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E-Devotion, Friday, June 7, 2024

 

Devotion taken from 1 Kings 18

 

Verse

 

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” - 1 Kings 18:36-37

 

Meditation

 

It was a showdown on Mount Carmel of epic proportions. Yahweh vs. Baal. Elijah had endured all the heartache and harassment from the enemy he cared to and was ready for the moment of truth. The one prophet of Yahweh challenged Ahab and the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah to a display of power to see who would be the God they would serve. It all came down to the prayer of the prophets. The prophets of Baal danced and screamed and slashed themselves and all the focus was on them. Elijah prayed for an answer which was clearly focused on God and making Him known. In the end Elijah had to flee for his life where he then had another defining moment and encounter with God. When we have endured all the heartache and harassment from the enemy in a situation or season of life the easy prayer is to ask God to correct the situation or make life better. The more difficult yet powerful prayer is seeking the answer which focuses on Him and focusing others on Him and his power to change hearts and transform lives. And we may have to flee for our lives instead of being made comfortable or feel safe or have all our problems corrected. The obedience of praying and fleeing (literally or figuratively) may lead to the place of greatest blessing, the moment when we have a defining encounter with God Almighty. We miss defining moments when we pray for God to instantly correct our situation. Open up the doors of greatest blessing by praying that God is magnified in all things of your life, even the places of pain and heartache.

 

Prayer

 

Almighty God, may every breath of prayer from our lips focus on you and your glory. We acknowledge with prayers of obedience comes supernatural strength yet at times we would rather have comfort. We would rather live in our own answer not knowing the blessing you have for us. Remove selfishness from our praying. May you be known and people discover changed hearts as you answer our prayers. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Isaiah 1

 

Verse

 

18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. - Isaiah 1:18-20

 

Meditation

 

No beating around the bush, straight to the point. Isaiah wanted to leave no questions in the minds of the people of Judah and in particular, Jerusalem. The word of the Lord given to him depicted his land as being like Sodom and Gomorrah. The language painted as bad a picture as one could imagine. (read the first 17 verses) And just like that we see the compassionate heart of God come forth. Just when it appears Isaiah is about to prophesy complete destruction on his people, the Lord once again reveals his ultimate desire for his people, redemption. After all the harshness of the early verses, there had to have been a pregnant pause between verses 17 and 18. God took a deep breath and calmly invited people to think reasonably about his desire for a holistic relationship with all humanity. His desire has not changed and will never change. God also desires to have an intimate and holy relationship with each of us. Even though at times he looks at us and he may see scarlet and red, his desire is white and wool. The imagery is significant. The people at that time had destroyed what represented the most precious thing to the heart of God, the symbol of the seat of spirituality, Jerusalem. He said to them and he says to us it doesn’t matter, relationships are more important. When we are able to capture the depth of God’s compassion for his people, we should not view his compassion as an insurance policy to act and do as we please but as an invitation to an intimate relationship. It’s an invitation filled with grace, ladled with love, and inspires hope beyond our imagination. God compassionately invites us to a life of obedience in order to experience the good things of the land. A reasonable answer is yes.

 

Prayer

 

Great God of compassion and mercy, forgive us for destroying what is most precious to you. Forgive us for answering no to the call of obedience. Have mercy on us, O God. With grateful hearts we seek to live in the goodness of the land and not be destroyed by wayward thinking. Thank you for your redemptive acts to purify our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Proverbs 3

 

Verse

 

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Meditation

 

Eli Matthews shared this passage with us on Senior Sunday and in particular applied it to the Seniors who we were honoring. It warrants all of our attention as well as he noted in the sermon. Pay attention to the details related to all your activities today and one thing you will notice is there are many people involved in you being able to do what you do today. Those people represent a whole host of skill levels and education achieved. From the skilled laborer to a PhD researcher in a lab and all points in between and beyond. Knowledge and skill come on many different levels. God’s relationship with humanity puts each person on the same, level playing field. Regardless of our skill level or the number of degrees we hold, our position before God is the same as the next person. Trust and submit. Solomon was considered a brilliant man and his wisdom teaches us that great skill and high intellectual achievement is valuable, however, until we trust in God and not ourselves our paths might be just a little crooked. Leaning on our understanding is the most natural thing we can do. Nobody will deny that fact. Our inquisitive spirit drives us to figure things out and find an answer. God says lean into me, trust me, submit every way to me and you will arrive at the correct decision and subsequent action. I remind you of the power laden three letter word which accompanies both pieces of instruction. ALL. Trust with ALL your heart and submit ALL your ways to him. Try as we might to do life on our own and at times do it very well, our spiritual admonition is to fully partner with the Lord and we will not only please Him but reap the benefits of straight paths. Trust is often hard on a human level, it should not be hard at all on a spiritual level. Trust in God.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, give us clarity into what it means in our life to trust in you with our whole heart. Let us hide nothing from you. May everything we do today be a moment of submission unto you. May the power of ALL come alive in our hearts and minds today. Lead us to straight paths and the blessings of them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Ephesians 5

 

Verse

 

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. - Ephesians 5:15-17

 

Meditation

 

Situations arise where decisions have to be made instantly. Baseball players only have a second or two to decide if they swing at a pitch or seconds to decide as they round second base if they can make it to third or do they need to stop at second to avoid being thrown out. Only seconds exist between wise and unwise. Only seconds exist between seizing the moment and squandering an opportunity. These situations exist in the midst of the marathon we are running as a follower of Christ. Right in the middle of living out the Lord’s will for a lifetime comes an opportunity to live out God’s will in the moment. We instantly have to decide to make the right choice, to share a word of hope and encouragement, to lend a listening ear, or to be light in the midst of darkness. We don’t know when they are going to come and we don’t have time to prepare. God places us in a moment to be His voice and we must be ready to make the most of the opportunity because people need to see good in the midst of evil. Your eye does not go through a prolonged thought process before it blinks. It just blinks. Don’t miss those unmistakable moments God is putting in your path where you are being given the opportunity to be a champion for the faith. Seize the moment. Be light in the midst of darkness. Being careful how you live makes taking advantage of these moments much more natural. God opens doors. We walk through them.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, for the sake of the kingdom we pray a two-fold prayer today. Boldly we pray for unmistakable moments and situations you are giving us to be a testimony of mercy and grace and love. Then sensitize our spirit to recognize the moment and make the most of it for your sake. Let us wisely live so we may better prepare ourselves for these holy moments. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, June 3, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Psalm 118

 

Verse

 

24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24

 

Meditation

 

We’ve often repeated it. Some of you sang it after you read it. You might not have been able to give me chapter and verse, but you probably knew it from Psalms. We’ve been told we should begin every day with this mindset and attitude. We give it our best shot because we recite it and just project our own meaning into the verse. Many days it would fit perfectly. The song of some days doesn’t play well by pulling this verse and projecting it onto your day. Other days it would just be a cover up from the ongoing reality unless you read all of Psalm 118 and discover the context in which it was written. Then it becomes a verse that can undergird every day the Lord gives us.

 

“22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

 

Now, when we see it in its proper context and recall Jesus quoting verses 22 and 23 making reference to himself at the end of the parable of the vineyard owner, it takes on significant meaning in relation to each of us. When we picture and experience Jesus as the cornerstone of our life and faith, every day the Lord gives us is a day to rejoice and be glad. Knowledge of why we are rejoicing circumvents our circumstance and is an encouraging word for us today. We don’t rejoice just because it’s another day. We rejoice because Jesus Christ has laid the foundation for life, and life more abundantly. Yes, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, with grateful, glad, and rejoicing hearts we come before you. O Lord, on this new day we pause to remember what your Son did for us and continues to live out in us each day. We do rejoice and we are glad because it is indeed marvelous in your eyes as well as ours. We give thanks Jesus came to be the cornerstone of life and our life in particular. Plant that seed of joy in our heart today. In His name we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 31, 2024

 

Devotion taken from John 15

 

Verse

 

4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” - John 15:4-5

 

Meditation

 

If I gathered all the people in a room who receive this devotion there would be a long list of things we would disagree on. College football. Best restaurant. Easiest route to the beach. Even beliefs about the Bible. Yes, even that. However, I believe there is one thing we would all agree on. 100%. This: the world needs to see Christ-followers bearing fruit. The world needs to see Jesus in us blossoming into fruit for his kingdom. Jasper needs to see Jesus in me. The city you live in needs to see Jesus in you. There are so many loud voices in our society that are so far from biblical truth it overwhelms not only sound Christian teaching, but decency and common sense as well. Our society is quickly moving from un-Christian to indecent. As if the problem wasn’t bad enough it’s getting worse. I don’t have space to list all the potential reasons for such a disturbing trend but I know the solution is people like me and you willing to bear fruit in the name of Christ. I am convinced people’s heads will ratchet in circles when they see me and you doing the unthinkable right thing when the rest of the world is doing the popular thing. The cycle of spiritual corruption will be broken when and only when bearing fruit is an uncompromisable desire of every Christ-follower. Remain. It’s how we bear fruit. And we need to bear fruit!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, the only true Son of God, graft us into your vine with such strength our only way forward is to remain in you. Graft us into you so none of life’s hurricanes could tear us apart from You. Give us clarity about bearing fruit which is pleasing to you. Give us a kingdom-minded desire. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Zephaniah 3

 

Verse

 

17 The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17

 

Meditation

 

On this morning my mind was taken to one of my favorite Old Testament verses and one that I have used before. There are many people who recently found themselves in the midst of what I call a grind. Teachers trying to wrap up a school year with wild and crazy kids on their hands, high school seniors looking for the last “I” to dot or “t” to cross, college students trying to finish up the semester, parents coping with many things wrapping up, and perhaps those grinding at work. You may be dreading the place you are in because of the grind you are up against. Finish this week on a positive note by letting the promises of this verse rest on your heart and soul. I can assure you the promises Zephaniah prophesied over Jerusalem are better than the dread of the grind. In short, God is with you, saves you, delights in you, loves you, and rejoices over you. Claim those promises in your life whether you are in a grind or not. I am almost sure it will change your demeanor and may even draw a strange look or two from people wondering why you are so joyful on a Thursday morning. And they might even say something about it and there is a door flung open wide to tell them why. Wouldn’t that be amazing if you were given an opportunity to tell someone, maybe a person struggling with faith, how great God is? It might change their demeanor as well. And their life!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for changing and transforming us, even in the small ways which redirect our thoughts. We rejoice that you think so much of us that you are our constant companion and you save, delight, love, and rejoice because of us. May the promises you gave thousands of years ago live in each of us today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

 

Devotion taken from 1 Thessalonians 5

 

Verse

 

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

 

Meditation

 

Another benediction this morning which reminds us of who God is and what He desires and does for us! The greatest achievements in life are usually not accomplished in a moment in time but are the culmination of a process. Doctoral degrees are confirmed upon someone in a moment, they are earned over a long, difficult process. Never losing sight of the process is a sound principle in life and has spiritual application as well. A doctoral student may receive a C or a D along the way in a class, or may even fail a class and have to repeat it, but when their doctoral hood is finally placed, their achievement stands equally alongside those who made straight A’s. When recovering from back surgery seven years ago, I was given a twelve-week process to follow in order to heal properly. In this benediction, Paul reminds us that spiritual growth to conform to the likeness of Christ is a process because the word sanctify, or holy, or blameless, is a word embedded with the principle of continuation, never ending. Thus, Paul uses the phrase through and through. God will work on us in one area, then move to another area, then to the next. I believe we are kept blameless by remaining in the process, by being grafted into the vine of Christ who took all our blame with him to the cross. The process continues until the coming of Christ. The assurance is found in the fact that it is our holy God, God Almighty, who calls us to be sanctified and he promises to do it because he is faithful. In this benediction, Paul unfolds profound truth. We may get discouraged along the way with the recurrence of sin, but never, ever leave the process. He is faithful!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, hold our hand and guide us faithfully through the process of becoming just like Christ, holy, perfect, and blameless. Strengthen us in our discouragement and lift us when we find ourselves at a low point. Do not let us define our life in a moment but with the place we find ourselves at your coming. Lead us in every step of the way. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Romans 15

 

Verse

 

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13

 

Meditation

 

God wants what’s his to be ours. He wants his hope to be our hope, his joy to be our joy, his peace to be our peace. Paul proclaims this blessing over the church in Rome as he brings his letter to a conclusion. Doxologies declare praise and honor to God, benedictions pronounce desired blessing upon people. We should probably spend more time in doxology mode rather than benediction mode, but it’s in these benedictory statements we can discover the heart of God for his people. And this is a good one. In this case, two things must happen. We must trust in him to be who he says he is and to do what he says he can do. We must allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us which takes being vulnerable to the places and spaces the Spirit leads us. We must also be vulnerable to the transformation God desires to happen within us. Consider the results of this trust and vulnerability. Hope for the hopeless, joy for the disheartened, peace for the restless. Notice that not only does God want hope, joy and peace for our lives, he wants it in the fullest measure. The heart of God is to fill us with all joy and peace and hope so it will overflow out of our life. Not just enough to get by. More than enough. That’s the heart of God for his people, for you, for me. God desires for us to do more than just go through the motions of life, but to experience, hope, joy and peace. What a loving and kind God.

 

Prayer

 

Gracious and loving Father, fill us to overflowing with hope and joy and peace. We declare that promise over our lives. We make room for the Holy Spirit to manifest his power in our life so your desire for us will burst forth in our life. Remove any hesitation toward vulnerability and give us full trust in you. Thank you for who you are and what you do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, May 27, 2024, Memorial Day

 

Devotion taken from John 15

 

Verse

 

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. - John 15:12-14

 

Meditation

 

Today, we are mindful of and honor a special group of people, those who died while fighting on behalf of the United States of America. They were fighting for me and you and in a broader sense fighting for people around the world for the principle of freedom. I’m certain none of the people we honor today put on the uniform they took their last breath in with the intention of losing their life that day. But they knew the risk and they were willing to march on. The vast majority of men and women we honor today loved the United States enough to fight on our behalf and take the risk of literally laying down their life and breathing their last breath. When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, he was speaking about what he would experience in just a few short hours. If they could have paused Jesus and asked questions, they would have asked for further explanation. They did not understand in the moment, but when Jesus breathed his last breath, they did. The disciples would have remembered those words about no greater love and instantly understood what Jesus did for his friends, those who follow him and keep his commandments. We are to do the same as a spiritual principle. We are to love as Jesus loved us. Those of you who served on the battlefield probably understand this verse better than I do because you have lived it firsthand. I’m certain Memorial Day has heightened meaning for you and this verse describing the love of Jesus on the cross resonates deep in your heart and soul. Let us not forget that Jesus very well knew he would soon breathe his last breath. And he marched on. On this Memorial Day when we honor those who marched on, let’s remember our Savior who marched on for each of us and our salvation, for the sake of our name being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and our eternal destination.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for the men and women we honor today who lost their life fighting for freedom. May we never forget the price they paid. We also give you thanks and praise for your Son who gave his life for our freedom from sin. Words are inadequate to describe our gratitude for being free from the penalty of sin. May we love each other as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Devotion taken from Jude

 

Verse

 

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. - Jude 17-23

 

Meditation

 

Jude concludes his short letter to the church with a stern warning. Those who have slipped into the church have as their primary purpose to distort truth and divide the Body of Christ. They are shaping the gospel to validate immorality and avoid the change necessary to follow Christ. In other words, they don’t want to let go of their old self to put on the new self. Apparently, they were not a fan of the apostle Paul. The text says they were void of the Spirit. Ouch! This little book packs a punch. We are then given sound teaching very relevant for each of us. Build up your faith, pray in the Spirit, unconditionally love, and show mercy. What the text does NOT say is to show approval of sin because it’s the politically correct thing to do. Read carefully. Even while remaining in God’s love and showing mercy we are to snatch people from the fire and hate even the clothing stained with corruption. We find ourselves in a church culture today that is corrupting truth and saying love the sinner and love the sin which we agree is distorting the truth. We do this because we live in a culture which avoids hurting anyone’s feelings. It might be worth the risk of hurting someone’s feelings to speak the good news of Christ rather than ignoring the fire around them. Biblical truth does in fact teach love the sinner (people) and hate the sin (behavior/attitude). I know that’s old school but it’s the truth. Have many Christians distorted the truth and shown hate toward people? Yes. It’s sad and wrong it happens but we cannot let a few people’s erroneous ways lead us away from holding fast to what Jude is teaching us. Our role is to build faith, pray, love, be merciful, and offer the way of salvation which does involve acknowledging that sin is sin. Let faith, love and mercy lead our conversations but do not compromise the reality of sin and its consequences.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, with grace and love and mercy help us lean into people’s lives and save them from the destruction of the fire. Secure us with a solid foundation of faith strengthened moment by moment through prayer. Guard us when we are confronted by those who scoff and divide. Pour your love over us so we are able to pour love into others. Do not let us stray from your truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Jude

