Tag Archives: Messiah

“Hallelujah Chorus” by G.F. Handel

Messiah, HWV 56: Part II, no. 44. Chorus: “Hallelujah”
Composition by George Frideric Handel

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord
And of His Christ, and of His Christ
And He shall reign for ever and ever
And He shall reign for ever and ever
And He shall reign for ever and ever
For ever and ever, forever and ever

King of kings (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And Lord of lords (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
King of kings (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And Lord of lords (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
King of kings (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And Lord of lords (King of kings and Lord of lords)

And He shall reign
And He shall reign
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings (Forever and ever)
And He shall reign (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And He shall reign forever and ever

King of kings! and Lord of lords!
King of kings! and Lord of lords!

And He shall reign forever and ever
Forever and ever
Forever and ever
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Dear God, I attended a performance of the Messiah yesterday with my wife in the choir. It was terrific. But, of course, I was struck by this song from the end of the piece. Nearly everyone knows it. The words are simple but beautifully worshipful. The arrangement of instruments and voices is unsurpassed. For the best, most worshipful (there’s that word again) funeral I’ve ever attended, they combined two church choirs to perform this at the church md as the recessional. Outstanding!

Like King George in the 1740s when he first heard it, I was moved yet again yesterday—even to tears. My overwhelming thought? I am so grateful you are so loving. You don’t have to be good. You don’t have to forgive me. You don’t have to care about me as an individual or the things I care about. You don’t have to take the time to mold me into a better man. You don’t have to engage in my life or even the world. But you do.

The omnipotent God reigns—HALLELUJAH!

The kingdom of the world has become your kingdom and of Jesus—HALLELUJAH!

You will reign forever and ever—HALLELUJAH!

You are king of all kings—HALLELUJAH!

You are Lord of all lords—HALLELUJAH!

Father, I sit here this morning simply grateful. Thank you. Thank you for Christmas!

In Jesus’s, your precious Christ’s, name I pray,


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Posted by on December 20, 2021 in Hymns and Songs


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Peter & John — Luke 9:18-20

Luke 9:18-20
18 One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
19 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”
20 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”

Dear God, I wonder what Jesus prayed for when he was alone in times like this. Was he already praying that this cup would pass? Was he praying for the disciples? Was he praying for strength, wisdom, and/or protection? I’m sure it was all of these things.

It’s interesting that, in this telling of the story, Peter doesn’t get any extra love for his declaration. I think both Matthew and Mark record Jesus telling Peter that he is awesome because he knows this. Here, verse 21 just says that Jesus tells them to not tell anyone.

Father, I’m not sure what to think about all of this or what is here for me, but I know that I probably need to be much more intentional about my prayers for others. I am glad my wife and I pray together out loud daily because if I didn’t I’m not sure how much intercessory prayer I would do at all. I’m also not sure how much I would pray for my own life beyond these journals. But even with the prayers I do with her, I need to be better. I need to be more intentional. I need to sink my teeth into praying for and loving others so that I might decrease in my ow eyes and you will increase.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on November 4, 2018 in Luke, Peter and John


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Peter and John — Matthew 16:13-20

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.


Dear God, there are a few things in this story. I think the first is, why did Jesus ask this question in the first place? Was it a test? Did he not know what they thought? Did he know they weren’t sure and that they needed to know the truth? Maybe, things were probably about to get harder for everyone, and he wanted them to have some confidence in him. Or maybe he needed to get those who were going to bail on him to do it now. And maybe he knew that Judas was already having misgivings and he wanted to lay it out there for him.

Another thing is that the disciples have some weird answers. Are they suggesting reincarnation? I know there was a prophecy of the second coming of Elijah, but John the Baptist? Jeremiah? Those are some odd answers.

Then Jesus makes it more personal and puts them on the spot. He ratchets it up a little. Who do YOU say that I am? He makes them answers their own. And Peter says what he hopes he left his fishing nets for. He doesn’t want him to be Elijah, John the Baptist, or Jeremiah. He didn’t leave his job for that. He not only wants him to be the Messiah–he needs him to be the Messiah.

Of course, in the spirit of this series I’m doing, it’s important to point out that Peter is the one who said it. John didn’t. James didn’t. It was Peter. If John had said it first, would he have been the person upon whom you built your church?  Would his name have changed from John to Peter, and Peter remained Simon? I’ll need to be sure to pay attention to how this name change will change Peter’s role from here on.

