Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AFTER EASTER - He's Coming Back

THIS SAME JESUS

Read: Acts 1:1–11

     He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 NKJV
* * *
     After forty days of being with Jesus and rejoicing that He was truly alive, the disciples asked Him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts1:6 NIV) He told them that it was not for them to know the times and dates, 
     "But," He said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (1:7-8 NIV)
     Then just as they must have wanted to ask Him many other things, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight!
* * *
     Lord, I can't imagine how alone they must have felt at that moment. We know now, and they knew in just a few days, that they would not be alone.          Lord, I praise You that You have given us Your Holy Spirit to guide us. Thank You that though we cannot see Him, He dwells within us and prays for us according to Your will.
* * *
     This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11b NIV

TOUCH ME AND SEE

THOMAS BELIEVES

Read: Luke 24:36–43; John 20:24–31

But he (Thomas) said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." John 20:25 NIV
* * *
Eight days before this scene, the disciples stared in amazed unbelief. Jesus suddenly appeared, and they thought they were seeing a ghost. Then He asked for something to eat and said, "Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." (Luke 24:39)

Now Thomas is unconvinced, since he has not yet seen the Lord. When Jesus appeared again, and showed him his hands and side, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) Jesus had been telling His disciples all along that he would rise from the dead, but this was something they couldn't comprehend.
* * *
We have the advantage of the complete Scriptures, explaining how all these things fit together with Old Testament prophesy; yet Lord, there are times I struggle to understand Your plan for us. Perhaps it is just enough to say, "My Lord and my God!"
* * *
Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 NKJV

I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!

MARY MAGDALENE

Read: John 20:1–18


      They (the angels) asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." John 20:13 NIV
* * *
      Mary Magdalene was one of the devout women who supplied the needs of Jesus and His disciples throughout His ministry. She had been delivered from demon possession as were some of the others who followed Him. She was one of those who remained at the foot of the cross with Mary, the mother of Jesus witnessing his horrible crucifixion.
      Three days later Mary went to the grave to grieve – but instead she had an encounter with angels at the empty tomb. Jesus was still there, so changed that she did not realize that it was He ─ until He spoke her name,"Mary." Then she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (20:16)
      Mary Magdalene was forgiven much and she loved much. Her life was dedicated to Jesus' ministry and to being a friend to other believers. God chose her to be the first one to see her risen Lord.
* * *
      Thank You Jesus that You came to set people like Mary free from their sin. Thank you for dying for my sin. Help me to show my love for you as Mary did by serving other believers.
* * *
      Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" John 20:18 NIV

EASTER DEVOTIONS

SECRET DISCIPLES

Read John 19:38-42
* * *
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. John 19:38 NKJV
* * *
Here are two Jewish men, one of them Nicodemus, a Pharisee and the other Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent wealthy council member; both of them secret disciples of Jesus. On one occasion Nicodemus tried to speak up at a council meeting by saying, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" They ridiculed him by saying, "Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee." (John 7:52)
* * *
After the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea gathered up his courage and asked Pilot for Jesus' body. He and Nicodemus - no longer secret disciples - prepared the body for burial and laid it in Joseph's new tomb - fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy that Messiah would be buried in a rich man's grave. (Isaiah 53:9)
* * *
Lord, forgive me when I have been reluctant to speak up for You among unbelievers. Give me courage and discernment to know when and where to share my faith.
* * *
And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. John 19:39 NKJV

EASTER DEVOTIONS

BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER

[61]

Read John 19:17-37
* * *
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25-26 NKJV
* * *
Years ago, Mary had stood with Joseph before the Priest to dedicate her newborn Son. The old man Simeon had prophesied, "This child is destined to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:34-35) Now she was experiencing the ultimate piercing of her soul, as Jesus hung from the cross in agonizing pain.
* * *
When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27 NKJV
* * *
Jesus knew the emotional pain that this moment brought to His mother. God had chosen her of all women to give birth to His Son. But His plans for her were not over. After the resurrection and ascension, her other sons became devout believers. In Acts we read, These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:14 NKJV
* * *
Lord, so often Mary stood in the background watching God's plan unfold. She is an example I would like to follow when it seems better to be still and wait on You. What honor came to this humble woman as the Son of God saw to her needs in His last hour. I know that You are aware of my needs and the needs of my children. I pray that like Mary's sons they will follow You.
* * *
One of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water... These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled ..."They will look on the one they have pierced." John 19:34-37; Zechariah 12:10

