Access To God Through Jesus

Ephesians 2:18

for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

Ephesians 3:12

in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

 

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His Agony and Our Access

By Oswald Chambers

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We can never fully comprehend Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, but at least we don’t have to misunderstand it. It is the agony of God and man in one Person, coming face to face with sin. We cannot learn about Gethsemane through personal experience. Gethsemane and Calvary represent something totally unique— they are the gateway into life for us.

It was not death on the cross that Jesus agonized over in Gethsemane. In fact, He stated very emphatically that He came with the purpose of dying. His concern here was that He might not get through this struggle as the Son of Man. He was confident of getting through it as the Son of God— Satan could not touch Him there. But Satan’s assault was that our Lord would come through for us on His own solely as the Son of Man. If Jesus had done that, He could not have been our Savior (see Hebrews 9:11-15). Read the record of His agony in Gethsemane in light of His earlier wilderness temptation— “…the devil…departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In Gethsemane, Satan came back and was overthrown again. Satan’s final assault against our Lord as the Son of Man was in Gethsemane.

The agony in Gethsemane was the agony of the Son of God in fulfilling His destiny as the Savior of the world. The veil is pulled back here to reveal all that it cost Him to make it possible for us to become sons of God. His agony was the basis for the simplicity of our salvation. The Cross of Christ was a triumph for the Son of Man. It was not only a sign that our Lord had triumphed, but that He had triumphed to save the human race. Because of what the Son of Man went through, every human being has been provided with a way of access into the very presence of God.

Choosing Contentment

From: Our Daily  Journey

Choosing Contentment

Read:

Philippians 4:10-13
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything (Philippians 4:11-12).

The story is told of a king who was looking for satisfaction in life. His advisors told him to wear the shirt of a contented man for a day, and he would be cured of his discontent. His men searched the kingdom for a contented man so they could bring his shirt to the king, but they returned empty-handed. The king was furious. In response, his men told the king, “We found a contented man, but he does not own a shirt.”

We live in a world grasping for contentment. Pastor Ray Stedman said, “Contentment is not having all that you want. True contentment is wanting only what you have.” The apostle Paul was a very contented man. But it wasn’t something that came naturally to him. Twice Paul said he had to learn to be content (Philippians 4:11-12).

Contentment is an intentional choice. “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less,” advises philosopher G. K. Chesterton. Contentment is something we have to choose.

Called to suffer for Christ (Acts 9:16), Paul didn’t have a charmed life (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). He was in a Roman prison when he wrote, “I have learned how to be content . . . in every situation” (Philippians 4:11-12). Paul’s contentment didn’t result from life’s circumstances, but from his commitment. When hemmed in by life’s difficulties, he responded, “To live is Christ.” When in the jaws of death, he proclaimed: “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 niv).

Paul’s secret to contentment was to find it “through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Regardless of our circumstances, may we turn to Him and experience calm confidence based in the power He provides. In Jesus, we have all we need (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

Worship or Lightly Esteem?

From: Daphne Delay, Author

In today’s society, people have a mixed concept of worship. The biblical definition is “an act of honor, praise, and reverence of deity [or God].” But we see people worshiping celebrities, places, presidents, and even technology—instead of God.

In contrast, there is often a lack of worship for the true things of God, such as His Presence, His House, or even His creations. In fact, the Bible says in the last days there will be an increase of this behavior. People will have a “form of godliness, but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). In other words, even those who go through the motions of worship may in fact have a heart and mind that’s far from God.

This simply implies that we shouldn’t judge each other’s form of worship—let’s let God do that… But individually, it would be good to do a heart-check to make sure our worship is in the right place.

The Bible says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2). God is beautiful. He is the beauty of holiness and worthy of our worship. In all that He has given unto us and done for us through redemption, it is only right that we worship Him. But it is also (as a dear friend of mine always says) one of the only things we can give Him that He did not first give us.

In other words, you won’t find God giving you or I worship. So much of our lives are an act of giving back to Him what He has given us. For example: our money, our time, our faith, our attitude… almost everything. Therefore, because God has helped us, then in reverence and honor we return those things in measure back to Him.

But worship is different than our money or time.

It is one of the things we give God first, instead of the other way around. But what a thought this is! If I’m not giving Him a measure of every part of my life, is this an indication of my love and worship of Him? You bet. Yet most people don’t see it that way.

Our worship shouldn’t resemble only a small measure of time one morning a week at church. The Word of God says this kind of behavior is equal to despise. In today’s vernacular, this word is harsh and ugly. But in the Bible, despise simply means to “lightly esteem.” In other words, it’s quite possible most people live their lives lightly esteeming God (unknowingly).

In the Old Testament, God said to the priest, Eli: “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me… But now the Lord says, ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed'” (1 Samuel 2:29-30).

The New Testament says all believers are now priests (representatives of man before God). Therefore, this reprimand from God to Eli can be taken as a warning for us also. God assigned Eli and his household to be priests, but they had taken the job lightly. So God said He would esteem them lightly in return.

We must remember worship is a lifestyle. It is an act of honor and reverence of God. This means as I vow to honor God with my thoughts, attitudes, words, time, and resources, it is an act of worship. But if, on the other hand, I wake up and get halfway (or all the way) through my day without even as much as thinking about God, I have actually “lightly esteemed”, or “despised” Him.

He says, “Those who honor Me, I will honor.” And He does. I’m amazed at the ways in which God honors us. Especially when I remember that He did so before we were deserving. “For God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

So let us worship God.

From Devotion To Destiny

Hebrews 11: 13  (Heros of the faith)

13 These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.

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From Devotion to Destiny

By: Jim Buchan, Author

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Will You Be LEFT BEHIND at Harvest Time?

Amid the incredible popularity of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind fiction series, there is another “left behind” issue that is often neglected by the American church. In contrast to the spellbinding book series about events after Jesus’ return, this other “left behind” matter speaks of events here and now, relevant to every Christian. The issue is not whether we will be left behind at Jesus’ coming, but whether we are already being left behind in fulfilling His purposes for our lives.

In Ruth chapter one, Naomi’s two daughters-in-law each face a decision that will radically affect the outcome of their lives: Should they go with Naomi back to Israel or remain in their native land of Moab? Little did they know how their answer to this question would shape not only their own future, but even future generations. As the story unfolds, we see the wonderful results of fully following the Lord’s purpose for our lives, and the terrible consequences of being left behind.

When Naomi first announced her intentions of moving back to Bethlehem, both daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, said they would go with her. With tears and great emotion, they told Naomi, “Surely we will return with you to your people” (Ruth 1:10).

If we could have witnessed this scene, we surely would have been impressed by the apparent dedication of these young women to their mother-in-law. However, while they both loudly proclaimed their love for Naomi, only one ended up actually going with her. When Naomi reminded them that her sons were dead and she had nothing more to offer them, Orpah changed her mind. Why should she leave her familiar surroundings in Moab and accompany Naomi to an unknown future in a foreign land?

Full Surrender

This same scene could be witnessed in many churches today. We sing “I Surrender All” and loudly proclaim our commitment to follow the Lord wherever He goes. We proudly tell our friends that we have made Jesus not only the Savior but also the Lord of our lives. Yet when we come to the difficult fork in the road that Orpah faced, we often choose to remain in our comfort zones. Like Orpah, we may even weep as we adamantly declare our intention to go wherever Jesus leads us, but when decision time comes we stay in familiar territory.

Orpah may have felt a sense of relief when Naomi and Ruth headed down the dusty road toward Bethlehem. What a crazy idea, she may have thought. I bet they’ll move back here within a year. But Naomi and Ruth never moved back; their hearts were set on moving forward.

