Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thurs.’s Devo - The Question of Fasting

Read Luke 5:33-39 The Pharasees are watching every move that Jesus makes and they notice that he doesn’t require his disciples to fast like John’s do and like the law teaches so they ask him why. Jesus’ answer was that his disciples had the bridegroom with them and it was not the right time. When the bridegroom is taken, then they will fast. He was the bridegroom and in the bridal traditions everyone feasted as long as the bridegroom was in the room. Jesus had entered the room and it was time to feast on every word that came from his mouth. Isaiah 58 says that God’s fast is to loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. Was that not a perfect description of what Jesus was doing and training his disciples to do? So, they were fasting. Then he gave them a parable to explain it. It was about patching an old shirt with new material. Once that new material got wet it would shrink and the patch would not fit. Jesus did not come to just be another patch to the old covenant, he came to be a whole new covenant. He was the fulfillment of the old. They had to have a new way of thinking to be able to receive what God was doing now because he was about to cancel how they sacrificed and went about worship. He was the new wine of the second parable that had to be put in new hearts. The teachers of the law were described in verse 39 as being the ones who had drank the old wine and had no desire to even taste the new because they think the old is better. “Tradition!” Can’t you just hear the fiddler on the roof? First they had to rightly recognize the bridegroom, then they would understand the answer to their question and the meanings of the parables. Lord, help us to trade in our traditions for the new wine. Show us what we are holding on to that is like an old patch.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - Levi Chosen

Read Luke 5:27-32 The next person Jesus encounters is a publican named Levi. Publicans were tax collectors who were usually Jews hired by the Romans to collect taxes. Many of them were extortioners who collected more than they were suppose to for their personal gain. They were hated by their brothers. Levi is not only a tax collector, but a Levite which makes him from the priestly tribe. Levi is also known as Matthew. Levi means “joined” and Matthew means “gift of Jehovah”. Matthew was definitely joined to Jesus and given the gift of salvation that Jesus came to give. He then became a gift back to God. Why Jesus would choose the people he did to be his disciples is the same mystery of why he chooses us. He took a person out of all walks of life and told them to leave everything and follow him. Matthew had riches and favor with the government, but he also had a longing in his heart for something more. He saw ‘something more’ in Jesus. Matthew was so excited to be chosen that he threw a great party and invited all of his other publican friends. The scribes and Pharasees complained about Jesus hanging out with these corrupt people. I think they were secretly jealous that Jesus would chose him over them. Jesus reply to that was, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It wasn’t that the Pharasees were righteous, it was that they were righteous in their own eyes. Lord, thank you for choosing us in all our unrighteousness to crown us with life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - The Paralyzed Man

Read Luke 5:15-26 When life got stressful for Jesus he always got alone to pray. He knew where to go to rest and receive power to go on. He would need it for the next adventure. I don’t know if I ever paid attention to verse 17 till now, but he was teaching the Pharisees and doctors of the law who had come from miles around to hear him. He was teaching in a home when all of a sudden the roof started disappearing and a paralyzed man was lowered down on his bed. It seemed to be the only way his friends had to get him to Jesus. When Jesus saw the faith of his friends he forgave the man who was paralyzed. What a strange thing to say. The man needed healing and didn’t ask to be forgiven. But Jesus had another agenda. For one thing, he knew that sin made this man this way, so he needed to deal with the root cause. Needless to say this ruffled the feathers of the Pharisees and doctors because this sounded blasphemous to them. Who was Jesus to think he could forgive sins? Jesus knew what they were thinking so he replied, “Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to say, rise up and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, Arise, take up your bed, and go home.” The man did just that! They all praised God, but a fear of God also settled over their hearts. This miracle represents another picture of sin. This man’s sin paralyzed him. How many times do we allow our sins to hold us back in ministry, in growth, and in life, period. Sin paralyzes and ultimately kills. To this man, sin had kept him inoperable most of his life. He was totally dependent on his friends and a burden to his family. Sin does that. Jesus took care of his sin issue and the miracle came. This is a good case for repentance. Jesus would say the same thing to us, Your sins are forgiven. Now, arise, take up the thing you were bound to and walk. Go back to your first love and start over. Lord, show us the things we need to repent of and help us to walk in freedom.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - The Leper Healed

