Tag Archives: Health

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.

Hosanna!

 John 21: 1-11

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

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Palm Sunday: “Hosanna”?

From: Norman Brown, Author

 

Scripture Reading — Mark 11:1-11

“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” . . . “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” — Mark 11:9-10

The Prince of Peace enters the “City of Peace” (“Jerusalem”) as the people cheer, “Hosanna!,” which means, “Save!” Do they know what’s happening? Probably not. “Hosanna!” will become “Crucify him!” by the end of the week. Perhaps their “Hosanna” needs a question mark.

The crowds took their salvation cry from Psalm 118:25-26. They wanted Jesus to overthrow the Romans and take back their capital city (see John 6:15Acts 1:6). Had they forgotten his prophecy about going to Jerusalem to suffer and die for their salvation (Mark 8:319:30-3210:32-34)? Easter’s victory would be impossible without Good Friday’s surrender to death.

And what of the two disciples Jesus sent to get the colt? Were they honored to do this for Jesus? Thankfully, they did as directed, and their obedience challenges us to be obedient disciples. What about the other disciples? Did Jesus even need cheerleaders (Luke 19:37-40)and crowds waving branches and throwing cloaks to carpet the way for the Messiah?

Sadly, the crowds’ cheers would soon turn into jeers. So it goes when a hero—even God—doesn’t give us what we want.

But today we know who Jesus is and who and whose we are. Do our “Hosannas” ring true? Do we believe in and honor the one who saves?

Prayer

Lord, too often we cry for you to save us on our own terms. Please save us and mold us to honor you— on your terms and for your glory. In your name we pray. Amen.

Why?

From: Our Daily Journey

Why?

Read:

Job 13:14-28
Why do you turn away from me? (Job 13:24).

Sipping tea at a café, I saw two women sit down at different tables. One, young and attractive, was downing a drink topped with a mountain of whipped cream. Shopping bags sat at her feet like obedient pets. The other, about the same age, gripped a metal walker as she moved to her table. Thick plastic braces guarded her ankles. The clerk at the register had to help her maneuver into her seat. As I looked at the two women, I wondered, Why does God seem to allow some to suffer much more than others?

When Job lost his children, money, and health, his friends tried to explain why it had occurred. They supposed it was payback for sin, but God said Job was “the finest man in all the earth” (Job 1:8).

Clearly sin isn’t always the source of suffering. Yet when we’re desperate for relief, we look for answers. We ask questions such as “Why?” and, “Is it God’s will for me to suffer?” instead of pursuing God Himself. Job fell into this trap when he demanded: “What have I done wrong? . . . Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy?” (Job 13:23-24).

Ultimately, Job’s questions were left unanswered. God didn’t explain that unseen evil had caused his suffering (Ephesians 6:12). But Job wasn’t left unsatisfied. God satisfied him by simply revealing Himself. After He showed him His provision and majesty in creation, Job declared, “Now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:5). And God blessed Job with twice the possessions he’d lost, children, and 140 more years (Job 42:10-17).

Though we might not understand why God allows us to suffer, we can continue pursuing Him, knowing “the Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him” (Lamentations 3:25).

 

Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity

By Oswald Chambers

 Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity

Purity is not innocence— it is much more than that. Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God. We have to grow in purity. Our life with God may be right and our inner purity unblemished, yet occasionally our outer life may become spotted and stained. God intentionally does not protect us from this possibility, because this is the way we recognize the necessity of maintaining our spiritual vision through personal purity. If the outer level of our spiritual life with God is impaired to the slightest degree, we must put everything else aside until we make it right. Remember that spiritual vision depends on our character— it is “the pure in heart” who “see God.”

God makes us pure by an act of His sovereign grace, but we still have something that we must carefully watch. It is through our bodily life coming in contact with other people and other points of view that we tend to become tarnished. Not only must our “inner sanctuary” be kept right with God, but also the “outer courts” must be brought into perfect harmony with the purity God gives us through His grace. Our spiritual vision and understanding is immediately blurred when our “outer court” is stained. If we want to maintain personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean refusing to do or even think certain things. And some things that are acceptable for others will become unacceptable for us.

