Read His Words Before Ours!
My mind tends to work like a puzzle. I hear a little bit of something over here, and I learn a little bit from over there, and I read something at the doctor’s office and suddenly… an “Aha!” moment has occurred and every piece fits into place. I typically don’t “get” things instantly. I distinctly remember sitting in a science class one day and it was as if everything I’d learned that semester was slowly being put together and all of a sudden, I could see the whole picture.
That is exactly what happened four years ago, sitting on a balcony at a camp called Windermere. Everything I’ve always known about “The Lord’s Supper” and “Communion” and “Christ and the Church”… it all just CLICKED! Today, as I begin writing, I pray that the same revelation happens for you. I pray that you will be able to understand and comprehend this precious practice we call…
What exactly is Communion?
The first communion is often known as “The Last Supper”, when Jesus and His disciples were gathered together to celebrate the Passover right before His crucifixion. In this incredible moment, Old and New Testaments collided in one epic evening.
First we go back, way back…to when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Through Moses, the Lord told the Israelites to sacrifice a perfect lamb and smear his blood on their door frame because the angel of death would soon “pass” “over” (hence, “passover”). Whoever was not covered by Lamb’s blood, their firstborn son would be dead by morning. This was the final plague that drove Pharaoh to release the Israelites into freedom. As a reminder of this freedom, “Passover” was to be celebrated every year.
Fast-forward to the night before Christ’s death… and we find Jesus celebrating the Passover with His disciples. While they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it before telling His disciples, “Take, eat; this is my body.” He then took a cup and told the disciples to drink, “…for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” He was foretelling what was to come later that night.
You see, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb that both Hebrews and Egyptians had to use to cover their doorframe to save their sons. As you read in Exodus, it wasn’t just any lamb the Israelites were called to use, it was a perfect and spotless, male lamb.
Jesus is the perfect sacrificial lamb.
His blood covers us, just as the lamb’s blood covered the door frame, and we don’t have to worry about spiritual death because of His victory over death!
We celebrate and remember His sacrifice as a Church – His bride, by taking communion together. The bread is a symbol and representation of Jesus’ body. The wine (or grape juice), a symbol of His blood that was spilled. When we take Communion, it’s to remember the great sacrifice Jesus made to save us!
So what do Communion and marriage have in common?
This is the part that just gets to me. It is so incredibly amazing that the Lord put this much detail into His relationship with us and the relationship between a husband and wife! The literal definition of communion is: “the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.” When we take the bread and drink the wine, and remember the great sacrifice of Jesus, we are remembering that because of Him, we are His bride. There is so much about this that we could study, but for now, I’m going to point you to a study Mike Bickle has done on how the Church is Christ’s bride, for more on this.
The act of consummating our marriage (devoting ourselves to a holy relationship with our spouse), is a representation of taking communion (remembering and devoting ourselves to a relationship with Jesus). God created marriage as a physical example of what He wants His relationship with us to look like! Husbands are commanded to love their wives just as Christ loves the church!
That is why our marriages are so incredibly sacred.
Not only because we’ve taken a vow before God to choose love over our own feelings, but because marriage was designed to imitate the Lord’s great love for us.
God would never leave us.
He would never forsake us.
He chooses to love us despite the fact that we often forget to spend time with Him.
We put other things and people above Him, but He never stops loving us!
The Old Testament beautifully points towards Jesus being our Bridegroom, our heart’s true soulmate. Song of Songs poetically describes the incredible love between a groom and his bride. In Hosea, God calls a man to marry an adulterous woman to visibly depict His boundless love for us as His own bride, even though we stray often from His love.
Can only Christians take Communion?
If someone doesn’t know Jesus, if they don’t know why they even need to be covered by His blood, then there is no point in taking communion because there is nothing sacred or special about it for that person. Paul even warns Christians about taking communion without actually stopping to think about why we are taking it. So, yes, only Christ followers are invited into communion.
Author and pastor Francis Chan states that if we all just take a few moments before praying and think about who God is, His power and glory, then we can more reverently pray and approach His throne with a holy fear of the Lord.
I believe this to be the same about communion.
If we pause before communion to remember why we are taking it, then we can more reverently participate in this remembrance and celebration of the wonderful gift God has given us in His Son… the perfect, spotless Lamb.
This Bible Study first appeared on Gracefully Truthful and is property of Gracefully Truthful. Visit the website for more studies like this one!
Read His Words Before Ours!
What does Salvation mean?
The very first thing I always think of when I hear “salvation”, is the scene from Guys and Dollswhen the Salvation Army band marches through the streets to “convert” people. It’s probably the image “salvation” has for many people: high-nosed, goody-goodies parading around trying to get people to hop on the bandwagon. Sometimes they try scaring the hell into people, or by making life with Jesus sound like having a genie in a bottle with never-ending wishes.