 

Verse

 

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. - Jude 17-23

 

Meditation

 

Jude concludes his short letter to the church with a stern warning. Those who have slipped into the church have as their primary purpose to distort truth and divide the Body of Christ. They are shaping the gospel to validate immorality and avoid the change necessary to follow Christ. In other words, they don’t want to let go of their old self to put on the new self. Apparently, they were not a fan of the apostle Paul. The text says they were void of the Spirit. Ouch! This little book packs a punch. We are then given sound teaching very relevant for each of us. Build up your faith, pray in the Spirit, unconditionally love, and show mercy. What the text does NOT say is to show approval of sin because it’s the politically correct thing to do. Read carefully. Even while remaining in God’s love and showing mercy we are to snatch people from the fire and hate even the clothing stained with corruption. We find ourselves in a church culture today that is corrupting truth and saying love the sinner and love the sin which we agree is distorting the truth. We do this because we live in a culture which avoids hurting anyone’s feelings. It might be worth the risk of hurting someone’s feelings to speak the good news of Christ rather than ignoring the fire around them. Biblical truth does in fact teach love the sinner (people) and hate the sin (behavior/attitude). I know that’s old school but it’s the truth. Have many Christians distorted the truth and shown hate toward people? Yes. It’s sad and wrong it happens but we cannot let a few people’s erroneous ways lead us away from holding fast to what Jude is teaching us. Our role is to build faith, pray, love, be merciful, and offer the way of salvation which does involve acknowledging that sin is sin. Let faith, love and mercy lead our conversations but do not compromise the reality of sin and its consequences.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, with grace and love and mercy help us lean into people’s lives and save them from the destruction of the fire. Secure us with a solid foundation of faith strengthened moment by moment through prayer. Guard us when we are confronted by those who scoff and divide. Pour your love over us so we are able to pour love into others. Do not let us stray from your truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Jude

 

Verse

 

4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. - Jude 4

 

Meditation

 

Jude. The next to last book of the Bible. Other than the one verse you just read, how familiar are you with it? Probably not very. It’s small but packs a serious punch. Like a habanero pepper. Jude, the brother of James, is writing to Christ followers, the church, about people with unsound teaching who have slipped in among them. I’m sure they looked like everybody else, talked like everybody else, loved fried chicken, and knew the songs. But, they were perverting grace and it’s a huge problem that still exists today. Sadly, a very popular line of thinking among some very prominent pastors, leaders, and teachers involves distorting the biblical truth of grace. It can look the same, it can even sound the same, and has many characteristics of biblical grace, but in reality is distorted or perverted. Their teaching basically says it’s ok to intentionally sin because forgiveness will come through God’s grace. Their teaching removes conviction of sin and consequence of sin. It’s almost as if it is ok to sin because God’s grace will cover it so don’t worry. I hope you see what’s wrong here. God’s grace is not permission to do whatever you want and feel good about it, a “license for immorality” as the text says. Paul warned us against this type of thinking. The reality is that grace is inseparable from transformation. Yes, God’s grace is poured into our lives when we sin and we don’t deserve forgiveness, but it is never to be taken flippantly as if it’s some type of insurance. I invite you to consider the price God paid for grace to be available in your life before you think nothing of sin. I think you will see the heartache that causes God.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the price you paid so that grace is central to my life. I thank you for being a gracious God. May I never use grace as a license for anything other than to be humbled before a holy God. Thank you for the forgiveness that comes only because of your grace. Transform me by your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Acts 3

 

I'm diverging from my initial plan of sharing devotions from Mark and to write from various passages in both Old and New Testaments. They will have a big picture, Kingdom of God focus. 

 

Verse

 

3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter (the temple), he (a crippled man) asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” . . . 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. - Acts 3:3-6, 4:4

 

Meditation

 

The crippled man asked a very legitimate question but not the most important question. A crippled man was asking for money because he had a great need. We can all identify on some level because we all have needs which require financial means. Peter and John most likely recognized he needed the money as he had no other means of income. However, they also knew he needed something of kingdom importance. Clearly, being able to walk after never having walked in his life would benefit him but more importantly, it benefitted the Kingdom of God. This is a double blessing of epic proportion and it illustrates the perfect plans of God. Peter and John had no money but they had been imparted the gift of healing. As a result, the man was praising God and many people were filled with wonder and amazement (God was glorified). Many other people ran to see what was going on and Peter and John were able to share about the saving power of Jesus Christ. As a result of this man’s healing and him praising God because of his great joy, the number of believers grew exponentially. I included verse four of chapter four so you could see some actual numbers related to what God was doing in the life of so many people. What God does for us often has greater impact than just for our benefit. God puts the kingdom into play in our life and we can then have kingdom impact. Think for a minute and consider the questions you ask of God. Could it be He is waiting on the best question to impart the best answer? The answer which points people to a relationship with Him.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father and gracious God, give us clarity this morning about the questions which bring You glory and multiply the Kingdom. Move us past our legitimate needs so we are not only asking questions and wanting answers to benefit us alone. Help us embrace a kingdom mindset. We believe You love us to bless us and questions resulting in double blessings are what You seek. But You also seek questions with an answer of single purpose. May we be open to both. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, May 20, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Mark 2

 

Verse

 

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” - Mark 2:15-17

 

Meditation

 

Parents are often cautious about who their children befriend and rightly so. During the very impressionable years of children and teenagers, every parent wants their children to be influenced in the right way. Hopefully, we soon grow out of the impressionable years into the years we can influence others. Unfortunately, for a vast majority, Christians have carried this childhood principle throughout their entire life and lived in the company and comfort of like-minded people. And the truth is Jesus teaches us to eat with sinners. As followers of Christ, we get the privilege of hanging out with people who the Pharisees would rail against and ask why. In this chapter Mark records four events and the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ actions in every one of them. In each one of them Jesus’ response was this is what we do as people of faith. More than ever, we need to be people of influence. Not in power or position but in spreading the good news. It would be very reasonable to think that while Jesus was eating dinner with a table or room full of tax collectors and sinners, he shared the good news. He probably didn’t judge anyone, but graciously told them a powerful story of transformation and eternal life. There was no coercion or great emotion, only gentle truth. Jesus let the power of the story direct the decisions and the sin sick were healed. It’s a good idea to eat with sinners and be a person who has the joy of leading people to a healthy relationship with the Savior. It’s a good idea to hang out with people who need healing.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we confidently pray you would lead us to those we can influence to a healthy, transformed life. We pray you would guard us against the influence of evil in situations you place us in. Grant us your mercy and grace as we seek to follow you and speak truth into people’s lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 17, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Mark 1

 

Verse

 

7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” - Mark 1:7-8

 

Meditation

 

Over the next several weeks I will be sharing devotions from the Gospel of Mark. The spirit of the words is often as important as the message of the words. The birth narrative is not included in Mark’s gospel as he moves right to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and we read the shortest account of John going before him, the baptism and temptation, and calling the first disciples. Nestled into John’s words recorded in these first verses is a spirit which teaches us volumes about John’s position and one we should embrace as well. We might remember John was prophesied and chosen to go before Jesus and announce his coming. He became very popular, gained great influence, and had many followers. At the end of the day though, John clearly understood his position. He was less powerful, serving in a position of humility, and realized the much greater importance of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life than water baptism. We too live and serve in the same position as John. We might not have the same assignment, to be fulfilling prophecy, or have the honor of baptizing Jesus, but we all have work to do in the kingdom and we should do it with humility and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We recognize His powerful work in and through us is much more significant than anything we say or do. I often read Mark and John and miss the details of the birth narrative wishing to gain their perspective on those events. Then God stops me on the power of these verses and reminds me of great spiritual truth and the necessity of the story as Mark and John told it. Join me today as we live and serve, recognizing where our power is from, the attitude in which we serve, and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in all we participate in this day.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, grant us your grace as we serve you this day that we might serve in humility and with the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Make us ever mindful of our true position in Christ. Forgive us for thinking way more of ourselves than we ought. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 40

 

Verse

 

33 . . . And so Moses finished the work. 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. - Exodus 40:33-38

 

Meditation

 

Our journey through the Book of Exodus comes to a conclusion and we conclude the journey with the conclusion. Focus on these words. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The Israelites are free, they’ve been given life principles, the construction of the tabernacle has been completed, all the contents have been gathered, and Moses has overseen the assembly. Moses finished the work. And God’s glory filled it! Wouldn’t it be nice if this was a perfect story with everyone living in perfect obedience and doing exactly what Yahweh had asked. It really wouldn’t. We would get a false sense of understanding about the grace and mercy of God. The reality is that it’s a miracle we have reached this point in the story. It’s a miracle we have reached our present point in our story. It’s a miracle the people were obedient enough to please God. They had set a precedent of disobedience yet when it came to crunch time, they did exactly what the Lord commanded. In spite of all the misfortune along the way, the manifest presence of God fell on the place. That is redemption’s story. That is the story of God giving us not what we deserve, punishment, but giving us way more than we could earn. That’s redemption’s story and it is played out to perfection in Exodus. A flawed people who have been redeemed. That’s why we need an imperfect story, one that we can identify with. God takes imperfect people, uses them mightily for the sake of the kingdom, redeems, and his glory falls! Amen. Day and night we walk in the blessing of his presence. What a miracle we are able to behold! What a story of redemption we get to be part of! And the story continues. Our story. Your story. A story of a broken person redeemed by the grace of God being used mightily in the Kingdom of God!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for redeeming your people and being present with us as we live a life in your glory. Make us into your likeness as we reflect your glory. Thank you for taking our imperfection and making it perfect, a place where you would reside. May your glory always fill us and fill your tabernacles. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 39

 

Verse

 

42 The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them. - Exodus 39:42-43

 

Meditation

 

Obedience leads to blessing. Not guaranteed but often. The Israelites had been given massive instructions about construction of the Tent of Meeting and they had completed their assignment. I believe most of us can identify with the satisfaction and joy of a finished project. After Moses inspected the work, he deemed it as the Lord had commanded and the called and anointed leader blessed them. The construction was complete but the work was not. The blessing from the Lord would come later but for now Moses blessed the people. There is always a component of obedience that involves the here and now. Many times we may not realize it or it may just be a personal understanding of something well done and the result of our obedience. At times it might be very obvious. We do not know what the blessing of Moses meant upon the people but from past history we know it was good. We are to be unconditionally obedient to God and in this case meaning we are expecting nothing in return in this life. But if we do, it is a double blessing because we know that in God’s sovereignty He will surely bless us. Sensing God’s direction and being obedient is one of the most important aspects of discipleship. Growing and maturing in our relationship will lead to that level of obedience with greater ease as time goes on. There will be times when it will be the hardest decision we will make. But rest assured blessing will come when we obey. Whether we realize it or not.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pray that every thought and action which requires obedience to you will be done, and done with a desire born out of honor and respect for who you are and what you have done. Create in us an understanding that obedience is not a hardship but a privilege you have bestowed upon us. Change our hearts O God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 37 and 38

 

Verse

 

18 The curtain for the entrance to the courtyard was made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. It was twenty cubits long and, like the curtains of the courtyard, five cubits high, 19 with four posts and four bronze bases. Their hooks and bands were silver, and their tops were overlaid with silver. 20 All the tent pegs of the tabernacle and of the surrounding courtyard were bronze. - Exodus 38:18-20

 

Meditation

 

The last few chapters in Exodus are all about the details of the Tabernacle. Every last detail. Conceptualization is necessary and a project never happens without it, but the details make or break a project. The details are in the finish work. Most of us realize that a house has added value based on the presence and quality of what people can see, i.e., crown molding or hardwood floors. The “finishes” are vitally important. They were for Yahweh as well related to the Tabernacle. For the place that will be the place of worship, the place where the presence of God is honored, the place where His glory will reside, the details are important. Every last detail. From the type of material to how it is cast, constructed, woven, or hung, God commanded it be a certain way. And he called people with certain skills to accomplish his work. To draw a parallel to our own life we need to consider the details. Being a follower of Christ is the desired result. The details which get us to the result are important. Born in the image of God and called a masterpiece, the details are important just as they were with the tabernacle. We were created with the details in mind and we should live with them in mind. The value of daily reading in God’s word and prayer are important to the discovery of the details. As we mature in our relationship with Christ, we will understand in a deeper way the meaning of commands and promises, the details. The more we pay attention to the details, the better chance we have to avoid those things which hinder our relationship with God. Our challenge is to be mindful of the details and discovering new details God gives instructions for. He does that as he speaks into our hearts and as the Spirit moves in and through us. Pay attention to the details. Don’t assume the conception of following Christ will just happen with no attention to the details.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, reveal to us the details. Enlarge our understanding of following you with more details every day. Give us an open heart and mind to hear from you and to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Forgive us for assuming the details aren’t important. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, May 13, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 36

 

Verse

 

1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded. - Exodus 36:1

 

Meditation

 

Chapters 34 and 35 cover the new tablets and the new construction of the Tabernacle that were necessary because of disobedience and a description of Moses’ radiant face. A word about that before we move on. We should not expect a radiant face like Moses because it was unique, but our countenance should radiate the presence of Christ in our life. The way we carry ourselves should in some way radiate the love, mercy and grace of God. In chapter 36 we have the continuation of the story behind those who were picked to build the tabernacle. This was not a project any volunteer could lead, but one the Lord specifically gifted specific people to carry out from start to finish. At times the Lord’s work requires excellence which is only attained when the skills and gifts of particularly called men and women respond in obedience to what the Lord is directing. The plans were laid out, the details were before them, Bezalel and Oholiab and all their specifically called and talented laborers were then tasked to follow the instructions in total obedience. When it comes to the Lord’s work, whether building a tabernacle or feeding the hungry, excellence is never a bad thing. Extravagance and excellence are not the same thing. We are to do what we are called to do and to do it in obedience of the Lord and in a way that honors Him. I am confident God calls people to the most excellent way. Excellence is fluid. It involves obedience and honor. It’s not just getting by. It’s not being over the top. Your skill and ability are just what God needs for a particular task he will call people to. We must listen and respond. And obey.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we give thanks and praise for gifting people with skill and ability to do your work with excellence. Our prayer is that you will use us to your glory and enable us to respond when you are calling. And respond with being obedient to your will and not our plans. May your power show forth through our obedience as we do excellent work for your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 35

 

Verse

 

29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do. (build and furnish the Tabernacle) 30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— . . . 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. - Exodus 35:29-31, 34

 

Meditation

 

There was a lot of hard work to be done to get the Tabernacle built and furnished to be able to travel with Moses and the people wherever they went. We can relate to the other name for the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting. It would have mobility, set up and taken down numerous times. After instructions about the Sabbath because they would certainly need a day of rest and focus on their spiritual being, Yahweh called the people “who were willing” to give of themselves and their resources in order to build and furnish the place where they would encounter the presence of Yahweh when they gathered. As I read this chapter, I was struck by the numerous times the Lord referred to and called the people who were willing. The Lord wants people to serve with a willing heart, not a resentful heart after being repeatedly asked, even begged, often made to feel guilty. The right reason to serve the kingdom is to do it willingly because that means your heart and your passion and your love for God is driving the work. I am not dismissing the idea that leaders need to ask when there is need, but the response should always be with a willing heart. It also reminds me that when we become aware of a need, just don’t tell someone else about the need, but be willing to help be part of the solution. Yahweh began the call for people and resources in verse four with “Everyone who is willing” which speaks volumes to us. It’s clear, the Lord wants willing hearts. The other thing that struck me was the explanation of resources. There were those who gave financially, others who gave goods and materials, and still others who had particular skills. On top of that, Yahweh provided those with master level skills to design and manufacture a wide scope of required items as well as those who could teach others to become master level in expertise. If we were reading about the first century church, we would be having a discussion about spiritual gifts. The idea that everyone has been gifted and willing to use their gifts for the kingdom started in the journey to the Promised Land. We should willingly give of our resources to the work of the kingdom for it is a spiritual gift from the Lord God Almighty.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, may we all have a willing spirit to use the resources you have given us to serve your kingdom. Change our heart if we are serving with resentment or works righteousness. May each one of us be all in to serve the kingdom willingly and with love for the kingdom. May all of our life reflect a willingness to love you in response to your great love for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 10, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 34

