Friday, April 28, 2006

Worship the King

Psalm 95:1-7
1 Come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing him psalms of praise.
3 For the LORD is a great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 He owns the depths of the earth,
and even the mightiest mountains are his.
5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.
6 Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
7 for he is our God. NLT

Lord, You are a great and awesome God! You are King of kings! Maker of mighty mountains and surging seas! Owner of the depths of the earth and lofty skies! You rule and reign from heaven on high!

In reverent awe, I come just as I am, humble, meek, and poor, to worship You in the splendor of Your sovereignty. I’m not worthy to climb into Your presence. I can’t stand on this holy ground without purifying my mind and soul. With a clean heart and clear conscience, I’ll enter the beauty of Your holiness to adore You with deep devotion.

Because Your precious Son bought me with His priceless blood, I’ll come before You with thanksgiving exalting You above the heavens. Seeing Your radiant face, I’ll kneel before Your throne and anoint Your feet with the sweet aroma of joyful praise.

With my hands, I’ll extol You. With my lips, I’ll lift You up. With my feet, I’ll serve You. With my tongue, I’ll sing of Your unfailing love and faithfulness. Gladly, I’ll devote my life to You in worship. Please receive my humble sacrifice of praise because I love and adore You above all, my holy God and glorious King. Alleluia. Amen.

Prepare your heart for corporate worship by focusing on God’s reverence. Then, go in awe of Him and be blessed!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Words of Wisdom

Romans 15:1-7
1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

God of Hope,
Your Words are wonderful! They’re more precious than silver, more brilliant than diamonds. Thank You for preserving Ancient History to teach me. In the classroom of my heart I gain knowledge, wisdom and discernment. I develop insight to help me differentiate between right and wrong. Reading and studying Your Great History book, is the wisest thing I could ever do. It prepares me for the biggest test of my life – loving and accepting others.

Fully aware of the facts, I’ll know that my selfish pride and prejudice leads to dissension, disagreement, and disconnect. Following Your perfect example, I’ll offer my body as a living sacrifice. Just as You gave up Your rights to glory and power, I’ll give up my rights to accolades and control. Because You left Your lofty, holy and pure position in heaven and came to earth to bear my sin and shame, I’ll leave my hoity-toity pedestal of prominence to bear with the faults and failures of others. Since You graciously removed the barrier of sin that separates me from You, I’ll voluntarily take down the walls of intolerance that divide me from others. United, we’ll glorify You with one heart and one mouth by accepting one another.

Familiarity with the past will help me better understand the future. Primed with faith, I’ll have endurance, encouragement, and confidence to keep an optimistic outlook of loving unity throughout each day. As I diligently read and study my Bible, Your Ancient History book, please fill me with joy and peace. I trust that the Hope of Heaven will spill from my heart by the power of the Spirit that is within me. May my attitudes and actions bring praise to our glorious family name forever and ever! Amen.

The lessons we learn from God’s Word are tremendous! If we seriously take the time to study and practice our lessons, we’ll fulfill our call to be holy. We’ll be people of peace and joy. A delight to be around!

What lesson is God teaching you in the classroom of your heart? Are you practicing it? Are you ready for the biggest test of your life – to love and accept others unconditionally?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Living Together Harmoniously

Romans 14:19
19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. As a member of Your royal family, I’m a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven where rules still abound. I praise You, Father, because I belong in Your royal household with every other Christian from every nation, tribe and tongue. Whether we realize it or not, our lives are interwoven, interconnected and interdependent. You expect us to love and respect each other as Jesus does.

We come here from many different lands, with our unusual dialects, and habitual traditions. Our commitment to unity and loyalty, despite our diversity, will prove that we love You. We are richly blessed to be here as Your chosen children. Each of us has been uniquely created to be a vessel of grace. In the splendor of Your majesty, clothe us with compassion, gentleness and tolerance to love despite our differences. Create in our hearts a desire to listen, support and encourage each other. Anoint our tongues with grace to generously build each other up. Don’t let any unwholesome, hurtful words come out of our mouths. In Your home Lord, may we honor You with peace and harmony.