Read Luke 5:9-14 This miracle got the attention of the fishermen, especially, Simon Peter, and brothers: James and John. Jesus told them not to be afraid because from now on they will be fishers of men. That was all they needed to hear. They dropped their nets and left all to follow Jesus. At the next city there was a man eaten up with leprosy who came to Jesus, fell at his feet and begged, “ if you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and said, “I will; be clean”. Immediately the leprosy was gone. He told him to be quiet until he had showed himself to the priest to verify his healing, then be cleansed according to the law. This would be a miracle to the priests and people of the temple. Let’s look at this miracle. No other disease could symbolize sin like leprosy. Sin and leprosy are a disease of our flesh. The longer they stay the deeper they penetrate till it eventually they cause death. James puts it like this. “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) When the man asked to be cleansed he was acknowledging that Jesus was the Messiah who had the authority to do that. No other man could. Jesus saw his faith and immediately cleansed him. It is the picture of salvation. We are all sinners who just need to recognized we are sinners and that there is one who can take our unclean sin away, and that person is Jesus. When we ask, it is an immediate response from heaven. We are clean! Notice that Jesus told him to go and have the miracle verified by the priest. Today, that would look like a person being healed and then going back to their doctor to confirm it. A few weeks ago my husband and I were asked to come and pray for a lady who was eaten up with cancer and terminal. There were about 100 people who had gathered to pray for her. I heard yesterday that the cancer is now just in a small place on her rib which will only take a few rounds of chemo to cure. I pray that they won’t even have to do that. Sometimes you get a miracle right then and sometimes you get a healing that takes time but either is a gift from God. Lord, help us to contend for your miracles and your headings and most of all, your salvations.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fri.’s Devo - The Miracle of the Fish

Read Luke 4:40-5:8 The day is coming to an end and Jesus is still healing everyone who is brought to him. This is a picture of the end of time when the anointing will be on the earth to heal and deliver all who come to the Lord. He must have ministered all night long because when it became light he left to be alone. The people begged him to stay but he told them he needed to go preach God’s kingdom to others. He went to the synagogues to preach but apparently this wasn’t enough because we find him standing by the sea and the people begging to hear him preach. Jesus noticed 2 ships on the shore where the fishermen were washing their nets after their day of fishing. Jesus entered Simons and asked him to launch out a little from the shore so he could preach. When the sermon was over he turned to Simon and told him to go back out and let their nets down for a haul. Simon tried to explain to Jesus that they had fished all night and not gotten anything, but because you asked us we will do that. When they did they caught so many fish their nets started to break and they had to call to the other boat to come and help. They both hauled in so many fish their boats started sinking. Simon was overwhelmed at this miracle and bowed down and worshiped Jesus as the son of God. For Simon, it took a physical display to convince him who Jesus was. He heard him preach and even allowed him to use his boat, but when he saw the work, his faith became alive. James says it so well, “faith without works is dead”. The bigger picture of this miracle was that Jesus came to fish for men where others - the prophets, and judges had fished and come back empty. The preaching of the word would no longer be void and ineffective, but it would hit ears and hearts that were ready to hear and many would come in to the kingdom. Lord, may we do the works that you did so that many souls would come to the kingdom.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thurs.’s Devo - Back to Capernaum

Read Luke 4:31-39 Jesus went back to Capernaum where they were hungry for what he came to give. He was able to teach in the synagogues every sabbath and the people were amazed because his words were not monotonous readings, but inspired words full of power. When God’s power is that raw it rouses up demons in people and they manifest as they did here. A man who possessed an unclean spirit or I might say ‘it possessed him’, spoke up. He spoke to the spirit in Jesus and asked if he was there to destroy them because they (the demons) recognized him as God. Jesus rebuked him and told him to be quiet and leave the man. It hurled the man in the middle of the synagogue then left him. Sort of reminds you of today’s movies… only it is real. The people had never seen such a display of spiritual warfare in their midst and wondered what kind of person Jesus was. Everyone was talking about Jesus so he went to Simons house for some rest. Simon’s mother had become sick with a high fever and they asked Jesus to look at her. He went to her bedside, rebuked the fever and it left. She was so well, she got up immediately and waited on them. This reminds me of a day when my boys were really young and I got the flu which didn’t happen often. I called Dave at work and told him I had fever and felt really bad and that I was going to bed. He said he would pick up some chicken for supper. Caleb, who was about 3 at the time, came into my room and climbed up on my bed. He reached out and touched me and said, “Jesus heal my mom.” Then he got down and went back into the living room to play. I lay there and immediately felt better. After a few minutes I realized I was healed and got up. I felt totally well, but I decided to wait to tell Dave of my miracle until after he came home with supper! Simon’s mother didn’t get off the hook but I’m sure she was thrilled to be able to fix dinner that night. Lord, help us to have childlike faith. With you all things are possible.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - Rejected at Home