EASTER DEVOTIONS

THE ROOSTER CROWED

PETER DENIES JESUS

Read Mark 14: 66–72

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean." He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, "I don't know this man you're talking about." Mark 14:70-71 NIV
* * *
Just a short time before this, Peter had declared to Jesus, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." (Luke 22:33) Peter had stood up valiantly in the garden by starting a sword fight. But then Jesus healed the soldier's ear, and submitted himself to arrest. Jesus said to them, "If you are looking for me, then let these men go." This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me." (John 18:8–9; quoting John 17:12)

Jesus knew all about what Peter would do. He knew that Satan wanted to "sift him like wheat", but Satan could not defeat Peter, because Jesus had said, "I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail." (Luke 22:32 NKJV)
* * *
Lord, The moment the rooster crowed had to be the darkest day of Peter's life, but the story told through the years has brought comfort and encouragement to all of us who, like Peter, have experienced failure.
* * *
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times." And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72 NIV

EASTER DEVOTIONS

THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW

JESUS PRAYS FOR US

Read: John 17:1–26

"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
John 17:4-5 NIV
* * *
Now Jesus spoke to His Father in the presence of His disciples. He was going to be entering Heaven very soon, restored to the glory He left behind when He became a man. The disciples must have been encouraged when they heard Him tell His Father, "I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." (17:8) "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (17:15)
* * *
Lord, I am so thankful that in this prayer You said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." (17:20) As I meditate on this chapter and all the words You said for them and for us - I claim these words for my family: "I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." (17:23 NKJV)
* * *
"I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:26 NKJV

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EASTER DEVOTIONS

SCATTERED SHEEP

JESUS PREDICTS PETER'S DENIAL

Read: Luke 22:24-34; Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31

     Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' Matthew 26:31 NKJV (from Zechariah)
* * *
     The prophet Zechariah had predicted this night; Jesus was the Shepherd and his disciples were His sheep. Peter protested, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." (Matthew 26:33) "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Jesus replied, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me." (Luke 22:33-34) Peter, ever quick to speak, did not know his own heart as well as Jesus did. But even though Peter stumbled, his faith would prevail, and God would restore him in the days to come.
* * *
     Lord, You have said "by grace are you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."(Ephesians 2:8) We all are made to stumble, just like the apostles who were scattered. But my blessed assurance is that You are praying to the Father on our behalf, that our faith will not fail.
* * *
     The Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you; that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Luke 22:31–32 NKJV

Sunday, March 28, 2010

EASTER DEVOTIONS

THE LAST SUPPER

Read Luke 22:1-23

Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat." Luke 22:7-8 NKJV
* * *
The feast of the Passover celebrated the day when God delivered the Jews from Egypt. The blood of the lamb was placed on the doorposts in the sign of a cross. The wine of the Passover feast represented the blood. On this occasion Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." (22:20) Jesus was the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world and give eternal life to all who believe.

The time had come for Jesus to fulfill the prophesy given at this last supper. Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (22:15) Jesus knew He would suffer, He knew who would betray Him and He knew who would be with Him in His kingdom.
* * *
Lord, thank you for laying down your life so that we could live eternally in Your presence. One day we will see You face to face and bow down in worship and praise for all You have done for us.
* * *
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19 NKJV

AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU...

[52]

JESUS WASHES HIS DISCIPLES FEET

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 them. 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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

YOU GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT.

[46]

FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND

Read John 6:1-13; Mark 6:30-44
     He (Jesus) said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. John 6:5b-6 NIV
* * *
     Nothing that Jesus did while on earth was just happenstance. Jesus said to the twelve, "You give them something to eat." (Mark 6:37) When everyone was fed, they were able to gather up enough for a basketful each for themselves. They served the bread, but it cost them nothing, and they had their own needs supplied. This is significant in light of Philip's protest; "eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" (John 6:7)
* * *
     Lord, more often than not, I sound just like Philip. I see only the practical facts, and the impossibility of the situation. Help us to trust You for our daily bread, and for all other needs we may have. You lord, are the Bread of Life and You know our requests even before we ask; but You did tell us to ask. I am asking You this morning, to provide for our financial and spiritual needs.
* * *
     After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. John 6:14-15 NIV

Saturday, March 20, 2010

JOHN THE BAPTIST MARTYRED

[45]