Bickering, squabbling, arguing, and quarreling over insignificant issues causes division and dissensions. It disrespects Your authority and grieves Your loving heart. Please dear Lord, just give me more of Jesus. Full of Him, I’ll lay aside my selfish attitudes and actions in order to keep peace in our family. In doing so, our family name will be kept holy, righteous and pure. In my life Lord, be glorified today. Amen.

Have you ever stopped to think about how many different cultures are in the family of God? We come from different generations speaking different languages. But, our Father clearly commands us to make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. We must tolerate and accept each other! It’s not an option!

What can you do today to prevent division and dissension in your church? Ask God to anoint your tongue with grace to speak words that build up rather than tear down. As children of the Carpenter, our Daddy teaches us precisely how to build His Temple. Will you listen and follow His instruction?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Stumbling Blocks

Romans 14: 13
13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

Luke 17:1-3
1Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3So watch yourselves."

O Lord My God,
Have mercy on me! Increase my faith and change me from the inside out! Search my heart and reveal my weaknesses so that I can be on guard against sin. Because we live in a fallen world surrounded by all sorts of evil and temptation we’re bound to stumble and fall. Sometimes I’ll set-up the obstacle, other times I’ll trip over it.

O righteous God who searches hearts and minds, search me and point out any offensive way in me. Shine Your light on my heart and reveal my weaknesses and vulnerabilities so that I’ll notice the obstructions in front of me. With eyes wide open, I’ll avoid the dangerous pitfalls that I’m most likely to plunge into.

Where I’m strong give me grace to be sensitive to my surroundings so that I won’t hinder others. Show me the weaknesses and susceptibility of my family and friends. Aware of the difficulties that cause them problems, I’ll practice love, patience and self-restraint. With my eyes fixed on You, I’ll cautiously look out for the best interest of others. Woe to me if I cause someone to fall! I’d be better off dead!

Please cover me with humility, kindness and love to stand firm in all situations. You and You alone are the Only Righteous Judge. I need to stop condemning and glorify our family name. Amen.

Your faith is strong in an area if you can survive contact with sinners without being shaped into their image. It is weak in an area if you must avoid an activity in order to protect yourself from falling. Whenever in doubt, ask yourself: "Can I do it without sinning? Will my attitudes and actions influence others for the good?"

Identify your strengths and weaknesses. One thing I will do today is ____________________ (action) in order to prevent ______________________ (name of a person) from stumbling.

One thing I will do today is stop nagging in order to prevent my child from stumbling. (My constant badgering annoys him and causes dissension in our family.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Disputable Matters

Romans 14:1, 3, 10, 12, 17-18
1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters … 3for God has accepted him.

10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Father in Heaven~
Thank You for cultural diversity. Some cultures believe eating meat is immoral. Other cultures require women to cover their heads. Certain cultures permit and promote alcohol and gambling. Specific cultures forbid any and all activities on the Sabbath. Particular cultures celebrate holy days that others don’t recognize. Some cultures perform rites and rituals that I don’t understand. Other cultures celebrate communion and baptism differently. Certain cultures believe there is an appropriate dress code for church. Some cultures like to worship You with traditional music while others like to worship with dancing, guitars and cymbals. Even theology varies within society. Who am I to determine who is right or wrong, strong or weak?

Forgive me, Lord, for being brutally opinionated! You accept everyone and command me to do the same. Every one of us will stand before Your throne and give an account to You. You will judge each of us according to what we’ve done. That means You will judge my intolerance and criticism of people who are different from me.

Help me dear Lord, to love my brothers and sisters in this hugely diverse family. You’ve adopted us from various and vast backgrounds. We bring with us a variety of human traditions. Your kingdom is not about rituals and religion. It’s about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Open my mind to love and accept those who think, perform and act different from me. Exercising self-control when I treat others with loving tolerance, I’ll please You and glorify Your holy name. In my life Lord be glorified. Amen.

Have you ever stopped to think about all the disputable matters that we allow to affect our worship? God just wants us to get along! Our principle should be: in essentials: unity; in non-essentials: tolerance, in everything: love. Identify one issue in the church that irritates you. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with love to tolerate and accept the situation. Set aside your selfishness for the sake of Jesus! After all He did for you, it’s the least you can do for Him.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mandatory Mission

Matthew 28: 16-20
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 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."

