Friday, April 29, 2011

Matthew 28: 16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and 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 28, 2011

John 21: 1- 7, 12

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "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.

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

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

He 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.

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

None 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. Unclog my ears so that I'll 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 27, 2011

Luke 24: 13-16, 28-32

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

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

Back 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?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

John 20: 19-22

On 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!"

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And 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 within 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 kingdom. 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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Job 19:25-27

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes-I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me.

Jesus, My Redeemer,
How can I ever thank You for buying me, not with corruptible coins made of silver and gold, but with Your incorruptible flesh and blood? Willingly enduring a violent execution, You descended into Hell to rescue me. After three days in a dark tomb, You defeated death and bounced back to glorious life - not as a stiff cold corpse, but as an able-bodied man who could walk and talk. Hallelujah!

My Redeemer lives!
Your empty grave guarantees it!
Your faithful followers witnessed it!
I believe it!

And, I know with full assurance that one day, possibly quite soon, the heavens will split open and You will appear on a great white stallion. Standing upon this earth with fire in Your eyes and a sword in Your hand, You will be endowed with integrity, nobility and strength. At Your appearance, every man, woman, and child will be knocked off their feet and acknowledge that You are Lord of lords, and King of kings. Undoubtedly, I will see my Faithful Knight, the Prince of Peace crowned with beauty and majesty.

Though disease and death may destroy my body, and darkness may obstruct my view, I believe with all my heart that one day I will personally stand with heaving lungs and a throbbing heart, gazing on Your glory with my own two eyes. In Your power I will have a mountaintop view of the Triumphant One who bought me and set me forever free to live eternally. O how my heart dances with desire! Hallelujah! Amen.

How confident are you that one day soon the heavens will burst open and Jesus, your Redeemer, will to stand upon the earth? Do you believe that after this time of extreme darkness, disease, and even death that you will see Him in all His splendor with your own two eyes?

Does the very thought of seeing the Risen Redeemer set your heart dancing with desire?

O how my heart yearns within me! Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Matthew 28:1-10

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. 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. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come; see where his body was lying. 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."

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. And as they went, Jesus met them. "Greetings!" he said. And they ran to him, held his feet, and worshiped him. 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 amazing gift of the resurrection - eternal life.

After Saturday mourning, these faithful followers awoke earlier than usual. The sun's rays 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!

Because You live, I can face tomorrow.

Because You live all fear is gone!

Because I know You hold the future

And life is worth the living just because You live.

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!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Luke 23: 50, 55-56

The women, who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

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.

Thank You for the amazing lesson we learn from these devoted women who bravely followed You. Like best friends, they fearlessly walked with You through the dark, difficult valley of death. While the other disciples abandoned You under mounting pressure, these courageous ladies stayed at the Cross until every last gruesome detail was finished and cleaned up.

Heartbroken, they went home and prepared their most valuable possessions - spices and perfume, to lovingly and respectfully care for Your dead body. Deep in despair, they rested and waited through a long Friday night and endless Saturday mourning for the appropriate time to serve You.

We too will experience frighteningly dark Friday's - times of extreme crisis and confusion. During intensely disturbing, uncertain circumstances we can be like the disciples and go into hiding, or we can be like these courageous women and stick around until every shocking detail is worked into something magnificently beautiful. In their wildest dreams, they couldn't have imagined the spectacular ending to the story; but, because of their wholehearted love and commitment, they were the first to witness the miracle of Your astonishing resurrection.

O how often we miss the wonders of Your love because we walk away during duress. With our eyes on our own sad situation, we don't even consider offering our most valuable treasures to tenderly and reverently care for You. Please dear Lord, give us strength to endure excruciatingly painful conditions, sensitive hearts to serve You in the midst of our misery, and faith to remain at the grave through our grief.

Just as You turned their tragedy into triumph, we can expect You to turn our dark Fridays and endless Saturdays into brilliant Sundays for the glory of Your name. 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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

John 19:38-42

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Holy Spirit,

Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to see that I too am guilty of being a secret follower of Jesus like Joseph and Nicodemus. I call myself a Christian in my heart, but am afraid to admit it in front of people. Frightened of losing my prestigious place in the community, I too hide my faith in the closet. A people pleaser, I'm too scared of ridicule to stand out and publicly acknowledge my allegiance to You. Forgive me, O God, for my half-hearted commitment.

