Saturday, November 28, 2009

SONS OF THUNDER

[31]

GREATNESS IS SERVING

Read Matthew 20:20–28

She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom." Matthew 20:21 NKJV
* * *
     This was the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, an ambitious mother if there ever was one! An insight to her two sons is found in Mark 3:17: When Jesus appointed the twelve apostles, He called James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James…Boanerges, that is, "Sons of Thunder."
     Truly, these young men were leadership material and would be among the apostles who were the foundation of the Church, but Jesus had a more important lesson for them to learn: "…Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26-28)
* * *
     Lord, help us to teach our children the principles of servanthood, even as we train them to be their best and excel. Help us to put the spirit of competition in perspective and balance with love and kindness and serving others.
* * *
"… just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WHAT MUST I DO?

THE RICH YOUNG RULER

Read Mark 10:17–22

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Mark 10:17 NIV

* * *
The first error that this young man made, was in assuming that eternal life was something he could earn by doing something "good." He put Jesus into the same category as himself, by calling Him a "good teacher.” Jesus reminded him that the only really good or righteous One is God. Jesus, the Son of God, was able to fulfill the law perfectly, but this young man could not.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "one thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (10:21–22) ." He wasn't quite willing to be that good!
* * *
Lord, only You know what keeps people from coming to You in faith. We cannot know men's hearts, so it is by the Holy Spirit that men and women will see their need of salvation. Just help us to be faithful in sharing our faith with others–trusting You for the results.
* * *
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" …The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:23, 26-27 NIV

Saturday, November 14, 2009

MARY AND MARTHA

Read Luke 10:38–42

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Luke 10:40 NIV
* * *
No woman can read this story without feeling a bit sorry for Martha. We all have our Martha moments when we are hurrying about to get life together. But as I read this, I remember that the apostle John said, "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." (John 11:5)
* * *
The most important part of this story is that Mary's part would never be taken away from her. That "one thing" also belonged to Martha, in spite of her troubled spirit - her relationship with Jesus. Shortly after this, Jesus would be crucified. Every moment spent at Jesus feet would be treasured on that day.
* * *
Lord, I am so thankful that I too have that "one thing" that will not be taken from me. I praise You that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)
* * *
"…Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:41–42 NKJV

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Read: Luke 10:25–37


But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:29 NKJV

* * *
     On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (10:25) His error was in thinking he could earn eternal life by his good works. So Jesus, knowing his heart, asked him what the law said about it. The lawyer replied, "'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.'" (10:27)
     If the lawyer had been able to do this first commandment, he would not have needed a Savior. He asked "Who is my neighbor?" The story of the Good Samaritan illustrated that no one could keep the law perfectly–only God's perfect Son.
* * *
     Thank You Lord, that the burden of keeping the law was removed from our shoulders and carried to the cross. Help us, like the Good Samaritan, to notice when someone has a need we can supply. May we show our love by serving You and other people.
* * *
     "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" Luke 10:36 NKJV

Thursday, November 5, 2009

INTERRUPTIONS

HEALING OF JAIRUS' DAUGHTER

Read Luke 8:40–56

Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. Luke 8:41–42 NIV

* * *
Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus' daughter, who was dying; but on the way, the crowds prevented Him from making his way there. In the midst of the crowd, a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. (8:42) In spite of the urgency of His errand, Jesus took time for this woman, healed her and then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." (8:48)

* * *
Jesus made it to his appointment with Jairus in time, because He planned to raise his daughter from the dead. God is never late, even though we often are impatient and don't understand how He is working.
* * *
Lord, You hold our lives in Your hands and our best hope is to trust You and Your timing for all of our needs. Thank You for this reminder from your Word.
* * *
"Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep." They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" Luke 8:52–54 NIV

Saturday, October 31, 2009

WHO IS MY BROTHER AND SISTER?

Read Matthew 12:46–50; Mark 3:31–35; Luke 8:4–21

While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him Matthew 12:46 NKJV
* * *
Jesus was teaching his disciples in an extremely crowded home while outside there were those who opposed Him. He was telling them the story of a farmer who sowed seed on thorny, rocky and good ground. He explained that the seed was the Word of God and the rocky or thorny ground represented the cares that choke out the Word. But the seed on good soil, He said, "stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." (Luke 8:15 NIV)
* * *
Then someone came in and said that Jesus’ mother and brothers were looking for him. “He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother." (Mark 3:34–35 NKJV) In spite of the interruption, this room was filled with “noble and good hearts”–and Jesus continued sowing the seed.
* * *
Lord, I pray that I will be one of those who does the will of God with a noble and good heart.
* * *
. . . and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You." Mark 3:32 NKJV

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ARE YOU THE CHRIST?