Lord of the Universe,
I ascend the Most High and Holy Mountain to the Pinnacle of Your Presence. Bowing down in awe of Your majesty, I worship and adore You in the beauty of holiness. You are the One and Only True and Living God. Raised from the dead, You are Ruler of heaven and earth! All authority belongs to You! Your power is vast and victorious.. I never want to doubt that "My God Reigns!"

You are the King supremely seated on the throne of my heart. I submit my whole life to Your final costly command. Clearly, Your parting Words commission me to GO to every community in every country telling people of every culture to repent and believe in You for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Proclaiming the Good News, I’ll persuade people everywhere to pursue You. Practicing extravagant love, I’ll teach them by example to obey You.

Please fill me with Holy Spirit power to GO with brave boldness. Open my eyes to see all the sick, sad souls surrounding me. Open my ears to hear the sound of people marching to hell. Give me a sensitive spirit to stop and share the Only Way to eternal life. It’s not optional. It’s a mandatory mission from the One I call King, Lord and Master. To disobey would be disrespectful insubordination!

I claim the powerful promise that accompanies this great commission. You pledge to be with me all the days of my life. You will never ever leave me! Since I can’t fathom the thought of anyone spending eternity with Satan, I’ll courageously and confidently conquer my fears and GO as You command. One day every tongue will confess You are God, one day every knee will bow to the glory of Your Most High and Holy Name. I exalt You, O Lord, above the heavens. Let Your glory be over all the earth! Alleluia! Amen.

Do you believe the One who rules the universe? Do you acknowledge Him as your King, Lord, and Master? If so, you’ve been given a mandatory mission to spread the Good News: Our God Reigns! It’s as easy as ABC.

A = Admit you are a sinner
B = Believe Jesus died for your sins
C = Commit your life to Him

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I Have Seen The Lord

John 21: 1- 7, 12
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.

6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"

12None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.

Jesus, You are the Lord, the great I AM, who is always with me. On bright days, Your presence warms my heart. On deep, dark days filled with discouragement and disappointment You are just as present. On days of despair when all hope is gone and the net of my heart is empty, my vision is distorted by tear soaked eyes. I can’t recognize You standing right in front of me. I can’t hear Your voice. Are You there?

Please open my eyes to see while others just stand still staring. Open my mind to perceive while others parade around pondering. Many will watch, but I want to see, hear, and believe. Give me crystal clear vision to recognize You! I long to know You more dearly so that I can see You more clearly. When You affectionately call me I want to know Your voice. I need to hear You say, "Friend, haven’t you any hope?" Then I need faith to follow Your simple command to toss the empty net of my heart into the sea of blessings. You will fill it beyond my wildest imagination and exceed my immediate need! I’ll jubilantly shout, "It is the Lord!" and others will notice You because of my faith.

Please dear Lord, take my desperate dilemma and turn it into innumerous blessings for Your glorious name. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and faith to believe. Amen.

What is your hopeless situation? Do you see the Lord standing in front of you? He’s there if you look beyond the tears. He’s calling, "Friend, haven’t you any hope?" Tell him today that you want to know Him more dearly so that you can clearly see Him, hear Him, and believe Him when your heart is empty.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Blessing of Peace

John 20: 19-22

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

Prince of Peace,
It’s comforting to know that no door can shut out Your presence. There is no lock strong enough to keep You out! Blessed assurance! I cherish the moment when You came, stood in the living room of my heart and spoke a blessing of peace to me.

What a joy it was to see Your mighty nail-pierced hand and feel the warmth of Your amazing love. It’s the hand that was hammered to the cross to blot out my blemishes, erase my errors and fix my flaws. It’s the hand that forever changed me and gave me new life. There is precious peace in Your pardon.

I rejoice at the sight of the spear-torn flesh in Your side. From it spewed the innocent blood that made me holy, pure, and blameless in Your sight. A fountain of water flowed from Your wound to heal me of mine. Because of Your torn flesh, nothing can separate me from You – no grief, no fault, no fear. There is peace in Your presence.

Finally, You breathed on me and filled me with Your Spirit. You empowered me to go persuade people to drop their differences and pursue friendship with You. I am required to confidently and courageously tell the life-changing story of my extreme encounter with my crucified Lord. There is peace in Your power.