Father, teach me through all of this. Help me to see if there are any attributes to Peter that I need to consider modeling myself after. The same goes for John. Help me to see how I might need to be more like him as well. But of course, it all pales in comparison with how much I need to be more like you. Help me to be like you today. Help me to be more like you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on September 1, 2018 in Matthew, Peter and John


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Emails to God – Jesus Resisting Peter’s Temptation (Matthew 16:21-28)

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Dear God, Jesus’ reaction in verse 23 reveals a little of the strain that He must have been under. There must have been a part of Him that said, “You know, Peter has a point here. This shouldn’t happen to me,” because He responds to Peter as if this is a temptation. Then He goes on to say that it is suffering that lays ahead for all of them. He tells them that following Him means denying themselves.

Frankly, it is a relief to know that Jesus faced temptations. It is nice to know that there were things that He dreaded and had to will Himself to do. Sure, He was facing much more horrible rejection, pain, and suffering than I ever will, but it is still nice to know that part of His humanity was a temptation to take the easier path.

Father, help me to be willing to take the uneasy path. Help me to turn loose of my own wants and desires and embrace you and everything you need from me. My life is worth so much to you, and yet my comfort is worth so much less than I think it should be. So help me to feel your rich love for me and accept whatever path you have for me with joy and peace.

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Finding Comfort in Peter’s Weaknesses (Matthew 16:13-20)

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Dear God, what I love about verses 18 and 19 is that they are about a man who is so flawed and made terrible mistakes, up to and including denying Jesus on the night of his betrayal. Peter didn’t have to be perfect to get this blessing, proclamation, or position. From what I can tell, he just had to be earnest and have a little bit of faith (see walking on the water a little earlier).

There are times when I know that you love me, accept me, and have saved me. But I do often wonder if you can really use me. Can you use someone who can be so timid? Can you use someone who has vices? Can you use someone who forgets to love when he should, judges others too readily, can be so self-centered? In looking at this story with Peter, I think the answer is, “Yes, I can. Just be earnest about loving me and I will use you in spite of yourself.”

Father, I lay my life before you. You have put me in a position of influence, and I want to strongly influence the events that surround me with your wisdom and for your glory. Give me the wisdom to make the right decisions and the courage to use the influence I have to see that those decisions come to pass. Love others through me. Forgive me of my sin. Be glorified in all that I do, even when I fail.

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – How Much Should I Advertise It? (Matthew 9:27-34)

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Dear God, I find it interesting that Jesus ignored the blind men until he got inside. He was really trying to keep the range of his power under wraps. I guess I can see a few reasons for this. First, he probably knew that the crowds would go nuts if they saw it and try to point his ministry in a direction in which he didn’t want to go. Second, he was probably trying to avoid a run-in with the Pharisees just yet, although they were about to see the exorcism and not like that either.

One of the thing that each Christian has to deal with is how publicly should we live our lives as Christians. Should we be more like Tim Tebow and talk about our faith at every opportunity? Should we be more like RG3 and mention our faith and that it is important to us, but not talk about it all of the time? Or should we be private to the point where people are not sure what we believe in, if anything at all? I think option #3 is definitely out, but the answer probably lies somewhere between Tebow and RG3.

In my own life, it can be hard to find the balance. I want to let people see you through me to the point where they are drawn to you and want you for themselves. On the other hand, I don’t want to be oppressive about my faith to the point where people are turned off and see a relationship with you as unappealing. It is a hard line to walk, and I fear I fall off of it more than I stay on it.

Father, help me to represent you well, starting with my children and wife. Help me to be your humble representative. Help me to lead them into your presence and foster and environment that is conducive to them accepting you and seeking you out. Love them through me. Love friends and neighbors through me. Be glorified through me so that others might be drawn to you and not pushed away from you.

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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Riding Jesus’ Coat Tails (Matthew 9:18-26)

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

Dear God, this is almost the Cliff’s Notes version of these two stories. Matthew streamlines them for us. He doesn’t go through the whole process of Jesus asking who touched him to be healed. He doesn’t tell us about the little girl’s mourners who try to get rid of him. He just gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ power, and how it is related to the involved people’s respective faith. Mark gives us more detail, but Matthew gives us the basics. I am glad we have access to both.

In this case, Matthew is showing us a man who is, indeed, the Messiah. He is showing us the raw power that flowed through Jesus’ human frame. He (Matthew) remembers it as being one of the first things that happened when he joined the group. That must have been amazing for Matthew. I can imagine that he would have felt excited about his decision to leave his tax collection business and join Jesus’ entourage.

Of course, there will come a time when Matthew will wonder if he had made the biggest mistake of his life—namely the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. But for now, this is exciting stuff. Jesus is obviously special, and Matthew gets to ride the wave a little.

Father, remind me of how special you are. Yes, there are times of struggle, and each day has a little bit of struggle for me now, but for the most part, this is a time when I can look at just about every area of my life and see your blessings. So help me to remember that. Help me to feel your smile and live into the love that you have for me today. Help me to worship you the way you deserve to be worshipped.