[24]

MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE

Read John 10:1–33

The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." John 10:24 NIV

* * *
There was much disputing among the Jews about who Jesus was. They were ready, perhaps, to look for an earthly king to deliver them from Roman rule, but they were not ready for a Savior. Jesus knew those who were His because the Father had already given them to Him.

To their question Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. (10:25-26) When they threatened to stone Him, He asked them which miracle deserved death. They replied, "We are not stoning you for any of these, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." (10:33)
* * *
When false teachers come to my door to dispute the Trinity, I need to remember that Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be God. He was God the Son, One with the Father. Soon those who were His sheep would know the indwelling power of His Spirit and go forth to proclaim the gospel of Christ. Lord, help me to faithfully share the good news of the risen Son of God.

* * *
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27–28 NIV

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WHO ARE YOU?

[23]

BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM

Read John 8:18–58

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31–32 NKJV
* * *
Jesus was speaking in the temple to two different groups of people – those who believed and those who didn't. To those who would seize Him and kill Him if they could, He said, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I Am…, you will die in your sins." (8:23b-24)

Then Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He”…As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. (8:28a, 30) To those who believed He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." (8:51)
* * *
Lord, your Son Jesus was Messiah, the One that Abraham looked forward to – who would come from his descendants. By faith, Abraham trusted in You – By faith, we look back to the cross and believe in Jesus Christ – who was and is the great "I AM."
* * *
"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I AM!" John 8:57–58 NIV

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WHO IS WITHOUT SIN?

THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN

Read: John 8:1–11

"Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" John 8:4–5 NKJV
* * *
Once again they were trying to trick Jesus–this time in regard to the law of Moses. If he contradicted the law, they could arrest Him for blasphemy. But Jesus would not be taken by trickery. He stooped down and wrote something in the sand. Then he said, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (8:7b) The men left one by one and they were alone. He said to her, "Woman, has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (8:10–11)
* * *
A posse of supposedly religious men trying to find an excuse for murder, and a humiliated woman who calls Jesus, "Lord" is a striking contrast – Jesus came to save sinners. Those men were sinners for whom he came, but pride and power prevented them from receiving the Son of God. Lord, help us to remember that no one is too sinful to be saved by Your matchless grace.
* * *
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12 NKJV

Friday, October 9, 2009

NICODEMUS

SECRET BELIEVERS

Read John 3:1–21

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night… John 3:1-2b NIV
* * *
Nicodemus believed that Jesus was a teacher sent by God because of the great miracles He performed. But Nicodemus did not have an understanding of saving faith. He was a teacher of the law, but he had not experienced the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. He needed to be born again–not natural birth but spiritual.
Later, as Nicodemus continued to blend in with those who wanted to kill Jesus, they asked, "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?" The best he could do was to say, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" (John 7:48–51) After the cross, Nicodemus, along with Joseph of Arimathea risked their lives to ask for Jesus body, indicating that they were His followers.
* * *
It is very difficult for most of us to speak up about our faith among those who do not believe. But the Holy Spirit can give us the courage to do so. Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, so that I will have the courage to share my faith in You.
* * *
Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." John 3:3NIV

Friday, October 2, 2009

JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE

A DEN OF ROBBERS

Read: John 2:13–21; Mark 11:15–19


"Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" Mark 11:17 NIV
* * *
On these two different occasions–at the beginning and end of His ministry– we are told that Jesus physically exhibited anger. The Jews had turned the temple into a market place, carrying on dishonest business in a house of worship. In anger, Jesus drove the merchants out of His Father's house. The Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:18–19) The temple He spoke of was His body, which they would seek to destroy on the cross.
* * *
Although our churches today are not the same as the Jewish temple, we should still honor them as places of worship. Most of all, as believers, we should remember that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
* * *
Lord, I want to take good care of the body You have given me and dedicate it for the purpose of glorifying You. Help me to avoid anything that would compromise that purpose.
* * *
After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:22 NIV

Friday, September 25, 2009

THE FIRST MIRACLE

THE WEDDING AT CANA

Read John 2:1–11

"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:4–5 NIV
* * *
Once again, Mary's soul is pierced. When Jesus was twelve, she wasn't quite ready for him to be teaching in the temple. But now that He's thirty, she must be wondering when He is going to reveal His identity. Both times Jesus gives her a soft rebuke.