Please dear Lord, come, stand in the living room of my heart today. Breathe a fresh blessing of peace on me. Renew the Holy Spirit power with in me and remind me of my mandatory mission. Then, I will go speak a blessing of peace to others for the praise of Your glorious name. Amen.

Have you seen the nail-pierced hand and spear-torn flesh of Jesus? If so, go tell others the difference it made in Your life. It’s not optional.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

He Walks With Me and Talks With Me

Luke 24: 13-32
13That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. 14They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. 15In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. 16But they were not able to recognize who he was.

17He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?" They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. 18Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"

19He said, "What has happened?" They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. 20Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. 21And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. 22But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb 23and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. 24Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus."

25Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? 26Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" 27Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

28They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on 29but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. 30And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. 31At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

32Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"MSG

O how wonderful you are! You walk with me and talk with me every day. How often do I fail to recognize You in my circumstances? Heartbroken and feeling abandoned tears flow down my face as I discuss my situation with friends. I must look ridiculous when I am wallowing in self-pity while You are right beside me! Open the eyes of my heart Lord, so that I can vividly see You in my midst.

Please dear Lord, when I am down in the dumps and crying the blues give me Your lantern and compass. Give me Your map. Help me to find the way to the sacred mountain, to Your presence. There, I will enter the place of worship and SEE my exuberant and magnificent God right in the middle of my hopeless situation! I will gaze into Your eyes and praise Your holy name. You will turn my frown into a smile.

Every day You talk to me like a friend through prayer and Bible study. You set my heart on fire. There’s nothing more thrilling than Your voice. It stirs up warmth in the hollow of my heart. Help me to BELIEVE You when You speak to me. Help me to live in absolute expectancy, trusting You to do what You say You will do. Lord, You have captivated my heart! Please ignite others with the flame of this Holy Spirit wild fire burning within me. I want more than the blessing of my daily bread! I want ALL of YOU, JESUS! Amen.

Do you see Jesus in the middle of your hopeless situation? He's there walking with you. Why don't you talk to Him? He lives!

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart. (Copyright 1933 by Homer Rodehaver)

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Empty Tomb

Matthew 28:1-8
1 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

5 Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you."

8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them. "Greetings!" he said. And they ran to him, held his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there." NLT

God of Hope,
My Living Lord,
I feel the fear and joy of the women who were at the tomb that glorious Sunday morning when You arose from the grave giving them the generous gift of the resurrection – eternal life.
After Saturday mourning, these faithful followers awoke earlier than usual. The rays of the sun were just beginning to illuminate the new week when they somberly and silently went to sit by the sepulcher. O how I wonder what I miss when I don’t seek You early in the morning! Undoubtedly, these women didn’t expect the excitement that was about to unfold!

In the shadow of sorrow and sadness, the earth suddenly shook ferociously. A brilliant array of brightness bolted like lightening through the dark morning sky, jolting them from their feet. An angel, dressed in a glistening garment surrounded by the radiance of Your glory swiftly moved the huge stone aside and sat on it. He calmed their fears and proclaimed the Good News! You most certainly were alive.

The empty tomb guarantees it.
The angel assures it.
The women witnessed it.

As You promised, all my sins were buried in that tomb with You. My old way of life was gone forever, forgiven and forgotten in a cold, dark, empty grave. As You arose, so did I to a bountiful, beautiful new life. Hallelujah!

Fill me dear Lord with the same reverent fear and exuberant joy You gave these dear women. Exploding with excitement, I will go tell the Good News to all those around me! "Jesus is alive! A miracle has happened before my eyes. I have seen His shining glory, heard His gentle voice, and will never be the same again. Come and see!"

Holy Spirit, open the ears of those near me to hear this Good News. May someone receive the generous gift of life today because they have seen You resurrected in me. Glory to God in the highest. Amen.