Orpah probably had no idea what had just happened: She had been left behind! While Naomi and Ruth went on to fulfill their God-given destiny, we never hear of Orpah again.

Gleaning at Harvest Time

Ruth must have wondered what kind of life would await her in Israel. Yet when she arrived, she wasted no time daydreaming about her future; she got involved in the harvest fields. No one had given her a job or an official position, but she simply was gleaning the leftover grain, as was the custom of poor people of that time.

Many Christians today are frustrated that they can’t seem to find their ministry or “destiny,” but they are looking in the wrong places. They daydream of being an apostle, prophet, evangelist or pastor, but it’s hard finding anyone who will confirm such lofty callings. All the while, their destiny often awaits them in the same place Ruth discovered hers: in the harvest fields.

You don’t need a staff position in a church or ministry in order to glean lost people in the harvest fields. No one has to recognize your calling or ordain you as an evangelist for you to be properly authorized to share your testimony with those who don’t yet know Christ. Gleaning may not seem like a very glorious activity, but as happened to Ruth, it may well be the very key to unlocking your destiny.

 

What Matters

From: Our Daily Journey

What Matters

Read:

Habakkuk 1:2-5,12-17
Always be joyful (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

A warm breeze and the sweet smell of summer surrounded me as I stood near a pond. Birds chirping, shade trees, calm water—the peace of nature didn’t match the confusion inside of me.

Life doesn’t always make sense, but the apostle Paul encourages us to “always be joyful” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

This idea is repeated throughout the Bible. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). When this instruction is stated, it often involves someone rejoicing because of something, for example, “Then I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be glad because he rescues me” (Psalm 35:9).

But in Scripture, not everyone has a specific reason to rejoice. Habakkuk questioned God as to why He was allowing the unjust to go unpunished and His people to be oppressed by an enemy (Habakkuk 1:2-4,12-17). The prophet didn’t get the answers he was expecting when God said, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day” (Habakkuk 1:5).

It took a while for Habakkuk to accept this answer, but when he did, he rejoiced. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

As I walked around the pond, I rejoiced in God and His beauty because I could find a joy deeper than the things I didn’t understand. He was with me, and I could feel His love surround me.

God has a plan for all of us. We can trust and rejoice in Him because of who He is and what He will do!

The Way to Permanent Faith

By Oswald Chambers

 The Way to Permanent Faith

Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life. The disciples were scattered to their own concerns and they had interests apart from Jesus Christ. After we have the perfect relationship with God, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, our faith must be exercised in the realities of everyday life. We will be scattered, not into service but into the emptiness of our lives where we will see ruin and barrenness, to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is certainly not of our own choosing, but God engineers our circumstances to take us there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is sustained only by feelings and by blessings. But once we get there, no matter where God may place us or what inner emptiness we experience, we can praise God that all is well. That is what is meant by faith being exercised in the realities of life.

“…you…will leave Me alone.” Have we been scattered and have we left Jesus alone by not seeing His providential care for us? Do we not see God at work in our circumstances? Dark times are allowed and come to us through the sovereignty of God. Are we prepared to let God do what He wants with us? Are we prepared to be separated from the outward, evident blessings of God? Until Jesus Christ is truly our Lord, we each have goals of our own which we serve. Our faith is real, but it is not yet permanent. And God is never in a hurry. If we are willing to wait, we will see God pointing out that we have been interested only in His blessings, instead of in God Himself. The sense of God’s blessings is fundamental.

“…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Unyielding spiritual fortitude is what we need.

 

Give The Gospel To Others

Matthew 28:19-20    (NIV)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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Arlene Pellicane April 3, 2018
It’s Time to Rise
ARLENE PELLICANE

“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10 (NIV)

I watched the news report in amazement. A little girl ran into the ocean for a swim while on vacation with her family. Her mother spotted a shark’s fin in the distance and instantly ran to her daughter, screaming for her to swim back to shore. Just as the mom reached her girl, the shark attacked, grabbing the girl’s legs. The mom would not let go. A nearby fisherman came to the rescue and freed the girl. The little girl survived in large part because her mom refused to let go.

I’m thankful I’ve never experienced anything like that, but it’s certainly a vivid picture of the battle we face against Satan for the lives of our children.

Whether you’re a parent, aunt, teacher or friend, you have an influential role to play in the faith of a child. Children need spiritual truth, especially in this screen-driven, morally corrupt world. How can we successfully pass our faith in Christ to the next generation?

We can look to Joshua in the Old Testament for help.

As long as he was alive, the people of Israel followed Joshua’s strong example. He proclaimed in Joshua 24:15b, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (NKJV).

Unfortunately, when Joshua and his peers died, our key verse says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). While Joshua was all about how “we will serve the Lord,” the book of Judges was all about how all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6b; 21:25b, NLT).

It makes me wonder, What happened to cause such a radical change between the book of Joshua and the very next book, Judges?

Parents stopped teaching their children what God had done for them. The people didn’t obey the repeated command to drive out all the Canaanites from the Promised Land. There was no God-fearing leadership to restrain sin and without that, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Judges 2:11-12a, NKJV).

The bridge of faith was broken.

Perhaps it started with a touch of apathy, rationalizations and a few choice excuses. The Israelites should have fought for their lives, but they decided it would be easier to have pagan neighbors. They tolerated evil and eventually accepted it as normal. Then they went a step further. They imitated their idolatrous neighbors by serving the false god Baal, too. They wanted to fit in.

Like the children of Israel, we live in an ungodly, pagan culture. Walking with Christ means going against the flow, against the world’s system. Maybe it means not allowing certain movies in your home or prohibiting violent and obscene video games.

It means when a figurative shark comes for the soul of a child, you don’t just sit on the beach and lament. You fight with everything in you. It’s time for a generation of parents and concerned adults to rise in vigilance, stand against evil and share our stories of hope and redemption.

The next generation must know God’s goodness and mercy. This is not a time for passivity and just going with the flow. It’s time to proclaim once again with Joshua, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15b).

Dear Lord Jesus, we live in evil days, but Your Word is unchanging. Help me share Your love with those around me, so the next generation will know the God of Israel. Forgive me for imitating the world’s system instead of following Your commandments. I dedicate my home for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

How Could Such an Evil Thing Happen?

Author: Dianne Neal Matthews

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Just how low can a society sink when the people reject God’s truth and try to live by their own standards? The book of Judges leads us through a dark period in Israel’s history. (Read Judges 20:1-14) When Joshua and the elder generation died, the Israelites had no appointed leader to rule over them. Just as Joshua had feared, the people let themselves be influenced by the Canaanites they had allowed to remain in the land. The Israelites intermarried with the pagan people around them and worshiped their gods, breaking the covenant vows they had sworn to uphold. The last two chapters of Judges especially show the disastrous results of each person doing whatever seems right to them.

A Levite traveling to his home in Ephraim stopped for the night in Gibeah, accepting hospitality from an old man. That night some of the local men surrounded the house and demanded that the Levite come out and have sex with them. When they refused to leave, the Levite gave them his concubine; they abused her all night until she died. The next morning, the Levite cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout Israel.

At a special gathering, the Levite told his story (conveniently leaving out the fact that he pushed his concubine out the door to save his own skin). As immoral and sin-hardened as the nation of Israel had become, the news of this crime outraged the people. Men were sent to confront the tribe of Benjamin. “How could such an evil thing happen among you?” they asked. “Now hand over those worthless men in Gibeah.” The men of Benjamin refused to listen to the men of Israel. The Benjamites’ refusal to hand over the guilty men led to civil war and their tribe’s near annihilation.