At twelve he said; "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them. (Luke 2:49–50)

At thirty, he says, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?…My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4) Mary realizes once again that she must quietly wait on God for His perfect timing—In fact, it was God's time, because Jesus honored his mother by performing his first public miracle at her request.
* * *
Lord, Mary is such a wonderful example of humility and love. I want to be a patient, loving mother who knows when to speak and when to be silent. I also want to wait on You to work out Your perfect plan for our family and each individual family member.
* * *
This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:11 NKJV

Saturday, September 19, 2009

LOVE AND FORGIVENESS

SHE WHO WAS FORGIVEN MUCH

Read Luke 7:36–8:3

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Luke 7:47-48 NIV
* * *
Jesus was invited to dinner at the home of Simon, a Pharisee. A woman of the streets came in and she stood behind him weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (7:38) The Pharisee thought to himself that Jesus did not know what kind of woman this was. Not only did Jesus know all about the woman, he also knew what Simon was thinking. He gently told a story to Simon that concluded with, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (7:47)

Just following this scene we are given the names of other women who had been forgiven much. These women helped to support the ministry out of their own means, showing their deep gratitude for deliverance from evil spirits and diseases.
* * *
Lord, may my life and generosity reflect the forgiveness I have received in my life as well. What a Savior, who honored women far above the culture of His time.
* * *
The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. Luke 8:1b–3 NIV

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A FIRM FOUNDATION

THE HOUSE ON THE ROCK

Read: Luke 6:39–49

"I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice." Luke 6:47 NIV
* * *
After appointing the twelve apostles, Jesus came down from the mountain and began to speak to a large crowd of people from all over Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.

His message was different from any they had heard before – He told them, “love your enemies,” “do to others as you would have them do to you,” (vv. 27, 31) “do not judge,” “forgive, and you will be forgiven.”(v. 37) He finished with, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (6:46) – they looked for healing and He looked for a life change.

If there is going to be lasting change in my life that can withstand the storms, I must spend quality time getting to know God’s Word and applying it to my everyday circumstances.
* * *
Lord, Thank You for the timeless principles You have given in Your Word. Help us to understand and apply this wisdom to our lives and to teach them to our children so that our home will have a firm and lasting foundation.
* * *
"He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it …" Luke 6:48 NIV

Monday, September 7, 2009

A NIGHT OF PRAYER

CHOOSING THE APOSTLES

Read Luke 6:1–16; Mark 3:7–19

Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12
* * *
Prior to this night of intense prayer, Jesus had withdrawn with his disciples to the sea. Such huge crowds followed him that "He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him." (Mark 3:9 NKJV)

Now, Jesus goes alone to a mountain to spend the night in prayer. The next day He would call his followers to him and from them choose the twelve apostles. These men would be sent out to preach and heal and cast out demons -- the kingdom of Heaven confronting the kingdom of Satan. No wonder He spent the entire night in prayer for them.
* * *
Lord, if You felt it necessary to get away by yourself to pray, then surely I need to make time for extended prayer. Help me to remember to carve out time from my busy schedule to find time alone with You – particularly when I am facing important decisions.
* * *
When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles. Luke 6:13 NIV

Saturday, August 29, 2009

EATING WITH SINNERS

MATTHEW THE TAX COLLECTOR

Read Mark 2:13–17

When the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?" Mark 2:16 NKJV
* * *
Matthew was a tax collector, a Jewish man who worked for the Roman government. The religious leaders saw a traitor but Jesus saw a man who needed a Savior. Jesus could look into a man's heart because He was the Son of God. In fact, Jesus had no problem eating with sinners, because He knew that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…(Romans 3:23)

A few of the religious leaders came to realize who Jesus was, but most did not. This is why the first message He preached was "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15 NKJV) Repentance required admitting their sin, and receiving God’s Son, the promised Messiah.
* * *
Jesus not only saw Matthew's heart, he saw his potential. He later chose Matthew as one of the twelve apostles. Lord, help me to understand the hearts of my children and envision their potential. Even though that is not completely possible, I can trust You to know their hearts and work all things together for their good.
* * *
Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31-32 NIV

Saturday, August 22, 2009

THE FAITH OF FRIENDS

WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS?

Read Luke 5:17–26

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." Luke 5:20 NIV
* * *
     In this story, some determined men brought their friend to Jesus to be healed. They removed some tiles from the roof of the house and lowered him right in front of the Lord. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." (5:20)

     The Pharisees thought to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (5:21) and because Jesus was God, he knew what they were thinking. So He said, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?"(5:22)
* * *
     There is nothing that we can say or think in our hearts of which Jesus is not aware–He knows our every thought. Lord, I want to pray, as David did, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14 NKJV)
* * *
     Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
Luke 5:22–23 NIV

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FOLLOW ME


FISHERS OF MEN


     When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"… Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." Luke 5:8–10 NIV

