Monday, April 30, 2012

Matthew 9:10-13
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Merciful Father-
I continuously marvel at the fact that You love, chose, and adopted me despite my indecent life, impure motives, and improper attitudes. Mercifully accepting my broken life, You took me into Your heavenly workshop and turned me into a sacred masterpiece fit for a King. My beautiful new eyes will easily recognize lost and lonely souls. With a divine perspective, I'll be able to see beyond their faults to their possibilities.

Unnoticed, unhealthy people all around me are dying for the gift of friendship. Like Matthew, I'll find common ground with them. Risking my reputation, I'll spend time mixing and mingling with them, showing them Your tender mercies. Exposed to You they may be radically changed into valuable works of art for Your purpose and pleasure.

Father, forgive me for making this life a popularity contest. Often I'm more concerned about my rituals, routines, and reputation than I am about restoring relationships. It's not about ME. It's all about YOU. Please enlarge my heart and fill it with more of Your merciful love. Open my eyes to see someone who needs a touch of Your greatness today and I'll obediently reach out to them in the spirit of friendship because of Jesus. Amen.

Invite a lost and lonely soul into the core of your life today. Be courteous and authentic to them. Spend frequent time with them. Allow the Master to touch them through you.

God says, three times in his Word, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 9:13, 12:7 and Hosea 6:6. He doesn't want our rituals and routines! He wants our relationship! And, when our hearts are enlarged, full of Him, we'll have a spirit of forgiveness and restoration.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Matthew 5: 10-12
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven."

Jesus, Generous Giver of Great Gifts,
Thank You for the promise of bountiful blessing when I choose to do what is right to follow You. The kingdom of heaven is mine! A great reward awaits me in heaven!  Hallelujah!

I admit that I am fearful of harassment, criticism, and rejection. It frightens me to be tested, ridiculed and mocked. It scares me to be scorned, criticized, and misunderstood. I'm afraid of being spat upon and beaten. Fear of man is the obstacle that hinders me from making right choices.

I want to live a life pleasing to You. I desire the rich, abundant treasure You promise in heaven. It's mine to keep forever! Breathe fresh power on me. I want to serve You, my Master, with wholehearted devotion. I want to diligently work the fields, plant the seeds, water the crop, weed the thorns, and reap the harvest for You. I want to conscientiously serve You even when the scorching summer sun is searing my soul, and the wicked winter winds are wildly whistling, "worry". I want to have the heart and resilience of beautiful Queen Esther who in the midst of her difficult circumstances said, "If I perish, I perish."

I know how the story ends! If I thoroughly do my job, I will receive a fortune beyond my imagination when I arrive at my destination in the kingdom of heaven. People may think they've killed me, but when You call my name and I arise to claim my priceless prize, they will watch in bewildered wonder. Please give me a resilient Spirit so that I can focus on the end of the story and the riches of Your glory. Amen.

Claim the two promises: the kingdom of heaven, and a great reward. They are yours when you set aside your fears and courageously labor for the Lord. What is He asking you to do? It may involve a whole lot of effort, sacrifice and risk. He gave His life for you. Are you willing to give your life for Him? The rich rewards are only for those who obey and endure hardships. 

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Matthew 17:1-8
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" 

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

I love and adore you. You are more than a great leader and awesome teacher. You are the Son of God. All power and authority are Yours. My only adequate response is to fall on my face and worship you in the beauty of Your holiness.

I am like Peter. You invited him to be with you on the mountain, but he wasn't content unless he was busy doing something - building you a shelter. So it is with me. You invite me to come into Your presence, be still and listen. But, like Peter I am not comfortable with silence and my natural response is to do something. Teach me dear Lord to come into Your presence quietly and reverently. In Your strength, I will sit still, shut up, and pay attention. I will revere and respect You for Who You are - the Son of God.

Thank you for taking me with you to the top of the highest mountain. There, I have seen a vision of Your glory and experienced awesome moments of wonder. Away from religion, routines, and reality, I never want to leave this peaceful place. It is good to be in the presence of the Most High.

Struggles await me in the valley below. Admittedly, I don't like conflict or confusion. On the mountain with You, I can see clearly and relax in the safety of Your shelter. But, I can't stay here. You command me to "go down and not be afraid." Out of fear and respect, in Your strength and power, I will obediently get up and go to the valley where multitudes are wrestling with decisions, distress, and disease. There I will boldly tell those who are burdened, bitter and broken to look up and notice the Son of God who breaks through barriers.

Please show me people who need Jesus today. With Your help, I will show them Your glory because of my own divine encounter on the holy mountain. Hosanna in the name of Jesus! Amen.