When people reject God’s standards, they begin a downward spiral into sin and degradation. This process may be gradual and go unnoticed at first, but one compromise with the truth leads to another. Eventually, the culture becomes so hardened to sin that it takes something horrific to shock people and make them ask, “How could such an evil thing happen among us?”

The book of Judges paints a sad picture of what can happen when a culture rebels against God’s authority. As people reject his standards of right and wrong, gross immorality and chaos result. Judges explains much of what we see happening around us in the world today. It also serves as a personal warning of how our mind can become darkened when we substitute our own personal ideas of morality for God’s clear-cut instructions in the Bible.

It’s dangerous to rely on our own reasoning and judgment rather than God’s Word. Our minds and emotions are easily deceived. Our thinking can become so distorted that we have a hard time recognizing evil. How much better our life—and our country—will be if we choose to be ruled by God rather than by our deceitful mind.

 

To The Rescue

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. —Luke 15:7

Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard the message of the saving grace of Jesus. The thought of reaching our world for Christ felt overwhelming.

Until I remembered the story of the boy walking on a beach. Encountering hundreds of starfish dying under the heat of the burning sun, he started throwing them back into the sea. A passerby asked, “What are you doing?” “Saving their lives,” the boy replied. “Forget it,” the man said. “You can’t possibly save all these starfish.” “Right,” replied the boy, “but it makes a big difference to each one I do save.”

I love the boy’s perspective. When the wave of sin threw us onto the shore to die, God sent His Son to walk on the beach to rescue all who would repent. And, as Jesus told His listeners in Luke 15, each time someone is rescued, heaven throws a party. “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Has heaven rejoiced over your rescue? If so, join the ranks of those who reach other lost souls with the rescuing grace of Jesus.

Your love, O God, would spare no pain
To conquer death and win;
You sent Your only Son to die
To rescue us from sin. —M. Gustafson

When you’ve been rescued, you’ll want to rescue others.

Practice Kindness

 

When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3

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 Anonymous Kindness

From: Our Daily Bread

Anonymous Kindness

When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3

When I first graduated from college, I found myself needing to adopt a strict grocery budget—twenty-five dollars a week, to be exact. One day, while entering the checkout line, I suspected the groceries I’d selected cost slightly more than my remaining money. “Just stop when we reach twenty dollars,” I told the cashier, and I was able to purchase everything I’d selected but a bag of peppers.

As I was about to drive home, a man stopped by my car. “Here’s your peppers, ma’am,” he said, handing the bag to me. Before I had time to thank him, he was already walking away.

Remembering the simple goodness of this act of kindness still warms my heart and brings to mind Jesus’s words in Matthew 6. Criticizing those who made a show of giving to the needy (v. 2), Jesus taught His disciples a different way. Instead of making giving all about them and their generosity, He urged that giving should be done so secretly it’s like their left hand isn’t even aware their right is giving (v. 3)!

As one person’s anonymous kindness reminded me, giving should never be about us. We give only because of what our generous God has so lavishly given us (2 Corinthians 9:6–11). As we give quietly and generously, we reflect who He is—and God receives the thanksgiving only He deserves (v. 11).

Giving quietly and generously reflects God’s generosity.

A Delightful Corner

From: Our Daily Bread

A Delightful Corner

Read:

Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship (Psalm 19:1).

“God means us to delight in his world. . . . Just observe. And remember. And compare. And be always looking to God with thankfulness and worship for having placed you in such a delightful corner of the universe as the planet Earth.” These were the last words Paul Brand’s father wrote to him before his death. They had a profound effect on Paul’s life. He eventually became a missionary doctor in India and was well known for his pioneering work in the treatment of leprosy. He never forgot his father’s urging to enjoy and delight in God’s creation.

Just like Brand’s father, King David invites us to step into our amazing world and view it with a new lens. In Psalm 19, he beautifully describes how God’s creation is a magnificent witness of His glory, power, and might. David directs our eyes to the heavens and inspires us to gaze into the splendor of creation day and night. The word translated as “proclaim” in verse 1 literally means recount. David is saying that the sky goes beyond just proclaiming God’s glory. It actually narrates brilliant details about Him. God and His ways are revealed through nature for “day after day [it] continue[s] to speak; night after night [it] makes him known” (Psalm 19:2).

How are we to respond to such an incredible display of splendor and glory? If we took our cue from the sun, we could burst “forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding” or rejoice “like a great athlete eager to run the race” (Psalm 19:5). Or we can simply feel joy—that deep presence of serenity and peace—knowing that our Creator God loves us. No matter what highs or lows we’re going through, the One who “holds all creation together” cares for us (Colossians 1:17).

The Glory That’s Unsurpassed

When Paul received his sight, he also received spiritual insight into the Person of Jesus Christ. His entire life and preaching from that point on were totally consumed with nothing but Jesus Christ— “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul never again allowed anything to attract and hold the attention of his mind and soul except the face of Jesus Christ.

We must learn to maintain a strong degree of character in our lives, even to the level that has been revealed in our vision of Jesus Christ.

The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others. The overruling passion of his life is Jesus Christ. Whenever you see this quality in a person, you get the feeling that he is truly a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22).

Never allow anything to divert you from your insight into Jesus Christ. It is the true test of whether you are spiritual or not. To be unspiritual means that other things have a growing fascination for you.

Since mine eyes have looked on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside,
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Gazing on the Crucified.

 

Crying Out to God

By: Peter Lundell

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I recently stayed at the home of some of my church members. Their baby cried at 3:00 a.m. and again at 6:30 a.m. Parents of newborns may yearn for the time when their child sleeps through the night. But, no longer being in such a position, I just listened. The cry sounded almost like a song calling out to parents, not terribly good listening, but a song nonetheless.

I thought of the babies I’d heard cry in the different places I have lived: Minnesota, where I grew up in humid summers and frozen winters; Haiti, where children are born in mud huts and wear no pants until they’re potty trained; Japan, where children are spoiled until the school whip comes down in a life of conformity and regimentation. In every place the babies’ cries were similar. Rich or poor, Eastern or Western, the babies all called out the same way to their parents.

Each child grows up speaking a different language and eating different food, going to school or remaining illiterate, working in an office building or hacking plants with a machete, living under a tile roof or straw thatch, riding a car, a train, or a donkey. That person may connect with God, turn away, or never truly know him.

On the day a person dies, he or she will cry out, and that cry may or may not be verbalized. The cry at death is like a child’s call to the Heavenly Father, “Carry me.” “Save me.” Or that cry may be an anxious call into an unknown void.

Our lives appear so different as we live them. We pursue our distinctions, whether they are achievement, wealth, even philanthropy. Then at the end of life, we become more similar again, the way we were as babies. How we cry out at the end of life will depend on how much we desired our Heavenly Father all the years in between. Blessed are those described by Psalm 84:2, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Connecting with God is the one thing that matters. Beyond that I wonder if in God’s eyes the lives we live are not so different. Perhaps whether we live in wealth, in poverty, or in a totally different culture, our earthly life is secondary. Perhaps to him our hardships and successes don’t matter so much. I suspect that, like a parent, God longs to hear us call out to him long after we’re babies. He recognizes every voice and feels the beat of every heart. He longs to hear us call and never stop until our dying day.

How is your voice doing?

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD. Psalm 27:4-6, NIV

“Lord, young or old, I am your child. I choose to cry out to you above all other hopes or powers, to call in faith and expectation. May my call to you be like a song in your ears …”

Jesus Is Risen From The Grave

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The Power of Resurrection

 By: James McDonald

Monday, January 19, 2009

God’s Character, Reassurance of Faith

“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen just as He said.” Luke 24:5-6

For the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus’ resurrection is the most powerful event in history. All that we ascribe to, all that our life and worship is about is based upon this foundational piece that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Nothing short of God provides power like that.