* * *
     Simon Peter had seen Jesus heal his wife's mother. He had watched as demons came out of people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" (Luke 4:41) Then one day, Jesus went fishing and they caught so many fish that the two boats began to sink from the weight. This was the miracle which convinced Peter that Jesus was no ordinary man – He was the Son of God. From then on, Peter, James and John left their fishing business and followed Jesus.
* * *
     Dear Father, You said, "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8-9) You knew what Peter needed to bring him to faith, and You knew what I needed. Lord, give me the words to share with others in a way that is meaningful to them. Speak to the hearts of our children to inspire them in a walk of faith throughout their lives. Make us "fishers of men."
* * *
     He and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners… So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:9–11 NIV

Saturday, August 8, 2009

THE ACCUSER OF MAN

SATAN TEMPTS JESUS


     Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 NIV
* * *
     Satan, the enemy of God, is ever the accuser of man. In the book of Job, Satan tried to humiliate God by testing his servant, Job. Now, the Son of God himself has become a man, in order to redeem men back to God and Satan continues His war against God.
     As Satan tempts Jesus he repeatedly says, "If you are the Son of God," (4:3, 6) mocking His deity. Then as if Satan were God himself, he boasts, "All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me." (4:9) 
   At this point, Jesus responds, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only." (4:10)
* * *
     Lord, You said that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with the powers of darkness. You are the one who is able to put a wall of protection around our immediate family and our church family. We are no match for Satan who is adept at quoting Scripture for his own purpose ─ we must pray as You have instructed, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (6:13)
* * *
     Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:11 NIV

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friend Of The Bridegroom

HE MUST BECOME GREATER

Read Matthew 4:12–17; John 3:22–36
     The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less" John 3:29-30 NIV
* * *
     John's ministry was about to come to an end. His message was: "Repent! The kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"The Messiah is here – prepare your hearts! As John was thrown into prison, Jesus' three year ministry began.
     When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:2–3) Jesus sent word that he was indeed the Messiah, proven by the signs of His miracles.
     Of John the Baptist Jesus said, I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)
* * *
     Lord, because of the ministry of faithful men and women, we heard the gospel. I pray that our home will be a lighthouse shining in the darkness, helping others find the Way. Like John said, "He must become greater and I must become less." May we do all things for Your glory.
* * *
     When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee… From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 4: 12, 17 NIV

Sunday, July 26, 2009

THIS IS MY SON

JESUS' BAPTISM


"...'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." John 1:33-34 NIV
* * *
     John had not met Jesus as an adult before the day of His baptism. He said of Him, "I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (John 1:33-34) When the Spirit came down in the form of a dove, a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

     John was not in the center of Jesus' earthly ministry, or even His early life. He was given the special task of calling people to repent before Jesus came. His ministry was brief in years and yet so important it was prophesied hundreds of years before he lived.
* * *
     Lord, we have a limited time, perhaps 18 years to influence our children. But we have all the time we need to do Your perfect will. Help us to make the most of the opportunity and remember the priority of loving them and leading them to You.
* * *
    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NIV

Monday, July 20, 2009

PREPARING THE WAY

[9]

JOHN THE BAPTIST

Read: Luke 3:1–20

     Finally they said, "Who are you? . . . "John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord."  John 1:22–23 NIV (Isaiah 40:3)

* * *
    John the Baptist was the last prophet preceding the coming of Messiah. He knew from the time he was a child that God had special plans for his life. No doubt, his parents prepared him as they told him of Gabriel's message to Zechariah, "And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17)
* * *
     We, like John, have a special purpose for living. As believers, our primary purpose is to glorify God with our lives. John was a special called-out prophet, but we believers are also called to be conformed to the image of Christ. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son… (Romans 8:29 NKJV)
* * *
     Lord, may our lives be more and more like Yours as we look into the mirror of Your Word.
* * *
     John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." Luke 3:16 NKJV

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

THE BOY JESUS

A MOTHER'S HEART

Read Luke 2:39–52

     After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47 NIV
* * *
    Mary and Joseph were busily talking with their friends on the way to Nazareth, knowing that they didn't have to check on their son, Jesus. But when they could not find him a day's journey out, they were understandably concerned.
     When they finally found him, Mary was distraught and she said to him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously." And He said to them, 
     "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. (Luke 2:48–50 NKJV)
     This exchange between mother and Son was, at least in part, a fulfillment of Simeon's words to Mary, "And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:35) Mary spoke of "your father and I", and Jesus spoke of "My Father," and they didn't understand.
* * *
     Lord, help me to see the eternal significance of Your plan for my family, even when I don't understand. Give us a sensitivity to Your leading in our lives and the lives of our children.
* * *
    Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 NIV

Friday, May 15, 2009

SUMMER BREAK

As we look forward to this season of patriotic holidays, Memorial Day and Independence Day, I am reminded of the words the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

In these days of threatening events from without and within our country, God calls us to pray for our leaders. No matter if we agree or strongly disagree with the direction they are taking us, we must above all pray so that we can lead quiet, peaceable, godly lives, sharing the truth of the Gospel whenever we can.