O how I wonder what we miss when we don’t seek to worship Him early in the morning. Undoubtedly, we miss many exciting encounters with the Lord! I challenge you to get up early tomorrow morning, while it’s still dark outside, and go to the grave. Seek Him! There you’ll find an empty tomb and abundant new life! Go quickly! Worship Him!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday, Endless Saturday, Easter Sunday

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him. Luke 23:33

When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching. Luke 33:48-49

Then Joseph took Jesus’ body down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. Luke 33:53-56

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" Luke 24:1-6

Jesus, Risen Savior, Glorious Lord~
The invitation to follow You is not one for fun in the Son. Not every day will be a bright, cheerful ticker tape parade. In fact, if we accept the invitation, we should anticipate a dark, difficult march through the valley of death. Our acquaintances may abandon us in our affliction, but those who truly love us will linger and watch until the tragedy is terminated. Lord, You know that Good Fridays are excruciatingly painful! Please give us strength to tolerate them.

After Friday comes endless Saturday mourning. Something’s gone or someone’s missing. The very thing or person that once filled the hollow of our heart has vanished. We’re left alone and empty, wondering when the wait will end. Sadness and sorrow seize our soul. Please dear Lord, give us faith to face Saturday, and grace to remain at the grave through our grief.

If we stick around through our dreadfully dark Fridays and seemingly eternal Saturdays, we’ll see brilliant sensational Sundays! We will rejoice when You turn our trial into triumph! It will be a blessing when You wipe the warm tears from our blurry eyes. As our vision clears we will see something bright drawing near, something different than we’ve ever seen before. We will see You our Risen Savior and Glorious Lord! Hallelujah! Amen.

Between yesterday’s tragedy and tomorrow’s triumph will you leave God or linger at the grave until He’s glorified?

Your Good Friday could be disease or death, affliction or addiction, divorce or separation, heartache or hardship, disaster or destruction. Whatever your misfortune, look forward with hope to Easter Sunday when your mourning will turn to joy

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Simon of Cyrene

Matthew 27:32-35
32 As they were on the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill). 34 The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. 35 After they had nailed him to the cross. NLT

Jesus, Son of God,
Thank You for the wonderful image You’ve given me through Simon of Cyrene. An unimportant, ordinary man, he happened to stop at a dramatic scene, and was pressed into service by the tap of the Roman’s soldier’s broad sword. Little did he know when he stopped to watch the drama unfold, that he’d be forced to participate in an unwanted, unplanned, and unglamorous assignment that would radically reshape the remainder of his life. Undoubtedly, he had no idea that the command he’d been given to carry Your cross would be one of the greatest honors ever given to a human being. Certainly, he didn’t expect a divine encounter when he left home that morning. Pressed into service, he had no choice but to lay aside his plans and obey.

Lord, if you tap me on the shoulder with the Sword of Your Word and compel me to carry a burden for You, I want to be like Simon of Cyrene. He wasn’t chosen because he was pious, strong or faithful. He was chosen simply because he was in the right place at the right time. He may have grudging obliged. However, seeing his blessing I’ll willingly pick up any burden You hand me and carry it no matter the cost. A job that looks insignificant and inconsequential could turn out to be an incredibly important, life altering incident, and a divine encounter with You.

All around me are broken, traumatized, exhausted people who have stumbled and can’t get up. The weight of their cross is more than they can bear. Helping a scorned person carry his or her humiliation will likely hinder my plans and dreams. It will certainly require sacrifice. It may be degrading and out of my comfort zone. At the same time, it may be the most honorable, significant assignment I ever receive. Please dear Lord, press me into service today. I will obey to honor and glorify Your name. Amen.

Whose cross can you carry today? Open the eyes of your heart and look around. There are hurting people every where. Stop whatever you’re doing. Pick up their cross and walk in the name of Jesus. Just as Christ walked with Simon, He’ll walk with you. That irritating interruption, may be one of the greatest honors you’ll ever receive.

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Healed By His Wounds

1 Peter 2: 21-24
21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22"He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth."

23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Jesus, My Redeemer,
Thank You for revealing the truth of my sin and my despicable, depraved condition that led You to the cross. Because You suffered for me, I’m called to suffer for You. It’s the debt of love, Paul refers to in Romans 13:8. Clothed in Your love and filled with Your power when others:

  • Strip and offend me, exposing my shame, I won’t retaliate
  • Twist the truth and prick my mind with thorns, I won’t be deceived
  • Mock and make fun of me for my faith, I’ll stand firm and steadfast
  • Spew filth from their mouth that insults me, I won’t spit back
  • Beat and hurt me, I won’t seek revenge

Instead, I’ll follow Your example and trust You, the One and Only Fair Judge who rules over all authority in heaven and earth. Like You, I want to love my neighbor and pray for those who hate me.