 

Verse

 

14 “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” - Exodus 34:14

 

Meditation

 

Moses had chiseled the two new stones and the Lord appeared to him to declare His name and share his character. He used familiar phrases. Compassion and gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in love and faithfulness. Forgiving. He also shared as part of His character the reality of the consequences of sin. The guilty will be punished. I know that is not what you wanted to be reminded of this morning but there is better news to follow. God reminded Moses of His covenant and concluded with verse 14 before He moved on to practical application. His concluding verse reveals the reason for the character He spoke into the heart of Moses. He is a jealous God! Yes, jealous for something we have, our heart. He is jealous for nothing else we have other than the ownership of our heart. God did not tell Moses he is jealous just randomly. He said it in the context of worshiping any other god besides Yahweh. It is an expression of the love of God for his children that no one else or no thing has ownership of our heart. This was important to God to state this along with the warning of punishment because He knew the natural behavior of humanity which resulted in a golden calf. Yahweh was jealous for His chosen people in the same way He is jealous for each and every person His Son Jesus died for. We should never forget how much we are loved by our Heavenly Father and allowing Him to own our heart is the response He seeks from each one of us. Make sure He owns the deed of your heart.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for being jealous for our heart to the depth of forgiving the Israelites and then sending your Son for all people. Let us be humble in spirit and love you with our whole heart. We affirm again on this day that we are yours and our heart has allegiance to nothing more than our love for You. Thank you for being patient and kind and being jealous for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 33

 

Verse

 

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory. 19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” - Exodus 33:12-19

 

Meditation

 

Moses had a special moment with God for which I’m thankful he recorded. You have had special moments with God like this. I have had them. For each of us, they helped solidify our relationship with Him and revealed Him to us in some way. For Moses it was about not wanting to live one moment away from the presence of God. His heart was to walk with God with clarity. Moses made three requests. Just three. Just these. Listen to the framework of their conversation again today and apply it to your life. 

 

Moses: Teach me your ways.

Yahweh: My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

 

Moses: If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.

Yahweh: I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.

 

Moses: Now show me your glory.

Yahweh: I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.

 

Moses had a unique relationship with the Lord. Maybe he knew the value of his ways, his presence, and his glory. I believe we should and it will transform your life.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pray as Moses spoke to you. Teach me your ways. We cannot go or do without your Presence. Show us your glory. Simply that. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 32

 

Verse

 

11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. - Exodus 32:11-14

 

Meditation

 

Moses stayed on the mountain so long that an idol was built, a golden calf, out of frustration and disbelief. When circumstances are discouraging and we react in ways that are discouraging to the Lord, our only hope is in seeking the favor of the Lord. That’s what Moses did! The story of the Israelites impatience and then building and worshiping a golden calf is discouraging and disappointing to read and must have broken the heart of God. Well it did. It’s obvious. The story is full of problematic occurrences beginning with the demand for gods to worship as idols, Aaron agreeing, the act itself, and Aaron shifting blame. And God’s anger burned. I would suggest it is not a good thing when we do something that angers God. It is also not a good thing to come against people whom God has anointed and blessed, like Moses. Fortunately for the people, Moses was willing to humble himself and go before the Lord and seek forgiveness and favor. He did not excuse their behavior, but did call on the covenant God had made with Abraham. He pleaded for God to have mercy. God did, but the consequences of behavior were severe. The story gets worse before it gets better and 3000 of their own people were killed by their own people. Think about that for a minute. Even in the context of forgiveness, sin has consequences. Contemporary thinkers and theologians want to dismiss the consequences of sin but it stems from a misunderstanding of grace. Because of sin, there are times when things will get worse before they get better. Sounds secular, but it is a spiritual, biblical truth.

And God relented.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, lead us away from the temptation to worship our own idols because we become caught up in the emotion of a moment. Keep us from angering you and causing collateral damage to come into our life. Help us to always trust you have not left us nor will you forsake us. We may not see you, but you are working and we praise your name for who you are and what you are doing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 31

 

Verse

 

16 “The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” 18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. - Exodus 31:16-18

 

Meditation

 

When do you rest to become spiritually refreshed? God instituted the Sabbath and gave the Testimony to be placed in the tabernacle on two stone tablets He inscribed. The Lord set aside a time of refreshment because, even the Lord, needed refreshing. The tablets were holy. Both of them. We could get into a long discussion about Sabbath and its present meaning but let’s focus on the scripture. It was a day of rest and refreshment and it was declared as holy. It is the fourth commandment so it has significance. Remember it and keep it holy it says, and it will be a lasting covenant. We should embrace the covenant God offered us and take moments, hours, maybe days, for spiritual renewal and seek what is holy. Real sabbath happens when we become still and quiet within and discover more of the holy, and the Holy. Often in our modern thinking we associate sabbath with worship and that can be helpful. The point is we all need times to be still and know that He is God. That is Sabbath. It is important to note that the giving of the tablets which were to be placed on the Ark and the Ark of the Covenant would find its place in the Holy of Holies. It represented the presence of God. Think about that for a minute. We give reverence to these two tablets because they signify the real presence of the Almighty and His holiness. Maybe the words are especially important and we should revisit them often. Take time for sabbath and to seek the holiness and presence of God. Maybe on our Sabbath.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, equip us to be disciplined to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy so we can still ourselves to experience a fresh presence and anointing of you, Almighty God. May it become so important that it will never be neglected. Quietness. Stillness. We pray for that in our life and the manifestation of your Spirit in those times. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, May 6, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 30

 

Verse

 

25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy. - Exodus 30:25-29

 

Meditation

 

Throughout scripture anointing has a special place in the experience of those seeking to follow after God. From the organized beginning we read about today through the experiences found in Revelation we read of the power and significance of anointing. Whether it be with oil or the anointing of the Holy Spirit, it appears that in each case, whatever it touches, becomes holy. The priests were to touch everything in the tabernacle to signify its holiness for its use. We are specifically commanded at times to anoint with oil to invite the Holy Spirit to do something unique to the moment. Spiritual leaders often seek the anointing of the Holy Spirit to help them lead. Anointing, regardless of the specific application to one’s life, involves an impartation of the Holy Spirit into our life experiences. Anointing consecrates us into a holy moment. We should not shy away from these special moments from the Lord, but seek them. Whether it involves oil or an impartation of the Spirit into our life, there is only good, power and unexpected outcomes that come from this exercise of faith. Outcomes beyond human capacity. The testimony of people will bear witness to the transformation related to anointing. The church today needs people who will actively seek the anointing power and presence of the Holy Spirit as we combat the obvious evil and disease in our world. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit can change us and others through us.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and lead us with power from Him. We confess living powerless lives for too long. May your power and presence lead us in every step we take and every decision we make. May we see an astounding move of God in our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Friday, May 3, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 28

 

Verse

 

29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. 30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.” - Exodus 28:29-30

 

Meditation

 

We make hundreds of decisions every day, many of them unconsciously. The ones which require some thought we will weigh the pros and cons, sometimes several times, then decide what is best. Some decisions like these, maybe all of them, are prayed over before making a final decision. Unfortunately, some important decisions which require thought and prayer we make flippantly. It was such a serious matter for Aaron and the priests, God instructed a breastpiece be made for Aaron with the names of every decision maker for Israel placed on it. Every single time Aaron was before the Lord the means for every decision made on behalf of the Israelites would be over his heart. Read that last sentence again. Wow, what a unique symbol and act of humility. What a weight of responsibility! Simply put, every decision made was a sacred decision, one that required and would benefit from the guidance of the Lord. That is not a bad mindset to live in. Imagine a pause before we made decisions just to seek the counsel of God. And soon it would become a part of the instantaneous decisions we make. In other words, the counsel of the Lord would become part of our DNA for decision making, creating the foundational principles of everything we say and do. The counsel of the Lord would be over our heart as we make decisions. The text says the means of decision making would always be before the Lord. We should seek to attain to this position. We don’t need a priest to carry the names and means for us, we can do it ourselves. The writer of Hebrews says to present yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Maybe this is part of what he was talking about. In continuation without pausing. Always. Always seeking the counsel of the Lord.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we place on our hearts all the decision-making processes and we seek to bring all things into your presence. Let that be part of our sacrifice to you. Help us to be so in love with you that at the core of our desire is seeking you in all things. Guide us so we don’t step ahead of you or in the wrong direction. May our decisions honor you in every way and glorify your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 27

 

Verse

 

20 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.” - Exodus 27:20-21

 

Meditation

 

The scripture above illustrates only one of three I want to mention today. There would be an altar to receive the burnt offerings. A place of sacrificial atonement. There would be a courtyard as a place of gathering. There would be lamps for illumination. And just the right oil. Clear oil of pressed olives for light. For illumination. Oil would also be used as the basis for the sacred anointing oil but we will get to that later. All three of these are important as they speak to basic needs of us as believers. For the Israelites, gathering was important. Proper place was important before they entered the tabernacle. Support was important because they wanted to proceed according to the will of God. Gathering space created community which was important. Certainly, atonement was important and necessary. To understand sacrifice was of critical importance. And light illuminated. Light gave new meaning to the places that were once dark. Light allowed to take place what was necessary for atonement. Until we can see our need we cannot deal with our need. The place to atone before God is a holy place, a place where God’s presence is real. Not any place. A holy place. Atonement. Community. Illumination. Three important words coming out of three required parts of the tabernacle we should consider for our own life.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, may our spaces be full of community and atonement and illumination. Use those spaces in our lives to do the work and cleansing and making us whole. May we not neglect the gathering spaces to be in the presence of God. Help us to embrace the light of illumination to reveal and bring light to darkness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 26

 

Verse

 

30 “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.” - Exodus 26:30

 

Meditation

 

The plan for the tabernacle was very detailed and meticulous. Not just in dimension but in furnishings and decor. Everything was in a certain place and had significant meaning and pointed people to the presence of God in some way. The purpose was not only to bring the people into the presence of God, but to an experience of God as well. Our tabernacles, our specific places designed to encounter the presence of God, not only point to the presence of God but help us experience the presence of God. When contemporary spaces of worship began to be designed and built many years ago some chose to eliminate crosses, candles, tables, etc. Fortunately we have moved past that because those have meaning and are designed to facilitate our experience of the living God. Worship spaces have meaning, not just furnished spaces we gather in. Human beings are very sensory by nature and all the detail and decor was intended to move our experience to a higher level and to honor God. There was probably some practical reason like measuring the Israelites ability to obey which had been an issue in the past. Tabernacles are important. It is the specific place around which the present of God is seen and experienced.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the spaces you have provided so we might know you and experience you in your fullness. We pray that our life might honor you as your tabernacle did. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 25

 

Verse

 

8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” - Exodus 25:8-9

 

Meditation

 

The journey as a rescued and delivered people included a sanctuary, called a tabernacle in those days. A place to be with God. It is so important. Instructions were given so that it would be most honoring to God and would best allow people to experience the fullness of God. A lot has changed since then but the concept remains the same. We all need places we call a sanctuary. We all need places to gather with believers and be in the presence of God. There is great symbolism and meaning in this chapter and the ones to follow which contain the instructions for construction. The term tabernacle will surface again as part of the birth narrative of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Remember the words of John as he described the birth of Jesus. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The word dwelt is the Greek word for the Hebrew word tabernacle. So, let’s rewrite that sentence. “The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us.” Jesus came into our space and was with and all around us. Be mindful of the intent of all of the items of the tabernacle. The table and the lampstand, for instance, are not just decoration or space fillers. They represent a much deeper meaning. On the table would sit the bread of the Presence. The lampstands would be lit continually to represent the ever-present nature of Yahweh. We need to find space in our lives to encounter the table and the lampstand. We need to make sure we are finding time and space to spend time with God in the sanctuary.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of the sanctuary and everything in it which represents your presence and our experience of you. May we not neglect any part of what you put in place so many years ago. May we honor the space and your presence in our lives. Thank you for loving us and giving us room. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, April 29, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 24

 

Verse

 

15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. - Exodus 24:15-18

 

Meditation

 

Moses stayed with God a long time. It was an important time. Reread the text. There is so much symbolism in it. Six days he stayed before the Lord and the cloud. And on the seventh day God called him. Forty days and forty nights he spent with the Lord. All of these have meaning and are related. It is important we spend time with God. You might say that Moses’ task was so important that he needed to be prepared to get it right. Your time with God is no less important to be prepared and to get it right. While Moses was with God, the Israelites kept watch. And while they watched the cloud, the glory of the Lord, it appeared as an all-consuming fire. Our relationship with the Lord should be one in which we are consumed by him and in which his power in us is like a fire. Too often we want to contain the fire from reaching us or just keeping us warm. Does the glory of the Lord appear to us as a consuming fire or as a contained fire? It’s worth asking and answering. Spending time in the presence of the Lord deepens your intimacy with Him. Time well spent.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we simply ask that you consume us and rage through us like a fire. May that power energize us to the core of our being. May we be consumed in the fire of intimacy with you. Forgive us for living in the comfort of a contained fire only being warmed by its flames. May we be consumed. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 26, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 21-22

 

Verse

 

21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. 22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. - Exodus 22:21-22

 

Meditation

 

These middle chapters of Exodus cover Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, chapter twenty, and then an explanation of relational law, chapters twenty-one through the beginning of twenty-three. The commandments Moses received created the foundation from which all other laws were based and given for one purpose, to keep the people from sinning. After Moses had received them, we have an explanation of what I call the relational laws because they deal mostly with the interaction of people with one another. To borrow the titles of these relational laws from the NIV, you will see what I mean. There is a description of laws pertaining to servants, personal injuries, protection of property, social responsibility, and justice and mercy. Our challenge is to not just read for particulars, but to glean the general principles which is a forward-looking idea because it helps us account for Jesus saying he came to fulfill the law and not abolish the law. In reading these chapters over the last few days, three words come to mind. Fairness, mistreatment, and advantage. There are certainly many more but these are the three that first came to mind. The particulars of these laws deal with treating all people fairly, not mistreating anyone, and not taking advantage of anyone because of socio-economic status. These are timeless truths we should never forsake in our daily lives. Don’t try to fit a limited list into your expectation of completeness of all the ways we interact with people. That is like over-thinking the room. Take the laws for what they are and their limited scope and live in the general principles we can take from them.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, help us to relate to other people with fairness, with an understanding of treating people the right way, and never taking advantage of anyone because of their situation. Forgive us when our godliness does not include the principles you gave Moses and then expanded upon. May we be people who relate to others in holiness of heart and life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 20

 

Verse

 

1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. . . . (read through verse 17) - Exodus 20:1-17

 

Meditation

 

An argument could be made that the highlight of Exodus came from a high place. It was a place the Lord God made holy, Mount Sinai. He had put limits around the mountain and only those called could go up the mountain. In the midst of fulfilling his calling to lead the people to the Promised Land, God called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses warned the people not to come and as instructed, brought Aaron with him back to the top. And God spoke what we know as the Ten Commandments. They are iconic in our understanding of faith and practice. They were spoken along with hundreds more laws but these commandments became the centerpiece of our relationship with God. Think about it. Often when discussions of faith and practice arise and conclusions are difficult, we revert back to them. So today, without writing much more, I invite you to meditate on them. I wrote a minimal version for our Confirmation classes to use to memorize. Meditate on these today.