I want to remember to thank the Lord every time I exercise my freedom to worship openly with other believers. I do thank Him for the opportunity through the internet to post devotional blogs that reach individuals all over the world. In these past 16 months that I have been posting through-the-Bible devotions on several networks, I have had the opportunity to dialogue one on one with believers and unbelievers, sharing my own personal response on Scripture passages - what a blessing this has been.

If you have been following these devotional readings since the beginning, you know that we have covered selected passages in each of the Old Testament books from Genesis through Malachi. I hope this simple focus on the lives of real people who lived in Bible times has encouraged you to read further and go deeper in your own study of Scripture. I know that I have only scratched the surface of the deep riches in His Word.

I will be taking a break during the early summer months to read, write and focus on the Lord’s leading for this particular season of our lives. I will begin posting New Testament devotions later this summer. I know you too are looking forward to having kids home from school, holiday celebrations, vacations and time with extended family. Have a wonderful, safe and enjoyable summer season.
In Christ,
Charlotte

UNITY IN THE LORD

MALACHI

Read Malachi 1–4

      Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.    Malachi 2:15 NIV
* * *
      Malachi prophesied about 85 years after the temple was rebuilt. The kingdom of Judah had fallen into serious sin. The priests offered unacceptable sacrifices and kept back their tithes from the Lord and the people had turned from the Lord to idols and divorced their Hebrew wives for pagan women.
     In spite of this travesty, there were still the faithful few who followed God, of whom he said, "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name." (3:16)
* * *
     Lord, is there a scroll of remembrance with our names written on it? How comforting it is to know that as we gather together with other believers in our homes and churches–You listen and hear. I pray that each member of our family will remain faithful and continue to fellowship with other believers throughout their lives, bringing honor to Your name.
* * *
      "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5–6 NIV

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

THE SILENT YEARS

Malachi to Matthew

As we come to the book of Malachi I have been thinking about the 400 years between this last book of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, called by some the “Silent Years.” During these years nations were toppled and replaced, and by the time Jesus was born, Rome was in control.

Great upheaval in political and economic events of the times probably left the Jews feeling forgotten by God. But God surely did not forget and one day in His perfect time a virgin brought forth her firstborn Son and laid Him in a manger, just as the prophet Isaiah had foretold: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 KJV

Today our nation is changing in ways we never expected. Threatened from without and within, some may wonder if God has forgotten us. Books on prophesy are suddenly in great demand as believers see signs on the horizon that Jesus may soon return. Many scoff as Peter foretold saying "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

But just as in those 400 “silent years” God is at work today preparing to fulfill His promise: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

So as we come to the book of Malachi, I find myself identifying with the believers who were living in those difficult times. Malachi writes: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them...” (Malachi 3:16a) Through these devotional readings and your comments, those of us who fear the Lord will speak to one another and believe that God listens and hears.
* * *
Lord, today I claim the promise: "So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels.’ " (Malachi 3:16-17)

Monday, May 11, 2009

A PURSE WITH HOLES IN IT

[107]

HAGGAI

Read Haggai 1


     Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Haggai 1:5–6 NIV
* * *
     It had been 15 years since the people of Judah had begun to rebuild the temple, but the work had ceased because they were too busy with their own affairs. The Lord, through the prophet Haggai said, "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" (1:4)
     The people, no doubt, were struggling in a broken down economy trying to build up the infrastructure of their city. In the busyness of it all, their priorities had slipped.
     So the Lord said, "Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified…You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house." (1:7-9 NKJV)
* * *
     Forgive us Lord when we become overly concerned with earning wages to furnish and maintain our houses. As necessary as those activities are, they are not as important as ministering in our families and churches. Give us a balance that brings glory to You and encouragement to other believers.
* * *
     And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV

Thursday, May 7, 2009

AN UNWILLING PROPHET

[106]

JONAH

Read Jonah 1–4

      But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17 NIV
* * *
      In this story, God commanded Jonah to do something no other Jewish prophet had been asked to do–to go to a pagan city to pronounce judgment. The city of Nineveh, Assyria, was founded by the infamous Nimrod who built the tower of Babel. Earlier prophets, Amos and Hosea, had prophesied that Assyria would carry Israel off into captivity, so it is understandable that Jonah would balk at being asked to preach to Israel's sworn enemy.