Thank You for personally carrying the wounds of my sins and the filth of my spit on Your body to the cross so that I could die to sin and live for what is right. For that reason, I humbly bow at the foot of the cross today, allowing the Living Water from the wound in Your side to purify the sewer deep within me, and the blood from Your wounds to drip down and cover every mistake I’ve ever made and ever will make. By Your wounds I am healed and by Your grace, I’m able to follow Your example, exercising self-control on my own journey to the cross for the glory of Your name. Amen.

The death was for us. He can heal us – even the most broken of us. He can meticulously pick up all the shattered pieces of our lives and put them back together. He can change us – even the worst of us. He can open the gates of heaven and give us a glimpse of eternity so that, by faith, we’ll walk steadfastly toward whatever lies ahead. And, He will. He will if we humble ourselves at the foot of the cross. Have you? Have you turned to the One who can heal and restore you?

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Depravity of Man

Matthew 27:27-31
27Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Dear Jesus,
These verses send chills down my spine and bring tears to my eyes. How could they do this to You, my tender, gentle and kind Friend? You’ve never done anything wrong! Sadly, the atrocious behavior I see in the Roman soldiers, is true of me too. Running deep within my soul is a cesspool seeping with foulness, ugliness and self-righteous.

I strip You by committing sins that embarrass others, exposing their shame. Judging, gossiping, and insulting others strips both You and them of dignity. Full of pride, I can’t admit my mistakes and failures. Lying and blaming someone else is disgraceful. Cynicism and sarcasm is humiliating.

Sins that prick my mind are the thorns the pierced Your sacred brow. Worry, unbelief, and anxiety stab You. Movies, music, television and magazines used for my entertainment jab You. Greed, envy, and bitterness poke You. The truth can be so easily twisted into a crown of prickly thorns.

I mock You when I’m hypocritical and deceitful. Failing to spend time with You praying and reading my Bible is a form of scoffing. Taking Your name in vain is a means of jeering. All the pleasures and treasures I worship more than You are a type of sneering.

Spit is the filth that spews from my heart out of my mouth. The hateful, profane words I speak to others, I spit on You. You are splattered with the disgusting saliva of my arrogance, complaining and ungratefulness.

Sin that hurts others beats You. Lifting my hand in anger, I’ve not only struck the offender, but also You. Lusting or flirting with someone other my spouse is not only a blow to him/her but also a blow to You. You’re beaten by my critical spirit and unforgiving heart. You’re battered by my emotional, physical and spiritual adultery.

Lord, I’m sorry for standing with the Roman soldiers who scorned You, derided You, and ridiculed You. I can’t believe I was there subjecting You to the cruelest degradation. There is a beast within me capable of the meanest, roughest words and actions. Thank You for personally carrying the wounds of my sins and the filth of my spit on Your sacred body all the way to the cross.

I can’t bear to think of the pain I’ve caused You and still do. Please forgive me and tame the beast within me by Your almighty power. Amen.

All of us are capable of the cruelest, meanest acts. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40) Today I’m choosing to reflect on the ugliness of my natural state, so that I can truly appreciate God’s immeasurable love on Easter Sunday.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Journey To The Cross

Luke 9: 51As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

Name above all names, beautiful Savior, glorious Lord. I am awe of You and Your journey to greatness. I am deeply humbled and terribly convicted. You knew what was waiting for you in Jerusalem: betrayal, rejection, suffering and ultimately death on the cross; yet you set your face resolutely on the challenge and conquered it. Despite the anticipation and expectation of excruciating pain and suffering you humbly moved forward steadfastly, with determination to become obedient to death to bring many children to glory.

Forgive me for avoiding the difficult journey. Forgive me for all the detours I take in order to avoid betrayal, rejection, suffering and even death to self. Help me dear Lord, to choose the highway of humility. The voyage is excruciatingly painful but the destination is sweet. The journey is long – life long. I grow tired and weary from exerting my own energy. By Your grace and power, I will deny myself daily and take up my cross and follow you with steadfast determination to reach the goal for which you have called me. Let this mind be in me that was also in Christ Jesus ... that mind which focused on the glorious final destination in the New Jerusalem. Amen.

