Tag Archives: mercy

Be Ready

We should be ready to fight any enemy that would enslave us.
And we should be ready for our Lord Jesus to return. We should be alert and watchful at all times.

Matthew 24:36 

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 

1 Corinthians 15:52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Matthew 25:13 

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Matthew 24:27 

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

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Readiness

From: Utmost.org

Readiness

When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses’ reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something sensational will be coming our way, and when it does come we are quick to cry out, “Here I am.” Whenever we sense that Jesus Christ is rising up to take authority over some great task, we are there, but we are not ready for some obscure duty.

Readiness for God means that we are prepared to do the smallest thing or the largest thing— it makes no difference. It means we have no choice in what we want to do, but that whatever God’s plans may be, we are there and ready. Whenever any duty presents itself, we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with the total readiness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us just as His Father did with Him. He can put us wherever He wants, in pleasant duties or in menial ones, because our union with Him is the same as His union with the Father. “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22).

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to get ready— he is ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready once God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the person who is ready, and it is on fire with the presence of God Himself.

Enjoy the View

From: Our Daily Bread

Enjoy the View

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Psalm 148:3

Sunsets. People tend to stop what they are doing to watch them . . . snap pictures of them . . . enjoy the beautiful view.

My wife and I watched the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico recently. A crowd of people surrounded us, mostly strangers who had gathered at the beach to watch this nightly phenomenon. At the moment the sun fully slipped below the horizon, the crowd broke out with applause.

Why do people respond like that? The book of Psalms offers a clue. The psalmist wrote of God ordering the sun to praise its Creator (Ps. 148:3). And wherever the rays of the sun shine across the earth, people are moved to praise along with them.

The beauty that comes to us through nature speaks to our souls like few things do. It not only has the capacity to stop us in our tracks and captivate our attention, it also has the power to turn our focus to the Maker of beauty itself.

The wonder of God’s vast creation can cause us to pause and remember what’s truly important. Ultimately, it reminds us that there is a Creator behind the stunning entrance and exit of the day, One who so loved the world He made that He entered it in order to redeem and restore it.

I enjoy the world You have created with its variety and color. You and what You have made are awesome, Lord!

Join God in taking delight in all that He has made.

 

Lord of the Cosmos

From: Our Daily Jourey

Lord of the Cosmos

Read:

Colossians 1:15-20
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together (Colossians 1:17).

As you read this, the moon is circling the earth at 2,300 miles per hour. Even at that speed, it will take it nearly a month to make a full rotation. Meanwhile, despite circling the sun at 66,000 miles per hour, the earth will take a whole year to make one orbit. And our sun is just one of 200 million other suns spinning around the Milky Way at 483,000 miles per hour—a speed which necessitates 225 million years to circle around once. And the Milky Way is but one of 100 billion other galaxies shooting through space at over 1 million miles an hour. The universe is immense!

In Scripture, the vastness of the universe is said to reflect God’s own grandeur. It is He who stretched out the stars of heaven, covered the earth with the seas, and made the mountains rise (Psalm 104:1-9). “Through everything God made,” Paul says, “[we] can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). Modern telescopes help us see God’s power and divinity—not just in our earth and sky, but in faraway galaxies too.

Paul knew nothing of the universe being 100 billion galaxies large, but consider these inspired words he wrote about Jesus. “He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see” (Colossians 1:16)—including not only “kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world,” but everything in the cosmos. All those luminous galaxies were made by and for the divine Creator Jesus, and He holds them all together in His hands (Colossians 1:17).

This is mind-boggling! The One who walked this earth two millennia ago is the same One who keeps the galaxies spinning like carousels. Jesus isn’t just the Lord of you or me. He’s the Lord of the cosmos.

All Or Nothing

 

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment…and plunged into the sea. —John 21:7

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(When Simon Peter Realized that it was the risen Christ calling to them, he dove into the water and swam to shore to talk with Him).

All or Nothing?

From: Utmost.org

All or Nothing?

Have you ever had a crisis in your life in which you deliberately, earnestly, and recklessly abandoned everything? It is a crisis of the will. You may come to that point many times externally, but it will amount to nothing. The true deep crisis of abandonment, or total surrender, is reached internally, not externally. The giving up of only external things may actually be an indication of your being in total bondage.

Have you deliberately committed your will to Jesus Christ? It is a transaction of the will, not of emotion; any positive emotion that results is simply a superficial blessing arising out of the transaction. If you focus your attention on the emotion, you will never make the transaction. Do not ask God what the transaction is to be, but make the determination to surrender your will regarding whatever you see, whether it is in the shallow or the deep, profound places internally.

If you have heard Jesus Christ’s voice on the waves of the sea, you can let your convictions and your consistency take care of themselves by concentrating on maintaining your intimate relationship to Him.

At Home With Jesus

From: Our Daily Bread

At Home With Jesus

I go and prepare a place for you. John 14:3

“There’s no place like home.” The phrase reflects a deeply rooted yearning within us to have a place to rest, be, and belong. Jesus addressed this desire for rootedness when, after He and His friends had their last supper together, He spoke about His impending death and resurrection. He promised that although He would go away, He would come back for them. And He would prepare a room for them. A dwelling-place. A home.

He made this place for them—and us—through fulfilling the requirements of God’s law when He died on the cross as the sinless man. He assured His disciples that if He went to the trouble of creating this home, that of course He would come back for them and not leave them alone. They didn’t need to fear or be worried about their lives, whether on earth or in heaven.

We can take comfort and assurance from Jesus’s words, for we believe and trust that He makes a home for us; that He makes His home within us (see John 14:23); and that He has gone ahead of us to prepare our heavenly home. Whatever sort of physical place we live in, we belong with Jesus, upheld by His love and surrounded in His peace. With Him, there’s no place like home.

Lord Jesus Christ, if and when we feel homeless, remind us that You are our home. May we share this sense of belonging with those we meet.

