Christians today, myself included, are far too busy. We have become masters of multitasking but have failed to develop a singleness of focus on what matters most—Christ. In our fast-paced lives we have not realized that much of what God is trying to show us in our lives will not be ours unless we spend the time to make it our own. The Gospel has provided all things that are necessary to live a victorious Christian life. However, gospel truths that transform our lives are not like a “hot pocket” that you throw into the microwave and 90 seconds later—BAM!—something to eat. Gospel truths that transform are like cooking something in the crockpot for hours. The flavor and taste are brought out over several hours, not minutes.
We are coming up on Mosaic’s first Lord’s Supper since COVID-19 started. We will observe this ordinance together on Saturday, August 22. I think that many of us would agree that the Lord’s Supper has been something we know that we are suppose to do, but when we are honest we don’t get much out of it. Maybe the reason we don’t get a lot out of a Lord’s Supper service is because we don’t put a lot into it. Therefore, I am resolved to help Mosaic change the status quo and be intentional about our preparation as we come and sit at the Lord’s Table next week.
What follows are devotions for each day this coming week, and brief articles on communion to help us focus on the Gospel and to prepare our hearts and minds for celebrating and remembering all that Christ has done for us on the cross! I will be praying for each of you by name daily and would highly encourage you to join me each day this week to be intentional about preparing our hearts and minds for the service.
My prayer is that the Lord will use this simple tool to renew Mosaic as you give special attention to remembering the Lord’s death until He comes again. Take time each day to use this guide to help you prepare your mind, heart, and life for our meeting at the Lord’s Table. If we properly examine ourselves and participate in a worthy manner, the Lord’s Table can be a time to renew the covenant with our Lord. It will be a time to return to our first love. It will be a time to repent of sins that have crept into our lives and relationships. Every observance will be another invitation to reconcile any broken relationships in the body of Christ. The result will be a clean and pure church that loves and faithfully obeys her Lord until the day we sit down as a pure bride at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Such a clean church will be far more fruitful in obeying the Lord’s final command to expand His kingdom by making disciples of the nations.
Wherever you find yourself in your love relationship with Jesus Christ, God is reaching out to you. He is inviting you to a deeper experience of the love relationship for which Jesus Christ gave His life.
Of all the ways we can be restored to fellowship with Christ, no experience holds more meaning or emotion for that purpose than the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Different groups call it by different names—like Communion or Holy Eucharist. God isn’t as concerned about what we call the celebration as He is that we use the experience to renew our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, our Savior.
His Servant and Yours,
Pastor James Hinton
What you can do:
- Read the devotional material and scripture reading for each day.
- Make it personal! All of what we know about what Jesus did on the cross—He did it for YOU! Ask God daily to make it real to you like never before in your life.
- Continue to pray the “Gospel Prayer” daily.
- Pray & Fast: If you have never fasted before start small. Give up your lunchtime a few times this week and spend it in prayer. You can even use this time to go over the Lord’s Table devotions for that day.
- Pick at least one full day this week to spend fasting.
- Pray for you own personal walk with Jesus and what it means to you.
- Pray for you family and ask yourself how the Gospel has invaded your home.
- Pray for Mosaic and God’s mission to which He has called each one of us.
- Pray for the City of Winchester and Frederick County.
- Cut back on TV, social media, and other distracting entertainment. I know, crazy right? But you can’t have high lofty thoughts when you do not have time to think about them.
- Pray with your family each night. I know that family devotions are difficult and very hard to be consistent with, but lets try for just this week to make a point to spend time with our family each day in prayer.
Preface by Andrew Murray
On the use of this little volume, I would fain say two things, which lie upon my heart.
The first is this: that the Christian who desires to make use of it must not be content merely to read and to understand the portion for the day, but must take time to meditate upon it and to appropriate it. I am convinced that one chief cause why some do not grow more in grace is that they do not take time to hold converse with the Lord in secret. Spiritual, divine truth does not thus become our possession at once. Although I understand what I read, although I consent heartily to it, although I receive it, it may speedily fade away and be forgotten, unless by private meditation I give it time to become fixed and rooted in me, to become united and identified with me. Christians, give yourselves, give your Lord time to transfer His heavenly thoughts to your inner, spiritual life. When you have read a portion, set yourselves in silence before God. Take time to remain before Him until He has made His word living and powerful in your souls. Then does it become the life and the power of your life.