On that dreadfully dark Friday, these two casual disciples witnessed the unbelievable signs and wonders of the Cross. They experienced the unusual daytime blackout and the thunderous earthquake that shook open the gates of heaven. They saw the dead rise from the grave and knew beyond a shadow of doubt that You were Who You said You were. Recognizing the great distance You went and the exorbitant price You paid for them, they opened their mouths and spoke.

Having seen You die, their hearts were enlivened to ask for Your bloodied, bruised and battered body. Out of gratitude they bravely came out of hiding to give You a proper burial. Radically changed by Your death, they risked everything: their prominent positions, their social status, and their livelihoods to ensure that You were treated with deep heartfelt respect and dignity.

O Lord, will you kindly change my timid heart by Your death? Embolden me to come out of hiding, confidently stand up, open my mouth and speak out for You no matter the cost. With a fully devoted heart, I'll willingly risk my reputation to bring glory and honor to You because You died for me. Amen.

Are you a secret follower of Jesus Christ? Do you hide your faith from your friends and fellow workers? This is an appropriate time to come out of the closet and let others know your allegiance to Him.

Jesus has some strong words for us: "If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33 NLT

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Matthew 27:54

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"


Surely You are the Son of God!Thank You for the wonders and signs of the Cross that crushed the Roman centurion's immovable heart of stone and caused him to tremble.

On an ordinary day, there was nothing unusual or upsetting about his assignment. He had overseen executions many times before. Unconcerned with the merits of the case, he was only worried about watching and controlling the unruly mob that morning when the whole land was suddenly wrapped in an unnatural midday midnight.

Unable to see anything, he could only hear the voices of the angry bewildered masses, along with the agonizing cries from the accused. But from You, instead of cursing, he heard words that were peculiarly kind and considerate, as You miraculously focused on the needs of others during Your final horrific hours. You took the suffering that was inflicted on You calmly and quietly, baffling him.

After three frightening hours of midday darkness, the earth unexpectedly and violently quaked with a thunderous roar, shaking the very depths of his sin-scorched soul. He watched while the curtain of the temple was aggressively torn in two, the door to heaven was flung wide open, and cadavers mysteriously arose from their tombs. Woe!

The centurion and those with him certainly noticed something drastically different about Your execution. Something significant and magnificent had happened. Shocked by the wonders he had witnessed, he realized that You were no ordinary man and he was full of terror, awe, alarm, and reverence. Convinced in His heart that You were innocent, He opened His mouth and confessed, "Surely, He was the Son of God."

The lesson in it for me is to not become so complacent with my service that I don't notice who I'm serving. Please give me a desire to know You more passionately, personally and powerfully. Open the eyes of my heart to see You for Who You are: The Son of God. Trembling with fear, awe, alarm and reverence, I will fall down, open my mouth and worship You, praising and glorifying Your Holy Name. Amen.

Have you come to the place where you have a deep heartfelt respect and reverence for Jesus Christ? Do you realize that this One who died on Calvary did so for YOU? Has this filled you with awe? Has this fact alarmed you?

The centurion moved from being complacent through becoming concerned to become committed. This is the process that you must pass through on your journey to faith in Jesus Christ. You may have heard much about Him, but do not really KNOW Him. As you witness the wonders and signs of the cross, you too may become concerned about entering the gates of heaven. Don't stop short - put your faith in the One who endured all this for YOU. Will you commit your entire life to Him?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Matthew 27:50-51

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

O Living Word of God!

I'll never understand the depth of Your incredible sacrifice, nor will I comprehend the high cost of it. Even the most brilliant minds in the universe can't search out the greatness of it. Your wisdom, love and grace are inconceivable. You sure do use unpleasant and unusual occurrences to shake us up and get our attention!

Calvary's Cross was the place where Your Spirit unmistakably collided with miserable man. The earth trembled, and rock hard, unmovable hearts shattered into a million little pieces. Mine was one of them.

The curtain separating me from You was aggressively torn in two from heaven to earth as Your body was violently ripped by the soldiers' whips, cruelly torn by the crown of thorns, horribly crushed by the weight of the Cross, and split open by the piercingly sharp point of the carpenter's nails. In the repulsiveness of Your broken and bloodied body, I find the magnificence of an open door to eternity. The veil of guilt and shame that kept me hidden from You was immediately removed, revealing all that it cost You to save me.