Jesus prepares a place for us to live forever.

 

Farming Hope

From: Our Daily Journey

Farming Hope

Read:

Joel 3:17-21
In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk (Joel 3:18).

I’m not a farmer, but I once attempted to be one as the guest of a self-sustaining community. The group lived together in dormitories, eating their meals together as a family. They grew most of the food they consumed and raised cattle for milk and meat. During my stay, I performed a number of barnyard chores, from shoveling dung to taking the old cow on her morning walk around the property—leash and all!

The ancient Hebrews understood both the hard work of farming and their dependence on creation. Their lifestyle was tied closely to agriculture. In order to survive, they depended upon the vitality of their produce, healthy livestock, and the availability of fresh water. If a plague or enemy destroyed their crops, they despaired (Joel 1:2-20).

Joel 3:17-21 is a depiction of the future for all believers in Jesus. It refers to that hopefully-someday-soon time when God will completely eliminate wickedness and return His creation to peace and vitality in His presence (Joel 3:21). Joel illustrated this great day with agricultural images: sweet wine (vegetation, produce), milk (birth, cattle), and a fountain that waters arid places (Joel 3:18).

Although many of us likely buy our food without knowing the farmers who produce what we consume, we are all dependent on an earth that often struggles to be fruitful. But a time is coming when God will renew the earth for farming and provide an endless river of life (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 22:1-2). As Paul wrote, “With eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (Romans 8:20-21). In whatever trial we’re facing, with whatever unmet need, we can place our trust in God. The future He’s preparing is full of hope and life!

Jesus Is Alive

 

  • Mark 16:5-7

    5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
  • Luke 24:6-7

    6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
  • John 20:16-18

    16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Resurrection: He Is Risen, Indeed!

From: CBN

Easter Sunday. To many it means the Easter bunny, a day of food and celebration. For some it is an obligatory church-attending holiday, after which life goes on as usual.

How sad that we have so quickly forgotten the true meaning of Easter. Our God reigns! Jesus Christ died, yes. But even more importantly, He rose again and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, as we say in the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus Christ literally defied death. But He did more than just a Houdini move. We “ooo” and “ahhh” over the narrow escapes by magicians like David Copperfield and others, but eventually even those daredevils will face death. Their power is limited.

But Jesus Christ was greater — He defied death FOREVER. Jesus Christ lives and reigns for eternity, whether you or I believe that fact or not.

And He has reclaimed life for all those who believe in Him. This is the second miracle of Easter. Through God’s work on the cross, we have access to eternal life as well:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘ The righteous will live by faith’ (Romans 1:16-17).

If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).

Whosoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).

Please consider today the wonder of God’s power and His love for you. He knows you. He knows what you have done. He knows what you are going to do. But He is waiting for your response, my friend. God doesn’t need your praise or your service to Him; He desires it. It is not what we do for God that gets us into heaven and gives us a right relationship with God. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ. Look at these Scriptures:

Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16).

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

He Understands and Cares

From: Our Daily Bread

He Understands and Cares

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. Isaiah 53:4

When asked if he thought that ignorance and apathy were problems in modern society, a man joked, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

I suppose many discouraged people feel that way about the world today and the people in it. But when it comes to the perplexities and concerns of our lives, Jesus fully understands, and He deeply cares. Isaiah 53, an Old Testament prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus, gives us a glimpse of what He went through for us. “He was oppressed and afflicted . . . led like a lamb to the slaughter” (v. 7). “For the transgression of my people he was punished” (v. 8). “It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand” (v. 10).

On the cross Jesus willingly bore our sin and guilt. No one ever suffered more than our Lord did for us. He knew what it would cost to save us from our sins and, in love, He willingly paid it (vv. 4–6).

Because of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, He is alive and present with us today. Whatever situation we face, Jesus understands and cares. And He will carry us through.

Lord, we give thanks for Your knowledge of our circumstances and Your care for us. Today we want to walk with You and honor You in all we do.

 He is not here; He has risen! Luke 24:6

Because of Sunday

From: Our Daily Journey

Because of Sunday

Read:

Mark 10:32-34
The angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” (Mark 16:6).

What would you do if you only had one week to live? Would you touch base with a few friends? Spend time with your family?

Knowing He had less than a week to live, Jesus responded very differently than many of us would—courageously making the journey to Jerusalem while preparing His followers for His death.

On Sunday, the crowds cheered His entrance into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11). Monday, He chased thieves out of the temple—calling it “a house of prayer” (Mark 11:15-17). Tuesday, the temple leaders questioned His authority (Mark 11:27-28). The Pharisees and other religious leaders also questioned Him about paying taxes and the greatest commandment (Mark 12:13-34). On Wednesday, one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, began to plot His demise (Mark 14:10-11).

On Thursday, after a Passover meal during which Jesus prepared His disciples for life after His death, Judas betrayed Him to religious leaders who had Him arrested (Mark 14:43-46). On Friday, they handed Jesus over to Roman authorities who had Him beaten and then crucified on a cross (Mark 15:15).

As the reality of Jesus’ death sank into the hearts of His followers on Saturday, so did despair—for their hopes died with Him. But then came His amazing resurrection on Sunday morning! (Mark 16:1-7).

The events of Jesus’ last week shows that because of Jesus and His love we can face the trials of today in His strength. Because of Easter Sunday, we can enter the conflicts of Monday through Wednesday; we can embrace the betrayal of Thursday, the suffering and humiliation of Friday, and the despair of Saturday.

Jesus’ resurrection gives us the ultimate assurance that even the most difficult realities of life in our present broken world will not have the final say.