Does your life lack power? Is there much you would like to accomplish but you don’t have the capacity and strength to do it? Maybe you can’t break the chain of a sinful habit or overcome fear or anxiety or be the man or woman that God created you to be. Whatever it is—habit, circumstance, or need for growth . . . Jesus Christ can change your life. His resurrection is evidence of the power to prove that.

Let’s make it personal.Luke 24 gives us a glimpse into the lives of three women who were the first to hear of the Easter miracle. Jesus died late on a Friday afternoon and we join them early Sunday morning while it was still dark. As their final act of devotion, the grief-stricken ladies made their way to Jesus’ tomb to prepare His body for burial. They were shocked to find the stone rolled away from the entrance and His body gone. All their emotions crashed around them. They didn’t know what to do. Suddenly two angels stood before them, asking, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (v. 5).

I can imagine these ladies kneeling, trembling, and then being asked such a pointed question. Can you imagine how their hope began to rise as the angels said, “He is not here but He is risen. Remember how he told you . . .” (Luke 24:6). Overwhelmed by their circumstances they had forgotten what Jesus had promised—the three most powerful words ever spoken: I will rise.

All it took for their confusion to lift was to remember His Word (v. 8).

To you who are suffering under the weight of a difficult situation, I write today with this same message: Jesus has risen and He wants to bring the power of His resurrection to bear upon whatever you’re facing. Do what these ladies did: Believe what He said. Take Him at His Word. Remember His promises.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof that God will do what He said. Rehearse God’s faithfulness in what He did on that pivotal, powerful morning and be filled with faith at how He is still at work today in your life.

Despised for All of This

From: Our Daily Bread

Despised for All of This

He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12

Susannah Cibber gained fame in the eighteenth century for her talent as a singer. However, she was equally well known for her scandalous marital problems. That’s why when Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin in April 1742, many in the audience did not approve of her role as a featured soloist.

During that inaugural performance, Cibber sang of the Messiah: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3 kjv). Those words so moved Rev. Patrick Delany that he jumped to his feet and said, “Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!”

The connection between Susannah Cibber and the theme of Handel’s Messiah is evident. The “man of sorrows”—Jesus the Messiah—was “despised and rejected” because of sin. The prophet Isaiah said, “My righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (v. 11).

The connection between Messiah and us is no less apparent. Whether we stand with the judgmental audience members, with Susannah Cibber, or somewhere in between, we all need to repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Jesus, by His life, death, and resurrection, restored our relationship with God our Father.

For this—for all Jesus did—be all our sins forgiven.

Father in heaven, we all stand in need of Your forgiveness. We stand too in awe of Your Son Jesus, who was despised and rejected for our sins. Thank You for coming to us in Jesus 2,000 years ago so that we might know You now.

Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Revelation 19:6 kjv

 

Every Corner of Life

From: Our Daily Journey

Every Corner of Life

Read:

John 20:1-18
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message (John 20:18).

On the Sunday morning following Jesus’ crucifixion, a woman stood outside of His tomb weeping bitterly. Her dearest friend and mentor had just endured a grisly death. Now it appeared someone had broken into His grave and stolen His battered body (John 20:11-15).

As she wept, a fully alive Jesus appeared to her. Her swollen, reddened eyes initially mistook him for the gardener, until He called to her by name—“Mary!” (John 20:16). Instantly, sheer joy swept over her.

Until Easter morning, Mary and the rest of Jesus’ closest followers had remained puzzled. They had yet to “[understand] the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). It took them even more time to grasp all that His resurrection meant.

Author N. T. Wright notes, “The early Christians looked back with joy to that great event.” He goes on to write that as the enormous implications of this most surprising event began sinking in, they also “looked forward eagerly to an event yet to come in which what began at Easter would be completed.”

The first Christians would soon realize that Easter morning shouted the start of new creation! The Creator-God, who made the world and saw His image-bearers turn against Him, had begun to rescue and renew all things. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead points our attention forward to the end of the story when He will return to this earth and complete what God began the morning He raised His Son from the grave (see Acts 3:21).

Christ coming out of the tomb was the first act of so much more healing and life to arrive in our broken world, waiting to break into every corner of life. And when it happens—even in the smallest of ways—there’s great joy!

The Burial Of Jesus

John 19: 38-42
41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 
42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
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Three-Word Obituary

From: Our Daily Bread

Three-Word Obituary
Read: Romans 8:28-39 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 19–21; Luke 2:25-52

Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God.

Romans 8:34

Before Stig Kernell died, he told the local funeral home that he didn’t want a traditional obituary. Instead, the Swedish man instructed them to publish only three words noting his passing: “I am dead.” When Mr. Kernell died at age 92, that’s exactly what appeared. The audacity and simplicity of his unusual death notice captured the attention of newspapers around the world. In a strange twist, the international curiosity about the man with the three-word obituary caused more attention to his death than he intended.

When Jesus was crucified, the Lord’s obituary could have read, “He is dead.” But after 3 days, it would have been changed to front-page news saying, “He is risen!” Much of the New Testament is devoted to proclaiming and explaining the results of Christ’s resurrection. “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:34-37).

The three-word obituary of Jesus, “He is dead,” has been transformed into an eternal anthem of praise to our Savior. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Lord, we rejoice in Your great victory over sin and death through Your resurrection. May we live in light of it every day.

Jesus sacrificed His life for ours.

 

Triumph Over The Grave

From: Our Daily Bread

Read: John 11:25-44 | Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 27-29; Luke 13:1-22
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. —John 11:25

Death may steal from us the ones we love, but for followers of Christ the separation is only temporary. The resurrection of Jesus assures us that just as death could not hold Him, so too the tomb cannot cling to the children, parents, friends, and companions who have died before us. Christ’s resurrection is the foundation of our hope.

American evangelist D. L. Moody (1837-1899) told of a soldier at the battle of Inkerman (Crimean War, 1854) who was somehow able to crawl back to his tent after he was shot. When he was later found, he was lying face-down, his open Bible before him, his hand stuck to one of the pages by his blood which covered it. When his hand was lifted, some of the words from the printed page were clearly visible on it. The verse was this: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (Jn. 11:25). Said Moody, “I want a religion like that, which can comfort even in death, and can unite me with my loved ones. What gloom and darkness would settle upon this world were it not for the glorious doctrine of the resurrection!”

If you are grieving, find your comfort in this: Because Jesus lives, we shall live also!

Crown Him the Lord of life:
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
Who rose victorious to the strife
For those He came to save. —Bridges

The resurrection is God’s answer of hope to man’s cry of despair.

 

The Real Meaning of Easter

From: Beth Patch, Author

Jesus had come into town for the Passover celebration and was nearing the time when he would be betrayed by one of his disciples, publicly humiliated and mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and hung on a cross to die. It was the night before his suffering when he made his special request for his followers to remember that He gave his body for them and poured out his blood as a sacrifice for them.

The best way to understand the real meaning of Easter would be from Jesus, in His three words … the new covenant.

The New Covenant

In Luke 22 we get a picture of the night before his death:

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” Luke 22:14-20

The heart of Easter lies in his words, “the new covenant between God and his people.”

Passover and the New Covenant

To put this new covenant in context we must look at history. Long before Jesus was born, God made other covenants with His people (the Israelites) – some to multiply them, some to bless them, and some to give them land. All along the way, God required believers to recognize their sinful nature, confess their sins, ask for forgiveness for their sins, and offer specific animals to the priests as sacrifices for their sins. Their religious observance of Passover included sacrificing unblemished lambs, just as the Israelites had done when they painted their doorposts with the lambs’ blood the actual night of Passover – when Moses led God’s people out of Egypt (see Exodus 12:11-13).