And this brings me to the second remark, which I desire to make. It is this: that the Christian must take special care that he do not suffer himself to be led away from the Word of God by the many manuals which in our days are seeing the light. These books will have this result, whenever a man seeks his instruction only in what the writer has to say, he then becomes accustomed to take everything at second hand. These books can become a blessing to the reader only when they bring him always to that portion of Gods Word which is treated of in order that he may meditate further upon it himself as from the mouth of God. Christians, there is in the Word of God an incredible power. The blessing which lies hid in it is inconceivable. See to it that when you have read a portion you always return to that passage of the Scriptures of which an explanation is given. Receive that not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God, which works mightily in those that believe. Hold fellowship with God through the Word. Take time to speak with Him about it, to give an answer to Him concerning it. Then shall you understand what the Lord Jesus says: The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and life. Then shall Word and sacrament gloriously work together, to make you increase in prayer and in the life of God.
That the Eternal God may bless this little volume also, to make His children learn His own Word, is the prayer of the author for all his readers.
The Lord’s Table: The Divine Invitation
“Behold, I have made ready my dinner. All things are ready. Come to the marriage.” – Matthew 22:4
Let the King of Heaven and Earth say this to you. In honor of His Son, He has prepared a great supper. There the Son bears His human nature. There are all the children of men, dear and precious to the Father, and He has caused them to be invited to the great festival of the Divine love. He is prepared to receive and honor them there as guests and friends. He will feed them with His heavenly food. He will bestow upon them the gifts and energies of everlasting life.
O my soul, thou also hast received this heavenly invitation. To be asked to eat with the King of Glory: how it behooves thee to embrace and be occupied with this honor. How serious must you be to prepare yourself for this feast. How you must long that you should be in dress and demeanor, and language and disposition, all that may be rightly expected of one who is invited to the court of the King of kings.
Glorious invitation! I think of the banquet itself and what it has cost the great God to prepare it. To find food for angels: for this only one word was necessary. But to prepare for man upon this accursed earth a banquet of heavenly food that cost Him much. Nothing less than the life and blood of His Son, to take away the curse and to open up to them the right and the access to heavenly blessings. Nothing less than the body and the blood of the Son of God could give life to lost men. O my soul, ponder the wonders of this royal banquet.
I think of the invitation. It is as free, as wide as it could be, without money and without price. The poorest and the most unworthy are called to it. And so urgent and cordial is it. Not less cordial is the love which invites to it, the love which longs after sinners and takes delight in entertaining and blessing them.
I think of the blessing of the banquet. The dying are fed with the power of a heavenly life, the lost are restored to their places in the Fathers house, those that thirst after God are satisfied with God Himself and with His love.
Glorious invitation! With adoration I receive it, and prepare myself to make use of it. I have read of those who hold themselves excused because they are hindered, one by his merchandise, another by his work, and a third by his domestic happiness. I have heard the voice, which has said, I say unto you, that none of these men which were bidden shall taste of My supper. Under the conviction that He who so cordially invites me is the Holy One, who will not suffer Himself to be mocked, I will prepare myself to lay aside all thoughtless-ness, to withdraw myself from the seductions of the world; and with all earnestness to yield obedience to the voice of the heavenly love. I will remain in quiet meditation and in fellowship with the children of God, to keep myself free from all needless anxiety about the world, and as an invited guest, to meet my God with real hunger and quiet joy. He Himself will not withhold from me His help in this work.
The Week before the Supper
My God, and is Thy table spread? And does Thy cup with love overflow?
Thither be all Thy children led, And let them all its sweetness know.
Hail, sacred feast, which Jesus makes! Rich banquet of His flesh and blood!
Thrice happy he who here partakes, That sacred stream, that heavenly food!
O let Thy table honored be, And furnished well with joyful guests;
And may each soul salvation see That here its sacred pledges tastes.
Let crowds approach with hearts prepared, With hearts inflamed let all attend;
Nor, when we leave our Fathers board, The pleasure or the profit end.
Revive Thy drooping Churches, Lord! And bid our drooping graces live;
And more, that energy afford, A Savior’s love alone can give.
— Philip Doddridge
Monday, August 17th
The Lord’s Supper
“When he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” – Matthew 26:26-28
After predicting Judas’ betrayal (Matt. 26:20-25), Jesus and His disciples proceed with the Passover meal. It is a special moment indeed, for only close friends eat together in first-century Jewish culture. The forces conspiring against the Lord (vv. 1-5, 14-16) no doubt cast a pall over an otherwise delightful occasion, but the light of the resurrection will reveal even the bitter events to come as integral to the joy of final redemption they will help produce.