The Price Of Redeeming Love

The Burial of Jesus     John 19: 40

39  Nicodemus, who had previously come to Jesus at night, also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
41  Now there was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.…
(Pictures of loved ones and followers taking Jesus down from the cross.)
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The Price of Love

From: Our Daily Bread

The Price of Love

He poured out his life unto death. Isaiah 53:12

Our daughter burst into tears as we waved goodbye to my parents. After visiting us in England, they were starting their long journey back to their home in the US. “I don’t want them to go,” she said. As I comforted her, my husband remarked, “I’m afraid that’s the price of love.”

We might feel the pain of being separated from loved ones, but Jesus felt the ultimate separation when He paid the price of love on the cross. He, who was both human and God, fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy 700 years after Isaiah gave it when He “bore the sin of many” (Isa. 53:12). In this chapter we see rich pointers to Jesus being the suffering Servant, such as when He was “pierced for our transgressions” (v. 5), which happened when He was nailed to the cross and when one of the soldiers pierced His side (John 19:34), and that “by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).

Because of love, Jesus came to earth and was born a baby. Because of love, He received the abuse of the teachers of the law, the crowds, and the soldiers. Because of love, He suffered and died to be the perfect sacrifice, standing in our place before the Father. We live because of love.

Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, have mercy on us, and help us to extend mercy and love to others. Show us how we might share Your love with others today.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who died to give us life.

The Failure To Pay Close Attention

The Failure To Pay Close Attention

Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.

Are there some things regarding your physical or intellectual life to which you have been paying no attention at all? If so, you may think you are all correct in the important areas, but you are careless— you are failing to concentrate or to focus properly. You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.

 

Our Real and Present God

From: Our Daily Journey

Our Real and Present God

Read:

John 14:8-17
The Father . . . will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you (John 14:16).

In 2005, two researchers coined “moral therapeutic deism” (MTD) as a description for the prevailing religious views of younger Americans. MTD is a constellation of beliefs that can be summed up this way: God exists and provides a moral way of ordering your life so that you can fulfill the ultimate goal of your life—to be happy and feel good about yourself. Although God is mostly removed and uninvolved in your life, He will welcome you to heaven when you die if you’ve been good.

Unfortunately, MTD describes many people’s religious views, not only the younger generation’s. While we may balk at some of the assertions above, practically speaking, many of us grapple with the idea that God is actively present in our lives. Perhaps we’ve prayed desperately for the healing of someone we love, only to find ourselves weeping at a grave. Perhaps we’ve asked God to change a relationship or provide a job or bring justice to the oppressed—only to have loneliness, unemployment, or injustice threaten to overwhelm us in the end.

Scripture promises us, however, that God is near and that He is active in our lives. He’s never far away; He surrounds us. Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He told His bewildered, fearful disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit who would never leave them (John 14:16-17). The Spirit would continue to lead them “into all truth,” the same truth that Jesus brought to us and that He announced on the cross and in His resurrection (John 14:17).

Whatever our experiences—including at times being disappointed or troubled by our inability to understand God’s actions or silence—we have Jesus’ promise that His Spirit is here. God is a very real and present God.

Remember What Christ Did For You

People still remember the cross of Christ with reverence and love.
“Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39
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Remember the Cross

From: Our Daily Bread

Remember the Cross

“Surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39

In the church I attend, a large cross stands at the front of the sanctuary. It represents the original cross where Jesus died—the place where our sin intersected with His holiness. There God allowed His perfect Son to die for the sake of every wrong thing we have ever done, said, or thought. On the cross, Jesus finished the work that was required to save us from the death we deserve (Rom. 6:23).

The sight of a cross causes me to consider what Jesus endured for us. Before being crucified, He was flogged and spit on. The soldiers hit Him in the head with sticks and got down on their knees in mock worship. They tried to make Him carry His own cross to the place where He would die, but He was too weak from the brutal flogging. At Golgotha, they hammered nails through His flesh to keep Him on the cross when they turned it upright. Those wounds bore the weight of His body as He hung there. Six hours later, Jesus took His final breath (Mark 15:37). A centurion who witnessed Jesus’s death declared, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (v. 39).

The next time you see the symbol of the cross, consider what it means to you. God’s Son suffered and died there and then rose again to make eternal life possible.

Dear Jesus, I can’t begin to thank You enough for taking care of my sin when You died on the cross. I acknowledge Your sacrifice, and I believe in the power of Your resurrection.

The cross of Christ reveals our sin at its worst and God’s love at its best.

 

Gift of Tears

From: Our Daily Journey

Gift of Tears

Read:

1 Samuel 20:30-41
Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David (1 Samuel 20:41).

The old lumberjack always strode with a purpose. But not today. Today the world clawed at his soul. As the gruff Swedish immigrant trudged up the hill to his family farm, tears rolled down his cheeks. The date was December 7, 1941, and Axel Gustafson had just heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. His sons would be going to war.

My dad was one of those sons. He never forgot the tears of his outdoorsman father. He learned that men with true strength cry too.

King David cut the mold for ruggedness. As a youth he’d killed a lion, a bear, and then of course Goliath—and no, he didn’t use a rifle to do it. He would become the man of whom Israelite women sang, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Yet, as the warrior poet, David also displayed an artistic side. In 1 Samuel 20 we read the bittersweet story of David and Jonathan’s friendship. When it became clear that Jonathan’s father King Saul intended to kill David (1 Samuel 20:30-33), the two had an emotional farewell. “Both of them were in tears” (1 Samuel 20:41).

It’s not only a male trait to suppress tears. Women can also cling to stoicism. “I don’t cry,” a female friend told me. Yet the pain in her life was obvious to anyone who knew her.

The ultimate example of a man with true strength was Jesus. He cried over Jerusalem because it would reject Him (Luke 19:41). He cried at the grave of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). He endured such emotional turmoil the night before His crucifixion that “his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Jesus freely showed His emotions.

Our emotions are a gift. They reflect the image of a God who gets angry at evil, and who loves us with all His heart.

 

Glynnis Whitwer April 14, 2017
Finding Faith in the Dark
GLYNNIS WHITWER

From: Crosswalk.com

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:29 (NIV)

“Why would he tell me he would never break my heart, and then he did? He lied!”