 

Ten Commandments

 

I.                   You shall have no other gods before me.

II.                 You shall not make for yourself any idol.

III.              You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

IV.              Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

V.                 Honor your father and mother.

VI.              You shall not murder.

VII.            You shall not commit adultery.

VIII.         You shall not steal.

IX.               You shall not lie.

      X.         You shall not covet.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, carve these commandments into the depths of our heart and soul so that they become renewed in our understanding of faith and practice. May they guide our relationship with you afresh. As they were given on a holy mountain, may they become holy to us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 19

 

Verse

 

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” 7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord. - Exodus 19:3-8

 

Meditation

 

We’ve all made promises to God like the Israelites did just three months after being delivered from Egypt. We have every intention of fulfilling those promises. “We will do everything the Lord has said,” they said. We say the same thing. The Desert of Sinai was a period of preparation for the people to receive the promise. The people of God, a treasured possession, kingdom of priests, a holy nation. Imagine that. Would it not be an incredible moment if we were given that same opportunity today? Well, we are. But we face the same problem Moses faced in dealing with his people. An often-overlooked caveat to the promise gets in the way. We are all about the promise of being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation and skip over the obedience factor. The elders along with all the people responded to Moses with great conviction and I’m sure they had great intention of doing everything God instructs. They were all in! They just didn’t know what they were all in for. When we say we will do all He says we have good intentions and right motives and I believe Moses spoke to people just like us. In order to live into the promise and this special place and position God has for us, it requires full obedience. Do everything. God might speak to us differently today than he spoke to those just exiting Egypt, but let us not forget if he commands it, we are to fully obey. What is promised to the first covenant people is promised to us today. The concept of fully obeying is still included in the promise of being a royal priesthood and a holy nation.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, if we hear your commands we will follow. We need your help to be fully obedient to your instructions. May our will be surrendered to your will. Forgive us for saying yes to obedience and then being disobedient. In Jesus’ name we pray. Give us the strength to be all in for you and your direction in our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 19

 

Verse

 

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” 7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord. - Exodus 19:3-8

 

Meditation

 

We’ve all made promises to God like the Israelites did just three months after being delivered from Egypt. We have every intention of fulfilling those promises. “We will do everything the Lord has said,” they said. We say the same thing. The Desert of Sinai was a period of preparation for the people to receive the promise. The people of God, a treasured possession, kingdom of priests, a holy nation. Imagine that. Would it not be an incredible moment if we were given that same opportunity today? Well, we are. But we face the same problem Moses faced in dealing with his people. An often-overlooked caveat to the promise gets in the way. We are all about the promise of being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation and skip over the obedience factor. The elders along with all the people responded to Moses with great conviction and I’m sure they had great intention of doing everything God instructs. They were all in! They just didn’t know what they were all in for. When we say we will do all He says we have good intentions and right motives and I believe Moses spoke to people just like us. In order to live into the promise and this special place and position God has for us, it requires full obedience. Do everything. God might speak to us differently today than he spoke to those just exiting Egypt, but let us not forget if he commands it, we are to fully obey. What is promised to the first covenant people is promised to us today. The concept of fully obeying is still included in the promise of being a royal priesthood and a holy nation.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, if we hear your commands we will follow. We need your help to be fully obedient to your instructions. May our will be surrendered to your will. Forgive us for saying yes to obedience and then being disobedient. In Jesus’ name we pray. Give us the strength to be all in for you and your direction in our lives. Amen.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 18

 

Verse

 

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. - Exodus 18:24-26

 

Meditation

 

Moses experienced a lesson before he learned a lesson. Fighting the Amalekites was a difficult task but doable as long as Moses stood with the staff of God raised. You’ve done that before in some training event or exercise class when you were asked to see how long you could hold your arms up or straight out. The answer was not as long as you thought. Moses needed help and Aaron and Hur were there for the rescue. They helped hold his arms and the enemy was defeated. Now Moses faced being the judge and ruler of the land. He was trying to settle every dispute. Jethro, father-in-law and priest, came to Moses and told him he must have help. He agreed because he experienced a lesson before he learned a lesson. Moses listened and chose capable men to help with the enormous task of ruling over his people. It is a simple but profound, and often a difficult principle. We cannot live alone and in a vacuum in healthy and productive ways. Mentally, physically, or spiritually, we must have other people in our lives in order to be successful in what we do. Whether it’s being the head of our household, the head of our department at work or the business we run, or a leader in any capacity, we need to surround ourselves with good, godly people. To grow personally, especially spiritually, we need people to help us in the journey. Moses needed help and so do we. Your circle is important to your growth in every area, especially spiritually. Make sure your circle is filled with godly men and women. And the Holy Spirit.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, put the people in our lives that can make a difference in helping us to live life to the fullest and be the person you want us to be. Give us wisdom as we choose who to follow and who to help us lead, who to allow to pour into our lives and walk alongside us. Give us people with the heart of God to influence every aspect of our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, April 22, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 17

 

Verse

 

13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” - Exodus 17:13-16

 

Meditation

 

After singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, the Israelites found themselves without a water source and then without a food source. The Lord provided each time and the people had plenty. This chapter begins with a need for water and the people grumbled against Moses. The Lord graciously provided again. Now they face war against a serious threat in the Amalekites. By no means was this an easy journey. And again, the Lord provided the means in which the enemy was defeated. There was power in the army to be found in arms raised high. In this case, Moses’ arms were raised high continually and Joshua defeated the enemy. You are familiar with the story. Moses needed help but he got it done. The victory was so significant Moses built an altar, representing a place where Yahweh was present in power, and called it The Lord is my Banner. Raise your hands. You have created a space for a banner. Imagine the inscription on your banner you are holding being one word, Yahweh. It was clear to Moses that victory for his people against a stronger army was achieved only because the Lord God Almighty, Yahweh, went before them. Yahweh was the name that led the march to victory for Israel. Our lives mirror the Israelites, not in detail, but in principle. One day we face one challenge, the next day it’s a different challenge, then one day we find ourselves in the midst of a difficult battle or war against the enemy who is trying to steal, kill and destroy. Raise your hands. Create a banner. Let Yahweh go before you and declare who will win the war for you. Shout aloud the name of the Lord God Almighty into the face of your challenge, the battle or enemy and He will go before you as your banner. He will manifest Himself as Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord will Provide. Sing songs of praise, raise your hands high because of the goodness of God, and see His hand move in your life.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, the Lord God Almighty, we lift our hands to you and invite your name, Yahweh, to be our banner. Go before us today. We confess that too often we have attempted to face challenges on our own, without Aaron and Hur, and worse, without You. Forgive us for thinking it was even possible. Our prayer is for you to keep our hands lifted high with your name leading the way of our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 16

 

Verse

 

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” - Exodus 16:4-5

 

Meditation

 

Normal. Just normal human behavior. Grumbling and more grumbling. And God is still God. Impatience, provision, obedience, grumbling, disobedience, grace, distrust, forgiveness and grace for forty years. We want to walk ahead of God and do it the way we want to and the way we think is best. Any time we walk ahead of God we will very frequently end up in a very difficult position. And while doing so we disobey or become selfish and all of a sudden, we are standing in the midst of stench. These are not easy lessons to learn because we are fighting against our natural tendencies. With sincere efforts, we seek to use the mind God has given us and we make mistakes because we overlook the promises of God. The growth curve of trusting and obedience is never ending because it is hard for us to fathom the true goodness of God. For forty years Yahweh, the God they sang about joyfully as they left the sea, daily provided every morsel of sustenance they needed to be healthy and productive. Not too much. Not too little. Just enough for each. It is hard for us to live in the just enough paradigm of our Lord. And then we hear the crushing question reverberate loudly, how long will you refuse to obey? Let us live in the powerful teaching of manna and quail. Be patient, God is providing just what you need for today.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, bless each person with the provision of this day. Show favor in our lives to provide when we see no way. May those most desperate today have plenty. May those who think they have plenty see where they are most desperate. In every situation show forth your bounty and goodness and grace. Let us be content with just enough and not always seek more than enough for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 15

 

Verse

 

11 Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—

   majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

12 “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies.

 

13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. - Exodus 15:11-13

 

Meditation

 

The sea parted and the Israelites walked through. They saw the enemy defeated. They were delivered and set free. And they sang. They gave praise. It’s not read as much as Mary’s song or others, not as eloquent, not loved like the rest, but what is known as the Song of Moses is powerful in its own right and speaks to the greatness of God. The people had asked Moses, prayed to and questioned God over and over about leaving Egypt, begged and cajoled, made mistakes, become angry, and were finally delivered. To their credit, once they realized the promises of God, they paused and sang a song of gratitude. It is certainly a good principle to follow---when answered prayer is realized, don’t rush past giving thanks. The Israelites just didn’t give thanks with a heart of gratitude, they made declarations about God that are powerful and everlasting. They sang a rhetorical question with an obvious answer, there is no one like Yahweh. Then follow that question with the first declaration describing God and we should let it sink deep into our soul. Majestic in holiness. Awesome in glory. Working wonders. Then the power of the second. He will lead the redeemed with unfailing love. In His strength He will guide us to holiness. Nothing has changed. The desire of the Lord for our life is to relate to us in the same way. A moment of retrospection might help us see how he has been all of this to us. The assurance of the days ahead is that God is leading us with unfailing love and guiding us into a life of holiness as we seek him in all things.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pause to give you thanks for being holy, glorious, and working wonders in and through us. We thank you for walking us through the trials and tribulations of our enemies. Thank you for promising to lead your redeemed people with unfailing love and not harsh judgment. Lead us to holiness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 14

 

Verse

 

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” . . . 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. - Exodus 14:13-14, 30-31

 

Meditation

 

It’s time for deliverance. The big moment has arrived. Moses is being obedient to the instructions from God and leads his people to the shore of the sea. Fear has gripped the people. We all have a mental picture of the Israelites walking through the Red Sea. For many of us our picture was influenced some sixty-eight years ago as people watched an iconic depiction for the first time of God parting the Red Sea. The technology wasn’t good and the acting was suspect, but every time I read this chapter my mind goes to that scene in The Ten Commandments. The lack of quality did not quench the power of the moment when first watched. In fact, it was excellent for 1956 and I suppose the faith community cheered at the scene or maybe wept in awe and wonder. The power of the moment remains in the text. Preceding and following their walk through the sea, the Israelites and us today are reminded to stand firm and see the mighty hand of the Lord at work. When we see the enemy upon us fear gains a grip. Anxiety overtakes us as we ponder the outcome. It’s hard. The enemy is stronger than we are. We don’t see a way out. We’re trapped. We are standing before a sea and there is no safe escape. God’s word then and now is to stand firm and let the mighty hand of the Lord act. The Lord instructed and Moses needed only to obey. When he raised his staff, the people saw deliverance. When the mighty hand of the Lord moved the people saw deliverance. Some days we must stand firm in the midst of the enemy and wait for the Lord’s mighty hand to move in perfect timing and deliver us from all evil.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we stand firm in the promise that no weapon or enemy will prevail against us and your mighty hand will move in our lives to deliver us. We stand firm on your word and not the whims of the world. Increase our faith to know when your power is displayed our enemies will be defeated. We stand firm without fear that you will move in our lives in your perfect time. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 13

 

Verse

 

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come. - Exodus 12:40-42

 

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle. - Exodus 13:17-18

 

Meditation

 

What a relief! Tax season is finally behind us. What a relief! Egypt is finally behind us. Everything was finally packed. The destination had been entered into the GPS. And off the Israelites went under Moses’ guidance. A quick reminder about the timing of their departure. Perfect. But soon they are off the course they planned. Instead of taking the shortest route to the Promised Land, they took the safest route because the person in charge of the GPS had a better plan. A perfect illustration of human behavior. The Israelites didn’t account for the war they would face if they followed the shortest route. Often with best intentions we chart a course and fail to recognize the danger ahead if we stay on course and then we don’t understand why the course changes. God understands us and He understood the need of the Israelites. In his goodness he gently takes us around the confusion and chaos along a safer path where He will guide us. When following God, it may not be the shortest route or the route most understood, but it is the route where guidance is given. Clouds and fire. We may not even understand the method of guidance, but it is given. I’m assuming the Israelites didn’t know they would be following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, but they were and it got them where they were going. And it never left them. One of our greatest challenges as Christ followers is resting in the assurance that God’s guiding hand will never leave us. Now we may choose not to follow, go our own way, but the pillars never leave just as it is promised. The Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. God guides. God is always there. Two great promises to live into today.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, walk before us today with profound glory as if you are leading us with your pillars. We are thankful to be walking with you and not stuck in the place we left. Do not let us take our own paths thinking they are better, but keep us focused on the path you lay out before us. May our obedience be strong and never swaying. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 12

 

Verse

 

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” - Exodus 12:31-32

 

Meditation

 

Finally. Free. Leaving Egypt for the first time in 430 years to the day. Hint. God’s timing is perfect but that is a discussion for another day. Generations have come and gone, many days of hardship and slavery, much heartache, and it finally concludes with plagues and slaughter. It’s an interesting story to say the least and we may never answer all the questions. But this we know. The framework was established for the coming Lamb. The significance and symbolism found in chapters eleven and twelve are so important. Worth rereading if you have time at some point. Just a couple to mention. Obedience is an obvious theme. All the firstborn died in every home if they did not have the blood of the lamb painted around the door frame. The lamb slaughtered to be eaten and the blood used to paint the door frame could be taken from the sheep or the goats. Rich indeed. As we leave the first act of the Exodus story, I want to lift up this thought. Through all the plagues the Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Now two things are noticeable. Pharaoh shifts from referring to Yahweh as “your Lord” to “the Lord.” It is not stated, but in letting the Israelites go, we assume his heart became at a minimum receptive to the Lord. Not hard, maybe soft. As he ushered Moses and Aaron out, he says, “And also bless me.” I don’t know that Moses did that but it causes me to pause and think about blessings. Maybe Pharaoh had a moment of brokenness and knew the truth. It didn’t last long. Maybe Moses blessed him. Maybe we should ask God’s blessing to be on people as part of our spiritual DNA. It could be the few words that lead to life-change for someone.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we ask that you shower down your blessings on people seeking, people who have need, and people who have no clue. We ask you bless people according to your good will and if we can be the person to be the conduit of your blessing, may it be so. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 12, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 11

 

Verse

 

4 So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. - Exodus 11:4-7

 

Meditation

 

The last plague but the worst plague, the plague of the first born, both sons and cattle. What could be worse and more eye opening? There is so much rich symbolism found in the life of Moses which points to the life and death of Jesus, even down to this last plague. This will be what finally causes Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. It involves even his first-born son. After that fateful night, the Pharaoh will scream at Moses to take his people and leave. But let’s stay in the chapter before us. To do so I want to focus on the word distinction and apply it to our life. The thought of what was about to happen is hard to process, but it was necessary in order for our redemption story to progress. The plagues have not applied to the people of Israel for a while, but here God clearly states he wanted to make a distinction between the people of God and those rebelling against God. In our minds it was a harsh way to make his point, but obviously it was necessary. It should be a point we should never forget in this story. It took the first born to die and this marked the distinction. I believe the idea from yesterday that these plagues, and this final plague, were as much for the Israelites understanding of who God is as it was for the Pharaoh to see the power of God and finally let the people go. And we should learn and have greater understanding about the distinction we should model as followers of Christ. Redemption, freedom as it will be in this case, brings distinction and if we are going to live into the blessing and favor of God and be set free, we must live into the distinction that following Christ brings. As we move through Exodus, we will find the Israelites had a lot of trouble being a people set apart, holy, and distinct. We all know the struggle as well. God gave his first born for us to redeem us and set us free, let’s honor our loving Father by living a life of spiritual distinction which is seen as a noticeable difference in our life in every aspect of our life.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, remove any fear and doubt about living a life of distinction, of holiness, of being set apart from the world. Help us navigate the difficulties which we face which tempt us to move away from the distinction and blend into the world in harmful ways. Let us embrace our history and follow you without reservation about being distinct. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 10

 

Verse

 

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. - Exodus 10:21-23

 

Meditation

 