COMPASSION IN TIME OF SORROW

Read Matthew 14:1–14
     The king…ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. Matthew 14:9-10, 12 NIV
* * *
     Jesus had just been given the news about the beheading of John the Baptist, the prophet God had sent to announce His coming. John's dramatic message of repentance to the adulterous King Herod ended with his death. His brief but powerful ministry, in accordance with God's sovereign will, had come to an end.
* * *
     Jesus, though He was God's Son, was still subject to the emotions and sorrows of a man. His response was to withdraw to a solitary place to be alone, but the crowds followed Him. Instead of insisting on time to Himself, He had compassion on the people and ministered to their needs.
* * *
     Lord, sometimes I feel irritated at the pressing demands on my time. Help me to be filled with the fruit of Your Spirit, especially patience, love and concern for the needs of my family. Help me to notice when others need a listening ear.
* * *
     When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14 NIV

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

THE TRINITY

[44]

EQUAL WITH GOD

Read John 5:1–23
     Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. John 5:18 NKJV
* * *
     This passage in John is one of the strongest proofs that Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. The reason they wanted to kill Him was that He claimed equality with God. He not only said He was able to give life — He demonstrated it by raising people from the dead, and eventually rising from the dead Himself.
* * *
     Men and women come to our doors today claiming that they believe in Jesus, but not in the Trinity. They cannot honestly believe in the Jesus of the Bible, without making Him a liar, because He claimed deity for Himself. He was more than a good teacher - He was and is the Son of God.
* * *
     Lord, help me to give a confident and kind answer to those who come to my door with a false teaching about Jesus. Perhaps some day one of them will be searching for the real Jesus.
* * *
     For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it . . . that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. John 5:21, 23 NIV

Saturday, March 13, 2010

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

[43]
Read: John 4:1–42

     And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." John 4:39 NKJV
* * *
     This story is one of the most beloved illustrations of grace in the New Testament. The setting is in Samaria where the prevailing religion was a mixture of idolatry with a smattering of Jewish influence. The Samaritan woman knew about a promised Messiah, but she lived a sinful life and Jesus kindly confronted her with her sin.
     In a conversation about "living water" she came to realize that this was the Messiah she had heard about. She said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." (4:25-26)
* * *
     Sometimes we think that people mixed up in cultish religions are unreachable with the gospel. In fact, they may be searching for the truth just as the woman at the well. She …went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" (4:28-29 NIV)
* * *
     Lord, help me to share my faith with people regardless of how impossible it seems, trusting in the work of Your Spirit in their hearts.
* * *
     Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."   John 4:42 NKJV

Monday, March 8, 2010

GENUINE FAITH

[42]

SALT AND LIGHT
Read Matthew 5:1–16
     "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned…" Matthew 5:13 NKJV
* * *
     Jesus referred to His disciples as the salt of the earth. Salt is used for seasoning and also for preservation to prevent spoilage. There came a point in Jesus ministry, as He began to reveal who He was, that many of his disciples fell away. They did not have the preserving salt in them that was necessary to be a disciple of Christ.
     The Christian life would not be easy – the early church would suffer persecution. Their light would truly shine before men as they stood up for what they believed. This would take genuine faith, not just an outward profession.
* * *
     Lord, give me the faith I need to persevere even when things are difficult. May my attitude be one that glorifies the Lord I serve. Give our family the presence of Your Holy Spirit as You have promised for those who ask. Lead us in Your perfect will.
* * *
     Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NKJV

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A TRICK QUESTION

[41]

Read: Luke 20:20–26


So the spies questioned him:… Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Luke 20:21-22 NIV
* * *
     Jesus had just spoken a parable which implicated the religious leaders in their plot to kill Him. Not only that, but he referred to prophesies from Psalms and Isaiah in regard to what they were doing:
     “Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: "'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." (20:17-18 NIV)
* * *
     They knew He spoke the parable about them, so in order to trick Him into saying something against Rome they asked, "Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" He saw through their duplicity and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?" "Caesar's," they replied…” (20:22-25a)
* * *
     Those leaders thought they could trick Jesus into a capital offense. But what they didn't realize was that no one could take His life from Him. They must not have been listening when He said, "My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." ( John 10:17-18 NKJV)
* * *
     Lord, I thank you that as we approach this Easter season we remember that You were indeed victorious over death in the resurrection. Because of Your willingness to lay down Your life and then take it up again, we have the promise of eternal life. How can I ever thank you enough? May my life be lived in the light of this precious gift.
* * *
He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (20:25b NIV)