Her eyes brimmed with tears as she pleaded for answers I didn’t have. “People change,” I offered helplessly. “He probably meant it when he said it, but something happened.”

I floundered. The response wasn’t good enough as the right words eluded me. Then, in the wounded moments after her first breakup, my daughter declared she would never trust again.

Betrayed. I’ve been there too, and it marks you for life. I’ve had someone abandon a promise when it became inconvenient … choose a selfish path that left me standing alone, paying the price. The scars of betrayal creep around your heart, a little more each time, making it very hard to trust again.

So often, trust is like spun sugar, beautiful and fragile. We offer it like a delicate gift, only to snatch it back when it’s not honored, and hold it more tightly the next time. Why give such a valuable gift to someone who won’t care for it?

I wonder, Is that how the disciples felt the day Jesus was crucified?

They’d put all their hope and faith in Him, only to have Jesus submit to arrest, an unfair trial and death like a common criminal.

Did the disciples doubt everything Jesus had said in their three years together as they hid behind closed doors? They must have been filled with questions that all started with “Why.” Why did He leave us? Why did He make that choice?

Maybe you’ve felt that way too, as you’re left standing alone in a dark place. The other side of betrayal is bleak, lonely and hopeless. You can feel like things will never be good again. Certainly the disciples felt some of those emotions.

However, what the disciples didn’t know on that devastating Friday was Jesus hadn’t betrayed them. In fact, the opposite was occurring as they sat in despair. Jesus was honoring the hardest promise ever: Follow His Father’s path to the cross. Jesus wasn’t selfishly leaving them alone, He was selflessly leading them to the Father for all eternity.

In the moments that looked most hopeless, Jesus was working out our greatest hope. In the moments that looked darkest, Jesus was forging a path to the light.

And Jesus still does that for us today.

A friend once told me, “Don’t doubt in the dark what you know to be true in the light.”

Faith truly is a choice. We can choose to doubt, or we can choose to believe. I’ve come to discover faith isn’t fragile when it’s placed in the right person. Faith in Jesus is rugged, strong and sustaining when we make the brave choice to trust Him.

Easter Sunday is proof. The Bible records that on Sunday, three days after Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus fulfilled His promise as He rose from the dead!

Imagine the shock, joy and hope that exploded when Mary saw Him first in the garden. Imagine how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus in person that evening. It was all true! He was faithful!

But there was one disciple missing that Sunday evening: Thomas. Thomas didn’t get to see the resurrected Lord, and He doubted the reports of Jesus alive. So one week later, Jesus came to the disciples again, this time to show Himself in the flesh to Thomas.

Thomas finally believed, after putting his fingers on Jesus’ wounds. And I’m pretty sure Jesus was thinking of us when He said these words to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Today might be your dark Friday. Hope may be lost. Doubt and fear might be all you have left to give. But might I encourage you to try and trust one more time?

Jesus wants to breathe a fresh wind of hope into your heart. It may look dark now, but He is forging a path to escort you into the light. And though you can’t see Him with your eyes, He invites you to trust Him with your heart.

Today is Friday, but Sunday’s coming. Jesus will hold your faith secure and show He is worthy of it now and forever. Jesus will keep every promise He’s ever made. He proved it then, and He proves it today.

Lord, thank You for being completely trustworthy. Help me take every doubting thought captive and trust that even when I can’t see You with my eyes, I can trust You with my heart. Thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross so I can walk in the light of Your love for eternity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Forsaken For Our Sake

Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34— as Jesus is hanging on the cross near death. So it says, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,” — Amazing. How did he have any strength to do it with a loud voice? — “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” — the Aramaic form — “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

 

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Forsaken for Our Sake

Forsaken for Our Sake

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Does having a friend nearby make pain more bearable? Researchers at the University of Virginia conducted a fascinating study to answer that question. They wanted to see how the brain reacted to the prospect of pain, and whether it behaved differently if a person faced the threat of pain alone, holding a stranger’s hand, or holding the hand of a close friend.

Researchers ran the test on dozens of pairs, and found consistent results. When a person was alone or holding a stranger’s hand while anticipating a shock, the regions of the brain that process danger lit up. But when holding the hand of a trusted person, the brain relaxed. The comfort of a friend’s presence made the pain seem more bearable.

Jesus needed comfort as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what He was about to face: betrayal, arrest, and death. He asked His closest friends to stay and pray with Him, telling them that His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow” (Matt. 26:38). But Peter, James, and John kept falling asleep.

Jesus faced the agony of the garden without the comfort of a hand to hold. But because He bore that pain, we can be confident that God will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Jesus suffered so that we will never have to experience separation from the love of God (Rom. 8:39). His companionship makes anything we endure more bearable.

Jesus, thank You for bearing the pain and isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross for us. Thank You for giving us a way to live in communion with the Father.

Because of God’s love, we are never truly alone.

 

Lysa TerKeurst April 13, 2017
Choosing Calling Over Comfort
LYSA TERKEURST

“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” John 21:15b (NIV)

Have you ever felt God stirring you to do something that’s terrifyingly outside of your comfort zone? Something completely opposite of what you think you want to do?

I confess that left to my own choosing, I want to take the safe, certain and comfortable route. And then Scriptures march right up to my limited perspective and challenge me to walk a path I’d never choose on my own.

A question forms in my heart. One that forces me to stop and reconsider the path that terrifies: Do you love Jesus and want Him more than anything else?

It’s this question the resurrected Jesus asked one of His disciples, Peter, at a crucial crossroads in Peter’s life. And gracious, do I ever relate to Peter.

He’d been following Jesus for years.

But then things got hard. Jesus was crucified, and Peter took his eyes off that hard path of continuing in ministry that he’d been called to. He went back to what felt safe, certain and comfortable … his original occupation of fishing.