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Depth of Love

Ephesians 3:14-19
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I kneel before You Father astonished by the rich gifts You’ve lavished on me: the family name, the family image and the family fortune. Being chosen and adopted into Your family is the highest honor and greatest privilege I’ll ever receive. Nothing else will ever come close.
Today I’m claiming the priceless family promise of power to change the way I think and perceive myself. You don’t see me the way I see myself: unattractive, unworthy, and unlovable. You see me as Your beloved child. Please give me faith to believe and power to grasp:

The width of Your love: wide enough to reach the whole wide world, while also touching the homosexual, the prostitute, the adulterer, the murderer, the addict, the abuser, the abused, the obsessed, the rich, the poor and much wider than I can imagine.

The length of Your love: long enough to cover my entire life, longer than my rebellion, hatefulness, apathy, arrogance, ignorance, and much longer than I can visualize.

The depth of Your love: deep enough to feel my severely broken heart that no one else understands, deeper than my insecurities and fears, and still deeper than I could ever dream.

The height of Your love: high enough to stretch from heaven to earth to show me the way to all Your hidden treasures and higher than my simple mind can possibly understand.

Father, if I could comprehend and claim Your limitless love, then I’d look to You and You alone for love. I’d stop seeking approval from my parents, spouse, children, and friends. I wouldn’t fill my life with trinkets and treasures. I’d no longer crave the desires and lifestyle that once held me captive. I’d long for You and You alone.

Dear Lord, please fill me to overflowing with the inexhaustible love of Jesus today. With all my heart, I want to receive and accept the infinite love You bestow on Your children for the glory of Your name forever and ever. Amen.

Have you received and accepted God’s lavish gift of love, promised to His children? He’s not waiting for you to be perfect. It’s yours to claim today, just as you are. If you don’t feel worthy of accepting it, please pray and ask Him to give you the power to accept it. It’s a life changing gift.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Debt of Love

Romans 13:8-14
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Lord of Love,
The only way I can begin to pay You back for Your infinite love is to love others. In love You came down from heaven to bless, choose, adopt, accept, redeem, and forgive me while I was unattractive, unworthy, and unlovable. The least I can do is obey You.

  • I won’t let myself starve; therefore, I need to feed the hungry.
  • I make sure that I’m properly clothed before leaving the house; therefore, I’m expected to dress the destitute.
  • I put a warm and cozy roof over my head; therefore, I’m required to find shelter for the homeless.
  • I don’t want to be cheated or deceived; therefore, it’s necessary for me to be honest and fair to others.
  • I despise being stabbed with hateful, hurtful words; therefore, I can’t kill the spirits of others with my own unkind works.
  • I’d be angry if someone tried to interfere with my marriage; therefore, I’m obligated to stay out of someone else’s marriage.
  • I don’t want anyone to covet my possessions; therefore, I can’t be jealous when someone has something bigger or better than me.

The only way I can properly respond to Your immeasurable, inexhaustible love is to behave decently as a Christian child by fully obeying Your law of love. Please dear Lord, clothe me with power and love to make a difference where it matters today because tomorrow may be too late. Open my eyes to see someone who needs love today and I will obey no matter the cost because I appreciate the high price of the love You lavished on me. To You who rules on the throne on my heart forever and ever be the glory. Amen.

In light of God’s incredible gift of love given to you, what will you do today to obey His command to love your neighbor as yourself? Admit your own selfishness. Repent and reach out in love to someone in a difficult situation. Do it today because tomorrow may be too late.

Today I will reach out in love by _________________________________ as a token of appreciation for the high price Jesus paid for my pardon. I will do it today because tomorrow may be too late.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Authority Established by God

Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Most High Ruler~
All power and authority has been established by You: honest and corrupt, good and evil, democratic and autocratic, right and wrong. All authority in heaven and earth belongs to You. Looking back at ancient History, I can see how You work through wicked regimes:

  • If You hadn’t established the evil government of Pharaoh, then you couldn’t have shown Your strength to part the Red Sea and deliver the Israelites from his wicked rule.