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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Repentance (Matthew 5:27-30)

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Dear God, you know the sad thing about this passage is that I committed adultery long before I ever met my wife. Most of us men probably have (and not a small number of women either). This is an awfully high standard, not only in remaining sinless in this area, but also how we should remedy it if we do sin in this area. I know I have been disobedient on the first one, and I have obviously been disobedient on the second part since my eyes and hands are still intact.

When I read this passage it almost makes me think that you are simply showing the people in the crowd that they cannot live up to your standard, regardless of how self-righteous they are. Do they hate? Guilty! Lust? Guilty! Divorce? Guilty! Swear oaths? Guilty! Avenge wrongs? Guilty! This isn’t just, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.” This is, “You might not think you have to repent, but you do! So repent, for the kingdom of God is near.”

I guess one question I have is, How often do I repent? How often do I examine myself and truly beg for your mercy? How often do I find my faults and tell you that I will never do it again? I have been learning more lately about Catholic confession to a priest, and I think, frankly, there might be something to it as a discipline. I don’t believe that it gives us any more absolution from our sin than just straight confession to you, but there is probably something healthy about getting in front of a priest and consciously going through my sin.

Father, help me to examine my heart and repent. Help me to find the areas where I am harsh with my children, negligent of my wife, lustful, vengeful, dishonest, etc. I can think of examples of all of these and more even as I sit here and roll them around in my head. So forgive me. Forgive me for failing you. Forgive me for failing my family. Forgive me for failing my friends. And again, forgive me for failing you.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Practicing and Teaching the Law (Matthew 5:17-20)

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Dear God, there is a part of verse 19 that caught my eye: “…whoever practices and teaches these commands…” It could just be a matter of translation, but the idea that “practices” is listed here before “teaches” reminds me that I can speak with the tongues of angels, but have not love then I am nothing (paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13). I can talk, and talk, and talk, but my example is so much more important than my words. James would later call it “faith without works”.

The problem I can run into sometimes is that I can be tempted to focus on the works. I can try to make sure that the works are there for others to see, but what is my motivation? Is my motivation to pursue you, or is my motivation to impress others?

I went to a wedding and a funeral yesterday. Why did I got to them? For the wedding, the motivation was purely to show love to the bride because there was nothing in my attendance for me. Perhaps some standing is the eyes of some of my staff who saw me there, but I would say that they are not why I went. I went to show love. The funeral, on the other hand, did have some political motives. The funeral was for a dear man who used to volunteer where I work. I would have gone to his funeral regardless, but I have to admit that there were some political benefits to people seeing me at the funeral. I was also grateful that the family designated our Center as a beneficiary of memorial donations on his behalf, and I wanted to show them that I didn’t take his loss for granted.

Father, I guess my point is that I will always have a mixture of motivations for every “good deed” that I do, but I want the core of every motivation to be my love for you and my decision to submit my entire life to you, regardless of what the submission costs me. There is a part of the play I saw last night where a one girl is manipulating another, and ultimately gets her to swear an oath of servitude. It is chilling and awful, but that is the kind of relationship I have freely and willingly entered into with you. And I do it because I believe that your plans are greater than my life. Your will is more important than my success. In short, you are God and I am not.


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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Matthew


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Emails to God – Do You Believe in Miracles? (Matthew 4:23-25)

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Dear God, the healing part of Jesus’ ministry was interesting. A lot of prophets had come along before preaching repentance, and a few had healed here and there in special circumstances, but Jesus’ mass healing ministry was certainly something different. In a time when the doctors were very limited in what they could do, I can see how this would have caused people to seek him out in a way that we might not have today.

Healing is one of those interesting things that we say we believe in as Christians (to a point), but then, on the other hand, I think mainstream Christendom rejects the idea of the miraculous healing such as the crippled hand straightening, the lame walking, etc. We pray for people with colds or even cancer, hoping for a good report, but anything that would be obviously you acting on the person’s behalf is often rejected and put alongside the idea of speaking in tongues and other miraculous manifestations of the Spirit.

At the same time, there are charismatic churches that very much believe in these gifts. They seek these gifts and even exhibit these gifts. I have attended churches like this in the past. It is exciting to see someone miraculously healed. My problem is that my faith seems to not be strong enough to really believe it can happen before it happens.

Father, there are a lot of times when I can relate to the man who wants his child healed when he says, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” Father, I believe you can do all of these things—pretty much. I believe you can miraculously heal those with dramatic illnesses—pretty much. I believe you can turn water into wine, confuse an opposing army, and part the Red Sea—pretty much. What I need you to do is help my unbelief. Help me to really believe these things and not just “pretty much” believe in these things. Help me to pray in faith and work in faith. Help me to husband in faith and parent in faith. Be glorified in my life and eventually exhibit your power to others through me so that they might be drawn to you.


Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Matthew


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