When the resurrected Jesus appeared in the flesh, He ruined Peter’s justifications to stay safe. Peter’s destiny wasn’t to be a fisherman for the rest of his life. He was to be a shepherd of God’s people.

“… Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’” (John 21:15).

For Peter, the “these” Jesus referenced might have been the large number of fish he had just caught. Or “these” could have been anything else pulling Peter away from his calling. We all have our own “these” areas in life — things we sometimes choose over Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus continues to invite us to a life of more. A life where we refuse to settle for less than all He’s called and designed us to do and to be.

That’s why I love the directives Jesus gives Peter in John 21:15-17. I find it fascinating that Jesus asks Peter to do three things which mirror how shepherds actually care for their sheep in Israel today.

Jesus commands Peter:

“FEED MY LAMBS” (John 21:15) — In the morning, the shepherd gets up early in the sheepfold and feeds the little lambs first. He would pick up the little lambs. He would hold them and check them to make sure they were OK. He would call them by name because he knew the lambs that intimately.

“TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP” (John 21:16) — After feeding the lambs, the shepherd then carefully leads the sheep down to a place where they can be fed. He leads them and cares for them.

“FEED MY SHEEP” (John 21:17) — The last step once he’s fed the lambs, cared for the sheep and led them to a good pasture was to feed the sheep.

So why is it so important to note that Jesus is giving these directives to Peter?

I believe Jesus is trying to turn Peter from a quick-judging fisherman into a caring shepherd. Fishermen quickly judged and counted the fish they caught. They threw out the small fish because they’d have to pay more in taxes than the fish was actually worth. They would look at the fish and say, “This one’s in, this one’s out, this one’s in, this one’s out.” Unlike a shepherd, a fisherman would never pick up the fish, love the fish, make sure the fish is OK or name the fish.

Yes, Peter has finished his season of being a fisherman of fish. Jesus is asking Peter to love Him more than the life Peter has known. Now He is calling Peter to be a shepherd for the people.

Jesus is also asking us to love Him more than the life we’ve known. And just like He equipped Peter by sending His Holy Spirit to fill and empower Peter for his calling (Acts 2), He willingly equips us. We have the gift of His Holy Spirit inside us and His written Word to continually guide us.

Sweet friends, let’s not rush past how amazing it is that the Lord wants to work through us — even with all our fears and failings. Let’s not allow fear or comfort to convince us to stay stuck in our same old ways. Let’s simply say to Jesus, “Yes, Lord. I love You more than these,” and follow His lead.

Lord, my soul declares “yes” to You today. Even if my hands are trembling … even if my feet feel shaky on this new path … I say “yes.” I love You and I will live for You. Change me. Lead me. I’m Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Faith in the Fields

From: Our Daily Journey

Faith in the Fields

Read:

Matthew 9:35-38
The harvest is great, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).

One day as I drove by a vineyard located several miles from my house, I noticed a sign that read: Fieldworkers needed. For just a moment I imagined myself hard at work, standing between rows of vines with the sun on my neck and sweat on my face. I could almost smell the fruit ripening in the summer heat and feel myself snapping clusters of grapes from beneath broad leaves.

My brief longing to be a part of a harvest reminded me of Jesus’ words, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Jesus wasn’t talking about grapes. He was talking about people—Spirit-ripened people who were ready to receive the gift of eternal life but needed to hear how to do so (John 4:36).

I wonder if the disciples truly understood what Jesus meant by “the harvest is great.” Did they know that they would be meeting plenty of people who would respond to their message? Their time in the fields would yield a massive, bountiful harvest of changed lives.

As for the problem of so few workers, Jesus’ answer was simple. Pray. Instead of asking His followers to take too much work on themselves, He urged them to ask “the Lord who is in charge of the harvest . . . to send more workers into his fields” (Matthew 9:38). Even while they worked for His kingdom, Jesus wanted them to rest in God’s sovereignty and provision.

We aren’t responsible for whether or not the people we witness to receive Jesus as their Savior. They may reject the gift God offers. As we go out into the fields, however, we can remember that the One in charge of the harvest has equipped and empowered us by His Spirit to be His witnesses.

 

Contentment Is Being Close To God

Not everyone is truly content with with his or her life. Often times we are unsatisfied and seek more for what we don’t have and who we are. Through scripture however, we are commanded to be content with all we have in life. Use these Bible verses to remind you not of you don’t have and who you are not, but of what you do have, who you are, and who you can be.

  • Matthew 6:25-26

    25  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
  • Matthew 6:32-33

    32   For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
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Peace and Contentment

From: Our Daily Journey

Peace and Contentment

Read:

1 Kings 6:1-14
Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God (Deuteronomy. 8:11).

This year, I entered into a new age bracket—the forties. Unlike the unsettling twenties where many of life’s major decisions are often made (such as choosing a career or deciding who to marry) and the tumultuous thirties (where one may be establishing a career or working towards financial stability), for some the forties mean a time of greater peace. This has been true for me: I find my life settling into a new, calm state. I’m not sure how long this feeling will last, but for now at least, I’m enjoying peace and contentment.

In 1 Kings 6, the Israelites were also enjoying some peace and contentment. It was “480 years after the people of Israel [had been] rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 6:1). During this period, the nation had gone from the unsettling years of wandering in the desert to establishing their nation in the Promised Land. Now, under Solomon’s rule, the people of Judah and Israel “were very contented, with plenty to eat and drink” and “all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety” (1 Kings 4:20,25).

During this time, Solomon “began to construct the Temple of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:1). Of this verse, one Bible teacher commented: “We ought to see the time of peace and prosperity as an opportunity to do great things for the Lord!”

That’s a good reminder for me. Instead of allowing my current bliss to lull me into complacency, I should seize this moment of peace to serve God and to use the resources He’s blessed me with for His kingdom.