Commemorating these events in the church involves celebrating the Lord’s Supper, which our Savior institutes at this Passover. The meaning of the Lord’s Supper—also known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist (from the Greek eucharistein, “to give thanks”)—remains a debated issue today. We will study the church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper in more detail over the next week. Today we will focus on its establishment at Jesus’ final Passover celebration.
Before we look closely at the original meaning of the Passover, note its significance as the first feast day Israel celebrated as a covenant community, anticipating deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 12). Just as the Passover helped to establish the boundaries of Israel as a covenant people, so too does the Lord’s Supper formally establish the new covenant community. That Christ invests the Passover elements with new meaning depicts His authority. God originally had the people eat unleavened bread because they had to leave Egypt in haste (Deut. 16:3); now Jesus gives bread to His disciples and says, “This is my body” (Matt. 26:26). In reinterpreting the Passover meal, our Savior is assuming the authority of God who alone can direct His people in their remembrance of His salvation.
The “fruit of the vine” Jesus and His disciples drink from (v. 29) our Lord likens the wine to His blood that will be “poured out for many” (vv. 27-28), and for Jews of the day, such imagery recalls the bloody slaughter of the Passover lamb. Jesus is anticipating His violent death by crucifixion to save His people (Matt. 1:21).
This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live “Coram Deo” is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.
Jesus says that His blood is poured out for “many,” not for “all” (Matt. 26:28). His death is not effectual for all people who have ever lived; Christ’s death is effectual only for His people, securing eternal salvation for all those who trust in the promises of God through Him. Because He has made an atonement for only those in Him, our pursuit of holiness is not in vain, for Christ is transforming us into His image as we work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12-13).
Passages for Further Study:
- Numbers 9:1-14
- Ezekiel 45:18-25
- Matthew 1:20-21
- Mark 14:22-25
PRAYER by Andrew Murray:
Eternal God, I have received the good tidings that there is room also for me at the table of Thy Son. With grateful thanks I receive thy invitation, God of all grace. I hunger for Thy bread, O Lord. My soul thirsts for God. For the living God my flesh and my heart cry out. When shall I enter and appear before the face of God?
Lord, graciously bestow upon me this week a real blessing in the way of preparation. Let the sight of my sinfulness humble me deeply and take away from me all hope in myself. Let the sight of Thy grace again encourage me and fill me with confidence and gladness. Do Thou Thyself stir up within me a mighty desire for the Bridegroom, for the precious Jesus, without whom there could be no feast. And may it be manifest in me this week that I am full of the thought that I have an invitation to eat bread in the house of my God with his only-begotten and well-beloved Son. Lord, grant this for Jesus sake.
Lord Jesus, thou hast taught me: God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Lord, spiritual worship we cannot bring: but Thou wilt bestow upon us Thy Spirit. I entreat thee, Lord, to grant the working of the Spirit. The blessing of the Supper is a high spiritual blessing. The invisible God will there come very near to us and will very mightily impart the gift of eternal life to those who have the spiritual capacity for it. Only the spiritual mind can enjoy the spiritual blessing. Thou knowest how deeply I fail in this receptiveness for a full blessing. But grant, I pray thee, that the Holy Spirit may this week dwell and work in me with special power. I will surrender myself for this end to Him and to His guidance, in order that He may overcome in me the spirit of the world and renew my inner life to inherit from my God a new blessing. Lord, let Thy Spirit work mightily within me.
And as I thus pray for myself I pray also for the whole congregation. Grant, Lord, in behalf of all thy children an overflowing outpouring of Thy Spirit, in order that this Supper may really be for all of us a time of quickening and renewal of our energies. Amen.
Tuesday, August 18th
The Significance of Passover
“It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.” – Exodus 12:27
Yesterday we briefly introduced the Lord’s Supper, noting that it was instituted at the last meal our Savior enjoyed before His death (Matt. 26:26-29). This sacrament is central to the life and worship of Christ’s church, but, unfortunately, it is something that divides Christians more than it unifies them. The church of Jesus Christ has always prized the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Early Christians partook of the sacrament at the end of their agape feasts, meals that celebrated the love of God and the love they had for one another. Many refer to the Lord’s Supper as “Holy Communion” because it pictures the union believers have with the Savior and with one another.
Yet we must look to a period earlier than the first century to understand the significance of the Lord’s Supper. Just as our view of baptism is informed by its link to circumcision (Col. 2:8-15) so too does the link between Passover and the Lord’s Supper, which was instituted at a Passover seder, help explain the purpose of eating the bread and drinking the wine. A brief look at the background of Passover in Exodus 12 will enrich our view of the meal Jesus gave us.