The sacrificial lamb was a significant part of sparing the lives of the Isrealites on Passover as well as in future remembrances of the event. God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to honor God with annual Passover celebrations. Lamb was the pinnacle of the Passover meal (and still is). The lambs were to be without blemish and even lived with the families for several days before they were sacrificed, adding to the understanding that the ultimate sacrifice was close to the hearts of those whose sins were atoned for.

Easter and Passover have a special relationship for many reasons. Jesus became the “lamb without blemish” as he sacrificed his life for the sins of all who believe in him – to bring them into right relationship with the Father. Just as the Israelites celebrate freedom from their slavery to the Egyptians as they celebrate Passover, Christians celebrate the victory over sin and death signified in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus said the new covenant between God and his people was “an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” It was no coincidence that Jesus gave up his life for all at the time of Passover. It was the appointed time, chosen by the Father.

What is the real meaning of Easter? In John 1:29, as he sees Jesus approaching, John the Baptist announces to the crowd around him, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

He knew that Jesus was the son of God, the long awaited Messiah, the one whom God’s prophets had promised to save mankind from their sins and to give them a deep heartfelt relationship with God the Father. The new covenant would be an everlasting covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34Jeremiah 32:39-42Isaiah 55:3) Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, our Savior, our God, our Redeemer – he laid down his life as our sacrificial lamb to pay for our sins. When he rose from the dead three days later, he gave victory over eternal separation from God (death) to all who put their faith and trust in him. That is the new covenant – everlasting life spent with God through faith in all that Jesus Christ has done and continues to do.

Bible Verses

All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. (1 John 5:10-12, NLT)

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4, KJV)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NLT)

Jesus Died To Redeem Our Souls

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Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Author:   Peter Lundell

Good Friday. The day we remember the Cross. Jesus’ suffering. God’s answer to our sin problem.

And I ask Christians, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

One stares at me, maybe thinking it’s a trick question or that if he waits long enough, I’ll give the correct answer. Another gives me the typical answer: “To save us from our sins.” I can tell they’re repeating what the preacher or Sunday school teacher told them and haven’t thought much about it since.

Inside I groan—again, because I get these types of responses so often. And so few believers ever think much about the depth of what salvation means.

So why do Christians insist Jesus had to die? Why couldn’t God just shout from heaven, “I forgive you!”—and be done with it? And why, oh why, isn’t it enough to simply be a good person?

Every other belief system on earth basically says that if you do this, obey that, or give this, you’ll get fixed or earn your way to paradise or enlightenment or nirvana or some kind of big banana in the sky. Only biblical Christianity insists that Jesus’ substitutionary death on the Cross is the one way to getting right with God and all that follows.

What’s the big deal with Jesus and the Cross? Let’s cut through the theological complexities to this:

God is Holy­­–God is almighty, perfect, and separate from his creation. He is without sin of any kind. That’s great, but it creates a problem for us: our sinful human state separates us from him (Leviticus 11:44-45Isaiah 6:3-5). This is serious trouble—and it gets worse.

God is Righteous–God requires justice, either in this life or the next. A price must be paid for every wrong. Sin is like a cancer that won’t go away. It must be destroyed, which means we all get the death penalty. This is why no one can ever be good enough to make it to heaven by their own effort, ever (Leviticus 17:11Romans 3:23-26). We’re all dead meat.

God is Love–God loves us, whom he’s created, and wants to have relationship with us. So after centuries of Old Testament animal sacrifice, he paid his own penalty and gave us Jesus Christ, who was simultaneously God and human. Jesus died in our place to pay the price (death) for the sins of all humanity and to give a “not guilty” verdict to those who receive him as Lord of their lives (Romans 5:8). His resurrection overcame the powers of death and hades to guarantee eternal life to those who are his (Revelation 1:17-18), while here and now his Spirit brings life to our previously disconnected human spirits. This is good, very good.

When we grasp how holy and righteous God is—and then recognize his love, it becomes far more meaningful to us and impacts us more powerfully than it ever could without first grasping the kind of God we’re dealing with and the mess we’re in.

May you be filled with wonder at God’s holiness, righteousness, and love—as it hangs on the Cross.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV).

Lord Jesus, open my eyes and mind to the depths and reasons you came to came to die for me. Pierce my heart to passionately understand.

Good Friday. The day we remember the Cross. Jesus’ suffering. God’s answer to our sin problem.

And I ask Christians, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

One stares at me, maybe thinking it’s a trick question or that if he waits long enough, I’ll give the correct answer. Another gives me the typical answer: “To save us from our sins.” I can tell they’re repeating what the preacher or Sunday school teacher told them and haven’t thought much about it since.

Inside I groan—again, because I get these types of responses so often. And so few believers ever think much about the depth of what salvation means.

So why do Christians insist Jesus had to die? Why couldn’t God just shout from heaven, “I forgive you!”—and be done with it? And why, oh why, isn’t it enough to simply be a good person?

Every other belief system on earth basically says that if you do this, obey that, or give this, you’ll get fixed or earn your way to paradise or enlightenment or nirvana or some kind of big banana in the sky. Only biblical Christianity insists that Jesus’ substitutionary death on the Cross is the one way to getting right with God and all that follows.

What’s the big deal with Jesus and the Cross? Let’s cut through the theological complexities to this:

God is Holy­­–God is almighty, perfect, and separate from his creation. He is without sin of any kind. That’s great, but it creates a problem for us: our sinful human state separates us from him (Leviticus 11:44-45Isaiah 6:3-5). This is serious trouble—and it gets worse.

God is Righteous–God requires justice, either in this life or the next. A price must be paid for every wrong. Sin is like a cancer that won’t go away. It must be destroyed, which means we all get the death penalty. This is why no one can ever be good enough to make it to heaven by their own effort, ever (Leviticus 17:11Romans 3:23-26). We’re all dead meat.

God is Love–God loves us, whom he’s created, and wants to have relationship with us. So after centuries of Old Testament animal sacrifice, he paid his own penalty and gave us Jesus Christ, who was simultaneously God and human. Jesus died in our place to pay the price (death) for the sins of all humanity and to give a “not guilty” verdict to those who receive him as Lord of their lives (Romans 5:8). His resurrection overcame the powers of death and hades to guarantee eternal life to those who are his (Revelation 1:17-18), while here and now his Spirit brings life to our previously disconnected human spirits. This is good, very good.

When we grasp how holy and righteous God is—and then recognize his love, it becomes far more meaningful to us and impacts us more powerfully than it ever could without first grasping the kind of God we’re dealing with and the mess we’re in.

May you be filled with wonder at God’s holiness, righteousness, and love—as it hangs on the Cross.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV).

Lord Jesus, open my eyes and mind to the depths and reasons you came to came to die for me. Pierce my heart to passionately understand.

 

The Via Dolorosa (The Way Of Suffering)

From: Our Daily Bread

The Via Dolorosa

We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10

During Holy Week, we remember the final days before Jesus’s crucifixion. The road Jesus traveled to the cross through the streets of Jerusalem is known today as the Via Dolorosa, the way of sorrows.

But the writer of Hebrews viewed the path Jesus took as more than just a path of sorrows. The way of suffering that Jesus willingly walked to Golgotha made a “new and living way” into the presence of God for us (Hebrews 10:20).

For centuries the Jewish people had sought to come into God’s presence through animal sacrifices and by seeking to keep the law. But the law was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming,” for “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (vv. 1, 4).

Jesus’s journey down the Via Dolorosa led to His death and resurrection. Because of His sacrifice, we can be made holy when we trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Even though we aren’t able to keep the law perfectly, we can draw near to God without fear, fully confident that we are welcomed and loved (vv. 10, 22).