Jesus tells us: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously” (Matthew 6:33). These words apply to all seasons of life—whether we have little or plenty. And should God bless us with more, may we enjoy His blessings as well as consider how we can use them for His glory.

Agents Of Change

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

If anyone cleanses himself . . . , he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. —2 Timothy 2:21

With 4 years of seminary under my belt, I walked into my first ministry with a long agenda. As a new pastor, I thought I was there to change that place. Instead, God used that place to change me.

The board members were supportive, but they relentlessly kept my feet to the fire in administrative details. I needed to learn how to work with lay leadership, how to be careful in my work, and how to dream with others.

We often think God has assigned us to change the world around us when in reality He is interested in changing us. Why? To make each of us “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). God often uses the most unlikely people in the most unlikely places to teach us some of life’s most difficult lessons. And just when we think we’ve arrived, He is instructing us further.

Not long ago I entered a new season of ministry. I may be a “seasoned veteran,” but I’m still learning, still growing, and still amazed at how God continues to shape this vessel for His noble purposes.

If you want to be an agent of change, don’t resist the true Agent of Change. He has your best interest—and His—at heart!

What changes we would love to make
In others’ lives, for Jesus’ sake!
But first we must learn at His feet
The things that will make us complete. —Branon

Only when we are changed can we be agents of change.

 

Why Forgive?

Why Forgive?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Luke 23:34

When a friend betrayed me, I knew I would need to forgive her, but I wasn’t sure that I could. Her words pierced deeply inside me, and I felt stunned with pain and anger. Although we talked about it and I told her I forgave her, for a long time whenever I’d see her I felt tinges of hurt, so I knew I still clung to some resentment. One day, however, God answered my prayers and gave me the ability to let go completely. I was finally free.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith, with our Savior extending forgiveness even when He was dying on the cross. Jesus loved those who had nailed Him there, uttering a prayer asking His Father to forgive them. He didn’t hang on to bitterness or anger, but showed grace and love to those who had wronged Him.

This is a fitting time to consider before the Lord any people we might need to forgive as we follow Jesus’s example in extending His love to those who hurt us. When we ask God through His Spirit to help us forgive, He will come to our aid—even if we take what we think is a long time to forgive. When we do, we are freed from the prison of unforgiveness.

Lord Jesus Christ, through Your grace and power as You dwell in me, help me to forgive, that Your love will set me free.

Even on the cross, Jesus forgave those who hurt Him.

 

Love God With All Your Heart

Luke 10: 27

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 

The Greatest Commandment  Deuteronomy 6:5
4“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.…

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Amy Carroll April 10, 2017
Dear God, Give Me Your Heart
AMY CARROLL

From: Crosswalk.com

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.’” Luke 19:41-42 (NIV)

In a dimly lit hotel room, woman after woman went around the circle sharing prayer requests. The intimacy of a women’s retreat had softened all of our hearts to a tender vulnerability.

One woman shared about the healing her child desperately needed. Another confided her heartbreak over a rift in her family. Several others asked us to pray for them to be able to forgive someone.

Finally, we came to a woman with tears streaming down her face. “I need you to pray for me to stop crying,” she explained. “My heart is so broken for those around me who don’t know Jesus. I’m overcome. I can barely function through the sorrow.”

The room seemed to fade as my mind wandered to an event that happened thousands of years ago — Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before the Passover.

The beginning of the story found in Luke 19 is joyful. Jesus had sent two disciples ahead to get a colt for Him, fulfilling yet one more prophecy of the Messiah found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. As Jesus rode along, the people lined the roads spreading their cloaks before Him.

On what we now call Palm Sunday, the crowd of disciples cried out:

“‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

“‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:38, NIV)

Yet in the midst of it all, Jesus wasn’t basking in this extravagant praise. Instead, He was overcome with sorrow:

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’” (Luke 19:41-44, NIV)

Jesus was heartbroken, but not over the comparatively minor subjects that can dominate my emotions. His lament was over the fact that He was the long-awaited Savior, and the people had missed Him.

God had extended His hand of mercy and grace through Jesus, and the world turned away.

You and I live in the same kind of world today. It’s a world turning away from what Jesus offers — and what we so desperately need.

While He still extends peace, grace and forgiveness, sometimes I struggle to see my need for it. Or maybe somehow, I think I can earn goodness on my own. So I end up choosing sin over saving, self over a Savior. Jesus didn’t shed just a few tears over this rejection. The strong word “wept” expresses His deep grief for a lost world. I want more of that.

The woman’s soft crying brought me fully back into our prayer circle, and she repeated, “Please pray for me to stop crying.”

“I can’t,” I whispered. “Please pray for me to start crying. Pray for me to have a heart that’s tender and weeps over the lost like yours … and like Jesus’.”

This is the beginning of our Holy Week, just days from Easter, when we rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and life. But before we rejoice, I want to pause for a moment to weep for this lost world, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Let’s sob and mourn and wail. Let’s convert our grief into pleas to God for people to wake up and feel their need for an intimate relationship with a living God. He’s still in the business of bringing dead things to life.