Passover was established when God rescued His people Israel from Egyptian slavery. After nine plagues did not move the pharaoh to let the Israelites go (Ex. 7:14-10:29) the Almighty sent one final plague that provoked the king of Egypt to relent temporarily and free the Israelites. This plague, the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn sons (Ex. 11:1-10) gave only a short window in which to escape; thus, the meal preceding it had to be something that could be eaten in haste. Unleavened bread was essential to the Passover as the people had no time to wait for the dough to rise if they were to get away (Deut. 16:3).
The blood of the Passover lamb was also a part of the feast. Though the people did not consume the blood, they did spread it on their door posts so that the angel of death would “pass over” their households (Ex. 12:7-13). In so doing the Israelites marked themselves off as God’s people, saved from His wrath.
Though God elected to save the Israelites, their sin did not make them any less worthy of death than the Egyptians. But the Lord provided a way for them to escape His wrath in those days. Ultimately, this looked forward to the time when the Lord would eternally save His people from judgment. We are saved from the wrath of God by God Himself. Let us never forget the righteous character of our Creator, who, despite our sin, mercifully chooses to redeem His people.
Passages for Further Study:
- Leviticus 23:4-8
- Ezra 6:19-22
- John 1:29
- 1 Cor. 5:6-8
Lord, deliver me from all superficiality and light-mindedness in drawing near to Thy table. Too often have I supposed that it is self-evident I must use again the Lords Supper. I have considered too little how needful it was to take the stones out of the way, when the Lord Himself shall come to prepare His way and make His path straight. I fancied that it was a light thing to receive blessing. Lord, forgive me this error. Do Thou Thyself enable my soul to understand what is meant by saying that sinful man shall meet his God. Do Thou Thyself work within me true conscientiousness and eagerness to lay bare and to lay aside every sin, and trust myself wholly to Thee with a real surrender of the whole soul and of all its powers.
Lord Jesus, hear, I beseech Thee, this my petition. O Lord, grant that I may not lose the blessing by thoughtlessness or idleness. O my Lord, how much has it cost Thee to prepare the table for me, and now even this is not enough. I must still ask Thee to prepare me for the table. I thank Thee for the joyful assurance which I have that Thou wilt do this. Therefore I place myself for this week in Thy hands, in order that by Thy working in me a right condition of soul may be brought into existence.
Precious Lord, grant me the broken and contrite heart. And grant unto me to look up unto Thee with a living, active faith as my Friend, my Saviour, my All. Grant, Lord Jesus, that I also may be able to say: I have but one thought, one desire, and that is Jesus. So shall I be prepared with honor to the Father to glorify Thee by my cheerful confession that I desire nothing but Thee, and Thy wonderful love.
My Saviour, I depend upon Thee throughout this week. Work thou in me a true preparation for the Supper. I expect it from Thee. Amen.
Wednesday, August 19th “Christ Our Passover”
“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” – 1 Corinthians 5:7
Because the passion of Christ took place the week of Passover (Matt. 26:1-2) the early church quickly understood that Jesus fulfilled the symbolism in the Passover meal as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The marking of blood on the doorposts (Ex. 12:7-13) has a clear tie to the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross (Rev. 1:1-8) and it is therefore no surprise to see the Lord’s disciples link His death to the Passover throughout their writings. Without Christ, the Father looks upon the world He made and sees only a mass of corrupt sinners who are wholly deserving of His wrath. But since Jesus has died for His people, the Father now sees in the midst of fallen humanity men and women who have been marked with the blood of His Son by faith. His wrath can let these blood-bought saints alone in a passing over even greater than the one over the houses of Israel so long ago.
Seeing the clear connection between the death of Christ and the Feast of the Passover, the apostles came to associate other elements of the Passover with Jesus (beyond the slaughter of the lamb). For example, in today’s passage, Paul views church life in light of the reality of Passover and applies one important element of the Passover feast to the church, the body of which Christ the Passover Lamb is the head. The setting is the church at Corinth and their toleration of a man who was in an incestuous relationship with his stepmother, an act that not even the pagan Romans would tolerate (1 Cor. 5:1) Paul orders the church to cast out the unrepentant man because “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (vv. 2-8). He is referring to the custom at Passover of going through one’s home and getting rid of any leaven—symbolic of sin—from the home. The death of Christ requires a commitment to forsake sin, to remain unleavened—set apart unto holiness and the service of God.