      But it seems that Jonah had no choice. God decided to offer mercy to a Gentile city and Jonah would be the messenger–willing or not. Thousands of years later, both Jews and Gentiles (non–Jews) are recipients of this same mercy and grace. God truly cares about people of every nation and tongue who will repent and believe on Him.
* * *
      Lord, thank you that You loved me before I even knew about You. Give me a love for other people and forgive me for any hesitancy in sharing my faith. I am so glad that someone took the time to share the gospel message with me.
* * *
      "Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left… Should I not be concerned about that great city?" Jonah 4:11 NIV

Monday, May 4, 2009

THE CRIME OF PRAYER

[105]

DANIEL IN THE LIONS' DEN

Read Daniel 6


     "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" Daniel 6:20 NIV

* * *
     This is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, along with stories like Noah's Ark and David and Goliath–but it is far more than a children's bedtime story. It’s the story of a man who served God continually from the time he was a teenager–taken into Babylonian captivity–until he was a very old man serving Darius, the king of the Medes and Persians.

     No matter what the circumstance, Daniel was faithful to his God. His crime in this story was that he prayed and gave thanks before his God three times a day, as was his custom since early days. (6:10b NKJV) Daniel–a man who seldom had control of his circumstances– served a God who was always in control of his circumstances. This is an amazing truth that most of us find hard to absorb.

* * *
     Lord, I am not likely to face a fiery furnace or hungry lions, but I still struggle to remember who controls my life and the lives of those I love. May it be said of us, like Daniel, “they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful;” (Daniel 6:4b NKJV)
* * *
     Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." Daniel 6:21–22 NIV

Friday, May 1, 2009

PRIDE AND ARROGANCE

[104]

FATHER AND SON

Read Daniel 4–5

      Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:37 NIV
* * *
      This passage in Daniel tells the story of two kings– Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar. They were both guilty of pride and arrogance, but Nebuchadnezzar repented of his pride and glorified the ‘King of heaven.’

     Even though Belshazzar knew about his father's experience, he chose to blaspheme God. Daniel said to him, "You his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven…You did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways." (5:22–23)
* * *
      If there is a major theme in the book of Daniel it is that we have a sovereign God who is in charge of the events of history and the lives of men. What He says will surely come to pass. Lord, how privileged I am that the sovereign God of the Bible is also my personal Savior. I praise You for all You have done in my life already and all you have planned for the future. May I never fail to give praise and honor to you.
* * *
      Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two. Daniel 5:29–31 NIV

Monday, April 27, 2009

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO

[103]

THE FIERY FURNACE

Read Daniel 3

there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego–who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:12 NIV
* * *
Daniel's three friends refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold, even though the penalty was death in a fiery furnace. But before this ultimate test of their loyalty to God, they had already passed smaller tests. Their refusal to eat the king's food during their training period had resulted in God's blessing and protection. Now in this greater test they remained faithful saying, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (3:17–18)
* * *
Dear Lord, You have said that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10 NKJV) Help us to teach our children that little matters of obedience are very important. Then when the bigger tests of faithfulness and loyalty come along, they will be prepared. Lord, help us to be examples of faithfulness in the little things, as well.
* * *
"Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."
Daniel 3:28 NIV

Thursday, April 23, 2009

KING OF KINGS

[102]

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM

Read Daniel 2

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:19b–21 NIV
* * *
When Daniel was still young, God gave him the ability to interpret dreams. No one could tell King Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was, or what it meant, until Daniel asked his three friends “to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” God answered by revealing the mystery to Daniel in a night vision. (2:18-19)
God’s revelation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a giant statue contained a message with far reaching significance…even to our day and beyond. Before Daniel even attempted to give the interpretation, he praised the name of God who is in control of all things. He told the king, “The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory…You are that head of gold.” (2:37-38)
When we look at what is happening in our world today, particularly in the Middle East, it is easy to despair of ever seeing a peaceful resolution. But this prophesy to the King of Babylon, speaks of a future kingdom ruled by the King of Kings–Jesus the Messiah–where nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4b)
* * *
I praise You Lord, that You are the God who sets up kings and presidents–We can trust You in the days and years ahead.
* * *
"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. Daniel 2:44 NIV

Monday, April 20, 2009

COURAGE

[101]