Have you sat still and silent on the mountaintop? Have you seen God's glory and experienced His presence? If so, get up and go down into the valley today. Now more than ever, people everywhere need Jesus. Boldly tell them about your divine encounter with the Son of God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

John 12:42-43
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Eternal and Righteous God,
Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to see my faults and shortcomings. Have mercy on me! I'm as guilty as the legalist Jewish leaders of the early church. I call myself a Christian in my heart, but am afraid to admit it in front of people. I too, love the praise of man more than praise from You. The truth is, I rarely think of pleasing You.
 Frightened of losing my prestigious place in the community, I temporarily hide my faith in the closet where I can conveniently access it when I need it during a crisis. People might think I'm a fool, ignoring and criticizing me, if I admit I'm Your follower, so I conceal it. I want to be liked and respected by everyone. A people pleaser, I'm too scared of ridicule to stand out and publicly acknowledge the great distance You went and the exorbitant price You paid to save me. Forgive me, O God for I have sinned against You.

I refuse to speak up, terrorized by the thought that I won't communicate clearly and will look stupid before my family and friends. I fear being rejected by them more than I fear eternal separation from You. I admit that I'm a coward and plead with You to pardon me for being more concerned with what others will think of me than about disobeying, dishonoring, and disrespecting You.  

O Lord, will you kindly change my timid heart? Fill me with fresh power to boldly proclaim the Way, the Truth and the Life right where You've placed me even if it means I'll offend someone. You're not interested in my popularity; You're concerned about rescuing dead and decomposing lives buried beneath the rubble of sin and shame. Whenever I open my mouth to speak, please give me the right words to confidently communicate the message of Your amazing love. O Lord, help me to get my eyes off myself and love others enough to risk my life and reputation to save them for the glory of Your name. Amen. 

Are you like me, afraid to share your faith for fear of rejection and ridicule from family and friends? If so, 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

Jesus stood in stark contrast to this Pharisaic concern. He did not show favoritism; instead he reached out to male and female, rich and poor, and all races and ages. His teaching was not done by first taking a poll of what was popular; instead, he spoke truth that was often unpopular but could penetrate the heart. - Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

1 Peter 4:9
Open your homes to each other without complaining.

Luke 14:12-14
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Father in Heaven-
Thank you for giving me the miracle of a Christian home. This home is not mine. It belongs to You. Often the details of entertaining consume me. I want to impress people with my meticulous well kept place, my creative decorating, and my gourmet cooking. I am so busy with the preparations that I forget WHO I am serving.

Empower me to put people before things. Instead of putting away the dirt, I will put away my pride and allow others to see my humanness. Shape my home into a place free of false pretensions where people can relax and be themselves.

Open my heart to a needy family in my community. I will obediently open my home as a place of rest and healing for them. It is my desire to use the gifts You've lavished on me to glorify You. I am Your humble servant, please show me how to practice biblical hospitality for Jesus name sake. Amen.

The root word of hospitality is "hospital." Hospitals are places to rest and heal. Our homes should be places where people can come to rest and heal. Do you receive exquisite meals at a hospital? Are hospitals fussily decorated? Do hospitals only serve friends and family?

Think of your home as a hospital. Consider inviting to your home: the single or elderly neighbor who is always alone, the neighbor who's recovering from surgery, the family that just received devastating news, the neighbor that's unemployed, or someone new to your community.

What's keeping you from demonstrating biblical hospitality? Are you willing to put aside your agenda to be more hospitable?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jude 1:20-28
Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.  

Blessed Lord,

You teach us exactly how to live a life devoted to You in preparation for the future when we'll live with You forever in Paradise.

First, we should build ourselves up in our "most holy faith," by opening our Bibles, Your Holy Word spoken to us. Through it, You entrust us with Your priceless treasury of promises. We build an incredible fortune when we believe and obey Your costly commands. Safeguarding the invaluable Truth in our hearts will change us profoundly, pervasively, and permanently into Your holy likeness.

In addition to opening our Bibles, we are to pray in the Holy Spirit. We should confidently come to You, just as we are, broken, weak and poor. Speechless, because of pounding pain or overwhelming joy, You'll translate our inarticulate sighs. When we don't know what to pray, You'll do it for us. Blessed assurance!

We should surround ourselves with Your love. In the shelter of Your strong arms, You'll protect, prosper and prepare us. We'll be closest to You every time we open our Bibles, pray, and hang out with other believers.

Encased in Your extravagant love, we need to be a witness to the world by telling our life changing stories to everyone. We need to patiently persevere with those who hesitate to believe us, get down to business rescuing those who are on the road to destruction, and show loving kindness to those who are corrupt and callous without becoming like them. We must trust You to protect us by Your constant presence and power.