Dear Jesus, I plead for You to give me Your grief over the people who have missed You and rejected You. This Easter, remind me just how much I need You. Help me see Your grace. Grant me that divine combination of sorrow and tenderness that points people to the cross and to new Life. Dear God, give me Your heart for my world, to see the desperate need for salvation we all have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

The best of masters

From: Biblegateway.com

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” John 14:27

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28

It is the same with the world at this day. Everyone greets us in writing with a “Dear sir,” or a “My dear sir,” and concludes with “Yours very truly,” and “Yours sincerely.” We call all “friends,” and if we meet but casually we express the utmost anxiety with regard to one another’s health, and we carefully enquire after each other’s families; when perhaps we shall no sooner have passed by the person than we shall forget his existence, and certainly shall entertain no anxious thoughts with regard to his welfare, nor any loving remembrance of him. The world gives very largely when it gives compliments. Oh, what blessings would descend upon all our heads, if the blessings uttered could be blessings bestowed. Even when the “Good bye” is given, which translated means, “God be with you”—if that could be but true, and if God could be with us, in answer to that prayer, so little understood, how rich might we be! But alas! the way of the world is, “Be ye warmed and filled;” but it has not that which should warm, nor that which should fill. It is a world of words; high-sounding, empty, all-deceiving words. Now this is not so with Christ. If he says “Peace be with you,” his benediction is most true and full of sweet sincerity. He left his own peace in heaven, that he might give the peace which he enjoyed with his Father, to us in this world of sorrow, for thus he puts it, “My peace I give unto you.” Christ, when he blesses, blesses not in word only, but in deed. The lips of truth cannot promise more than the hands of love will surely give. He gives not in compliment. Furthermore, even when the world’s wishes of peace are sincere, what are they but mere wishes?

For meditation: Greetings and best wishes from the lips of a Christian should be modeled on Christ, not the world. Do you go in for the “polite lie” or are your concerns for others genuine (Philippians 2:20; 3 John 2)?

 

Complete and Effective Decision About Sin

From: Utmost.org

Complete and Effective Decision About Sin
 

Co-Crucifixion. Have you made the following decision about sin—that it must be completely killed in you? It takes a long time to come to the point of making this complete and effective decision about sin. It is, however, the greatest moment in your life once you decide that sin must die in you– not simply be restrained, suppressed, or counteracted, but crucified— just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be mentally and spiritually convinced, but what we need to do is actually make the decision that Paul urged us to do in this passage.

Pull yourself up, take some time alone with God, and make this important decision, saying, “Lord, identify me with Your death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.

This was not some divine future expectation on the part of Paul, but was a very radical and definite experience in his life. Are you prepared to let the Spirit of God search you until you know what the level and nature of sin is in your life— to see the very things that struggle against God’s Spirit in you? If so, will you then agree with God’s verdict on the nature of sin— that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? You cannot “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Romans 6:11) unless you have radically dealt with the issue of your will before God.

Have you entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ, until all that remains in your flesh and blood is His life? “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus On The Throne

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

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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Revelation 4:1-6

 

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. read more.

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Christ On The Throne

April 9

From: Through The Bible

Deuteronomy 17:18-20a (NIV) 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left.

God did not intend for the people to choose a king, but He knew they would. That is why He gave them guidelines for this king to follow. The first was that the LORD pick the man, not the people. There were other guidelines for the king, but the one quoted above stands out. The king was to have a personal copy of the Law. In other words, he needs to have his own copy of the Bible. It is suppose to be with him, not just somewhere in the palace. It is suppose to be read every day by the king.

The reason God asks for this to be done is spelled out for us. It is so the king will revere God. When we read of God’s instruction, of His character, of His awesome works, we should respond with reverence for God. How was the king to lead His people in the ways of God if he did not read them himself? He was not to consider himself above the law, but subject to it like everyone else.

In Christ, God has made us kings and priests to Himself according to Revelation 1:6. Since God calls us kings, we need to do the same as the kings of old. Keep a copy of the Word. Read it daily. Revere God and follow carefully the words written there. Don’t think the word does not apply to you as well.

Remember: If you apply it to others, it applies to you.

Evening

April 9

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, Paul explained why Jesus was given all authority. He was obedient to the Father, even to the death of the cross. The authority that Satan took from Adam has been taken back by the second Adam, Christ Jesus. Not only does He have authority here upon earth, but in the heavenlies too. Jesus is Lord! That was the creed of the early church. He is Master over all. God gave Him that position because His humility and obedience showed that He was able to handle that authority. Omnipotence backs that authority. What He has declared will all come to pass in His perfect time.

With that authority, He gave His disciples a command that is referred to as the Great Commission. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. A disciple is a learner. He sent them out to teach others what He commanded them. He commanded them to love God with their all and to love their neighbor as themselves. He commanded them to believe on the One that God sent, Jesus. He also commanded them to remain in Him and bear much fruit. Those are the basics of the simple things we are to do and teach. As we attempt to do that we find that is easier said than done. What do we need?

We need His presence in and through us! That is why this gospel ends with the promise that He will always be with us. We need His power, wisdom, strength and courage to live and teach what He taught. We need Him to be Lord over us as He lives in us. We have a precious promise in these words. We will be tempted to doubt them, but they are the unfailing words of the One who has been given all authority. Trust those words! Rely on them! He is with you!

Meditation: With God, nothing is impossible.

 

From: Streams In The Desert

All these things are against me  (Gen. 42:36).

All things work together for good to them that love God (Rom. 8:28).

Many people are wanting power. Now how is power produced? The other day we passed the great works where the trolley engines are supplied with electricity. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels, and we asked our friend, “How do they make the power?”

“Why,” he said, “just by the revolution of those wheels and the friction they produce. The rubbing creates the electric current.”

And so, when God wants to bring more power into your life, He brings more pressure. He is generating spiritual force by hard rubbing. Some do not like it and try to run away from the pressure, instead of getting the power and using it to rise above the painful causes.

Opposition is essential to a true equilibrium of forces. The centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in opposition to each other keep our planet in her orbit. The one propelling, and the other repelling, so act and re-act, that instead of sweeping off into space in a pathway of desolation, she pursues her even orbit around her solar centre.

So God guides our lives. It is not enough to have an impelling force–we need just as much a repelling force, and so He holds us back by the testing ordeals of life, by the pressure of temptation and trial, by the things that seem against us, but really are furthering our way and establishing our goings.