DANIEL AND FRIENDS
Daniel 1

     Then the king ordered the chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. Daniel 1:3, 6-7 NIV
* * *
     King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon chose some of the best and brightest young men of Judah to serve in his palace. Although they were treated well in comparison to other captives, they were not free to do as they pleased. In spite of this, these four young men refused to eat food that their Jewish law prohibited. They could have been killed for this, but God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel. (1:9)
     The guard the official appointed over them allowed the four to refrain from eating the king’s food for ten days. Daniel and his friends obeyed God at great risk, and God honored their obedience. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. (Daniel 1:15)
* * *
     Lord, help us to raise sons and daughters who, like Daniel and his friends, will stand up for what they believe. Help our children to have courage and do right even when it would be easier to do wrong. May our lives set an example that they can follow.
* * *
     In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. Daniel 1:20 NIV

Saturday, April 18, 2009

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

[100]

HUNGER AND THIRST

Read Isaiah 55; John 4:10-42, 7:37-39

"Surely you will summon nations you know not and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy one of Israel…" Isaiah 55:5 NIV

* * *
Here, Isaiah is speaking of Israel's future; prophesying that other nations will join them in worshiping Messiah. God has a future plan and a hope for all who will trust in Him. He says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) He tells them, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:2) Hundreds of years later the Messiah, would say, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
* * *
Lord, this morning I come to You, hungry for the Bread of Life, and thirsty for Living Water. Bless this reading of Your Word for You have said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (55:9) As I prepare meals for my family help me to serve with a thankful heart that because of You, we "delight in the richest of fare."
* * *
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!" Isaiah 55:1 NIV

Thursday, April 2, 2009

EASTER DEVOTIONS

GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE

TAKE A SWORD

Read: Luke 22: 35–53

He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36 NIV
* * *
It has been obvious up to this point that everything the Lord did had a purpose and was part of His Father's plan. Just prior to entering the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer, He gave the apostles specific instruction to sell their cloaks and buy a sword. They must have thought they were preparing to fight for the kingdom. But Jesus had a plan they never could have guessed. They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough." (22:38 NKJV)

After a night of prayer in the garden; a contingency of soldiers and religious leaders came to arrest Jesus. When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them (Peter) struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. (22:49–50) What happened next would show everyone that Jesus laid down his life for us — it wasn't taken from Him.
* * *
Lord, I am unable to comprehend the love that motivated You to give Your only begotten Son to make such a sacrifice. Jesus said, "No more of this!" And He touched the man's ear and healed him. (22:51)
* * *
"Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?"(Matthew 26:53 NKJV)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

EASTER DEVOTIONS

SCATTERED BUT NOT ALONE

Read John 16:5–33

"It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you." John 16:7 NKJV
* * *
The disciples were still trying to grasp what Jesus was telling them. He was preparing them for the frightening, sorrowful days ahead. He said, "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." (16:22)

At one point, the men thought they understood; they said, "See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God." (16:29–30)

Jesus replied, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone…”(16:30-32 NKJV) The disciples would indeed be scattered, but they would be gathered again, empowered by the Holy Spirit and made into the foundation of a church that would turn the world upside down.
* * *
Lord, I see from the lives of these men that I don't have to understand all that You are doing in the world. I just have to trust that You are the Son of God who has taken away my sin, and promised a fruitful, abundant life, by the power of Your Holy Spirit.
* * *
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I Have overcome the world." John 16:33 NKJV

Thursday, March 26, 2009

EASTER DEVOTIONS

I AM THE VINE

ABIDE IN ME

Read John 15:1–17

     "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 NKJV
* * *
     These final words of Jesus to His beloved apostles are of utmost importance, both to them and to us. He was going away and they would carry on the work of spreading the gospel to the world. They did not yet have the indwelling Holy Spirit – but soon they would.
* * *
     Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…" (15:16) How were they going to be able to accomplish this? Jesus said, "…The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine…If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (15:4, 7)
* * *
     Dear Lord, I know that apart from You we will not see lasting fruit in our lives. I come to You this morning as an act of abiding in You. Speak to me from Your Word and plant Your will deep within my heart. I am asking and You have promised that it shall be done. I claim that promise today.
* * *
     "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11 NKJV

Sunday, March 22, 2009

EASTER DEVOTIONS

LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED

Read John 14:1–31

     "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." John 14:1 NKJV
* * *
     The disciples still did not quite understand the clues Jesus had given of His coming death and resurrection. Thomas questioned Him about where He was going, and would not fully comprehend until after it all took place and he saw the nail prints in His hands.
     Philip said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…" (14:8–9)
     Then He promised, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (14:16-17)
* * *
     God the Father would send His Holy Spirit not only to dwell with them, but in them. The Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all working together to abide in us forever. Thank You Lord for this incomparable truth –"Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27 NKJV)
* * *
     "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27 NKJV

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

EASTER DEVOTIONS

AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU...

