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Oct 04th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. April 10, 2009 - Friday Meditation (“If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart”)
April 10, 2009 - Friday Meditation (“If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart”) PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 10 April 2009 15:04
“If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95).  In these final hours of Lent, what is it that I have heard whispered in my heart these past few weeks?

John 19:17-30  ( for fuller passage see:
John 18:1-19:42) 
"So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.  There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.  Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews'.  Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.  The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, 'Do not write, The King of the Jews', but, 'This man said, I am King  of the Jews'.  Pilate answered, 'What I have written I have written'.  When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic.  But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be'.  this was to fulfill the scripture. "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots".  So the soldiers did this.  But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'  Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!'  And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.  After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), 'I thirst'.  A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, 'It is finished'; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit"
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;  and as one from whom men hide their faces  he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.
Meditation by Joan Blandin Howard
“I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.”  (Hosea 2 16b)
It is a beautiful reminder that in this season of Lent God has an intimate invitation for me.
Ash Wednesday reminded us that although we come from dust and will return to dust – apparently worthless, we are in fact priceless in the heart of Jesus.
Over and over again the readings of Lent speak of life, of living, of commitment, of sacred relationship.  Lenten readings remind us of God’s faithful presence, pure justice and gentle mercy.  We recall the invitation to love our neighbor. To love ourselves. To love God above all.  We are assured that God’s steadfast love will lead to glorious joy. But also, the readings catch us up in the struggles – very human struggles. How could it be that this loving God would ask a loving parent, Abraham, to sacrifice his son, Isaac, his “only one, whom you love?”  We stand with Joseph as he listens, hears and responds to the messenger and takes Mary as his wife, rather than turn her over to the law.  We witness the child Jesus mesmerized by the teachings, forgetful of his family and staying behind in the temple. We are invited to participate in the celebration of the Last Supper when Jesus reminds us to do this in His memory – to heal the sick, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, to laugh and rejoice together, to pray and to listen, to break bread and eat together in His name. We are invited to kneel with Jesus prayerfully weeping in solidarity with him and with those over whom he weeps: the poor, the outcast, the orphaned, the sick and the dying, and all who feel alone, desperate and forgotten.  We are being invited to continue his gentle, loving ministries. Each one of us is invited into the struggle of identity and commitment.  We have witnessed a God who quenches thirst and satisfies hunger. We have heard of God who destroys and builds up. We have witnessed the gentle Jesus in conversation with the Samaritan woman.  The just and merciful Jesus in dealing with lost and forgotten. The stories are endless and we are being invited to listen on a deeper more personally intimate level and to respond.  The stories are stark reminders of the peace that follows surrender, of the freedom that comes with commitment, of love that flows from faithfulness.  They are about relationship and invitation. 
Today, as I walk the busy city streets, meander country villages and farmers’ fields, visit the sick or imprisoned, nurse my infant or feed an enfeebled elder, or sit at the foot of the cross I might pray:
How have I been present to the weeping Jesus this Lent? As Jesus wept over Jerusalem who or what specifically was I being invited to notice and be with?
How has the gentle merciful Jesus been present to me in my struggle this Lent?
Who/Where am I in this story of unfolding love, mercy, justice and peace? 
What is my story of struggle, identity, commitment, peace and freedom? 
“If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95)
In these final hours of Lent, what is it that I have heard whispered in my heart these past few weeks?  What tender, loving, caressing words meant only for me?
Supplementary Reading
Standing in the Gap by Os Hillman
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to
destroy it, but I found none. ~ Ezekiel 22:30

The people of Israel fell into sin when they worshiped the golden calf. It would not be the last time God's people would fall into idol worship. They had forgotten the great things God had done for them. This angered God so much that He was going to destroy the whole nation. Only one thing changed God's mind in the matter-Moses. Psalm 106:23 says, "...had not Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to keep His wrath from destroying them." Moses was a man willing to stand in the gap, sacrificially, for those who were not deserving of such sacrifice. This sacrificial love by Moses is called for among His people today.  
The prophet Ezekiel described another situation in which God's people fell into sin. God was ready to destroy the nation when He spoke to Ezekiel, asking him if there is a man willing to stand in the gap so that God would not have to destroy His people.  
Judah was a man who stood in the gap on behalf of his younger brother Benjamin. Joseph held his brother Simeon hostage as insurance that the other brothers would bring Benjamin to Egypt. Judah had a long history of a me-focused life, but in this instance he came forward to stand in the gap for his younger brother.. He responded to the anguish of his father, Jacob, by personally guaranteeing the safe return of both Simeon and Benjamin. Judah's sacrifice was rewarded (see Gen. 42-43).  
Just as Christ did, we are to be those who will stand in the gap on behalf of others who are not aware of their own vulnerable condition. It is a proactive sacrificial position. Who is God calling you to stand in the gap for? Perhaps it is a mate; perhaps it is a coworker who has not come to know the Savior; perhaps it is a wayward child. Are you willing to become the sacrificial offering to God to change His plans of judgment because of your willingness to stand in their place? This is a hard teaching. This is what Jesus did for each of us. When we stand in the place of another, God moves because of our willingness to stand on their behalf. If we don't, His plans will go forward because He is a righteous and holy God who will honor His own word, even if it means destruction. Are you willing to stand in the breach of the wall for someone today? Perhaps you are the only person who will stand on someone's behalf.  
PRAY as if everything depended on HIM. ACT as if everything depended on YOU.

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Quote of the Day

If a man will begin with certainties,he shall end with doubts;but if he will be content to begin with doubts,he shall end in certainties.-- Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626