Don’t lose sight of the fact that after the third plague the Israelites were not part of the plagues, just the Egyptians. This part of the story is sometimes hard to understand because in our minds the same end could have been accomplished with a lot fewer plagues. Throw in the idea that it appears God is hardening Pharaoh’s heart as if he wants to punish his own chosen people by having to wait and suffer. Imagine the impact that the power of God being manifested has on the Israelites. They are witnessing these horrible events confined to just one geographic area and one group of people. There is a subtle message of total surrender involved. God is not acting until Pharaoh totally releases the Israelites without condition. All the people and all the livestock and all the possessions must be allowed to go and Pharaoh keeps bargaining as if you can bargain with God and win. Maybe the ten plagues are more for the Israelites understanding of the character of God and for our benefit as well. When we actually grasp the reach of God’s power and the importance of obedience and surrender, we will live in a much more Christ-like way. Tomorrow the plagues end. It will be the worst one yet. But it paves the way for complete understanding of the meaning of redemption and deliverance. Stay tuned and keep reading.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we seek you with all our heart even though at times we harden our own hearts. Teach us lessons of your power and obedience. Forgive us when we want to place conditions on our relationship with you. Help us to be totally in. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 9

 

Verse

 

16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. - Exodus 9:16

 

Meditation

 

Just read verse 16 alone and you might think Moses finally gets an answer as to why he and his people continue to be held captive in Egypt while God sends these plagues to the Egyptians and hardens Pharaoh’s heart. Not so fast. Read it in context and you’ll discover it is the word of the Lord for Pharaoh through Moses. Some translations render the verse “have raised you up and have spared you.” Imagine the Pharaoh of Egypt, the chief enemy of Israel, being used by God for the very purpose of showing God’s power and causing His name to be proclaimed in all the earth. That seems a little odd because we would expect this to be said about Moses or Aaron or some other leader of Israel. Even after the plagues which killed the Egyptian livestock, the boils which covered the men and animals, and the hail which destroyed all it fell on, the Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened. Even though he told Moses he was now convinced the Lord was right and he would let the Israelites go, Moses disagreed because he knew Pharaoh’s heart and he or his officials feared God (verses 27-30). And Moses was right. This illustrates how evil the Pharaoh was! What we say is one thing, what we believe and do is another. Yet God raised him up for a purpose. In our context we would expect verse 16 to be said about a pastor or an exemplary Christ-follower or the leader of a large ministry organization. Maybe it would be said about the person you think is least likely to be used by God for a grand purpose. Maybe it would be said about YOU. Don’t count yourself out. He uses all people to achieve his purpose and display his power. When we least expect it, we might find ourselves as the leader of His people for a particular moment or season of time. You never know how God might use the person who thinks they are the least likely person to be chosen. Maybe God has his eyes on you for this very purpose. Don’t ignore his voice and his wooing.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, increase our faith to receive your word into our heart and act on the word to accomplish your purpose and display your power. As a result, may your name be proclaimed in and across all the earth. Help us be sensitive to the fact we might be the very person you call on today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, April 8, 2024

 

Devotion Taken from Exodus 7

 

Verse

 

3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” - Exodus 7:3-5

 

Meditation

 

Let the plagues begin! Doesn’t matter what God says or does, Pharaoh will not listen and his heart is going to be hardened and your people will still be oppressed. Imagine Moses and Aaron being willing to do as God commands and then being told the person responsible for freeing their people will become more bitter and less convinced and try to punish the people more severely. Pharaoh was deceived because his magicians could do the same thing that God instructed Moses to do and it made no difference. Note the word deceived. When we are deceived, we miss the truth. Moses and Aaron came speaking truth and deceit did not let the Pharaoh hear, only allowed him to bow his chest out to prove how strong and mighty he was. And in his arrogance his own people suffered because there was no water to drink. Moses and Aaron had to wonder when the Egyptians would know the truth and let the Israelites go. They were being obedient and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened as God had said. Moses had to listen carefully to God and if so, realized it would take more than one act of judgement before his people were set free. We will see how the symbolism of God stretching out his hand will come into play in the story. Listen. Trust. Obey. Do not be deceived. We will be set free from what keeps us in bondage. It may take an act of judgement or two, but freedom is coming.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, let us see within the storms of our life that your goodness reigns and you will set us free. We don’t always understand how you work because you might be teaching others through our story. Let us always hold onto our belief that you are sovereign and your will is perfect. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 4

 

Verse

 

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” 14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.” - Exodus 4:13-17

 

Meditation

 

A desperate request to send someone else after multiple excuses about why he was not the person Yahweh was looking for. This is where we join Moses in the story. This is not the moment where you want to be like Moses. We will have plenty of opportunities to embrace Moses but you do not want the anger of the Lord to burn against you. Moses was saved at birth, escaped a plot by the Egyptian Pharaoh to have him killed and settled down in Midian tending the flock of a priest. He was called by God to save his people, made multiple excuses, performed miraculous signs at the direction of God, and now a final request to turn down the call. What? Moses was doing everything possible to get out of fulfilling the calling on his life and God was patiently, with a dash of anger thrown in, doing everything to show him he was exactly who was needed for the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. In the midst of this lack of eloquent excuses, the Lord speaks a reminder of provision into his life. A reminder all of us need from time to time. When we sense we are not up to the basic calling of following Christ, be reminded of who provides all things and will provide exactly what you need to fight through the present battle raging in your heart. When exasperation hits because we are getting nowhere with a particular calling, be reminded of Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Who Will Provide. Some days are like going to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to set a nation free and we need confidence from the One who gives speech to our mouth, hearing to our ears and sight to our eyes that He will go before us and make straight the paths. Think of the symbolism of God’s answer as you seek to apply it to your life. Don’t doubt God, trust him to provide all you need for the task before you today and that he will make the way perfect according to his plan. Moses saw problems and roadblocks, God saw answers and provision.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, when the task looks too big and the circumstances overwhelming, please come and provide for us as you have since the creation of the world. Do not let us doubt one moment but let us live by faith you will walk before us, order the moments, and guide every thought and word. We declare that over ourselves today. Forgive us for failing to believe you will do what you promise to do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

 

Devotion Taken from Exodus 3

 

Verse

 

2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” - Exodus 3:2-4

 

Meditation

 

Only by the miraculous hand of God is Moses alive and able to be where he is as his story, and our story, takes a monumental leap forward. Don’t ever lose sight of where his story began. It was a miracle or two. And a bump or two. We will assume over time he learned the details of his early days. Mom knew because moms know everything and she likely told the story over and over again. Moses had many Instagram moments. What those moments taught him were spiritual perception and recognition. Moses is doing his thing, tending the sheep like any other day. But he perceives something unique is happening that just might be worth investigating. A bush is burning that is not burning. And he gets there and recognizes God’s voice. We’ve always heard that God works in mysterious ways. Well, here we have one of the most mysterious ways. With maturity comes a sense of unexplainable perception of the possibilities of when and where God might be. Linked to that is the awareness of His presence and the recognition of His voice. I don’t know this for sure but I’m thinking Moses believed Yahweh was up to something with this weird bush occurrence. His answer to his name being called indicates in some way a calm of familiarity. And when Moses heard who it was then he knew it was a holy moment in time. He took his shoes off. He turned his face in awe and wonder and worship. This led to the beginning of one of the greatest “calling” stories we have in the Bible. Don’t have such narrow tunnel vision that you miss the burning bushes around you. You might not hear an audible voice but you will recognize His presence and then see his power demonstrated if indeed you are encountering a holy moment with God. God calling people is not reserved for the likes of Moses and Paul, but is freely given to the likes of me and you. If we will listen. If we have discerning and wise ears. If we are ready for the possibilities. If we are ready to change directions from tending sheep to leading a nation. That’s a God-sized change that brings fear to our heart but pleases the heart of God when we are obedient to the calling.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we yearn for and ask for a fresh sense of spiritual perception and recognition of your presence. When the mystery of your presence shows up in our lives, we want to know it and respond. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see. We pray we will always be looking, ever searching, for your power and presence to manifest itself in glory. Thank you for showing up in mysterious ways. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

 

Devotion Taken from Exodus 2

 

Verse

 

1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. - Exodus 2:1-4

 

Meditation

 

“Every newborn Hebrew male must die.” These are not the words a young Hebrew married couple want stuck in the back of their mind as they get married and start a family. But it was the words they knew because the Pharaoh ordered it done and they probably were witnesses to its truth. They chose to hide this fine child and the miraculous nature of our redemption story continues. If it were a book or a movie, I’d call it “The Miracle of Moses.”  It has a great beginning, almost perfect. He was born from the tribe of priests and worshipers, born of a Levite father and mother. Things start to change. It’s a strange tale with a strange twist that would make for a good movie. Yeah, I know there are several movies portraying Moses’ life. They all begin the same miraculous way. Let’s recap the twists and turns of his miracle beginning. Born a male who was supposed to be killed at birth, hidden by his mother until he could be hidden no longer, put in a basket made to float and launched into the water, found by not just anybody but the Pharaoh’s daughter who asked his sister to go find a nursing mother who brings his mother who turns him over to the Egyptian Pharaoh when he is older. Moses grew up and killed an Egyptian and tried to hide it. Was exposed by two Israelites, had to flee Egypt, and was eventually sheltered by an Israelite priest and marries a daughter of a priest while most think he is an Egyptian. You can’t make that up and even if you did nobody would believe you. It was a miracle beginning, a redemption story, which set the stage for the redemption story of Exodus which sets the stage for the redemption story woven from Genesis to Revelation. Moses, born of the tribe of worshipers, his future pretty much in place, until a miracle took place, a bump in the road changed the course, and he found himself positioned to lead the redemption of a nation. Regardless of your story, you may be positioned to lead a story of redemption. Maybe your own, maybe the one person you never expected, maybe a small group. The Psalmist said let the redeemed tell their story. Most likely your story is full of miracle beginnings and is just the story that needs to be told.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, help us find the time, place and space to tell the story of redemption you have woven through our life. Let our story be the change someone needs to experience. Give us strength and boldness to water the flocks. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, April 1, 2024

 

Over the next 40 devotion days, I will be writing the devotions from the Book of Exodus, following along one chapter per day. Today comes from Exodus 1. Tomorrow Exodus 2, etc.

 

Devotion taken from Exodus 1

 

Verse

 

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. 22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” - Exodus 1:20-22

 

Meditation

 

Since the beginning of the Devotion Guides in 2018, I generally have chosen to follow Easter with either Acts, something related to the birth of the church, the birth of a nation or something new. Welcome to Exodus and a story of redemption. It begins with a miracle in the making. Genesis concludes with Joseph telling his brothers their actions were meant for evil but God meant them for good in order to save lives. There were many lives to save and Exodus begins with Israel growing in great numbers in Egypt and becoming a threat. The new Egyptian king thought oppression would stop them and yet the Israelites continued to grow and the oppression was made greater. Finally, the killing of every male child at birth was ordered. A king with evil plans creates the context for greater miracles to come, and in many ways, for the story of redemption to move forward full throttle. A story of redemption always begins with a need for restoration, a need to be brought back from oppression on some level. God can indeed use what was meant for evil to save lives. The king’s order to kill all the male children at birth was an atrocity, evil from every angle, a death sentence for a nation. This is where we begin this story. Oppression at its highest and evil all around. And yet a saving miracle awaits for this great story to unfold. If you are reading this and feel any sense of oppression weighing you down or evil surrounding you from every side, don’t give up. God may be planning a miracle to begin your story of redemption to a place of freedom. Hold on, this story, and your story, gets much better and ends well.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we place our lives, many times feeling oppressed and surrounded by evil, in your hands so redemption might come. Even if we don’t understand the path, even if it is bumpy along the way, we believe restoration will come and we will experience the freedom found in your Son, Jesus Christ. We have confidence that all your plans are meant for good and for saving lives, even ours. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Good Friday, March 29, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 24:13-35

 

Verse

 

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. - Luke 24:28-31

 

Meditation

 

Over the last several years this has become one of my favorite stories of Jesus changing lives. It might be because it portrays how most people come to follow Him in our world today. We don’t see water changed to wine or the lame walking and believe, we have our eyes opened and we see Jesus, really see, for the very first time. Jesus will change your life even when you don’t know it is Jesus when our eyes are opened. His words are so compelling and transforming you will invite him to stay with you even when you don’t know who you are inviting to stay. I love to read between the lines and let my imagination take over. I can’t claim the “in between” as gospel truth but I can say it often helps explain human behavior. So, I imagine these two men on their way to Emmaus were, yes, being courteous and hospitable and welcomed Jesus to stay with them. But disguised by courtesy was their desire to continue to hear what this man had to say. Something was happening inside of them which was unexplainable. Fearing ridicule and rejection by friends when they admitted to the impact of Jesus’ words, they simply did the right thing. There is never anything wrong with doing the right thing. But in doing what is right they continued to be in the presence of the resurrected One. Because of their willingness to be vulnerable the evening turned into a transformative experience for them, they recognized Jesus and began telling others what had happened. At times we need to read between the lines of our life and be willing to stay in the presence of God. It is in his presence that bread will be broken, literally or figuratively, and we will recognize Jesus in a brand new way. The old will be gone and the new will come. And we will tell.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, be present in our life and do something transformative in us today. Do not let us allow you to continue on to some other place but we pray that we will always invite you into our life. In the moment. In the now. Use our vulnerability to speak volumes of newness into us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 24:1-12

 

Verse

 

5 . . . “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised

again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. - Luke 24:5-8

 

Meditation

 

Our reading in Luke brings us to the glorious end a few days before we reach the Easter celebration. That’s ok because tonight we will remember the words of Jesus when he told his disciples that he would be crucified and rise on the third day. Every time we participate in Holy Communion we remember those words as well as the words to do it in remembrance of what he has done. We want to remember because the words the women heard at the tomb are crucial. He is not here; he has risen! Those are seven very important words. One of the most difficult assignments I have as a pastor is to adequately convey the magnitude of importance of those words. “He has risen!” is the single most important concept of Christian faith. In fact, there would be no faith, there would be no one following Christ, if not for the resurrection. Most every principle of Christianity falls meaningless without the empty tomb. Christ leaving the tomb with resurrection power gives validity to every claim of Christianity. Every single thing you believe and practice as a Christian hinges on what we will celebrate in just a few days. Every single thing. When you experience hope or comfort or unconditional love or any other principle of the faith, it is all because of the resurrection. So, I will leave it at that and let you rejoice in the power of the resurrection as it applies to your life. You should be praising the Lord about now! Don’t rush ahead to the resurrection but remember what the women heard, remember what Jesus told his disciples, and remember why we are who we are.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we simply pray that we can live in the joy and power and blessing of the resurrection. Forgive us when we fail to live as people of the resurrection. Make us mindful in our own way of the indescribable importance of Sunday. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

 

I have decided that the season for printing hard copies of the Devotion Guide of mailing them has come to an end. In the future, I will continue to write the daily devotion, email it and post it on Facebook, and I will publicize where the daily devotions will come from for the weeks ahead. The cost of printing and postage has made it a stewardship issue and I believe I can accomplish providing the same information digitally. Thanks for your understanding.