Paul’s call, however, is not merciless. John Chrysostom writes in his sermon on this passage: “In the case of material leaven, the unleavened might become leavened, but never the reverse; whereas here there is a chance of the direct contrary occurring.” Normally, leavened bread cannot become unleavened, but spiritually, that which is leavened (sinful) might become unleavened (holy). The incestuous man was cast out from the congregation so that he might be redeemed (1 Cor. 5:5).
Christ’s sacrifice as the ultimate Passover gives us a knowledge of sin and its effects, freedom from its power, and confidence to mortify it that the old covenant saint did not fully enjoy. Consequently, we can cast out the leaven of sin from our lives as we rely on the power of the Spirit and remember who we are in Christ. Turn to the Lord and His people for help this day in putting sin to death in your life.
Passages for Further Study:
- Ezra 6:19-22
- Proverbs 25:26
- Luke 12:1-3
- Galatians 5:7-9
Lord God, I find myself on the way to Thy table. I desire also to receive there what Jesus gives when He says: This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Lord, I desire this day to acknowledge in a new act of faith my participation in the forgiveness of sins, and thus to meet with Thee at the Supper as Thine own in the joy of redemption.
For this end, wilt Thou grant unto me a sight of the work of Jesus as all-sufficient and perfectly fulfilled, so that there is nothing for me now to do save to receive it and rejoice in it? Renew in me by the Holy Spirit the living assurance of my part in Jesus. And help me, Lord, with a clearer faith than ever before to appropriate the whole redemption of Thy Son with all Thy rich and glorious promises.
Lord, I beseech Thee, let no doubt rob me of this blessing. When I look to myself, there is nothing but fear, and condemnation. When I have to question my heart and what I feel there, I have no hope. But I look to Thy word. It makes me cry out: Who is a God like unto Thee that forgiveth iniquity? (Mic. 7:18). That word points me to the Cross of Thy dear Son, who died for the ungodly, and says to me: The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive all our sins. That word teaches me to say: With Thee is forgiveness. Lord, on that word I depend: With Thee is forgiveness. I have confessed my sin before Thee: I lay my whole sinfulness bare before Thee, and I believe that through the virtue of the blood of Jesus, Thou forgivest my sin.
My God, grant me grace to hold fast by this truth, and with every fresh sin to flee always straight to the blood of Christ. Grant that I may sit down at Thy table with the blessed joy of a firm faith in the great promise of the New Covenant: I will be gracious to your iniquities, and your sins and transgressions will I remember no more.
Lord God, this Thou hast said, and that will I believe. Amen.
Thursday, August 20th “The Lord’s Supper Instituted”
“He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” – Luke 22:19
Human beings have a tendency to sacralize time and space. In other words, there is something within us that seeks to commemorate and set apart certain places and dates that have been important in our lives. We build monuments in areas where battles were fought that changed the course of a nation’s destiny. Days are marked on the calendar to celebrate the birth of a country and even our own entrance into the world. We are driven by an almost insatiable desire to remember the past, and we associate special memories and feelings with places and dates.
The sacralizing of time and space is approved by the Lord, at least when it comes to the landmark events of redemptive history. God commanded the celebration of the Passover to recall and proclaim His great redemption of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Ex. 12). Later on, the feast of Purim was established so that the Israel might never forget Yahweh’s dramatic intervention to defeat the Persian enemies of His people in the days of Esther and Mordecai (Est. 9:20-32). Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, we see in today’s passage, in order that we would remember His death on our behalf (Luke 22:19).
Undoubtedly, our Father marks out these occasions of remembrance because it is when we forget Him and His great work that we break His covenant. Apostasy, that act in which a professing believer abandons his confession of faith and leaves the covenant community, happens when we forget all the goodness of the Lord toward us. Consciously reminding ourselves of His great salvation is one way that we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-13) and thereby persevere in faith until the end of our lives.
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is one way in which we recall God’s sacrifice of His Son. The bread and wine visibly depict the broken body and shed blood of Christ Jesus and help us remember His death, although the remembering of His death is not all that happens at His table, as we will see in the days ahead. Nevertheless, the Lord’s Supper is tied inextricably to the past, orienting us to the death of Christ for His people, the single greatest event in world history.
Today’s reading says that the Lord’s Supper helps us realize just how important Jesus understands His death to be in the grand narrative of God’s redemption. He paraphrases Jesus’ words to His disciples: “My disciples, I know that in these past three years you have seen and heard many things, much of which you will forget. But whatever you do, do not forget my death!” As you partake of the Lord’s Supper, consciously recall His great sacrifice on our behalf.