Lord, let me take these lessons seriously, putting my most holy faith into action while I wait to live happily ever after in Your magnificent kingdom. All glory to You, O God, who can keep me from stumbling. I rejoice that I can stand tall in Your luminous presence, holy and pure because of Jesus my Savior who alone is worthy of glory, majesty, and power from now until the end of time. Amen.

God's Word tells us exactly how to prepare for the future.

Build up your faith
Pray in the Holy Spirit
Surround yourself with His love
Witness to the world

Do you believe Him? What one thing will do differently today to prepare for tomorrow?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Philippians 1:27
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.

Jesus, You are the Perfect Pattern for godly living. As much as humanly possible, I long to model my life after Yours.

Help me to understand and obey the rules of Your magnificent heavenly kingdom that are clearly posted on the pages of my Bible. Do not let me wander away from Your Word. I want to reflect Your beauty in everything I say and do. In the laboratory of love, show me any aspect or activity in my life that will tarnish Your image. Concentrating on You, I'll accept Your gentle instruction, allowing You to polish me.

With Your Words, in all their richness, alive in me, I'll conduct myself in a manner that accurately represents the kingdom of heaven on earth. Love and patience will show my strong faith. Peace will reign in my heart. Praise and thanksgiving will always be on my lips. My kindness and humility will give others an honest impression of You.

Please send godly people into my life so that I can see Your principles in practice and apply them to my own life. Seeing others imitating You will help me to grow in Your likeness. Hearing them tell about Your work in their lives will inspire me to persevere. As I study Your Word and watch others, I'll become a living Bible, persuading and motivating others to bring glory, honor and fame to You. Amen.

What impression do people have of Christ when they see or talk with you? What changes do you need to make in your life to honor Him?

As Christians, we are to represent Christ. When those around us say, "I didn't know you were a Christian," we have failed to represent Him as we should. We are not merely Christ followers; we are His representatives to others.

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors. 2 Corinthians 5:20

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Colossians 4:5-6
Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone. NLT

Holy God~

I praise You for showing me the Way to eternal life. I now have the responsibility to show others the Way. When You brought the message to me it was not only with words but also with all-consuming power. Assure of who You are and the great distance You went to rescue me from death and decay, I'll confidently point others in the right direction by my attitudes and actions.

Everything I do and say is a witness for or against You. People every where are watching me, waiting to see my response to difficult people and tricky situations. Before I go out of the house each day, please dress me in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Clothe me with an even-temper and quickness to forgive. Never allow me to leave home without wearing LOVE or tucking peace in the pocket of my heart.

Walking hand-in-hand with my brothers and sisters, I'll appreciate the family You've given me. I'll praise, encourage, and respect them. Open my mind to Your Holy Word spoken to me through older and wiser siblings. Listening to their real life experiences will help me make sensible choices.

I want to make the most of every opportunity to be a witness for You. People will die today without knowing the Way to living happily ever after. I have the answer that will save them from death and destruction. You are the One and Only Way. Please give me courage to exercise Your all-consuming power that's within me to share Your love with a lost soul today. Because You have shown me true love, I will graciously, tenderly, and effectively show it to others through my words and conduct for the sake of our glorious family name. Amen.

Do your words and conduct truly represent our Christian family name? People are watching us, waiting to see how we'll react to situations. Pay attention to how you respond to situations today. It is your witness to a watching world. Will anyone see Jesus in you?  What will you do to live wisely, making the most of every opportunity to represent the Kingdom of Heaven on earth today?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Acts 2:3-4
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, Light the match and breathe on me! Set me on fire! Brand me with Your signature so that I'm Yours alone! I want to be a Christian in my heart, blazing with the zeal of Your love. With intense heat, burn away anything that isn't of You. Turn my stubborn will to soot. Melt my cold, hard heart until it glistens with righteousness. Then, teach me with tongues of living flames what You would have me do.

Ignite me with divine power. Make me spiritually combustible today! Exploding with love, I'll be tenderhearted and merciful. Bursting with joy for my salvation, I'll glow brilliantly for You. Blast away my sin, so that I crackle with kindness. Fully ablaze, I will not live for myself. Consumed by Your love, I'll live to please only You. May people recognize me on the outside by Your flickering flame that's burning in my heart. Lord, let Your righteousness shine through and be glorified in me today for Your name sake. Amen.

If you are a believer God has branded His seal on your heart (Eph 2:9). What do people see when they look at you? What do they see in your actions? Do they match the seal of God's love burned on your heart? If not, I encourage you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to ignite a fire in your heart so that others will see Jesus when they encounter you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

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

Friday, April 13, 2012

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.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

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.

How do you see Jesus in the middle of your hopeless situation?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

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!

Monday, April 09, 2012

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!

Friday, April 06, 2012

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.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

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