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 23:26-56

 

Verse

 

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: This Is the King of the Jews. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” - Luke 23:35-39

 

Meditation

 

We’ve made our way to the crucifixion. All the details, the suffering, the mocking, and ultimately Jesus breathes his last breath. No one mocking Jesus knew what they were asking. They kept throwing around this word save. Only moments earlier Jesus said the criminals who hung on each side of him didn’t know what they were doing and asked the Father to forgive them. With the intent to insult they dared Jesus to save them. First the soldiers and then a criminal on the cross with Jesus. Save yourself. Save us. They didn’t know what they were asking as they were only concerned about the last breath to be drawn. Yes, the King of the Jews could have done this but his reign as king had meaning much deeper than their present life. He was concerned about their place for eternity’s sake. Not to say he was uninterested in the present reign of the kingdom, but this king came to save our souls and write our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. For Jesus knew if he didn’t draw his last breath eternity was an impossibility because his last breath led to resurrection. This king, the King of the Jews came to save a people from eternal damnation, forever separated from the King. Yes, he was the king and he did save himself and save us. For eternity’s sake. So many today are like the soldiers and the criminal and are short sighted. His kingdom will reign forever and people need to see beyond this present age. We need to help them.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, guide us to be your witnesses who have eternity in sight for those who are only wanting to be saved from physical death. Help us be people of faith who lead people to salvation from spiritual death. Let us live in such a way as to be examples of Christ followers who make a difference and become conduits to someone’s relationship with your Son. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 23:1-25

 

Verse

 

22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. - Luke 23:22-25

 

Meditation

 

Yesterday I wrote about the cup Jesus offered in the Garden of Gethsemane being an offering of surrender and sacrifice. Today we look at surrender from a different perspective. There is so much symbolism related to three or third involved in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. At the same time, it is both exhilarating to see the scriptural story woven together this way and convicting to see the behavior of people. There is so much to this story I will only hit the high spots without many details. After being questioned by Pilate, sent off to Herod for questioning, and returned to Pilate for questioning again, Jesus remained innocent in the minds of both Pilate and Herod. In verse thirteen we learn Pilate called together the chief priests, Jewish spiritual leaders, the ruler, most likely political leaders, and then all the people of Jerusalem who wanted to participate in the discussion. Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, the collection of people Pilate called together insisted he die. Three times Pilate tried to convince all those gathered that there was no reason for Jesus to die. Three times they refused to listen, they shouted all the louder and demanded the release of a prisoner guilty of the worst crimes of their day. And Pilate surrendered to the will of the people and surrendered Jesus over to the people to die. Set aside what was going to happen and embrace the fact this whole scenario is part of the perfect will of God for our sake. But, be Pilate for a minute. Be part of the crowd for a minute. Pilate nor the crowd understood the perfect will of God. They acted out of a human understanding of the situation. Several things to take away. Don’t be Pilate and surrender to the will of people for the sake of popularity or to get people to leave you alone. Surrendering to the will of the people when contrary to your understanding of what is right is usually detrimental to your relationship with Christ. Stand firm in what you believe is scripturally true. Don’t be the people and try to eliminate out of your life what is spiritually or otherwise challenging. Jesus challenged everything about their life, spiritually, politically and practically. Don’t surrender to the will of people and push Jesus to the background. On the other side, remember Barabbas experienced the mercy and grace of a loving Father like no other. He not only didn’t get what he deserved, death, he was released from prison. That’s mercy and grace at its best. There is lots to learn from this part of Jesus’ story. Live in the power of the story.

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help us to hold strong in our beliefs around scriptural truth. Convict us long before we become dangerously close to surrendering to the will of people and pushing aside your will. We don’t want to be a victim of three, we want to celebrate the goodness of three. We desire to embrace your will in every way. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 22:39-71

 

Verse

 

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. - Luke 22:39-44

 

Meditation

 

Jesus’ “garden” prayer, given its context, will always be one of the most gut-wrenching prayers we will ever read. Jesus told the disciples to pray that they would not fall into temptation while he went away and did the same. This cup in Jesus’ prayer is often interpreted to symbolize his death, or the need for his death. I believe Jesus is making an offering to God, an offering of sacrifice, an offering of obedience, and asking his Father to receive his offering of death on behalf of all humanity. But, Jesus does not want to be outside of the will of his Father so he wants to be certain it is his Father’s will that is guiding his spirit of sacrifice and obedience. The prayer then becomes one of absolute surrender to his Father’s will that he would die for the sins of the people. Jesus knew his purpose for coming and this is possibly a prayer out of his humanity to release him from the crucifixion which is often how this is interpreted. Offerings historically were part of the great work of God for the sake of his people or in an individual’s life on behalf of the nation. It would have been natural for Jesus to pause and live into his heritage and present an offering, the cup, as a sign of surrender and sacrifice for the purpose he was about to fulfill. What Jesus taught about his own character and displayed during the last week of his life, humility and servanthood, would lead to a natural act of offering to God. See the cup as Jesus offering his life for the service of the kingdom and with humility offering it to his Father at a most difficult time. To follow Christ in a spirit of humility, let’s consider offerings of surrender and sacrifice of our life which would please our Father. When we do, and if needed, I’m confident God will send an angel to strengthen us to continue in our journey with him.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we bow before you today with gratitude of your Son as we read this difficult moment and hearing Jesus offer his life as a sacrificial offering to you. We are humbled by this act and pray that you will use us to fulfill your will in our life. We humbly offer a cup of offering to you and pray you will strengthen us for service in the kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 21:20-38

 

Verse

 

32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” - Luke 21:32-33

 

Meditation

 

The end times. Not a subject we love to talk about. Whether it is our current life or the life of humanity at the time of the second coming. But we have to deal with the reality of life and the journey we are all on. Life is difficult to navigate for each and every person. No one has “it easy” as some might want to portray. The difficulties become manageable if we will never question the last half of this verse. The words of Christ will never pass away which implies the truth and promises contained in them will always be with us. The context of this verse is Jesus speaking about the end of the age and basically says everything as it now exists will no longer exist because of the new heaven and the new earth. But, and it’s a big but, his word will never pass away. We each need to be rock solid in our understanding that His words, and the Word of God which contains them, are true and authoritative for life and practice. I believe there is a direct relationship between the value we place in the Word of God and our ability to deal with all life brings, both the highs and the lows. Live in the joy of knowing that the truth of Christ will never pass away.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, help us to know the truth of your words and let our life reflect them with certain and unwavering belief. Give us the confidence to navigate all that is before us. Make us one with your truth and promises. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 20:27-47

 

Verse

 

45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” - Luke 20:45-47

 

Meditation

 

There is a saying in golf that you drive for show and putt for dough, meaning, the long and straight drive is impressive and gets great applause from the crowd but if you are a poor putter, you will not win. Jesus was accusing the teachers of the law of being great drivers and poor putters. What the teachers did to impress people was not a reflection of their true nature. They wanted onlookers to perceive them as godly men yet they lived ungodly lives. And worse, they reveled in all the attention they received. Quite the opposite of what Jesus taught during his ministry and this is one of texts in scripture where the severity of punishment is stated. The call upon our lives as followers of Christ is to live an authentic life. As I have stated often in the past, trying to cast an image to win the popularity contest in our culture leads to horrific consequences. It is energy expended which is clearly wasteful. There is no value in trying to create an image of godliness that does not reflect your heart. Greater impact is achieved for the kingdom of God when we don’t pretend to be who we aren’t and God accompanies us through the challenges of life. Be humble. Earn respect. Take a seat where nobody else wants to sit. Let honor come in natural ways. Enjoy the reward.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father and Gracious God, turn us away from the temptation to gain the respect of people all the while breaking your heart. Forgive us for beating our chest and seeking attention. Show us the humble path of life. Let us live kingdom minded. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 20:1-25

 

Verse

 

21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent. - Luke 20:21-26

 

Meditation

 

People devise great plans to try to persuade other people to believe something that is really not true or to present an image totally different from reality. The spies came to Jesus with that in mind thinking they could hide from him their true intent. They didn’t know who they were dealing with. They knew about him, but didn’t know him. Jesus saw right through their plan just like he sees through our plans of trying to hide things from him. Jesus called them out and their plans were thwarted to the point of silence. The awareness of being caught often leads to silence because any answer is inappropriate or just wrong. Hide and Seek was a great game we played as children. I can’t imagine how disturbing it was to the neighborhood I grew up in. We were not bashful. We would hide behind anybody’s bushes or trees. Our Confirmation Class played Hide and Seek last weekend. Rest assured when we try to play hide and seek with Jesus, he sees through our deceitfulness and we will be left silent. Being honest and transparent is a better approach to our relationship with Christ. He would rather journey with us through difficult moments than silence us. He would rather speak the truth in love than speak the truth which silences. The great misconception is that we can in some way deceive Jesus. Nope. He sees right through our plan. And silences us in astonishment. Humble. Honest. Transparent. A much better plan to approach Jesus. He can then speak the truth in love.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we come to you today in raw confession of who we are and what we need to become. Even though we sometimes want to trap you and avoid the truth, we come today seeking your truth for our life. We lay before you our true self. Forgive us for any attempt to present ourselves as different that who we are. Speak truth into us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, March 18, 2024

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 19:28-48

 

Verse

 

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words. - Luke 19:47-48

 

Meditation

 

We know the story of the triumphal entry. We will celebrate this coming Sunday. We call it Palm Sunday. We know the parade and the celebration. We know about Jesus in the temple area. We know how distraught he was. We know the authorities wanted to kill him. We know. Maybe we don’t know. The authorities couldn’t find a way to kill Jesus because so many people were hanging on to every word that came out of his mouth. The conclusion being that they not only were clinging to every word but they were in total agreement. The crowds were jumping and shouting and proclaiming Jesus the King long before he made it to Jerusalem because they had seen all the miraculous things he had done. And there was most likely a positive difference in the people that was very noticeable. If not, the authorities could have killed him with the crowd’s blessing. There is value in hanging onto every word of Jesus. Most all of us are probably guilty at times of hanging onto some words, casually noticing others and ignoring a few. Let’s hang on. And if we hang on, our challenge is to live and speak and have conversation so that others begin to hang on. It’s in the hanging on that our life is changed and transformation into his likeness occurs. And maybe if enough Christ-followers will hang on more and more, then our culture will not try to kill Jesus.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, may the words of your mouth be held captive by our minds and hearts. May we live into every word we hear. Forgive us for picking and choosing. Give us a desire to hang on so that no one tries to kill You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday March 14, 2024

There will be no devotion tomorrow or Saturday. I will be leading our Confirmation Retreat.

Today’s Reading - Luke 18:1-17

Verse

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ - Luke 18:1-3

Meditation

Comparisons are an inexact science. Comparing an apple to an orange is an obvious effort in futility unless the only conclusion required is they are both fruits. Full agreement is reached when the comparison is, let’s say, apples to apples, until you compare a Honeycrisp apple to a Granny Smith apple and then agreement is difficult. One is sweet, the other is tart. Reading the parable that follows our text leads to a comparison of God and the judge. Or at least an association. Jesus gives us the teaching of the parable, pray and never give up. The point is not comparing the judge to God and coming to the conclusion that God’s character is the same as the judge. Note what it says. The judge did not fear God nor care for people. Just the opposite of God’s character. The point is to keep praying and not give up, not that God is so uncaring that we have to beg and plead for an answer. It’s an apple to orange comparison. The only conclusion we could make is that both had authority. If in fact it is God’s desire to be in relationship with his people which is a very clear biblical principle, then the relationship begins on the basis of his love for us and absolute care for our being. Don’t see it as begging, see it as clearly declaring the desire of your heart and never giving up on your commitment to let God do what only God can do and see God’s will manifested in your life. That’s praying and never giving up.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, create in us a sense of understanding of our relationship with you that we clearly know you love us and care for our lives. Help us to fear you at all times and seek to love you with our whole heart. Teach us to pray and give us perseverance to pray. Forgive us for being impatient and giving up. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Wednesday March 13, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 17:20-37
 
Verse
 
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God does come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” - Luke 17:20-21
 
Meditation
 
The anticipation of something we really look forward to doing will often create excitement too great to keep contained. Whether it’s a destination vacation which takes you to a dream location, a concert on your bucket list, or your wedding day, there is great excitement. The opposite is true as well. The anticipation of something we are not sure about often causes great anxiety. I’m not sure which the Pharisees were experiencing when they asked Jesus the question about the kingdom of God. My hunch given their reaction to Jesus’ teaching and ministry over the years would lean toward anxiousness. If my hunch is correct, Jesus’ reply only heightened their anxiety, probably to the point of nausea. The kingdom Jesus described is not what the Pharisees wanted to hear. But, but, it is the answer every follower of Jesus should want to hear. The excitement we have to the very depths of our soul when we know the kingdom of God is in our heart right now should be the same, maybe far exceed, the excitement of anticipation when thinking about the eternity we will spend with our Father in the kingdom of God called heaven! Jesus made clear the kingdom of God has both a “now” and “then” dimension that we have the privilege of participating in as his disciples. The excitement and joy of walking in the grace of His kingdom now should not be contained, it should overflow into our daily life. I trust you will join me in counting it a great honor to hear the words, “the kingdom of God is within you.” I trust you will join me in living to the fullest of understanding of what it means and let your joy overflow. What a special gift the kingdom of God within us truly is!
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of the kingdom of God within my heart and soul. Let me live with joy knowing that truth. In the peaks and valleys of life let my life show forth your kingdom. Guide is into living with honor for all that you have given us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday March 12, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 17:1-19
 
Verse
 
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” - Luke 17:15-19
 
Meditation
 
When contemporary Christian music first began to become popular, Don Moen wrote a song titled, “Give Thanks.” The first two lines said, “Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One.” I’ll never forget it. Churches sang it often because it stated a simple yet powerful truth we often overlook. Jesus passed ten lepers while walking down a road and they all cried out for Jesus to have pity on them, for Jesus to heal them. He gave them some instructions and they did what Jesus asked and they were all healed. Only one comes back to Jesus to give thanks. The Samaritan among them. The foreigner among them. The least likely among them to give thanks to the Jewish leader. Jesus asks him some accusatory questions aimed at the other nine calling them into account for not joining the one to give thanks. Giving thanks is part of the process of God moving in our life when we come before him with need. In a sense it completes the spiritual principle being taught by Jesus. We ask for God’s favor and blessing and He answers and we should with grateful hearts, give thanks. What that does is allows Jesus to expand the moment and increase our faith. The nine left walked away thinking they were healed because of what they had done by asking. They will be looking for the next thing they can do to ask and receive a blessing. The one who returned to Jesus and gave thanks learned and realized it was faith that made him whole. What happened to him only Jesus could do. He then knew without a doubt that faith exercises God’s work in us. We can try all we want but it is faith that moves God’s heart and hand. I believe the Spirit will move in us more often if we live with a grateful heart and pause to give thanks when we have sought the Lord’s blessing in our life.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father, we simply pause this day to give thanks for all the favor and every blessing you have manifested in our life. We give thanks with a grateful heart when you’ve done what only you can do when we had to bow humbly with great measures of faith to ask you to move in our life. Increase our faith as you answer our cries to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday March 11, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 16:1-31
 
Verse
 
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” - Luke 16:14-15
 
Meditation
 
The Monday morning big word of the day is omniscient which means God knows all things. We don’t even though some people think they do. Case in point. People relate to other people in many different ways because we know people for various reasons. Some people we will simply know their name and maybe a little about them and be able to recognize them on the street. Others we know more intimately and know their life story. We know our immediate family to a much deeper level. The deepest, most intimate level of relationship is how God knows each person He has created. God knows our hearts. Our heart is the seat of every emotion we have which means all the love, loyalty, honor, dislike, grudge, hurt, joy, and the list goes on and on, is birthed in our heart. Putting it simply and plainly, there is nothing about me and you that God doesn’t know. Like the Pharisees, we can do whatever we want to please others or justify our actions, but God knows our hearts. We can say whatever we choose in order to make our life appear to be whatever we want, but God knows our hearts. When someone is caught in an act of misbehavior, a statement often used involves being honest. The principle applies to each one of us in our relationship to God. Being honest with God in part means speaking and acting in a way consistent with what we truly believe in our heart. God knows our hearts. The positive side of being honest in our relationship with God is that He knows when we hurt, when we grieve, when we are broken or when we are stressed and we can lean into Him in those situations with full assurance believe He knows and understands. Because we join with Jesus in the fellowship of his suffering and the joy of his resurrection, God knows the full range of what is going on in our hearts. Don’t try to be somebody before God that you aren’t in your day-to-day activity or try to hide things from Him. Be open at all times. Be honest. He knew the heart of the Pharisees and he knows our heart as well.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father, we come before you today with an open heart desiring to be as honest as we can. Forgive us when we try to deceive you when trying to please people and then justify our behavior. Lead us away from the temptations of life which causes conflicts in our relationship with you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday March 9, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 15:1-32, Matthew 27:45-46
 
Verse
 
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” - Luke 15:8-10
 
Meditation
 
Today we read three parables about being found. Three parables about people like me and you discovering Christ. I write about this often but it bears repeating again to remind all of us how special we are in the sight of God. I want you to pause and think about your “found” story. I want you to think about it because your story could be one of the parables of Luke 15. Pause. You may not think your story is significant enough to be included but let me assure you it is. When one discovers Christ there is rejoicing in heaven and the rejoicing is all the same. I think it is safe to say there is no rejoice meter among the angels depending on the nature of a person’s “found” story. There is just rejoicing. As we run to the Father, he is running to us and he runs with the same desire for each and every person. Remember, he loves you that much to leave the ninety-nine, to look under the couch, or to run to our filthiness. The truth for each of us is that when sin has been repented of, there is new life in Christ, there is significance in the story, and there is rejoicing among the angels in heaven. As you pause to consider your story, know how much you are loved and whether you realize it or not, God went to great lengths to find you and the promise of His word is that nothing can separate us from his love for us. We have reason to rejoice because no matter how we see ourselves, we are loved enough for the Father to run after us. Live knowing you were found because you are loved beyond what our heart and mind can comprehend.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father, we praise your holy name for finding us, for passing every obstacle we might have laid in your path and wrapping your loving arms of embrace around us. You found us and we rejoice and give thanks. Let us live fully our story so we might be used by you for others to realize your pursuit of them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Friday March 8, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 14:1-35
 