“Just say The Sinner’s Prayer!”, they chant.
But Salvation is SO. MUCH. MORE.
To summarize the entire Bible:
God created the earth and everything in it, declaring it perfect until sin. The horrible cancer of sin kept multiplying, infecting everything once it entered the world.
What is sin exactly?
The Ten Commandments are God’s standard of righteousness; anything deviating from that standard of perfection, is sin.
Ever lied? That makes you a sinner.
Ever lusted? Sinner.
Ever stolen? Even a pen from work? Not a “mistaker”…a ”sinner”.
Though there are ten, you only have to break one of them to be a complete sinner.
But, here’s the amazing news!
Being fully God and fully human (more about that in another Journey!), Jesus was the only 100% sinless person to ever walk this earth.
He lived out the perfect life for us because we can’t!
Along with the Ten Commandments, we can look at Jesus’ life and see just how dirty we are.
(Kinda’ like when you think your teeth are white, but then you hold up a piece of actual white paper next to them and you realize they are actually a lovely shade of brown.)
We can never actually be with God because of our disease.
His holiness cannot be stained with a drop of our sin.
So here we are, looking nasty and sinful – like a face covered in oozing zits. In order to be with God, we need more than a facelift and some spa treatments, we need a transplant.
Jesus gives us His own flawless face!
We are still us underneath, but His righteousness is now ours and Sin is no longer our master. His righteousness cleans us from the inside out, so we, on the inside, actually start to look more and more like the face of Christ – perfect, and smooth and completely whitehead-free (we call that sanctification).
Now, that’s a pretty interesting way to look at salvation. But it’s true!
Salvation is Jesus, taking our nasty sins and saying, “Trade me your sins for my perfection so you can be with God.” That trade was made possible when Jesus – the perfect God-man – died on the cross (a sinner’s death).
Salvation becomes our own when we recognize that we are indeed horrible, brown-teethed, acne-faced sinners who need Jesus.
When we say yes to His exchange, we are given Salvation!
Salvation is a one-and-done deliverance from sin and its eternal consequences, granting us access to a relationship with our Creator. Salvation happens at a single point, when we surrender our hearts to Christ, but its benefits reach into all eternity!
What exactly is Justification?
Justification is “the act of making someone right with God”.
Remember how we are yucky, sin-filled people so full of gunk that we can’t actually be with God? That makes it literally, physically impossible for us to be with God unless we are made completely clean, which is impossible!
No matter how many times you volunteer at the homeless shelter,
how often you travel overseas on a mission trip,
how many Bibles you hand out, how many church services you attend,
how emotion-filled prayers you say,
how passionately you raise your hands,
how many children you adopt,
how modest you dress,
or even how many sermons you preach,
you cannot be “justified” on your own before a Holy God!
WE NEED JESUS.
We need Jesus to make us “right with God.”
Is there any other way to achieve Salvation and Justification?
All of this leads to one very hard question:
Is there any other way to be with God besides Jesus?
Can we be justified by any other means?
Don’t all “religious roads” lead to eternity with God?
The Bible says no.
The world is filled with many good people. I’ve watched just as many videos of humans saving puppies and helping little ladies cross the street as the next guy.
But for all of the good humanity does, there will always be sin.
We are infected with this disease and we simply do not have the ability to heal ourselves.
We can never ever DO enough good to earn our way to heaven.
“But how can a loving God send so many people to hell?”
Guys, He isn’t sending anyone anywhere.
We deserve to go to hell.
Here’s the truth….
When we choose to sin, we choose separation from God.
We Choose Hell.
It’s God who chose to save us!
He offers to rescue us!
A loving God is SAVING His precious children from hell!
But we can only be saved if we choose to be saved; if we accept the free gift of salvation and allow Jesus to justify us before the righteous God.
Yes, hallelujah, Jesus is the ONLY WAY to be saved!
Friends, some of you have already experienced redemption and claimed salvation and some of you haven’t. Some of you believe that Jesus is God’s Son, and you’ll tell people you go to church or are part of a small group. BUT you have never actually claimed the salvation that God is giving you. You have never admitted that you are a terrible sinner who NEEDS Jesus.
If you are ready to admit that you need salvation, then tell Him! Tell God right now! If you still have some questions, please feel free to email us!We want to pray with you!
This Bible Study first appeared on GracefullyTruthful.com and is property of Gracefully Truthful. For more studies like this one, check out the website!
Read His Words Before Ours!