Christ’s way of sorrow opened for us a new and living way to God.

Jesus, thank You for walking the way of sorrow and making a way for us to be reconciled to God.

Christ’s sacrifice was what God desired and what our sin required.

 

In the Hands of a Loving Father – A Devotional for Good Friday

Today is called Good Friday. What a strange designation! On this day, we remember the execution of a supposed criminal who threatened the power brokers of his society. Thus, he needed to be eliminated.

Notice the other hands that were involved in the cruel events of Good Friday. A perfectly innocent was delivered into the hands of sinners who tortured and crucified Him (Matthew 17:22-23). He was betrayed by a sinner into the hands of sinners (Matthew 26:45). With “wicked hands” (Acts 2:23) they crucified Him.

How comforting it must have been now for Jesus to entrust Himself into the loving hands of His heavenly Father! How encouraging it is to know that today is called Good Friday because death died the day Christ died.

Where do we appeal when life throws us its worst? To use the phrases of Max Lucado: What do you do when life seems futile, sin seems fatal, and death seems final?

Throw your anchor into Psalm 31:1-5. The climax of the passion narrative in Luke’s gospel reads: “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.’” (Luke 23:46)

Why does Jesus pray this Psalm prayer?

  • To remind us of where to appeal when a situation seems hopeless.

Jesus prayed this prayer to point us to whom we appeal when everything around us is imploding – to our heavenly Father. J.I. Packer reminds us of the glorious privilege for Christians to call God “Father:”

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God.

  • To strengthen our resolve to pray this prayer after Him. Jesus prays this Psalm to give suffering believers a model prayer. The words from this Psalm have for centuries formed part of the evening prayer of Jewish believers and probably did so for Jesus as well. Jesus had heard this prayer all of his life.

Peter counsels suffering Christians in 1 Peter 4:19: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Many thousands of believers have pillowed their heads with this prayer of Jesus as they have gone to their eternal rest.

J.C. Ryle, an Anglican pastor in the last 1800s, writes that Jesus’ prayer affords …an example which every believer should strive to follow. Like our Master, we should not be afraid to confront the king of terrors. We should regard him as a vanquished enemy, whose sting has been taken away by Christ’s death. We should think of him as a foe who can hurt the body for a little season, but after that has no more that he can do. We should await his approaches with calmness and patience, and believe that when flesh fails our soul will be in good keeping.

Biblical Example: The dying Stephen at his martyrdom uttered words that mirrored Christ’s: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). The aged Apostle Paul declared: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Athanasius offers this counsel to his friend Marcellinus:

“When you see that you are despised and persecuted for the truth’s sake by all your friends and relatives, do not give up concern either for them or for yourself. And if you see your acquaintances turning against you, do not be alarmed, but separate yourself from them and turn your mind to the future and sing Psalm 30 (our 31).”

  • To offer assurance to dying believers so that they are enabled to die a peaceable death.

This prayer of Jesus reminds us what a wonderfully assuring privilege and security it is to live and die conscious of the reality that we indeed belong to the Lord and that we have God for our Father. The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism written in 1563 AD reminds us of this: “What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ…”

  • To remind us implicitly of who He is. (what he prays and how he prays it). Jesus prayed this prayer to give us an implicit reminder that He is fully God. If we look at that Psalm, we see that Jesus stops short of quoting the entire verse.  Psalm 31:5:  “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Why would He not finish the verse?  Because the end of the verse did not apply to Him!  Instead, the verse pointed TO Jesus because He Himself is our Redeemer! He brings about the redemption of His people as He Himself is redeemed from death.

A loud cry is unusual from a man nearly dead by crucifixion. This is not an inarticulate death cry but a final prayer to God. Jesus had declared that “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:17, 18.)

Because Jesus was delivered into the hands of sinners, we can all the days of our lives and at the moment of our death entrust ourselves into the hands of our loving Father.

 

Basin Of Love

John 13:1–17 recounts Jesus‘ performance of this act. In verses13:14–17, He instructs His
disciples: If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one
another’s feet.
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Basin of Love

From: Our Daily Bread

Basin of Love
Read: John 13:1–17 | Bible in a Year: Judges 7–8; Luke 5:1–16

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet. John 13:5

One day in physics class many years ago, our teacher asked us to tell him—without turning around—what color the back wall of the classroom was. None of us could answer, for we hadn’t noticed.

Sometimes we miss or overlook the “stuff” of life simply because we can’t take it all in. And sometimes we don’t see what’s been there all along.

It was like that for me as I recently read again the account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. The story is a familiar one, for it is often read during Passion Week. That our Savior and King would stoop to cleanse the feet of His disciples awes us. In Jesus’s day, even Jewish servants were spared this task because it was seen as beneath them. But what I hadn’t noticed before was that Jesus, who was both man and God, washed the feet of Judas. Even though He knew Judas would betray Him, as we see in John 13:11, Jesus still humbled Himself and washed Judas’s feet.

Love poured out in a basin of water—love that He shared even with the one who would betray Him. As we ponder the events of this week leading up to the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, may we too be given the gift of humility so that we can extend Jesus’s love to our friends and any enemies.

Lord Jesus Christ, fill my heart with love that I might roll up my sleeves and wash the feet of others for Your glory.

Because of love, Jesus humbled Himself and washed His disciples’ feet.

The Gratitude Cycle

From: Our Daily Journey

The Gratitude Cycle

Read:

1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

During a lengthy battle with cancer, I’ve learned many helpful lessons, and my life has been enriched in countless ways. By God’s grace, one thing I’ve encountered is something I call “The Gratitude Cycle.” The cycle involves: Facing a challenge (like a disease); growing in faith through the experience (drawing closer to God); and possessing a heart of gratefulness to God (looking daily for things you can give thanks for). And when you face your next trial, a deepened faith and focused spirit of gratitude can provide greater hope and resiliency.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Encouraging his readers to possess an attitude of gratitude, he wasn’t saying we should give thanks for everything that happens, including evil attacks and disease diagnoses. But, as theologian Craig Blomberg writes, we can rest in the knowledge that “God is working out some kind of good in all situations, even evil ones, and that is why we can thank him.”

Breaking verse 18 into a few phrases, here are some practical ways to live out Paul’s teaching. Be thankful: Possess a grateful heart before God. God’s will: Humbly rest in His provision for today. Who belong to Christ Jesus: Find in Him (through His Spirit) all you need to be thankful and content.

Even with a challenge before us, “when our hearts ache,” we can prayerfully give thanks to God for “everything” He’s provided (2 Corinthians 6:10). And as we cycle through challenges, growth in faith, and deeper gratitude, may our joy in Him increase.

The Fullness of His Power

By: Terri L. Kilroy, Author

While reading a few passages from the book of Philippians recently, my eyes were fixed on the seventh verse of chapter two (Philippians 2:7). I’ve read many Bible translations of this passage, but this one included the words, “emptied Himself” when referring to Jesus taking on human form. At first glance, it appears that He emptied Himself of all that is God in order to become man. But that would conflict with the truth about Him being fully God and fully man. I’m not a theologian, but what I’ve come to understand it to mean is, He set aside the fullness of His power.

Undoubtedly, the thought of “God” contained inside a tiny and helpless infant is stunning! After all, He could have harnessed the power He retained inside a subatomic particle or in a distant star. But He chose an infant! Power through weakness (also displayed at the cross) is clearly demonstrated and the desire for a relationship with us is beautifully conveyed.

His immeasurable integrity and authority to harness His power was frequently tested. He remained infinitely patient and slow to anger! Compassionate even in the face of sin all around Him. He stayed the pure and humble servant, the lamb for the slaughter. Without ever giving in to His power to change everything in an instant! Only God can do this.