Verse
 
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” - Luke 14:28-30
 
Meditation
 
Finishing well. This concept appears in many different conversations whether it’s used in reference to athletic competition, leadership, or our relationship with Christ to name a few. The entire chapter we read today is focused on the invitation to follow, excuses we make not to follow, and the cost of following if we choose to. The verses I’ve chosen today are part of the discussion about the cost. Jesus shares a parable about construction and counting the cost in order to finish the project. There is ridicule awaiting if the tower is not finished. We can identify. You’ve driven by construction projects that were started, stopped for some reason, and all you see are weeds growing up around what still stands. You might not call your reaction ridicule, but I’m sure you thought it didn’t end well. There could be a very legitimate reason or it might be the failure to count the cost. Jesus’ emphasis was on finishing, I added the word well just because that is my nature. If I start anything, I want to finish well. I’m confident I’m not the only one. We certainly want to stay strong in our relationship with Christ and not fall into complacency and indifference. We certainly want to finish, and I would say let’s finish well. Let’s include in the cost of discipleship the understanding we will finish this life in the greatest measure of intimacy with our Lord and Savior. Pausing often leads to weeds. Our challenge is to show progress in our relationship with Christ at all times so weeds don’t appear around our construction site. Finish well.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father, we seek your presence and power so that we have the strength to always seek a deeper place of intimacy with you and to finish on the mountaintop. Lead us away from the temptation to pause and pursue other interests. Lead us away from the excuse making and help us see the reasons to follow and go deep. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday March 7, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 13:18-35
 
Verse
 
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” - Luke 13:22-24
 
Meditation
 
Warning labels adorn almost every food or product you pick up. Commercials for food, medicine, and cars contain disclaimers or warnings. Purchase an extension cord and it has four or five. Those tags have been on mattresses for years warning us not to remove them. Very few of these labels do we pay close attention to unless we are particularly interested in maybe a food allergy or the like. Warning labels are generally ignored. Unfortunately, we treat scripture the same way. The Bible contains many warnings about a wide variety of subjects from sin to salvation. They are hard to take. We don’t want to pay attention. We skip over or we just tear them off and throw them away. Especially when it comes to salvation, we don’t want to recognize the warnings. Jesus is giving us a warning signal here and we need to pay attention. As the answer to a direct question about salvation his reply includes the concept of a narrow door and some not able to enter. The pathway to salvation is not difficult but it is narrow. Living out salvation in surrender and obedience is often very difficult but there is clarity about the availability of the narrow door. The door is available to every person who chooses to enter. We should first be very attentive to our own relationship with Christ and be very sure the door we entered was narrow and not wide and popular. Then we should be attentive to our role of disciples producing disciples who produce disciples. Our relationship with Christ should be lived out in obedience to his word and in an attractive manner always pointing people to the narrow door. This is one warning we should heed.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father, we pray that we have clarity to see the narrow door and have walked through it with boldness and understanding. We pray we might live in obedience and surrender to your will. We pray for those choosing today between a narrow door of truth and a wide door of deception. Use us in their life and help them choose wisely. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday March 5, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 13:1-17
 
Verse
 
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. - Luke 13:14-17
 
Meditation
 
The synagogue ruler must have been somewhat nervous about speaking directly to Jesus about his indignation over work being done on the Sabbath so he spoke to the people and Jesus overheard. Given human nature, he probably intended it that way. Unfortunately for the ruler, Jesus answered and made it even worse. His indignation quickly escalated to humiliation. This is not the only story we read where Jewish leaders were upset about work being done on the Sabbath. It was clearly in the Law and Jews were very strict about Sabbath law in particular. I’m sure the woman who was healed heard the ruler’s indignation and became anxious about what people would think and how she would be perceived. It appears Jesus responded immediately and struck at the heart of legalism. Jesus used a direct comparison accusing the ruler and his friends of being guilty of what they are accusing Jesus of doing. The discussion ends. You might have been in the shoes of the ruler before. With fervor we accuse others of wrongdoing and all of a sudden, the same or similar accusations are directed at us. There is no response other than remaining quiet and moving on. Jesus came to usher in the new covenant of transformation, spiritually, physically and emotionally. The good news is about holistic transformation of humanity and legalism would have prevented this from coming to fruition for this woman after being cripple for eighteen years. Guardrails are necessary in life. Our spiritual guardrail is the word of God so beautifully given to us in the scriptures. A key component of our guardrail is grace which is central to Jesus’ message of transformation. Grace within the bounds of our scriptural guardrail keeps the guardrail from becoming legalism. We should welcome the transforming power of Jesus in all areas of our life and the life of others because it is the best thing that can happen for all of us.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father we welcome your transforming power into our life to make us whole in every way. We welcome this in the lives of others even when we might have questions. Help us to celebrate the manifestation of your power in the world. Do not let legalism or narrow mindedness creep into our heart and mind. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday March 5, 2025

Today’s Reading - Luke 12:35-59


Verse

 
47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” - Luke 12:47-48
 
Meditation
 
First round draft choices in any sport come with high expectations. Top ten draft choices come with higher expectations. The number one pick in any draft comes with the highest expectations. They are all athletes, all get dressed the same way, breathe the same air, and play by the same rules. Much more is expected of some than others. The much you have been given does not look like the much that I have been given. We have been entrusted with knowledge about Christ and understanding about readiness for his coming and we are to use that for much more. You can take this passage to mean a lot of different things but if you take it in context, it’s about understanding and preparedness. What is demanded or asked is that we share the wealth of those two with others. The consequences of not yielding to what we know or being ill prepared are not good. The context is difficult. The consequences are worse. The haunting question is why would we not want to use our knowledge of Christ and his coming to help others find their way to transformation and hope? We most likely all want to do more for the kingdom and we must lean into our faith in Him to lead us to the people and circumstances of being able to do more for God’s kingdom on earth. The will of the Father is to participate in helping His will in heaven be done on earth. We can do more if we allow Him to guide our steps. We have indeed been given much and much more is being asked.
 
Prayer
 
Heavenly Father grant us the ability and power to act on what we know and do much more than we think is necessary. Whatever you demand or whatever you ask we seek the heart to respond with grace and mercy. Forgive us when we have failed to understand or be ready. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 11:1-28

 

Verse

 

8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” - Luke 11:9-13

 

Meditation

 

The disciples often witnessed the prayer life of Jesus. One day after He had finished praying, they asked Him to teach them to pray. He taught them with the model we call the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus then illustrates and concludes with the statement about receiving because of boldly asking. Then he gives practical application to make sure the disciples understand. Parents of small children receive hundreds of requests each and most every day from children who have perceived needs in their life. Some of them are truly something they need, some of them are marginal, and some of them are purely wants. Parents will run the request through some sense of evaluation and determine an answer. Legit need, yes. Legit need but a better solution than requested, yes with modification. So on and so forth. Because of the specifics of the illustration and application Luke used, it appears our prayers will be answered when we pray boldly and specifically. And very well they can be. It’s not guaranteed but is often the case. And often the case it is not. Every time, regardless of the request, the Holy Spirit will be given to those who ask. The answer may not be in the specifics as we have envisioned, but in the impartation of the Holy Spirit to better meet the need than we have the capacity to envision. Ask boldly, and prayer will be answered specifically according to God’s will. A case can be made for the uncertainty of what one receives or finds or the result of a door being opened, but there is absolute certainty related to the giving of the Holy Spirit. Our assurance of the right answer comes in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pray boldly for the perfect answer each and every time we ask, seek, and knock. We believe you have the perfect answer because of your perfection. And we believe you want the best for your children and have us at the center of your heart. Grant us grace and mercy and understanding when we pray and impart in us a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 10:25-42

 

Verse

 

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42

 

Meditation

 

This is leap year and today we get an extra day. It’s the once in every four years that people born today get to celebrate their birthday on the actual date. There are times when we look around, pause and evaluate, and find ourselves needful of so many things in order to be satisfied and we need an extra day. Martha had invited a house guest and probably told her sister Mary that Jesus was on his way. Martha envisioned many things needing to be done like dusting the furniture, making sure the pillows were straight on the couch, washing the dishes, preparing a meal and cleaning the bathrooms. Mary envisioned one thing being needful. Sitting at the feet of Jesus. We would all welcome situations where only one thing was needed to navigate to the next situation, especially in the hectic nature of our lives. Mary found herself in that place and was not going to let anything get in her way of the one thing she needed. Not even her sister’s persistence that she should help prepare for this very special house guest would stop her from sitting and listening. That’s what she needed and most likely we all could stand to learn from Mary and find time to simply sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him speak into our heart. Time when we can set aside all things that need to be done to do the one thing that needs to be done. Multitasking is a common buzz word these days. So is time management. Applying those two concepts spiritually will teach us to manage our time wisely in order to include time avoiding the multitasking urge and sitting at the feet of Jesus. In these moments, sitting and listening should capture all our attention and focus. While there, Jesus just might tell you exactly what you need to hear today.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we invite an opportunity to sit at your feet today. If given that opportunity, give us wise discernment to know it and simply sit and listen. Don’t let anything distract us from our alone time with you. Help us see the importance of what you will say to us. For the moment, let us be Mary. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 10:1-24

 

Verse

 

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.” - Luke 10:1-7

 

Meditation

 

Some will welcome you. Some will not. Some will be wolves that are hungry and will attack. Others will let you peaceably remain among them. Joining Jesus in kingdom work is building relationships with people who will accept you with open arms or reject you as a wolf attacking a lamb. We will encounter both situations and both are part of being a laborer in the world for the sake of the kingdom. Ours is not to judge the house but to enter the house with the transforming power and good news of Jesus Christ. We will know if there is a welcoming spirit or a spirit of rejection. (vs. 5-6) Please know that you are not being rejected but the message you bring is being rejected. This section of scripture is often troubling because it says there will be times when we leave business unfinished. Paul had to leave things unfinished and at times forbidden to even go to an area. When peace is not ultimately extended in the relationship building process then your labor becomes more about the greater good for the kingdom of God than one person. This principle tends to make me and most people uncomfortable but it is the tenor of the text. We all want to be the person who leaves the ninety-nine to pursue the one. But the text does say we give each ‘house’ an opportunity to extend the hand of peace before moving on. Our role is to be a laborer. God is in charge of the harvest. The very seed you plant may be harvested at a later time and never known by those involved in the early planting process.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we yield to you to become faithful laborers in the fields of this world so there might be a bountiful harvest for the kingdom. Give us wisdom as you use us to serve. Help us to discern the son of peace. Give clarity as to when to move on but do not let us leave until you are finished. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 9:37-62

 

Verse

 

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” . . . 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” - Luke 9:57, 62

 

Meditation

 

In between these verses there is discussion about places to lie down, funerals, and good-byes. They seem like harsh words but Jesus was driving home the point about cost. Not the cost of a hotel room, a vault, or living on your own, but the cost of following him. If we are joining this man on the road and declaring we will follow Jesus wherever he goes we must be willing to fully understand the cost of walking alongside him. The in-between illustrations are not to make us feel guilty or disrespect anyone, but to make sure our alignment with Christ is where it should be and our heart is being transformed into something resembling his. In other words, Christ must be first in our lives. To dig deep into that thought is difficult but I invite you to do it. We are in a season of journeying to the cross with Jesus. Along the way He checked his alignment with His Father. And so should we. The cost of following Jesus is high, most days beyond our reach unless we are fully engaged with the presence of God’s spirit in our life. But worth it all.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we want to be fit for the kingdom so we ask that you show us whatever in our life is standing between you and us. If there is anything taking priority in our life ahead of you, please reveal it to us. Forgive us for allowing you to be number two or number three in our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 9:1-36

 

Verse

 

18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” 20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” . . . 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. - Luke 9:18-20, 23-24

 

Meditation

 

The question Jesus asked the disciples about his identity is found in three of the gospels and the most quoted is Matthew’s version. It contains the emphatic response I love to preach about and most love to quote. “You are Christ, the Son of the living God!” However, Luke is the only one who recorded the next verses, a portion of which I included for us to consider. There is a connection between Peter’s declaration and Jesus’ response that we don’t need to ignore because it gives definition to what it means to make the declaration and live out the declaration. Bold statements are only bold statements unless our life backs up the statement. The two verses about denying ourselves and taking up our cross and saving and losing our life are easily skipped over because they point to the sacrificial aspect of following Jesus. If we truly want Jesus to transform our life into something better and continue that process throughout our life, we must always be willing to grapple with the idea of what must be denied in our life, how we are taking up our cross, and what we must lose to gain life. If we ignore the process, then we are only making a bold declaration that will ultimately be meaningless. Think of it this way. Consider your spiritual life full, not mature, but full to your capacity of understanding. In order for something to enter a full space, something has to be removed. We talk about salvation in terms of removing sin and death and replacing it with life in Christ. The subtraction to allow addition principle is applicable all through the process of maturing in Christ. Denying and losing is about what we set aside in order to take on more of Christ and live for him. It’s hard at times, no one will argue that fact. We must walk through the difficulty of denying ourselves or losing part of our life in order to fully take up our cross and live out the bold declaration we all want to make about our relationship with Christ, “God’s Messiah.” “You are Christ, the Son of the living God!”

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pause to give you thanks for sending your Son to be our Messiah, our Savior, our Redeemer. Now guide and strengthen us to live in the truth of the bold declaration of who He is. Help us see clearly the places of denial and what we must set aside in order to gain more of Christ in our life. Forgive us for only making the declaration. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 8:26-56, Luke 23:44-46 (last words of Jesus)

 

Verse

 

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. - Luke 8:38-39

 

Meditation

 

Your story is the best story ever! It is the story you can tell the best. We all have a story, a story of what God has done for us. Just like this demon-possessed man who was set free, we have a story of a miracle God worked within us to set us free. Our miracle will not involve a demon that possessed our soul and caused us to speak and act violently, but it does involve a demon that was destroying our soul or our life in some way or another. For most people, the grace of Jesus Christ which we received to deliver us from the demon of sin and death and redeem our relationship with God, is the miracle we speak of. It is first and foremost the miracle we should talk about and the story which points clearly to how much God has done for us. For many other people, there are particular sins or habits which may or may not be included in our salvation story but they have been rescued from and are absolutely things that God has done for you. To use the language of this story, if you are reading this and as I write this, I’m confident there will be a demon in the future we will need deliverance from. It might not fall into the major category, but it will be tearing away at your soul and when you experience the miracle working power of God, you will include it when you tell your story. In this early stage of Jesus’ ministry, this is one of the few times Jesus told a person who was healed to go tell everybody. Jesus does the opposite later in this chapter. It would be a long discussion to explain why he told this man to tell his story and told others not to, but we can learn from this one. Our story of what God has done for us is the best story available to us to spread the good news of what Jesus Christ can do in each of our lives. Tell your story. It’s good. And it has the potential to lead to a changed life forever and someone spends eternity in heaven because you told your story!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, give us courage and open the doors so that we might “walk the town and tell people what Jesus has done for us.” We confess that we will want to see results, but we leave the results in your hands and trust that telling our story will have an impact on your kingdom movement. Use our story to help bring redemption to a person, or persons, who need a miracle to set them free. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 8:1-25

 

Verse

 

16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” - Luke 8:16-18

 

Meditation

 