Passages for Further Study:
- Psalm 105
- Proverbs 4:1-9
- Ecclesiastes 12:1-8
- 1 Cor. 11:23-26
Friday, August 21st “Confession of Sin”
“I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. How many are mine iniquities and sins: make me to know my transgression and my sin. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Psalm 38:18 Job 8:23; Matthew 5:4.
At the outset says our study guide, let everyone examine his heart, to see whether he be grieved on account of his sins, and humble himself before God. This is the first element of genuine self-examination. It cannot indeed be otherwise. The salvation of the Lord Jesus is a salvation from sin. The power, the grace, the Blessing of Jesus are exhibited in the taking away of sin out of us, and the implanting within us instead of the holiness and the life of heaven. And it is because the Lords Supper is intended to serve as a renewed and an increased participation of the life of Christ, that a new and deeper acknowledgment of sin is the most desirable preparation for the Supper. It is not merely he that is still seeking for forgiveness who must think of and confess his sins. No: it is especially the believer that has need to acknowledge aright and with all earnestness the sins that he still commits and their antipathy to God. The more he really despairs of himself, the more glorious will Christ become in his eyes. The more keenly he feels every sin, the more will Jesus become to him. Every sin is a need that calls for Jesus. By the confession of sin, you point out to Him the spot where you are wounded, and where He must exhibit the healing power of His blood. Every sin that you confess is an acknowledgment of something that Jesus must cast out, and the place of which He is bound to fill up with one of the lovely gifts of His holiness. Every sin that you confess is a new reason why you should believe more and ask more, and a new reason why Jesus should bless you.
Christian, prepare yourself for the Holy Supper by thinking of your sins. Be not afraid to make mention of them by name before Jesus. Point out to Him that which you desire He should change in you. Sin that is not confessed is also not combated. When a saved soul goes to Jesus to speak with Him about sin, and to make it known to Him, it breaks sins power and makes Him more precious. The very same light that enables you to feel the curse of sin more deeply, enables you also to discern the perfect and final victory over it. The experience, utterly lost, prepares the way for the experience utterly redeemed.
Beloved child of God, you do not perhaps yet know what a source of blessing a deep conviction of sin is. Do not be afraid of it: do not turn away from it. The blessed Spirit of God will give it to you. Through the increasing grace of Jesus in you, through your deepening fellowship in the life of heaven, He will so discover its incurable sinfulness, that this very experience shall lead you to that entire surrender to Jesus that is so gloriously sealed in the Lords Supper.
Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting. Lord, Thou knowest how deceitful the heart is, far above all things. But, Lord, Thou knowest the heart, even my heart. And now I come to Thee, Omniscient One, and set my heart before Thee with the prayer: Lord, make me know whether Jesus Christ is in me, or whether I am still without Him, and reprobate before Thee.
Of old, Thou Thyself didst see to it that hypocrites should be cast out from the midst of Thy people. Thou didst point out Achan. Thou didst make known the man who dipped his hand in the dish with Thy Son. Thou didst detect Ananias. Thou art the King who comest in to scrutinize the guests that have sat down, and who sayest: Friend, how camest thou in hither, not being in the wedding garment? Thou art still mighty to search the hearts. Lord, hear now the supplication of Thy people, and purge Thy congregation. Let the life of the Spirit become so powerful that all doubts shall vanish, and Thy children know and confess that Christ is in them. Let Thy presence in their midst effect such a joy and such a reverence that mere confessors with the lips shall be afraid, and the self-righteous be brought to detection. Lord, make it known to many who are still content in uncertainty, whether Christ is in them or whether they are reprobate.
Great God, make this known to me. Is Jesus Christ in me? Let the Holy Spirit give me the blessed assurance of this. Then shall I sit down with confidence as Thy child at Thy table. And if Jesus Christ is still not in me, and I am still without Christ and reprobate before Thee, Thou merciful One, make this known to me. Make me willing to know this, and not to draw near to Thy table except that Jesus Christ is in me. Lord, I come now to Thee to set my heart open before Jesus, and to receive Him as my Saviour. Amen.
Saturday, August 22nd Morning… “Proclaiming the Lord’s Death”
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” – 1 Cor. 11:26
As we consider the Lord’s Supper, it is important for us to realize that, as in baptism, there is more going on in the sacrament than a memorial. We are, in fact, nourished by the body and blood of our Savior when we eat the bread and drink the cup in memory of His sacrifice. This is the teaching of Scripture, we shall see, but it is also the view affirmed throughout church history.