And although Jesus defeated evil forever on the cross, He is passionately committed to convincing us to stop loving sin. He wants to drive it out of our midst forever, but lets it run its course. He rarely interferes with the process and allows it to groom us for our eternal destiny. God is faithful to endure our hardships alongside of us. And He experiences our pain with us.

That was clearly demonstrated when He hung on the cross. He didn’t use some sort of supernatural means, even on a subliminal level, to douse the pain during His crucifixion. And when He cried out to the Father to fulfill prophecy (Psalm 22) – as the suffering Messiah, He continued to teach the people even while dying. And His plea to the Father marked the moment He would bare all the sins of humanity onto Himself.

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.” (Psalm 22:1, NASB)

It’s tough love beyond measure! How can we begin to thank Him?

The job is finished on the cross. Done! Finished! And Salvation is ours – Praise the Lord! God empowered us to defeat evil in our hearts by seeking Him with all of our hearts. That is, surrender to His will completely. If we don’t believe we have the victory, it will control us. If we choose to be complacent, it will continue to possess our power of dominion (a gift given to us long ago). God promised us that someday evil will be gone completely – all evil, even the mere mention of it.

And so, it is my prayer that from this point forward, you and I can take a proactive stand against it in our lives. Know that there isn’t a thing we can give to Him that He doesn’t already have but our obedience. Love him back with how we live our lives. And do it with great confidence knowing that no problem we could have in this lifetime would even come close to the one that had been solved on the cross. And be freed by that truth today!

Heavenly Father, thank you for proclaiming your Son, Jesus Christ as the One and only power that saves us! And with that, we have been justified by Him. We now seek your guidance during the sanctification process and ask that you reveal everything in us that offends you. Take us to the next step in recognizing that evil has been conquered. No longer does it have dominion over us. And knowing that should empower us each time we are tempted. We can boldly say, “I have dominion over that temptation!” We can depend on Jesus to grant us the ability to win the battle waged against us. Turn our lives around as a tribute to Him and honor Him not only for what He has given us, but for Who He is. Amen!

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25, NASB)

 

Our Lord’s Surprise Visits

By Oswald Chambers

 Our Lord’s Surprise Visits

A Christian worker’s greatest need is a readiness to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn. This is not easy, no matter what our experience has been. This battle is not against sin, difficulties, or circumstances, but against being so absorbed in our service to Jesus Christ that we are not ready to face Jesus Himself at every turn. The greatest need is not facing our beliefs or doctrines, or even facing the question of whether or not we are of any use to Him, but the need is to face Him.

Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical situations. The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord’s surprise visits. This readiness will not be brought about by service, but through intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of childlike wonder He wants it to have. If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious. In other words, we must stop using religion as if it were some kind of a lofty lifestyle— we must be spiritually real.

If you are avoiding the call of the religious thinking of today’s world, and instead are “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), setting your heart on what He wants, and thinking His thoughts, you will be considered impractical and a daydreamer. But when He suddenly appears in the work of the heat of the day, you will be the only one who is ready. You should trust no one, and even ignore the finest saint on earth if he blocks your sight of Jesus Christ.

 

Look and Be Quiet

53  After Jesus’ resurrection, when they had come out of the tombs, they entered the holy city and appeared to many people. 
55   And many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to minister to Him.…
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Look and Be Quiet

From: Our Daily Bread

Look and Be Quiet
Read: Luke 23:44–49 | Bible in a Year: Judges 4–6; Luke 4:31–44

Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering . . . ? Lamentations 1:12

In the song “Look at Him,” Mexican composer Rubén Sotelo describes Jesus at the cross. He invites us to look at Jesus and be quiet, because there is really nothing to say before the type of love Jesus demonstrated at the cross. By faith we can imagine the scene described in the Gospels. We can imagine the cross and the blood, the nails, and the pain.

When Jesus breathed His last, those who “had gathered to witness this sight . . . beat their breasts and went away” (Luke 23:48). Others “stood at a distance, watching these things” (v. 49). They looked and were quiet. Only one spoke, a centurion, who said, “Surely this was a righteous man” (v. 47).

Songs and poems have been written to describe this great love. Many years before, Jeremiah wrote about Jerusalem’s pain after its devastation. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12). He was asking people to look and see; he thought there was no greater suffering than Jerusalem’s. However, has there been any suffering like Jesus’s suffering?

All of us are passing by the road of the cross. Will we look and see His love? This Easter, when words and poems are not enough to express our gratitude and describe God’s love, let us take a moment to ponder Jesus’s death; and in the quietness of our hearts, may we whisper to Him our deepest devotion.

Dear Jesus, as I look at Your cross, I have no words to express my gratitude for Your perfect sacrifice. But I thank You for Your love.

Look at the cross and worship.

 

Hoping in God

From: Our Daily Journey

Hoping in God

Read:

Psalm 42:1-11
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! (Psalm 42:11).

On the evening before his sister’s marriage in 1882, Scottish preacher George Matheson experienced great pain and loneliness. He’d relied on his sister for help with his work as a church leader, so he may have been worried and distraught over how he would cope without her. His emotions were probably also intensified by the memories of some years before when his fiancée, after learning he was going blind, broke off their engagement. That evening Matheson turned his anguish to prayer and, in mere minutes, wrote the now-beloved hymn, “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.” He who’d felt abandoned found love and rest in the One who would never leave him.

This preacher didn’t deny the pain of loss and loneliness he felt, but expressed his true emotions in prayer—releasing his heart-cries to His loving Father. In doing so, he followed in the tradition of the psalmists, such as the sons of Korah, a group that ministered in the temple. The speaker in Psalm 42 conducts a dialogue with himself, alternating between crying out to God and reminding himself of His goodness. He seems to be speaking to his soul—telling himself not to fall into a miry pit of despair but to find “hope in God” (Psalm 42:5). Though he was sad and discouraged, he knew God would pour His “unfailing love upon” him (Psalm 42:8).

When we feel lonely or hopeless, by the power of the Holy Spirit we too can instruct our souls to trust in God. Whether we face a broken engagement, a changed work situation, or some other hardship, the Spirit can help us cling to God’s promise—that He’ll never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). As we express our honest emotions, He can provide comfort and satisfy our deepest longings (Psalm 42:11).

 

Isn’t There Some Misunderstanding?

By Oswald Chambers

 Isn’t There Some Misunderstanding?

Just because I don’t understand what Jesus Christ says, I have no right to determine that He must be mistaken in what He says. That is a dangerous view, and it is never right to think that my obedience to God’s directive will bring dishonor to Jesus. The only thing that will bring dishonor is not obeying Him. To put my view of His honor ahead of what He is plainly guiding me to do is never right, even though it may come from a real desire to prevent Him from being put to an open shame. I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence. But when I begin to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate enter into my mind, I am bringing in an element that is not of God. This will only result in my concluding that His instructions to me were not right. Many of us are faithful to our ideas about Jesus Christ, but how many of us are faithful to Jesus Himself? Faithfulness to Jesus means that I must step out even when and where I can’t see anything (see Matthew 14:29). But faithfulness to my own ideas means that I first clear the way mentally. Faith, however, is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.

Are you debating whether you should take a step of faith in Jesus, or whether you should wait until you can clearly see how to do what He has asked? Simply obey Him with unrestrained joy. When He tells you something and you begin to debate, it is because you have a misunderstanding of what honors Him and what doesn’t. Are you faithful to Jesus, or faithful to your ideas about Him? Are you faithful to what He says, or are you trying to compromise His words with thoughts that never came from Him? “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5).