Let us thank Him for both, let us take the weights as well as the wings, and thus divinely impelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling.
–A. B. Simpson

In a factory building there are wheels and gearings,
There are cranks and pulleys, beltings tight or slack–
Some are whirling swiftly, some are turning slowly,
Some are thrusting forward, some are pulling back;
Some are smooth and silent, some are rough and noisy,
Pounding, rattling, clanking, moving with a jerk;
In a wild confusion in a seeming chaos,
Lifting, pushing, driving–but they do their work.
From the mightiest lever to the tiniest pinion,
All things move together for the purpose planned;
And behind the working is a mind controlling,
And a force directing, and a guiding hand.
So all things are working for the Lord’s beloved;
Some things might be hurtful if alone they stood;
Some might seem to hinder; some might draw us backward;
But they work together, and they work for good,
All the thwarted longings, all the stern denials,
All the contradictions, hard to understand.
And the force that holds them, speeds them and retards them,
Stops and starts and guides them–is our Father’s hand.

–Annie Johnson Flint

 

Hometown Hero

From: Get More Strength

“I heard the voice of many angels, numbering . . . ten thousand times ten thousand . . . “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” Revelation 5:11-12

Chicago Cubs fans are the most optimistic people in baseball. It’s been over a century since their last World Series victory, yet we still pack Wrigley Field hoping that our boys in blue will pull through for us.

One of our past heroes, first baseman Derrek Lee, was placed on the disabled list early one season—a disappointment for me as I settled into my seat for a home game against the crosstown rival White Sox. The game was tied in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and the bases loaded with Cubs. You could feel the tension as the crowd waited to see if their Cubbies could capitalize on the moment. Then, unexpectedly, out of the dugout came none other than “D-Lee” to pinch hit. The crowd went wild, and best of all, he didn’t disappoint. He connected with a 3-1 pitch for a grand-slam, and the place erupted in cheers as Lee circled the bases. In the stadium that day were people from all walks of life—celebrities, corporate tycoons, cabdrivers—but distinctions disappeared as they hailed their hero.

That picture of celebration, multiplied by thousands, helps us understand the scene in Revelation 5:1-14. Circling the throne of Jesus are people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). But their differences are eclipsed in their united celebration of the One who is their focus—the Lamb of God. What a picture of worship! We were utterly without hope, lost in our sins, and unable to rescue ourselves. In that moment, Jesus came out of the dugout of our despair and, by His own blood, ensured victory over sin and death forever. No wonder the eternal song in heaven focuses on the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain. He is the ultimate hero and our eyes should be fixed on Him!

Ironically, in His own hometown Jesus was largely ignored by the crowd. I don’t want to be counted among them! For those of us focused on His ultimate work on the cross, our victory is sweet and the celebration is heartfelt.

There’s no comparison between Derek Lee emerging from the dugout and our champion Jesus who 2,000 years ago vacated an empty tomb to give you a part in His eternal victory over sin and death and hell!

Live to celebrate Jesus—our ultimate hometown hero!

Jesus Is Alive

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

 

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His Resurrection Destiny

From: Utmost.org

His Resurrection Destiny

Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself.

Christ’s resurrection destiny— His foreordained purpose— was to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life— a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul’s determined purpose was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus prayed, “…as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). The term Holy Spirit is actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

“For God’s Sake!”

From: Our Daily Journey

“For God’s Sake!”

Read:

Joel 1:1-20
Lord, help us! . . . Even the wild animals cry out to you (Joel 1:19-20).

As I read the news account of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Ecuador in 2016, the exclamation of one young man stood out: “For God’s sake, help me find my family!”

“For God’s sake . . .”

Those words can certainly be used wrongly—taking the Lord’s name in vain. Yet, while I have no way of knowing if the young man has a relationship with God, it occurred to me that we so often invoke His name when calamity strikes. And since we’re made in His image (Genesis 1:27), to cry out for the sake of others can truly be for His sake.

The plaintive cry of the young man reminds me of an exclamation from the lips of Joel: “Lord, help us!” (Joel 1:19). Judah, the prophet’s nation, had been decimated by two natural disasters—an overwhelming swarm of locusts had eaten everything in their path and a drought had turned what remained to dust (Joel 1:6,12). The physical destruction—mirroring the nation’s spiritual condition—was devastating (Joel 1:14-15).

Joel, whose name means “the Lord (Yahweh) is God,” had been called to deliver God’s solemn message to the people of Judah (Joel 1:1-2). A two-pronged response was prescribed: Cry in grief and call out to God for relief.

These two reactions can lead to help and restoration when we confront pain. Perhaps someone close to us has taken her last breath. Or we’ve witnessed the ruthless slaughter of innocents. Or the disease has returned . . .

In genuine mourning and heartfelt prayer, we can draw close to God whose love “never ends.” But we may need to “lie face down in the dust” to once again find “hope at last” (Lamentations 3:22,29). For our sake, God meets us in our suffering and leads us through the fire and rubble to the joy that lies ahead.

 

A Shepherd for Life

From: Our Daily Bread

A Shepherd for Life

God . . . has been my shepherd all my life to this day. Genesis 48:15

When my son changed grades in school he cried, “I want my teacher for life!” We had to help him realize that changing teachers is a part of life. We may wonder: Is there any relationship that can last a lifetime?

Jacob, the patriarch, found out there is one. After living through many dramatic changes and losing loved ones along the way, he realized there had been a constant presence in his life. He prayed, “May the God . . . who has been my shepherd all my life to this day . . . bless these boys” (Gen. 48:15–16).

Jacob had been a shepherd, so he compared his relationship to God as that of a shepherd and his sheep. From the time a sheep is born through its growth to old age the shepherd cares for it day and night. He guides it during the day and protects it during the night. David, also a shepherd, had the same conviction, but he highlighted the eternal dimension to it when he said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6).

Changing teachers is a part of life. But how good it is to know that we can have a relationship for life. The Shepherd has promised to be with us every day of our earthly existence (Matt. 28:20). And when life here ends, we will be closer to Him than ever.

Father, I thank You for being the Shepherd of my life. I praise Your faithfulness.

God never abandons us.