A practical help in keeping your personal purity unblemished in your relations with other people is to begin to see them as God does. Say to yourself, “That man or that woman is perfect in Christ Jesus! That friend or that relative is perfect in Christ Jesus!”

With Us

 

1 Chronicles 22:18

“Is not the LORD your God with you? And has He not given you rest on every side? For He has given the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the LORD and before His people.

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

John 14:17

that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

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The Great Commission
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 all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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With Us

From: Our Daily Journey

With Us

Read:

Psalm 23:1-6
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid (Psalm 23:4).

Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer-winning author of Gilead and Home, has, in addition to her marvelous fiction, also spent much time pondering the current plight of modern America. Robinson has especially contemplated Christian faith in these times, and how modern pressures erode and distort our faith in insidious ways. Though there are numerous causes for our predicament, Robinson suggests that these questions always return her to a two-part conviction: “First, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”

Yet we are a people drowning in fear. The 24-hour news cycle peddles fear. Politicians motivate with fear. Too many religious leaders fuel their causes by fear. Terrified by all this anxiety, we exert great amounts of energy trying to manage our fears, trying to avoid anything (or anyone) that seems threatening or risky. We want absolute security, whatever the cost.

The psalmist, however, paints a different picture. Rather than avoiding the treacherous places, the psalmist describes what it is like to go through them—to walk right through—whistling free as a bird. We don’t need to fear the terrifying possibilities because “even when [we] walk through the darkest valley, [we] will not be afraid, for you are close beside [us]” (Psalm 23:4). It is possible to live with joy instead of fear—not because there’s nothing to be afraid of, but because God is with us in the midst of our fear. God’s authority and power are with us. “Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me,” the psalmist says (Psalm 23:4).

We can reject the fears of our age. We can live with faith and hope because of God’s love (Psalm 23:6). He’s with us, and we need not be afraid.

 

Simeon and The Savior

By : Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Author

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When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel. Luke 2:27-32

By the time Your promises are fulfilled, You have first created the expectation and fanned the flames of hope in those whose hearts are attuned to You. You have opened the eyes of faith in the one who looks to You. Take Simeon, for example—old Simeon, well along in years, righteous and devout. You had made him a promise that he would not die until his eyes had seen Your salvation.

On that day when Mary and Joseph brought their little baby to the temple courts, they were there to offer the customary sacrifices at the customary time in the customary way—an ordinary scene. Nothing outstanding or unusual was happening; nothing occurred to call Simeon’s attention to the family from Nazareth.

Simeon was not alone at the temple. Others were there—many others, probably. They looked at the family from Nazareth, too, did they not? Yet only Simeon looked at the family and saw Your salvation. Only Simeon recognized in the flesh what his heart had been seeing in the Spirit for years.

At Simeon’s age, it is likely that his eyesight had faded. He probably could not see as clearly as many of those at the temple that day. Yet, when he looked at what everyone else was looking at, he saw Your salvation. There You were, cloaked in the ordinary. Those focused on rites and ceremonies, those evaluating position and prestige—they missed You. Though You were right in their midst, they were blind to Your presence. But Simeon, whose spiritual sight was sharp, saw You clearly.

Simeon, when he saw You, proclaimed himself at peace. The sight of You, even in Your infancy, brought peace to Simeon’s old heart.

Lord Jesus, when we sing songs about peace but fill our days with chaos, let me see You in the ordinary. Let me recognize You in the comings and goings. Let me look beyond the glitter of holidays and see the glory of Your presence. And I, too, will be at peace.

Simeon took You up in his arms. What a moment that must have been for dear Simeon. With You balanced in the crook of his arm, pressed against his aged breast, Simeon looked into the face of his Savior.

How overcome he must have been. Surely tears flooded his eyes and tumbled down his craggy cheeks. He had to have felt that divine and eternal moment with his whole being. Simeon held his Salvation in his embrace and felt the Master’s touch.

Peace, confidence, certainty; a sense of being settled and stable and safe; clarity about who is in charge; awareness of Your power—all of this is part of the peace I feel when I experience Your touch.

