s Grace Rather Than Our Guilt

(This is a meditation used at my local church to prepare our hearts for communion. I hope it encourages you with the good news of grace in Jesus.)

This morning, I want to remind us Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper so we might feed on and be refreshed by him.

Continue reading Communion Meditation: Focusing on God’s Grace Rather Than Our Guilt