By the way of Your precious, priceless blood I can boldly walk into Your High and Holy presence. Approaching Your gracious, glorious throne, in awe of Who You are and what You've done, all I can do is bow down and worship You for the indescribable, inexplicable, incredible things You have done for me! Hallelujah, thank You Jesus! Amen.

Ponder the indescribable, inexplicable, incredible gift of the Cross while your heart sings To God Be the Glory.

Friday, April 15, 2011

1 Peter 2: 21-24

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

"He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth."

When 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. He 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, Lamb of God,
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. 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?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Matthew 26:45-46

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

God of Enduring Love,

Thank You that Jesus, Your dearly loved Son, willingly left the sacred sanctuary in the sky where He was enthroned in the praises of the saints to come down to this dark despicable place on earth to show us how to wholly love.

Knowing that He'd have to give up His life to save us from eternal anguish, He voluntarily endured the terrible atrocity of the cross. While the whole land was wrapped in an unearthly midday midnight, no human eye could gaze on His last agonizing hours as He descended into Hell for us. Suffering unbearable darkness, intolerable pain, and indescribable loneliness His plaintive cry was answered with impenetrable, imponderable silence. For three seemingly endless hours, Your innocent Son tasted the ultimate horror of a lost soul separated from Your love and goodness as Your full wrath violently thundered down on Him.

There on the cross, as He bore the divine punishment for every last sin that was ever committed or ever will be committed, You demonstrated Your amazing unconditional love. In the midst of unspeakable torture, You had us on Your mind and were showing us Your great big beautiful heart.

Oh my God! My God! Why have I forsaken You? Ashamedly, I admit I've turned my love away from You. I've dared to slap Your holiness in the face and abandoned You to glorify myself. I've stabbed You in the back by putting other things first in my life and in my heart. Rejecting You once, is horrific and worthy of eternal damnation, but I'm so boldly arrogant that I do it continually. Yet in this heart wrenching cry from the cross is the heart of my salvation. Because You were forsaken, I am forgiven in the blessed name of Jesus who endured it all for me. Amen.

Look at the Cross. Consider Jesus hanging there in unbearable darkness, intolerable pain and indescribable loneliness, completely separated from the goodness and love of God, His Father. Consider the crown of thorns pressed down on His brow. Consider the stakes driven through His hands and feet. Consider the beating He had already endured, ripping flesh from bone, so much so that He was virtually unrecognizable. Consider that He went to Hell for you. He did it all to prove His enduring love for you.

Admit all the ways you've rejected Him. Then, listen to His cry from the cross and thank Him that you are forever forgiven. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mark 15:24 and Galatians 2:20

They crucified him.


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Suffering Servant,

I marvel at the mystery of the cruel and unusual punishment You endured for me on Calvary's Cross. Why would You, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe empty Yourself of divine power, live as a human, and humbly, obediently, and voluntarily suffer the shameful death of a slave? You took the punishment that was due me, allowing me to freely live. Oh my God, how is this kind of love possible?

When the soldiers swung the hammer, driving the spikes into Your flawless hands and feet, the blood began to trickle and then gush covering all of my faults and failures. All of my pains and disfigurements, all of my pretenses and deceits, all my passions and desires were completely killed - not controlled, concealed or counteracted, but crucified with You - dead and buried. On the Cross, my individuality was completely broken and my Spirit was made at-one with Yours. My death certificate was signed and sealed by Your blood.

At the same time, my birth certificate was signed and sealed by Your Spirit, giving me a revolutionary new life. I no longer have the rights and privileges of the past. I've been liberated to live a radically different lifestyle on a higher plane. Fully surrendered to Your supremacy, I am now Your suffering servant.

Search my heart O God, and show me anything that I haven't relinquished to You. I want to be completely eradicated of my former way of living so that the only thing remaining of my flesh and blood is Your beautiful life freely, copiously, and lovingly flowing through me. My sole motivation in life is to be so passionately, personally, and powerfully identified with You that with all my heart, mind, soul and strength I'll humbly, obediently, and voluntarily suffer to do Your will Your way because of Jesus, the Son of God who lives in me. Amen.

Ask God to search your heart and show you anything you haven't surrendered to Him. Then nail it to the Cross, no matter how painful. Crucified with Him, His blood will cover all of your faults and failures allowing you to live a victorious new life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Matthew 27:32-35

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. Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. After they had nailed him to the cross.