In the Heidelberg Catechism, for example, we are told that in the Supper, Jesus “nourishes and refreshes [our souls] for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood” (Q&A 75). The Westminster Confession explains that “worthy receivers … really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of His death” (29.7). Matthew Henry calls the Lord’s Supper a “spiritual diet” that “should be taken often.”
Let us note today how the elements of the Lord’s Supper themselves point to the fact that real nourishment occurs whenever we partake of the bread and wine in faith. Our physical bodies cannot survive without food and drink, and Christ’s use of food and drink in the Lord’s Supper is surely meant for us to see, by way of analogy, the sacrament as spiritual sustenance that is vital to the health and well-being of our souls. We do not want to commit the error of those who elevate the Lord’s Supper to the most important aspect of Christian living and piety. At the same time, we do not want to commit the opposite error of neglecting the importance of the sacrament in our Christian growth. Physically speaking, we do not live to eat but we eat to live. Spiritually speaking, we do not live to take the Lord’s Supper but we partake of the sacrament so that we might live for Christ.
There is, indeed, a great deal of mystery here, but we hope to shed light on what happens in the sacrament in the days ahead. In any case, we are nourished in the sacrament, and we are nourished so that we might proclaim the mercy of the Lord. We truly proclaim Him as we eat and drink in His name, as today’s passage indicates (1 Cor. 11:26), and the strength we receive from feeding on Him spiritually in the sacrament empowers us to go forth and proclaim Him to the world.
We cannot live without food and drink, and the use of bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper is to remind us that we cannot survive without the death and resurrection of our Savior. As we eat the bread and drink the cup, we should think on how much we need Jesus and His work in our behalf. Moreover, we should thank Him that He has provided an atonement to meet the needs of our souls just as He has provided food to meet the needs of our bodies.
Passages for Further Study:
- Exodus 12:25-27
- Ezekiel 45:21-25
- Luke 22:14-23
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
Lord God, Thou searchest and knowest us. Thou art He that knowest the hearts and triest the reins. Before Thee, there is no creature that is not made manifest: but all things are naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Thine eyes see through the heart alike of the ungodly and the righteous. Thou art the Omniscient One, the Searcher of hearts.
Lord, how terrible is Thine omniscience for Thine enemies. That eye which burns in heaven as a flame of fire is always upon them. They would fain flee away from it, but they are never able. But for Thy people, Thine omniscience is a comfort and a refuge. Thou art He who can help them against themselves and the deceitfulness of their own hearts. They invite Thine omniscience to search their heart and to cleanse them from their secret faults.
Holy God, I too place myself in Thine hands. Search me, O God, and know my heart. With fear, and yet from the depths of my heart, I say unto thee: Holy God, I wish to tolerate no single sin, however secret or deeply rooted it may be. Lord, I crave Thy help: I place myself in the light of Thy flaming eyes, before which no sin can stand. Search me, O God, and know my heart.
I Know, Lord, that the answer is oftentimes terrible: By terrible things Thou wilt answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation. I know, when Thou dost suffer man to enter into temptation and let him see what is in his heart, that the humiliation and the shame and the sorrow are often deep and bitter. I know that when Thou trustest Thy mighty hand into the bosom to root out the almost unknown and yet deeply-rooted sin, flesh and blood must then fail. And yet I cry: Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Lord, make me know the sin to which I am blind: my characteristic sins also, about which I am so sensitive when any other speaks of them, whether it be the love of money with its seduction, or the love of the world with its vanity, or the love of self with its entan- glement, make me to know it. Lord, use friend or foe: use what means Thou wilt, O my Father: only search me and know my heart: cleanse me from secret errors, and let no hurtful way abide with me, but lead me in the way that is everlasting.
Yes, gracious Lord, give me such an overmastering conviction of the entire corruption of my nature that I shall be constrained to receive in its completeness the perfect redemption of Christ. Amen.
Saturday, August 22nd Afternoon… “Self-Surrender”
“The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge that one died for all, therefore all died: and He died for all, that they which live shall no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who for their sake died, and rose again.” – 2 Cor. 5:14-15.
In the third place, let everyone examine his heart to see whether He is conscious of having heretofore manifested genuine thankfulness toward God with his whole life. So the Directory expresses what Must Constitute the third part of self-examination, whether I have been hitherto conscious of dedicating myself to the Lord as a living thank offering, not in single things only, but in my whole life.