  • If You hadn’t set-up the corrupt government of Pontius Pilate, You couldn’t have fulfilled Your plan to save the world through the death of Your dear Son.

Jesus clearly teaches that we should expect to be arrested, hunted down, and thrown in jail because we carry Your family name. On the witness stand, rather than worrying, we should trust Your promise to give us words and wisdom that will reduce our accusers to stammers and stutters.[a]

Again, all we have to do is look back at History and learn from the apostles who submitted to hateful leaders. When Peter and John were taken captive for showing kindness, they didn’t rebel or revolt. Instead, filled with the Holy Spirit, they testified to the Truth, proclaiming the name of Jesus. The authorities were left speechless and perplexed. The apostles chose to obey God’s authority at all costs. They were tormented and tortured, but didn’t vacillate in their testimony about repentance and forgiveness.[b]

Lord, You are the Most High and Sovereign King, the Only Righteous Ruler. When I’m faced by unjust authority, fill me with the Holy Spirit to stand up in power, submit to their rule, and trust You to defend me with words and wisdom. With You enthroned on my heart, I have no reason to fear man. Please give me more faith to believe that You will stand with me through trials, torment and torture. Please give me more power to testify to the Truth, proclaiming the name of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.

Jesus promises that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. What can you do today to prepare to submit to the authorities during your trials, torment and torture of tomorrow?

[a] Luke 21:12-15
[b] Acts 4:1-22, 5:17-42

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Think Lovely Thoughts

Philippians 4:4-8
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Lord of Love,
Thank You for Your truth, righteousness and purity. You are beautiful beyond description. Gazing on Your majesty, I rejoice at Your radiance and splendor. As I present my requests to You today with a thankful heart please replace my anxiety with perfect peace. Guard my heart and mind with lovely thoughts of You and who I am in You: You are the only Truth. You are a noble King who has chosen and adopted me to live in Your glorious kingdom eternally! You are blameless and have given me extravagant gifts including an elegant robe of righteousness to cover my sin and shame. You are pure and have given me free, unlimited access to Your beauty bar where my life is made lovely and admirable in the light of Your glory and grace.

Please dear Lord, draw my face up to Yours today. Let me gaze upon Your loveliness and be filled with Your perfect peace. Amen.

List as many beautiful characteristics of God as you can think of. Carry the list with you this week, praising Him all the day long as you mediate on it. Your anxiety will turn to peace as you fix your eyes on the majesty of the Most High King, Jesus.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Christian Family Rules

Romans 12:9-16
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Father in Heaven~
Thank You for clearly posting the Christian Family Rules:

  1. Unconditionally love your brothers and sisters even when they’re unlovable, undeserving, and unresponsive
  2. Don’t feed your mind evil thoughts; instead fill it with things that are good, righteousness, and pure.
  3. Lay aside selfishness; delight in treating each other with respect and common courtesy.
  4. Never give up!
  5. Serve me enthusiastically.
  6. Persevere under pressure.
  7. Let your hope of heaven make you glad.
  8. Never stop praying.
  9. Take care of each other.
  10. Welcome strangers into your home.
  11. Ask me to bless everyone who mistreats you.
  12. Be happy when others are happy.
  13. Be sad when others are sad.
  14. Be friendly with everyone.
  15. Don’t be proud.
  16. Be willing to do menial tasks.
  17. Be willing to interact with people who are different from you.
  18. Don’t be a know it all.
Father, only by Your grace can I stand before You as Your beloved child, adopted, redeemed, and forgiven. Because I love and respect You with all of my heart, I will do my best to obey the rules of Your house. Please fill me with more of Your love, grace and power. Show me who I can love in Your name today. Amen.

At my home there are rules posted on the refrigerator door. We expect our children to obey them. It’s not always easy. Likewise, God has posted rules for us to obey.

Which of these rules do you have a hard time obeying? Ask God to fill you with more of His power to overcome your selfish desires. Then, look for an opportunity to enthusiastically serve someone in a difficult situation.

Today I will lay aside my selfish desires and love ______________________________ in the name of Jesus. (fill in the name of someone whom you will show God’s love.)