Jesus, Son of God,
Thank You for the wonderful mystical 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 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 bestowed on 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 disrupt my plans and dreams. It will certainly require sacrifice. Undoubtedly, 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.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Matthew 27:27-31

Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and 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. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After 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, the tender, gentle and innocent Lamb of God? 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-righteousness.

I strip You by committing sins that embarrass people, exposing their shame. Judging, gossiping, and insulting others strips both You and them of dignity. Full of pride, I can't see my own flaws 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 slapped 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.

Lamb of God, I'm deeply 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 every minute of every day. 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)

Reflect on your depravity, and admit that you're a sinner in need of God's grace.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Matthew 27: 16-20 and Matthew 27:11-26

At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

Dear Jesus,

You are King of heaven and earth, as well as, King of my heart. You absolutely rule over everything and everyone. Your proclaimed Word is sharper than the sharpest double-edged sword. It painfully cuts through my heart and mind revealing my most secret thoughts and desires. What it exposes is utterly disgraceful.

As I ponder this story I see my own ruthlessness in more ways than one. First, as an indecisive, insecure individual who asks, "What should I do with Jesus?" Though I consciously know right from wrong, I still seek public opinion in order to maintain my popularity and position in a corrupt society. Ignoring the advice of faithful friends who warn me of impending danger, I choose political-correctness over spiritual-truth. Then, vainly I wash my hands of the decision, blaming the outcome on others. Shame on me for being so spineless!

Second, I see myself as an insurgent in the crowd. On Sunday, I go to church with my comfortable Christian friends where You're well-liked and accepted. I perform all the right religious rituals and routines, but when I walk out the doors and into the wicked world where You're despised, I become an envious, indignant instigator robbing You of glory, honor and praise. In the face of an uprising, instead of speaking up for You, I speak out against You. Faced with a deadly decision, sadly, I too vote for the people's choice, Barabbas. Lord, have mercy on me for being so unfaithful.

Remind me the next time I think I'm better than anyone that I can wash my hands all I want and claim my innocence, but in Your eyes I'm equally guilty. I vote you in or out of my life and must accept full responsibility for my choice. On Judgment Day there will be no excuse. I will have to give an account for what I did with You.

Holy Spirit, fill me with more of Your almighty power to stand up for what's right in the face of adversity so that my life will praise and glorify Jesus, the One and Only True King. Amen.

You have to vote for someone. Under pressure will you choose Jesus or Barabbas?

Admit how much you're like both Pilate and the crowd. Determine to turn around, look Jesus in the face, and speak up for Him the next time you're confronted with a tough choice.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Matthew 26:38, 40-41, 43-45

Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near."

Precious Jesus,
I am so sorry! You've invited me to join You in agonizing prayer, and I have failed you miserably! Surrounded by the sorrow of sin, overwhelmed by the misery of suffering, and swallowed up in the sheer terror of impending death, You've asked me to keep vigil, but like Peter, I'm drowsy and prone to dozing off. Forgive me, O Lord!

You know the brutal battle that lies ahead for me. Clearly, You warn me to pay attention and pray. Deep agonizing grief from the consequences of poor choices will besiege me. The intense suffering from sickness will be unbearable. The cruel killing of souls and maiming of minds will torment me to the point of overwhelming despair. With all my heart, I want to obey, but the nighttime of the soul seems eternally long and I'm worn out and restless.

I beg You to teach me to pray powerful prayers that will crush the adversary. The hour is near when You'll come back, and I don't want You to find me sleeping again. I want You to be pleasantly surprised when You find me in the garden wrestling over the burdens of Your heart for the glory of Your name. Amen.

O. Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, October 16: "The key to the missionary's difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work ... the key is in following the Master's orders - the key is prayer.

Jesus has invited us to watch and pray with Him. His intense agonizing prayer in the garden gave Him the strength to face the journey to the cross. If you don't pay attention and wrestle with Him in prayer, you'll snap when the stress and strain do come - and it will come. Ask Jesus to teach you to pray powerful prayers that will crush the enemy.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Matthew 26: 37-39, 42

He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death ... He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying,"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying,"O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."

So He went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. NKJV

O Lord Jesus,
Thank You for teaching me how to pray! Forgive me for my casual, careless prayers. My happy-go-lucky heart would rather be singing praises and dancing than falling on my face in deep sorrowful prayer. I've failed to follow Your example. My prayers have been hasty, shallow and sloppy. I wonder why they go unanswered.