This Holiday season, when I fall into the well-worn patterns of my flesh—trying to measure up, trying to make everybody happy, trying to attend perfectly to every detail, trying to fulfill other people’s expectations—capture my heart with Your touch. Bring peace to my thoughts with Your presence. “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NASB). No matter what frenetic activity and insistent demands swirl around me, I want to be able to say, “My eyes have seen Your Salvation” (Luke 2:30). Let me be transfixed by Your face.

 

Maintaining the Proper Relationship

By Oswald Chambers

 Maintaining the Proper Relationship

Goodness and purity should never be traits that draw attention to themselves, but should simply be magnets that draw people to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing others to Him, it is not the right kind of holiness; it is only an influence which awakens undue emotions and evil desires in people and diverts them from heading in the right direction. A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself. Others will be left with this thought— “What a fine person that man is!” That is not being a true “friend of the bridegroom”— I am increasing all the time; He is not.

To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” Christian work can actually be a means of diverting a person’s focus away from Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends “of the bridegroom,” we may become amateur providences of God to someone else, working against Him while we use His weapons.

 

The Power Of Demonstration

2 Timothy 3:10-17 New International Version (NIV)

A Final Charge to Timothy

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse,deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(Pictures of children learning through demonstration)

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The Power of Demonstration

From: Our Daily Bread

The Power of Demonstration

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

My attempts at fixing things around the house usually lead to paying someone else to undo the damage I caused while trying to fix the original problem. But recently I successfully repaired a home appliance by watching a YouTube video where a person demonstrated step by step how to do it.

Paul was a powerful example to his young protégé Timothy who traveled with him and watched him in action. From prison in Rome, Paul wrote, “You . . . know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings” (2 Timothy 3:10–11). In addition, he urged Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” (vv. 14–15).

Paul’s life demonstrated the necessity of building our lives on the bedrock of God’s Word. He reminded Timothy that the Bible is the powerful, God-given source that we need to teach and to demonstrate to others who want to be Christ-followers.

As we thank the Lord for the people who helped us grow in faith, we are challenged to follow their example of living out the truth as we teach and encourage others.

That’s the power of demonstration.

Lord, as others have demonstrated Your truth to us, may we in turn show it to others.

We are called to live out God’s Word as we teach and encourage others.

 

Dare to Hope

From: Our Daily Journey

Dare to Hope

Read:

Habakkuk 3:17-19
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! (Lamentations 3:21-22).

The lead singer of a local Christian band shared how he sat in a doctor’s office awaiting test results. Alone in the waiting room, he cried out to God and felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Like others in the audience, I leaned forward, expecting a joyful proclamation that the result of the cancer test was negative. Instead, the testimony ended with a quiet prayer of gratitude that God answered when he’d called, confirming the promise that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). For this believer, the test results took a backseat to resting in the knowledge that God was with Him.

This amazing example reflects the attitude of the prophet Habakkuk, who deliberately chose to look beyond disappointments and difficulty and focus instead on his unchanging and steadfast God (Habakkuk 3:19). “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,” Habakkuk declared, “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).

Though it’s been many years now, I’ve never forgotten the words of that singer. I don’t know if he was diagnosed with cancer, but I have since encountered people who have been. And when treatment often causes as much pain as the disease, despair and despondency can easily be constant companions. Yet, even in the face of devastation, we can “still dare to hope when [we] remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

 

Decreasing for His Purpose

By Oswald Chambers

 Decreasing for His Purpose

If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, “You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him.”

Beware of rejoicing with someone over the wrong thing, but always look to rejoice over the right thing. “…the friend of the bridegroom…rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30). This was spoken with joy, not with sadness— at last they were to see the Bridegroom! And John said this was his joy. It represents a stepping aside, an absolute removal of the servant, never to be thought of again.

Listen intently with your entire being until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another person. And never give any thought to what devastation, difficulties, or sickness it will bring. Just rejoice with godly excitement that His voice has been heard. You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34).

God Keeps His Promises

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A Double Promise

From: Our Daily Bread

A Double Promise

In perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1

Since she suffered with cancer several years ago, Ruth has been unable to eat, drink, or even swallow properly. She has also lost a lot of her physical strength, and numerous operations and treatments have left her a shadow of what she used to be.

