Friday, March 31, 2017

Psalm 116:3-6

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?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Isaiah 53:6

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

Darling Lamb of God,
You've carefully led us through Heaven's Gate to the flourishing meadow of rich, luscious life where the Son always shines brightly. Your gated community is a safe, secure haven where we can chew heartily on Your Word in the lush pasture of love, and drink from the pure stream of Living Water. Living within Your limits, You faithfully take care of all our needs. There is no place on earth as calm and quiet.

Yet, we all, like sheep, have gone astray at one time or another. Disgruntled with our lot in life, we've deliberately chosen to wander off in search of greener pastures. Beyond our safe boundaries, we live dangerously, making unwise and ungodly choices that damage Your sacred reputation. We take many wrong turns and end up in precarious situations. Lost and lonely, we're easy prey for wicked people hungry to devour our sweet hearts. Craving attention, we naively eat their poisonous lies and die internally.

Rather than letting us perish in the grave, You lovingly look for us buried beneath the rubble of our wrecked lives. Voluntarily, You gave Your life to save us. Though we've blatantly chosen to go our own way and do our own thing, You painstakingly, carry the deep gashes from our treacherous decisions on Your ripped, torn and crushed body fully accepting the blame for every wrong move we've ever made.

How can we ever thank You for giving Your life to safely bring us back into the sheepfold where we can heal and once again enjoy the peace and protection of Your prosperous presence because of Jesus, the Darling Lamb of God who was slain. Hallelujah! Amen.

Consider how far you have strayed from the sheepfold of God and the awful trouble you've gotten yourself into. Then consider the wonder of the Darling Lamb of God who came to save you by taking on all of your iniquities. What does this mean to you? How will you respond?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

John 10:9

John 10:9
Jesus said, "I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures."

Jesus, Lamb of God,

You are the Heavenly Gate! I exalt You and thank You for swinging wide the door of righteousness so that everyone who believes in You can come to the Father. Thank You for laying down Your life to make an opening for me to access my home in heaven. You are good and Your love endures forever! I sing for joy because You have done great things for me. You have led me from the broad road leading to ruin through the narrow Gate of Life.
Within the walls of Your gated community, there is safety, security, and shelter. Thank You, Father for saving me and sending me to Your unshakable kingdom where there is fullness of life. In the presence of Your majesty, I can graze on Your glorious grace day and night. Living within Your limits, my life overflows with mercy and love. There is no place in heaven or earth as peaceful.

Thank You for leading me through the Heavenly Gate to a prosperous place full of rich, luscious life where the Son always shines brightly. I celebrate glad tidings of great joy because I have found You, the One Way to everlasting happiness. Today, I'll eagerly exclaim, "Look, here's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" so that those on the broad road to ruin around me will hear and be led through the Gate of Righteousness to the lush green pasture of Your eternal love. Amen.

Thank God that the Gate of Heaven has been open to you! Share the joy of your discovery with someone traveling the road to ruin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

John 1:29

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Jesus, Lamb of God worthy is Your Name! All power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise belong to You, the precious Lamb who was slain!

Your limitless love is too much for my meager mind to grasp! Globally, it has no boundaries. It extends beyond the barriers of my selfish little sphere to the entire world. Broader than my partialities and preferences, it's inevitably predestined for ALL people. No one - no, not one - is worthy of Your Holy Love. From the purist to the vilest, we stand equally condemned in Your most high and holy supreme court, utterly insufficient and speechless.

Shamefully destitute, our only recourse is to come to the foot of the cross where You, the unblemished Lamb of God, took on the imperfections and blame of the entire world, dying for the benefit of all mankind. Falling on our absolutely wretched faces, all we can do is cry out, thanking You for Your boundless mercy and unending grace freely offered to all who voluntarily come. Admitting our sins, we reach out to You in sheer desolation, allowing Your precious blood to wash away our guilt and disgrace making us at-one with You.

At-one with You, You will clean our filthy minds, and heal our broken hearts. Free from death and despair, we'll be able to live a radical life of love serving others for You. We will be Your instruments of peace. Enthusiastically and unashamedly, we'll see You and shout, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" People all around us will stop, look and fall on their faces, crying "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb of God who was slain."

To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever! Amen.

What can we say to such magnanimous love? We are acceptable to God not because of our obedience, but because of the death of Christ. He came for no other reason than to take away the sins of the world. How will you respond to Him?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Matthew 5: 10-12

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 there!  

Admittedly, 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. 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 the only treasure I will keep forever! Breathe fresh power on me. I want to serve You, my Master, with bravery, boldness, and wholehearted devotion. I want to diligently work the fields, plant the seeds, water the crop, weed the thorns, and reap the harvest for You no matter the cost. 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". Trouble is coming. I want to have the resilience of the saints, both past and present who have suffered and died for their faith. 

I know how the story ends! For fearlessly dedicating my life to You, I will receive a fortune beyond my imagination when I arrive at my final destination in the kingdom of Your dearly loved Son. People may think they've imprisoned, tortured or killed me, but when You call my name and I arise to claim my heavenly reward, they will watch from Hell in bewildered wonder. Please give me an unwavering 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. 

Pray for those Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Right now, ISIS is raging in Iraq, Syria, and Africa. Christians are being kidnapped, tortured, beheaded, burned alive and experiencing incomprehensible atrocities for proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ, while the Church in the west is enjoying the good life. However, while the Church in the west is in a stoned stupor, enjoying the good life, our rights are slowly being taken from us. One of these days we too could wake up, and be carried away by radical terrorists whom we allowed to transform our nation while we frolicked and played. Trouble is coming, I believe. Will you have faith to withstand persecution? 

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Matthew 17:1-8

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. 
Admittedly, 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 quietly revere You. In Your strength, I will sit still, shut up, and pay attention. I will respect You for Who You are - the Son of God.
On the mountaintop, I have seen 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, You command me to "go down and not be afraid." In Your mighty power, I will obediently get up and go to the valley where multitudes are wrestling with decisions, distress, and discouragement. 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 highest! 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.

Friday, March 17, 2017

John 12:42-43

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 Jesus' day. 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 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.

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 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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

1 Peter 4:9

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 pretenses 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?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jude 1:20-28

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?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Philippians 1:27

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.

Out of love and devotion, help me to understand and obey the rules of Your magnificent heavenly kingdom that are 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