Please lay Your heart over my heart and teach me to pray. O that my soul would be exceedingly anguished even to the point of death for the things that trouble You. Rather than praying as I drive down the road asking You to bless this person and that person, give me this and give them that, I want to go to the garden alone, far away from the hustle and bustle, where I can experience prayer with You.

In Your presence, I'll fall on my face. Crying out to You in deep distress, You'll tell me exactly what's on Your heart. As I sit still, quietly listening to Your voice, my prayer life will change. I'll be overcome with grief for the things that grieve You. The intense pain will be unbearable. It'll be tempting to walk away from the severe problems and pressures you reveal to me, but Lord, with all my heart I want to follow You, even to death. I want to pray like You, Jesus, not my will but Yours be done. Amen.

Have you ever had this heart of God? Have you ever prayed like Jesus? Would you be willing to allow God to take You to a different kind of praying? Turn around and follow Jesus. He'll teach you how to pray powerful prayers that will make a kingdom difference.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Matthew 26: 31, 33, 35

Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
" 'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered."

Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."

Then, Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.

Hours later the self-confident Peter disowns Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-75)

Dear Jesus,

I'm dreadfully like Peter! I too have spent many intimate moments with You. Over the years, I've sat, sipped and supped with You, enjoying the rich blessing of Your friendship. In the classroom of my heart, You taught me to be wise and tune my spirit to Your will. You gave me a thorough understanding of the ways in which You work. Deeply devoted to You, I couldn't imagine life without You. You mean the world to me! How could I ever renounce You?

Yet, when faced with the challenge of ridicule and rejection, I'm prone to stand around and watch while politically-correct people insult, mock, and abuse You. Worried about my reputation, I'm unable to think clearly. If I stay at a distance, perhaps no one will notice my relationship with You. Pride tantalizes me, paralyzing my heart. What will the world think of me or do to me if I admit that I belong to You? Like Your flock of beloved disciples, I too run away, deserting You to save my name.

Confronted by angry, arrogant hate mongers, from the overflow of my anxious heart, my mouth speaks, and I vehemently deny knowing You. Lord, have mercy on me! I am deeply sorry for failing You as a disciple and friend.

Please give me the courage to stand up for You during threatening situations. Break down the stronghold pride has on my mind. Take my wandering thoughts captive and bring them back to You. With my mind under Your control, my heart will be protected. Instead of impulsively reacting to peer pressure, I'll humbly think of You. Conscientiously, I'll stand up proud to defend You, bringing glory and honor and praise to You, my lifelong teacher and friend. Amen.

Might we be guilty, like Peter, of trying to follow Christ, but with cowardice? Are you ashamed to be seen carrying a Bible? Ashamed to be seen giving thanks? Ashamed to be seen with other Christians? Have you denied Your Lord for fear of ridicule or rejection? If so, admit it with deep heartfelt sorrow, repent and determine to learn from your mistakes.

Christ can use those who recognize their failures. From this humiliating experience Peter learned important lessons that would later help him when he assumed leadership of the church.

Reflect on the lyrics and listen to Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Luke 9:51

As 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 quietly moved forward like an innocent little Lamb going to the slaughter, determined 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.

What detour have you taken to avoid the difficult journey to the Cross? Admit you've been looking for Easy Street. Then, turn around and determine to follow Him, no matter how painful.

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 01, 2011

Psalm 116:3-6

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the LORD :
"O LORD, save me!"

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.

The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.

Lord of Life,

I praise and worship You with heartfelt devotion! Your works are wonderful! I will sing of Your love forever.

The cords of death entangled me. Intertwined in a web of confusion, trouble trapped me and sorrow seized me. Unable to escape Satan's snare, choked by his charm and strangled by his shams, I was caught in his lies and left to die.

In fearful desperation, I cried out to You, "O Lord, Save me!" In Your loving kindness, You came to my rescue and saved my life. I didn't deserve to be released, but because You are gracious You set me free. Unwrapped from the cords that entangled me, I'm free to stand up right and tell others the wonders of Your love.

Lord, I will extol You with all my heart, mind, soul and strength because You have done great things for me! Joyfully, I'll offer You a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving because You cared enough to save me from Satan's snare, brought me safely into Your home, and washed away all my fears with the crimson blood of Your Dear Son through whom I live and work and have my being. To Him who is seated on the throne of heaven, and to the Lamb, be glory and honor and praise forever and ever! Amen.

How will you worship God with all your heart this week for His wonderful work of salvation?