Read John 13:1–17

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and--poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet… John 13:3-5 NKJV
* * *
Jesus knew exactly who He was, where He had come from, and where He was going. In view of His coming crucifixion, how amazing that He does such a loving, comforting act in washing his disciple's feet.

Peter, also knowing who Christ was said, "Lord, are You washing my feet? You shall never wash my feet!" (13:8a) But Jesus told him that if he did not allow his feet to be washed he would have no part with Him. Peter said, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" (13:9) With a poignant symbolism, Jesus told him he only needed his feet washed, because the rest of him was already clean, forgiven and eternally secure. Only Judas did not qualify as being so cleansed.
* * *
Lord, I am so thankful for the daily cleansing You offer as I confess my sins and You are faithful to forgive. Help me to follow this example of humility toward others, especially my own family.
* * *
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. John 13:14-15 NKJV

Saturday, March 7, 2009

THE BREAD OF LIFE

A TURNING POINT

[51]

Read John 6:22–71

And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. John 6:35 NKJV
* * *
The crowds saw the disciples get into their boat and leave; but Jesus was not with them. They followed the disciples to the other side of the lake, not knowing that Jesus had walked on water to get there. This was the dramatic moment when He would reveal to them who He really was, and that He knew who they really were: "I tell you the truth; you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." (6:26 NIV)
* * *
Then Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (6:51 NIV) This declaration of His coming death was the turning point: From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (6:66 NKJV)
* * *
Lord, it is hard to believe so many would be willing to benefit from Your miraculous provision, and yet not embrace You as Savior. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sin and for the daily miracle of life which comes from You.
* * *
Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:67-68 NKJV

Thursday, March 5, 2009

THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY

Read: Luke 19:28-40
* * *
the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:37-38 NKJV)
* * *
After leaving Zacchaeus' home in Jericho, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, where a colt was already prepared for Jesus to make His entry. Jesus knew it would be there, because God had said through the prophet, "Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9 NKJV) The praise of the crowd echoed the words of the angels at His birth - all planned since the beginning of time.
* * *
Lord, I want to praise You for all Your mighty works. You are the King of Kings who will one day return to Jerusalem again. You have ordained that the mouths of babes would praise You. I pray for the "babes" in my household that their lives will ever be lived in praise of the King and that one day we will all see You face to face.
* * *
And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:39-40 NKJV

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Friday's here but Sunday's coming!

I just looked at my calendar and realised Easter is just six weeks away. Easter came as a surprise to believers in Bible times as well. No matter how many times the Lord told his disciples that He would die and rise again the third day - they couldn't seem to comprehend. They were ready to see Him as King, Messiah, Promised One - but suffering, death and resurrection - that was unthinkable!

This Spring season we will take a break from our journey through the Old Testament - which prophesied that Messiah would suffer and die for our sins - and spend some time reading the New Testament passages leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Jesus died for our sins on Friday - but He conquered death on Sunday- so that those of us who receive Him need not fear death any more.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV

Thursday, February 26, 2009

ISAIAH 53

[99]

TAUGHT BY THE LORD

Read Isaiah 52–54

     "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” Isaiah 53:6

    “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities. " Isaiah 53:11 NIV

* * *
    Isaiah 53 contains the most detailed prophesies in the Old Testament describing the Messiah's suffering, death and resurrection. Written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth; its accuracy should reassure us of the trustworthiness of God’s Word. At this time, the prophesied 70 years of captivity had been fulfilled and Isaiah prepared the people to go back to their land. God promised them,      
    “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (54:10)
     Isaiah prophesied of a future day when Messiah would set up His kingdom in Jerusalem and all would be made right. In that day, he told them, "All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace." (54:13)
* * *
     Dear Father, I look forward to that coming day when everyone will be taught by the Lord in Your kingdom, but for now Lord, help us to be faithful in teaching our sons and daughters Your Word, and modeling obedience in our own lives.
* * *
    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…" Deuteronomy 11:18a,19 NIV

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I WILL NOT FORGET YOU

[98]

PEACE LIKE A RIVER

Read Isaiah 48–49


     "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:17 NIV
* * *
     God, through Isaiah's prophesy of deliverance from Babylon, reminds the captives of His absolute sovereignty in their lives. He would soon raise up Cyrus, king of Persia to overthrow Babylon and help the Israelites return to their land. Of Cyrus He says, “I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission.” (48:15)

     The Lord reminds them that if they had been obedient, they would not have been carried off to Babylon in the first place. He says, "If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (48:18)
* * *
     Most Holy Father, You are the One in control of our lives. Above all, I want my children to know and obey God; for I know that You love them even more than I do. You have promised through Isaiah, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (49:15)
* * *
     "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Isaiah 49:22 NIV
     I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:6b NIV