There are moments distinctly marked because they shape and direct who you become. Then there are moments, hidden and minuscule, that they can almost be forgotten, but they create your path just as much as those grand moments.
When I was a young teenager reading about millions of Chinese people who didn’t know Christ, a marker went up in my heart and my mind. It shifted the direction of my heart.
Another defining moment was when I surrendered to the call to missions when I was 18. The revival was special, and I can still remember the sweet hymns of praise we sang that night, because the call is what defined me. The Lord’s tender voice told me that England wouldn’t be home forever. There was another marker, another shift of my heart.
But the minuscule moments come quietly and sometimes they are longer than a moment. Sometimes they are several months or several years. Working as a parlor maid for four years never felt grand or special, but I can see now that it shaped me and helped me learn how to serve with an understanding of hospitality. Attending missionary school was supposed to be a grand moment, but it turned into months of little lessons before something grand happened. I wasn’t allowed to become a missionary in China. I can hear his voice still, “Miss Aylward, we have no doubt the Lord has called you to serve, but it wasn’t to China, you’ll never be able to learn the language.” That moment gave me determination, fanning the fire in my belly. I knew I was called to China.
I am quite the sight right now, a young English woman traveling on a mule through Chinese mountains. If I had been told two years ago that this is where I would be, I would have guffawed.
Yet, here I am. I should arrive in Yangchen in just a few hours, where I will meet Mrs. Lawson, the missionary I will study under. Together we will share the gospel with all who will listen in this small Chinese village.
I’ve waited twelve years for this moment!
Many times I knew what it must have felt like to be an Israelite waiting in the desert those 40 years. Or even how Sarah and Abraham felt, waiting on the Lord’s promise of abundant generations when they had no children of their own.
I had the Lord’s promise. I had His calling. I had His great love and my small faith. That was all.
In waiting, the Lord grew my patience. He knew I’d need it for this journey to China, as it has taken many more weeks than I’d planned.
In waiting, the Lord grew my knowledge. While the China Inland Missionary Center told me I wasn’t good enough or a fast enough learner, God placed me as a parlor maid in a home with a marvelous library where I could read as many books as I wanted.
In waiting, the Lord grew my patience. It hasn’t been easy, and many days I wondered if this day would ever come, or if the Lord even spoke to me at all. But here I am.
I waited on the Lord.
Jesus Himself waited nearly 30 years before His work began. He may have felt ready, but God knew others weren’t. I supposed while God was working on my heart, He was also working in the souls of the Chinese people I will meet soon.
I think I see it! That must be the village up ahead! I wish I understood more of what that man was saying, but he must be showing me where Mrs. Lawson is. Just over that little hill?
This is it.
I am here!
And this – this is another marker. A defining moment. My first glimpse of my new home!
Gladys Aylward lived from 1902 to 1970. At the age of 18, she was called to be a missionary to a place she had been drawn to for years…China. However, Gladys didn’t move to China until she was around 30. She heard of Jennie Lawson, a missionary in her 70’s, and found a way to get there. Gladys spent months saving money for a train ticket from England to China and eventually reached hundreds of people for Jesus! She opened an inn with Mrs. Lawson, and together they shared the gospel in story-like form every night. These travelers would share the stories with their friends, which spread the gospel all around!
One of Gladys’ most known legacies is walking across China with over one hundred orphans that she cared for while Japan invaded China and offered a reward for Gladys – dead or alive. After 27 days in treacherous conditions, Gladys and the children boarded one of the last trains to freedom. Upon arrival, she was incredibly ill and fell into a coma for several weeks. She eventually moved back to England for a few years, but knew that she was needed in China and served there for the last ten years of her life.
Gladys’ life was marked with incredible faith and heroism, but it didn’t come suddenly. Don’t miss the first part of her life.
The waiting part.
Gladys waited twelve years before she coming to China! I can only imagine the frustration, antsiness, anticipation, and longing that occurred while she waited on the Lord.
Waiting can be so difficult.
Waiting for test results,
waiting on a heart to change,
waiting for answered prayers,
waiting for the next payday,
waiting on the end of an incredibly difficult season…
waiting on the Lord.
But take heart, dear sister, and press on. The Lord fulfilled His calling to Gladys, and we know from her life, and countless examples in the Bible, that His timing is perfect. She needed to be in China exactly when she was. She was there “for such a time as this”. And you are waiting where you are, “for such a time as this.”
Let this season of waiting be a marker in your life by drawing closer to the Lord and letting Him grow you during this season.
Curious about Gladys Aylward? click here.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. Visit the website for more studies like this one!
From Bible studies to blogs, articles to musings of the heart, Kendra's writings are unbarred and raw - exactly how she speaks.