This is what Jesus desires. Every redeemed soul must be a man consecrated to God, entirely separated to live for Him, His will, His work, His honor. This also is what the true Christian desires: he acknowledges the equity of the demand which Jesus makes, the perfect right which Jesus has to him as His blood-bought possession. This is what the true Christian expects in the power of the love of Christ shed abroad in the heart, in the strength of the new life. And this dedication, this complete surrender, is what the believer especially confesses and completes in the Lords Supper.
The Lords Supper is always a sacrificial repast, and that in a double sense. Under the Old Covenant there were special sacrifices namely, the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the thank offering. The sin offering, by which atonement was made, was the type of the sacrifice of Christ alone. He was made sin for us. The burnt offering, which had to be wholly consumed by fire on the altar, as a symbol of entire devotedness to the service of God, was the type alike of the sacrifice of Christ and of the sacrifice of believers in which they surrender themselves to the Lord (Rom. 12:1). Then last, the idea of thank offering is exhibited more fully to the apprehension in the feast of thank offering and in the fellowship that ensued.
Of the sin offering, by which atonement was made, the priests might eat, as a token of their fellowship with God through the atonement. The Lords Supper is our fellowship in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ which has done away with sin forever. Of the thank offering in which dedication to God was shown forth, the offer himself might also eat in recognition of his fellowship with God in this dedication. The Lords Supper is a communion with Christ, not only because He offered Himself up for us, but because in and with Him we offer ourselves to the Father with all that we have.
Marvelous union: Jesus offers Himself to me: I offer myself to Him: Jesus gives Himself wholly for me: I give myself wholly for Him. My sacrifice is the counterpart, the reflection, of His.
With what earnestness did He prepare Himself for the fulfillment of His sacrifice, in order that His will might really yield itself completely and wholly to the Father. As for me, how much more need have I of preparation for asking whether, while I take a whole Christ for myself, I yield myself with my whole life to Him.
Let every one examine his heart. Believer, the observance of the Supper is a glorious opportunity of renewed dedication to your Lord. Let the Holy Spirit discover to you what it is to be a decided Christian: undividingly, unceasingly surrendered to Jesus in heart and hand and lips, at home and in society; living for Jesus, working zealously for Jesus; a burnt offering which is given entirely for God, and is consumed by the fire of the Spirit. In this spirit, prepare yourself to be willingly bound to the horns of the altar.
My Father, Thou callest me to Thy table to participate by faith anew in the sacrifice of Thy Son: I cry to Thee, in turn, to make me partaker of the power, the inclination, and the spirit of His self-sacrifice, that I, in fellowship with Him, may in like manner offer myself up to Thee. Through the Eternal Spirit He offered Himself up to God. My God, let the same Spirit make me also, on my part, a complete offering to Thee.
My Father, grant unto me to see that self-offering constitutes the essence and the worth of His sacrifice. Let the surrender of my feeling and will to the will of God be the mark of my piety. Yea, Lord, let me live as one who offers himself wholly to the desire of God and man to further Thine honor and their salvation.
My Father, at the Supper I desire truly to present myself as a living, holy sacrifice, well pleasing, to Godan offering that shall be wholly consumed.
For this end I entreat Thee for grace to prepare myself for this sacrifice, as Thy Son prepared Himself for the sacrifice on Golgotha by saying in Gethsemane: Not My will, but Thine be done. So would I offer myself as a sacrifice to Thee with the complete surrender of my will: may Thy will be all in all to me, O my God. Lord enable me to say in truth: I live only to do the will of God. In the strength of Jesus Christ, who liveth in me and in whom I offer myself to Thee, I venture to make His language my own: Lo I come to do Thy will, O God!
Lord, prepare me also to say: I desire here before Thee to renounce every known and unknown sin. All self-seeking and self-will I desire to abandon before Thee. I take Jesus Christ as my holiness, my strength, my victory ; and in virtue of the new nature which He has prepared for me, I say: Father, no more sin, but Thy will onlyThy will wholly, Thy will always and in all.
Lord Jesus, who didst give Thyself for me, I give myself to Thee. Yea, Lord, in this very moment, where I in solitude am this morning preparing myself for the Supper, I say before heaven and earth: Jesus, Son of God, I will give myself wholly to Thee, to live now and henceforth only for Thee. Lord Jesus, I do this now. And as one who is offered to the Father and to Thee, I will go to the Supper table, there to be confirmed in the faith and confession; I am no longer my own I have been bought with a high price: I will glorify God in my body and my spirit, which are Gods.