When considering light and its spiritual meaning, the three most common meanings which come to mind are the light of Christ which gives life to us, we are to reflect the light of Christ so others might experience the light of Christ, and light exposes all the things related to darkness. There are others but those are the most common in my mind. The above three verses start off as if Jesus was referring to shining light so everyone can see the light of Christ, and he may be, but quickly turns inward to exposing the darkness within us. The first verse we are somewhat comfortable with because the focus appears is outward for the benefit of others. The last two verses can become a little hard to swallow. The last two verses are important and should not be ignored. As children we loved a good game of hide and seek. There was a tremendous amount of excitement if you were “it” and you found someone hiding. Adults play hide and seek with God. There is very little excitement when we realize God knows what is hidden in our hearts and we want to try and continue the game and hide again. The verse says nothing can be hidden or concealed. We might think we have a good hiding place but soon we realize God knows. Wouldn’t it be much easier if we came to grips with the fact that God knows already and what we think is hidden from Him will one day be disclosed to our understanding? I think so. We experience more peace in our heart when we are honest and transparent in spirit and don’t have difficult days of revelation of what we have been trying to hide. We can be deceived into believing that hiding from God is the right thing to do and we will deal with an issue in our own time. What’s hidden will always gnaw at your spirit when it is intentionally trying to be hidden. One day all things will be known. Honesty and transparency with God is the best way.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we reveal all things in our heart today so that nothing is hidden. Show us the things that are hidden we don’t know about so we can lay them at your feet. Do not let us be deceived into believing that which is not true and right. We thank you for loving us so much and assuring us that we are your children that we can be open in every way to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 7:24-50

 

Verse

 

47 “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” - Luke 7:47-50

 

Meditation

 

This story. One of the most powerful stories from the three year ministry of Jesus. It’s almost unimaginable because a Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner. A woman who is clearly uninvited walks into the house. She is a sinner! Then Jesus answered the thought, not words spoken out loud, of the Pharisee. It’s a script you cannot make up. Both Luke and the Pharisee declare she is a woman who lived a life of sin and the Pharisee is a bit taken back that Jesus would even associate with her. This story. Tears and expensive perfume poured out by a sinful woman upon a sin-forgiving Savior. A forgiven woman with many sins who expressed great love. Her faith saved her and her love abounded. The other guests questioned the validity of Jesus and his ability to forgive sins. The illustration Jesus told the Pharisees and others pulls us into the story. I doubt any of us would be bold enough to claim to be a fifty denarii sinner. We fall into the five hundred category. We have been forgiven much, therefore we are to love much. We should show great love for the depth of forgiveness each of us has experienced. Yes, the reality is, humbly considered, we are people of many sins just like this woman. And yes, our faith through the goodness of God’s grace saves us as well. Therefore, let us love with the greatness of a person who has been forgiven much. Go in peace.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we pour out tears and expensive perfume in recognition of your great love for us. We pray for forgiveness of our many sins and pray we will love much because of the recognition of our forgiveness. We confess. We repent. We desire to live in love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024>

Today’s Reading - Luke 6:27-49

 

Verse

 

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” - Luke 6:46

 

Meditation

 

Jesus asks a very penetrating question to his disciples. Go back to verse 20. You might say there were many other people in the crowd that heard this rather lengthy teaching, but he looked at his disciples and began to speak. After some very difficult teaching Jesus asks the question in verse 46. To his disciples. Oh, other people heard him because they were listening in to what was being said, but he was directing the question to the inner circle, to those 12 chosen to follow him and do as he was doing. I’m convicted this morning the question applies to me and frankly to all of us if it applied to the group of 12, the disciples. It is forcing me to examine my own life and see if I can find anything which is disobedient to what the Lord is telling me to do. I have to continue reading about building a solid foundation and need to examine my own heart to see I am truly building a solid foundation for this moment in my life or am I assuming the foundation I have is good enough. We want the foundation that can withstand the storm not the one the storm totally washes away. Consider your foundation this morning and be honest enough to hear the question Jesus asks his disciples. Don’t default into claiming you are not part of the target audience of the question because you aren’t in the inner circle. At this point in the redemption story we are living in, if you claim to be following Christ, if you call him Lord, Lord, the question applies to your life just like it does mine. The question is relevant to all of us and warrants being asked frequently. Live into the question Jesus asked his disciples as you seek to live as a disciple of his throughout the day.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we hear you as you plant the question in our heart. Let us be fully honest and transparent and we seek the ways we do not do what you ask us to do. Mold us, fill us, use us to do the obedient things to be a disciple. May our witness lead someone to a better place of relationship with you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 6:1-26

 

Verse

 

12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James (Thaddeus), and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. - Luke 6:12-16

 

Meditation

 

It is that time of the year when there is a lot of choosing going on, lists being made, especially in the school system and families making final vacation plans. Pre-registration is happening in many places to secure places determining who gets in and who looks elsewhere in the Fall. Yes, that far ahead. Teams and groups are being sorted out from many potential candidates. Jesus went away to pray and one thing on his prayer list was choosing twelve. These would be the people who would walk alongside him, be a support system and do what he was doing. Ultimately Jesus wanted them to become like him. Choosing twelve and eventually replacing one happened initially to begin a movement. We now live in something like a self-nominating system. When the dawn of salvation awakens in our life, we become followers, disciples, as such. We are not beginning a movement, we are continuing a movement and our roles are not much different. We walk alongside Christ, we are a support system for the movement, and we do what Christ did and still does. The specifics may not be the same, but the principles remain. We are to be disciples, fully devoted followers of Christ. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a time when followers want to follow some of the time and don’t want to follow at other times and have convinced themselves it’s ok to be that way. They are trying to create a convenient relationship with Christ. When we choose to follow Christ, we are choosing a full-time commitment. Living any other way is defined as hypocrisy and that is not advancing the kingdom movement at all. We need unbelievers to see followers of Christ following in every single instance of their life. We are all called to be a disciple. You may not experience Christ choosing you on a mountainside, but he chose you to be a follower and in following we are to live out becoming like him.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we once again receive our calling today and seek to be fully devoted as we become like you. Help us to understand our calling as not just walking alongside you but doing what you do. We are incapable of living this way without your presence and we ask you to join us in the journey. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

A little longer today but with a purpose.

 

Today’s Reading - Luke 5:17-39, (23:32-34 - last words from the cross)

 

Verse

 

33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” 34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” - Luke 5:33-35

 

Meditation

 

Fasting and praying together as a spiritual discipline goes deep into the Old Testament. The Pharisees complained because it was being done differently within the followers of Jesus. His answer and the parable following perfectly illustrate Jesus carry forth a principle of the Law but in a new way. We are on day four of Lent, a popular season to include fasting during part or all of it. I often get questions asked about fasting and for years have encouraged fasting during Lent and included short explanations in the Devotion Guide. Today I want to simply share today what I printed in the Devotion Guide as a way of instruction and to encourage you to consider fasting as a part of your spiritual disciplines. You might ask, “Is it ok to start now?” Sure it is. Jesus opened the door for new ways and there are several lengths of fasting in the Bible, from 40 days to one day. For some, this will be a refresher course. For those of you that are brand new to the idea, consider it as a way to take you to a deeper place in your relationship with God. Whatever you choose to do as a result of prayer and discernment is the right choice. Few things in life will I guarantee but fasting and praying together will help you experience a difference in your depth of intimacy with God. This will make for a long devotion today, but it’s Saturday, I’m trusting you will pause and read this today or tomorrow.

 

Guide to Biblical Fasting

 

1. Fasting is denying the natural to focus on the Supernatural.

 

2. In the Bible, fasting always involved food, still the most common type of fast today. Why? Eating is the most natural thing we do and requires the most discipline to deny our bodies nutrition. It also requires supernatural intervention to keep in its proper perspective. Many other types of fasts have become popular including social media, TV, etc. Fast whichever requires more discipline.

 

3. First things first. Seek God’s guidance on whether you should fast. Get clarity there.

 

4. If God says yes, ask Him to guide you in a specific type and purpose or purposes for fasting. Not generic, not just to be specific, but to be more spiritual, like overcoming a habit. Write them down. Pray about those purposes every day. Some other examples of the purpose of fasting would include direction in decision making, healing of a prolonged illness, repair of a broken relationship, a desired outcome, or spiritual awakening.

 

5. Whenever you would be actively engaged in whatever you are fasting, spend that time with God. It does no good just to fast without focusing that time on spiritual matters. Example, fast a meal. Spend the meal time or equivalent at some point in study and prayer.

 

6. Fasting should not be easy. It wasn’t in the biblical days and shouldn’t be now. The point is focusing on the supernatural to help with natural desires. Fasting linked with prayer will often increase the power and effect of the fast.

 

7. The ultimate purpose of fasting is to become closer to God and deeper in faith.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, burden our heart about fasting if that is your desire for our life. Give us clarity of purpose so that your will is done in our life. Make us mindful of all the biblical teaching on fasting and prayer and give us a humble heart as we fast. Guide, strengthen and supernaturally attend our fasting and prayer in this season. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Today’s Verse - Luke 5:1-16

 

Verse

 

3 He (Jesus) got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” - Luke 4:3-4

 

Meditation

 

Every single person of faith has their faith tested. Mine as well. There are times when we feel like the test is extremely hard and we begin to question. Simon, soon to be commonly known as Peter, had an extreme test of faith in his very first encounter with Jesus. It was part of his calling to become one of the apostles, the first twelve chose to follow Jesus. For Simon, this test of faith had to have been in the category of extremely hard. He was a fisherman by trade and had been at his craft all night. It was a bad night of fishing as his basket was empty, or as it would have been in my case growing up, his stringer had no fish on it. And Jesus comes along, gets in his boat, taught the crowd for a while, and then the bombshell directed at Simon when he told him to go right back out into the water where he came from, the deep, and let down his nets. Simon hesitated, a moment of questioning his faith, but then did what Jesus asked him to do. And you know the results. He caught so many fish he had to call his friends in the other boat to come help. At that he was called to follow Jesus. In our times of greatest testing, Jesus asks us to go out into the deep waters of faith and trust that Jesus will lead us correctly. We do not usually have the same clarity of direction that Simon did, but we must trust in the murkiness of the moment that all the promises of Jesus are true and the presence of the Holy Spirit will guide us through the test of faith we find ourselves in. I believe the deep waters for us means going out into the depth of our relationship with Jesus and going a little further, trusting a little greater, becoming more intimate with him. Simon hesitated, then obediently followed the command of Jesus which led to the ups and downs of his kingdom impact. Go deeper when you are being surrounded by temptation or circumstances stretching your faith to the breaking point. Trust that Jesus will not let you break.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we want to hear from you in whatever circumstance we are currently dealing with or whatever temptation lies before us. Lead us to the deep waters of relationship when we cast our nets. May our faith grow deeper and deeper every single day in our walk with you. We believe you will not let us drown in the waters of life. You are our rescuer and redeemer in all of life and we claim that over our life today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 4:30-44

 

Verse

 

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words and message had authority. . . . 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. . . . 42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. - Luke 4:31-32, 36-37, 42

 

Meditation

 

I’ve provided a verse or two from several places in our reading today because they help capture several principles. Driving out evil spirits and healing many people demonstrate one piece of the many pieces of Jesus’ ministry. Those who witnessed these miracles in Capernaum used two words to describe what they had heard and seen. Authority and power. Luke used the term amazed to describe their reaction. When people are amazed because authority and power are demonstrated it is impactful to say the least. Then we read the people did not want Jesus to leave their city. When lives are changed people take notice! The reading today are stories told by a physician of Jesus doing something a physician couldn’t do. But one who speaks with authority and power can. Jesus operates in our lives today with the same power and authority. Our need might not be an evil spirit or a fever, but it is something that Jesus cares about just as much and has authority and power over it in the very same way. From those things we might think are insignificant to the most heart wrenching pain we have ever experienced, Jesus cares and can be the healer and deliverer. We have to invite and allow Jesus to do what only he can do. And when he does you will be like the people of Capernaum, amazed. And similarly, you will never want him to leave. The good news is he never leaves. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, he never leaves. And if he never leaves and often we experience his authority and power, the news will spread throughout the area. Allow Jesus to exercise his authority and power at the very point of your greatest need today.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we lay at your feet the things in our life that need the touch of your power and authority. Take hold of us and do what only you can do. From big to small, do what only you can do. We invite you and yield to your desire for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Today’s Reading - Luke 4:1-30

 

Verse

 

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. - Luke 4:28-30

 

Verse

 

Today is a rare occurrence of days. The first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, falling on Valentine’s Day. At first glance it seems like two themes which are polar opposite. But not really. On the same day many people will focus on their humanity, we are mere ashes which will return to the dust of the earth, we also focus on love on a variety of levels, mainly on love within our human relationships. Ash Wednesday reminds us of our need for God’s love in all the ways He manifests His love into our lives. We need his mercy, his grace, and his love. If we do not remain aware of our need, it becomes easy to lose sight from the realization of our need. Things can turn quickly. Ask Jesus. The context of our passage today is Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, and he is teaching in the temple. Maybe one minute of time had passed between the attitude of the people found in verse 22, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that come from his lips,” to him being totally rejected in the passage above. Earlier Jesus had read from the scroll of Isaiah stating the Spirit of the Lord had anointed him to preach, proclaim freedom, heal, set the captives free and proclaim the year of the Lord. The hearers were ecstatic and overjoyed when they heard these words and their eyes were fastened on him. Jesus had their attention and they were amazed at what they were hearing. Then things turned quickly when he continued his prophetic words and said, “no prophet will be accepted in his hometown.” The people didn’t understand what just happened. They thought they had responded in the right way with the right words. Jesus prophesied the truth and the people turned away and rejected him in a matter of minutes. On the quirky day of calendaring, be reminded we are always in need of God’s love for us and remain steadfast in that knowledge lest things quickly change in your life. It can happen in the blink of an eye.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, keep us mindful as we think on the dust and ashes of our humanity and our need for the divine. Pause us on the business of the day to let it ring clear in our ears in the right spirit, “we are dust and to dust we will return.” Help us realize this helps us stay focused on our constant need for your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Today’s Reading - Mark 10

 

Verse

 

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. - Mark 10:51-52

 

Meditation

 

We conclude our reading in Mark, our practical look at participating in the kingdom of God, with chapter 10. The next chapter begins with Jesus’ last week. Tomorrow we will start our Lenten reading in Luke as we begin our journey of Lent making our way to Easter. We conclude with a question we should ask ourselves as we find ourselves on the doorstep of another Lenten season. Some reading this will wonder about the emphasis on Lent in so many churches but the question applies whether Lent has significant meaning or not. The red letters are always important and at times penetrating and breathtaking. What do you want me to do for you? To contextualize the question around the season of Lent, I’ll ask it this way. What do you want and need Jesus to do for you during these forty days of Lent? This is a time of natural focus on our humanity and our need for our life to intersect with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What do we want Jesus to do for us? Study and pray and meditate on the answer to this question. Jesus asked the question of a blind man and the answer was obvious but Jesus asked it anyway. By speaking the answer, the blind man exercised great faith and Jesus heard him and answered. By speaking the blind man believed. Do we have the faith enough to be honest enough and speak the answer to the deepest need in our life before our holy and loving Father? This story is a great lead into these days of preparation for the glorious finale of Easter so that we don’t experience the resurrection without its power. What we need might require great power, like healing a blind man. There would be nothing better than each of us being able to hear the words that Jesus spoke to the blind man, “Go, your faith has healed you.” The red letter question is for us just the same as it was in Jericho.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, hear our response to the red letter question you are asking us. May we have the faith to speak it so we hear your response and might be healed. Give us faith and courage this day to be humble and honest to you as we approach the journey of the season before us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Today’s Reading - Mark 9

 

Verse

 

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. - Mark 9:38-41

 

Meditation

 

The disciples were in need of being taught a difficult and valuable lesson and Jesus did not hesitate to teach it. He didn’t hesitate in the same way he didn’t hesitate to deal with the disciple’s arrogance of thinking there was one among them who was the greatest. After answering the question about greatness by telling them they must be last and serve everyone, Jesus essentially told the disciples they do not own exclusive rights to do the work of the kingdom of God. As his chosen twelve, they apparently wanted to be an elite clique nobody else could join. Their description of this man outside their group being used by God to bring wholeness to people is frightening. “...he was not one of us.” It is almost as bad as “we’ve never done it that way.” We don’t need to create cliques in the kingdom of God in any shape, form or fashion and especially when lives are being made whole in the name of Jesus. The key to embracing this truth is understanding there are a variety of expressions of faith in each of us and how each of us lives out faith in Jesus’ name can be quite different. Our focus should be on honoring “in my name” and celebrating with others who are offering life in his name. False prophets, teachers and miracle workers will expose themselves in time