Yet Ruth is still able to praise God; her faith remains strong, and her joy is infectious. She relies on God daily, and holds on to the hope that she will recover fully one day. She prays for healing and is confident that God will answer—sooner or later. What an awesome faith!

Ruth explained that what keeps her faith strong is the secure knowledge that God will not only fulfill His promises in His time, but will also sustain her until that happens. This was the same hope that God’s people had as they waited for Him to complete His plans (Isaiah 25:1), deliver them from their enemies (v. 2), wipe away their tears, remove their disgrace, and “swallow up death forever” (v. 8).

In the meantime, God gave His people refuge and shelter (v. 4) as they waited. He comforted them in their ordeals, gave them strength to endure, and gave them assurance that He was there with them.

This is the double promise we have—the hope of deliverance one day, plus the provision of His comfort, strength, and shelter throughout our lives.

Thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful gift of hope. You have promised to save me and to walk with me every day of my life.

Trusting God’s faithfulness can dispel our fearfulness.

The Death of Unbelief

By: Ken Barnes, Author

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“So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.” (Joshua 14:12 NLT)

Caleb was 85 years old and still had not received his promised inheritance. He asked for the land of the descendants of Anak, the giants, who had put fear and unbelief in the hearts of all Israel, save Joshua and himself. The fulfillment of the promise of God would not be complete if he did not conquer this part of the land and unbelief would remain in Israel.

The hill country, more than any other area, was the place that caused the ten spies to give their bad report. All the spies except Joshua and Caleb said, “We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next, to them, we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” (Numbers 13:33 NLT) Unbelief had made them small in their own eyes. This negative mental state was disastrous — all the Israelites died in the wilderness except for the two who gave a good report. Remember they were spies; they probably did not know what the giants were thinking.

You may not be what you think you are, but what you think, you are. What you believe others think about you is dependent on how you feel about yourself. But the strange thing is that neither one of them may be true. Only what God says about us is true. Caleb believed he would drive out the giants, “just as the Lord said.” (v.12)

Joshua had already captured the city of Hebron (Joshua 10-36-37 NLT) except the mountainous area within it. It was considered unconquerable, too fortified for any man to take, but not so for God. Caleb could have taken the lowland and lived securely off of the fruits of someone else’s conquests, but he said, “Give me the hill country” (v. 12). If Caleb could not take what God wanted to give him, he would take nothing at all. Why? It was all about the integrity of the promises of God. Caleb knew that what God had promised, he would do. If God had said it was his, then that settled it, whether he was 40 or 85-years-old.

Has God promised you your hill country? Are you getting older or is there an immovable object in your way? Over and over God told his people that he was giving them the land, now go in and fight for it. We like to think about receiving the land, but not so much about having to fight for it. In taking your inheritance, the battle is between faith and unbelief and the battleground is mainly in your mind. If God has spoken to you, take the inheritance that God is giving you, and put to death unbelief. If the Lord is with you, you cannot fail.

 

Am I Carnally Minded?

By Oswald Chambers

Am I Carnally Minded?

The natural man, or unbeliever, knows nothing about carnality. The desires of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and the Spirit warring against the flesh, which began at rebirth, are what produce carnality and the awareness of it. But Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). In other words, carnality will disappear.

Are you quarrelsome and easily upset over small things? Do you think that no one who is a Christian is ever like that? Paul said they are, and he connected these attitudes with carnality. Is there a truth in the Bible that instantly awakens a spirit of malice or resentment in you? If so, that is proof that you are still carnal. If the process of sanctification is continuing in your life, there will be no trace of that kind of spirit remaining.

If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He doesn’t ask you to make it right; He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God. But a child of the darkness will say, “Oh, I can explain that.” When the light shines and the Spirit brings conviction of sin, be a child of the light. Confess your wrongdoing, and God will deal with it. If, however, you try to vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.

What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone you will know it— it is the most real thing you can imagine. And God will see to it that you have a number of opportunities to prove to yourself the miracle of His grace. The proof is in a very practical test. You will find yourself saying, “If this had happened before, I would have had the spirit of resentment!” And you will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.