Christ Gives New and Abundant Life

John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Colossians 3:10

and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him–

Ephesians 2:15

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

Romans 6:4

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 7:6

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

(Christ brings new dreams and new realities. He brings new life.)
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Broken Dreams

From: Our Daily Journey

Broken Dreams

Read:

Genesis 50:15-21
Joseph replied, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:19-20).

In the 1950s, a promising running back at Florida State University dreamed of a professional career in American football. But an injury prematurely ended these ambitions, leaving the young man adrift. During that uncertain period, he enrolled in various acting classes, surprised by how much he enjoyed the craft. That young man was Burt Reynolds, who would go on to become one of the most famous US actors of the 1970s and 1980s. Few realize that Reynolds’ acting career began with the death of a dream.

In the book of Genesis, Joseph had a literal dream of success in which his father and brothers all bowed down to honor him. The vision enraged his brothers to the point that they wanted to kill him, but instead they decided to sell him into slavery (Genesis 37:27). To make matters worse, Joseph was wrongfully imprisoned, and his hopes seemed to be shattered beyond repair (Genesis 39:6-20).

But the reality is that Joseph’s enslavement and imprisonment were actually the path to the fulfillment of his earlier dream (Genesis 50:18), for it was through an encounter in jail that he eventually was brought before Pharaoh and made viceroy over the entire empire (Genesis 41:25-40). And it was through his leadership that many people were saved from starvation (Genesis 45:7). What seemed like only a broken dream was in reality the very path through which God lifted up Joseph and saved lives.

Many of us lament the broken dreams of our lives. But as we see in the story of Joseph, God’s plan and power is greater than our broken dreams. His wisdom and sovereignty are so amazing that what may seem like nothing more than a broken dream can actually be something He’s working out “all for good” (Genesis 50:19-20).

 

Glory to the Grower

From: Our Daily Bread

Glory to the Grower
Read: Mark 4:26–29 | Bible in a Year: Judges 1–3; Luke 4:1–30

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:7

One day, I noticed an unexpected splash of yellow to the right of our driveway. Six stalks of daffodils, sandwiched between two large stones, bloomed bright and tall. Because I hadn’t planted, fertilized, or intentionally watered the bulbs, I couldn’t figure out how or why the flowers had sprouted in our yard.

Jesus illustrated a mystery of spiritual growth in the parable of the growing seed. He compares the kingdom of God to a farmer scattering seed on the ground (Mark 4:26). The one who scattered the seed may have done what he could to care for the soil. But Jesus said the seed sprouted whether or not that man slept in, woke up, or even understood the growth process (vv. 27–28). The land owner benefited from the harvest (v. 29), though its development didn’t depend on what he did or his understanding of the workings beneath the surface of the soil.

The maturing of the seeds in Jesus’s parable, like the blooming of my daffodils, occurred in God’s time and because of God’s growing power. Whether we’re considering personal spiritual growth or God’s plan to expand the church until Jesus returns, the Lord’s mysterious ways aren’t dependent on our abilities or understanding of His works. Still, God invites us to know, serve, and praise the Grower, reaping the benefits of the spiritual maturity He cultivates in and through us.

Lord, thank You for growing us spiritually and using us to serve Your people, as You grow Your kingdom.

God deserves the glory for the growth of His people and His kingdom.

 

We Watched

By: Richard Spangler, Author

angel

We watched man kill the Son of God. 
We, the Host of Heaven, with tears in our eyes
And our swords drawn, 
Stood there and watched man kill the Son of God.

We would have attacked and destroyed them all, 
At His voice command, we would have, 
But He said, forgive them, and then He died.

We watched as men took Him from His cross,  
And laid Him in His tomb,  
And we watched over Him.

Then came that grand and glorious morning,
When the Son of God burst forth from the tomb, 
And we the Host of Heaven rejoiced, 
We who watched man kill the Son of God.

This poem is inspired by Matthew 26:52-54, where Jesus has been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and the disciples are drawing their swords to defend Him. Jesus tells them to stop and that He could pray that the Father would send 12 legions of angels to defend Him.

This is a powerful statement. The Amplified Bible states that 12 legions would have been more than 80,000 angels. This would have been a force to completely destroy all mankind, except for the followers of Christ. One angel killed 70,000 between morning and evening in 2 Samuel 24:15-17 and another angel killed 185,000 in one night in 2 Kings 19:34-36.

But, Jesus’ love for man and His heart to do the will of the Father kept Him from calling for the angels. And it was not just at this point He could have called for help. Jesus could have called out at any point — when He was falsely convicted and when He was whipped 39 times and mocked by Roman Soldiers. Also, when He stood before the crowd yelling, “crucify him,” as He carried His cross and when He was hanging on the cross. Even at the point of death, He could have called for the angels.

The Love of Christ for each and every one of us compelled Jesus to follow the plan of salvation laid out before creation was created. Truly, all the angels and for that matter, all the demons watched Jesus carry out the ultimate act of love for mankind.

This is why we celebrate Easter. The price for sin has been paid, and all our sins are forgiven. We can all have a relationship with God, our loving Father, though His Son Jesus Christ, if we believe.

If you don’t believe, now is the perfect time to make the decision to believe. Just pray this simple prayer.

Dear, Lord Jesus I am a sinner and have done many things wrong. I believe you died for my sins, and I ask you now to forgive me, and I receive your forgiveness. I ask you to be my Savior and Lord. Thank you Jesus. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, please contact CBN’s Prayer Center for some material to help you get started on your new life with Jesus. Also begin to read the Bible and start with the Gospel of John. Pray every day and find a strong Bible-believing church to go to; and tell the pastor about your decision, and he will help you.

 

 

I do not count the sufferings of our present life worthy of mention when compared with the glory that is to be revealed and bestowed upon us” (Rom. 8:18, 20th Century Trans.).

A remarkable incident occurred recently at a wedding in England. A young man of large wealth and high social position, who had been blinded by an accident when he was ten years old, and who won University honors in spite of his blindness, had won a beautiful bride, though he had never looked upon her face. A little while before his marriage, he submitted to a course of treatment by experts, and the climax came on the day of his wedding.

The day came, and the presents, and guests. There were present cabinet ministers and generals arid bishops and learned men and women. The bridegroom, dressed for the wedding, his eyes still shrouded in linen, drove to the church with his father, and the famous oculist met them in the vestry.

The bride entered the church on the arm of her white-haired father. So moved was she that she could hardly speak. Was her lover at last to see her face that others admired, but which he knew only through his delicate finger tips?

As she neared the altar, while the soft strains of the wedding march floated through the church, her eyes fell on a strange group. The father stood there with his son. Before the latter was the great oculist in the act of cutting away the last bandage.

The bridegroom took a step forward, with the spasmodic uncertainty of one who cannot believe that he is awake. A beam of rose-colored light from a pane in the chancel window fell across his face, but he did not seem to see it.

Did he see anything? Yes! Recovering in an instant his steadiness of mien, and with a dignity and joy never before seen in his face, he went forward to meet his bride. They looked into each other’s eyes, and one would have thought that his eyes would never wander from her face.

“At last!” she said. “At last!” he echoed solemnly, bowing his head. That was a: scene of great dramatic power, and no doubt of great joy, and is but a mere suggestion of what will actually take place in Heaven when the Christian who has been walking through this world of trial and sorrow, shall see Him face to face.
–Selected

Just a-wearying for you,
Jesus, Lord, beloved and true;
Wishing for you, wondering when
You’ll be coming back again,
Under all I say and do,
Just a-wearying for you.
Some glad day, all watching past,
You will come for me at last;
Then I’ll see you, hear your voice,
Be with you, with you rejoice;
How the sweet hope thrills me through,
Sets me wearying for you.