Read Luke 4:23-30 Jesus has just proclaimed to his home town that he is anointed by God to preach , heal, and deliver and they are trying to decide how someone who grew up among them could do all these miracles. Jesus perceived their thoughts and knew they would want him to perform the things he did in Capernaum to prove himself He needed their faith but they were filled with unbelief. He told them instead that “no prophet is accepted in his own country.” To illustrate what he was saying he tells two stories about Gentiles who God chose to heal. Of all the stories in the Bible he could have chosen, these would offend them the most. What he was saying was there were many Jewish widows in the days of Elijah who were dying during the famine yet God chose to sustain a Gentile from the city of Sidon. Elisha healed an unrighteous Syrian who had leprosy when there were many leperous Jewish people. Jesus had healed many people in other cities who stood for the Gentiles and didn’t heal those in his own town which stood for the Jews in his story. How dare God to choose Gentiles over Jews and the people of Capernaum over them. When he told these stories the people in the synagogue were furious at Jesus and had him kicked out of the city. They took him to a cliff and were going to push him off but he just walked through the crowd untouched and walked away. I don’t know what stands out the most to me in this passage whether it is that self-righteousness will steal your miracle, or that when you walk with God and do his will there is no enemy or plan that can harm you. Both are good to think about. Lord, we don’t want to be like the people in the synagogue who have the son of God walk into their midst, speak truth and totally reject it. We want to able to accept you in whatever form you take and welcome whatever you chose to do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon YOU!”

Read Luke 4:16-22 According to Alfred Edersheim, a Jewish expert on Jewish life during the days of Jesus, it was customary in the synagogue to have a reading of scripture followed by a teaching about that scripture. The section for the day was subdivided, so that every Sabbath at least seven persons were called up to read, each a portion, which was to consist of about three verses. In the course of 3 years they would read the whole Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). Since Jesus was the Word that became flesh , he walked out the reading of the day in his daily life. Today the reading was from Isaiah. His portion to read was Is. 61:1-2. The minister handed him the book and he read his passage, closed the book and sat down. Everyone was looking at him expecting a teaching. His only reply was, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” What Jesus read was a synopsis of his ministry. He was sent by God, anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach the good news to the poor, heal broken hearts, deliver those in chains, give them eyes to see, set free all who were crushed and preach the year of release (Jubilee). He stopped right before the part that says, “And the day of vengeance of our God.” Jesus didn’t come preaching judgment. He came preaching salvation. Before he comes again we will be preaching judgment, because it will be near. Needless to say, the people were drawn to him. He was reading the same scripture that they heard every 3 years so what was so “gracious” about his words? His words were anointed and reached their hearts. It wasn’t just the Word he was reading, it was the spirit of God that was speaking the Word. That is why we can read the Bible and get nothing from it, but hear an anointed speaker read that same verse and it jumps off the book right into our hearts. Pray for anointing to read the Bible and it will be words of life, not just printed words. Lord, let the Spirit of the Lord be upon us that we can do the things you did with the same anointing you had. Open our spiritual eyes to see your Word.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - Jesus’ Temptations in a Nutshell

≈ Read Luke 4:13-15 I would like to go back and recap the three temptations because the Bible says that Jesus was tempted in all points that we would be tempted, yet, without sinning. So lets look at these three temptations again. The first temptation had to do with his personal circumstances. He had been fasting for 40 days and was hungry. That would be our personal small situations that trip us daily whether it is frustration over our own humanity, or just the fear of tomorrow and how God will provide. It is the micro temptation. The next temptation had to do with who he was and his ambitions. He was God’s son and he had a mission. Was he going to panic and let the devil help him or was he going to depend on God and just walk out his life in faith, believing that God would perform his purposes through him. We are all born with a desire to do something great on the earth and leave a heritage but God is more interested in us spending our life on him and letting him leave the heritage. The third temptation had to do with his trust and devotion to God. Satan was tempting his relationship with the Lord. We don’t have to do anything to prove we love God. It is not about our godly reputation or position, it is about how dead we can become to ourselves that God can actually use us. We have to be emptied of all self-ambition to truly leave a heritage worth God’s name. When Jesus laid all this down, the devil left him for a season and Jesus returned to Galilee full of God’s spirit. He was ready to have power and fame and it not ruin him. He was invited to speak in the synagogues and God glorified him in the eyes of the people. He had boldness even in his own town which we will read about tomorrow. Lord, we truly want to be emptied of ourselves that you might work your work through us unhindered.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fri.’s Devo - The Third Temptation

Read Luke 4:8-11 For the third temptation, Satan took Jesus to a high mountain from where he could see all the known kingdoms of the world. He promised to give them to him if he would bow down and worship him. Now we know the devil’s heart. First of all, the kingdoms of the earth are not his to give away. They are God’s. (2 Kings 19:15) So he has no authority to say that, but then he is the Father of Lies. He was willing to give up the kingdoms of the earth, if only Jesus would fall down and worship him. If Satan could get Jesus to worship him, there would be no cross and there would be no atonement for sin. Even if it was in Satan’s power to give him the kingdoms of the earth, he would never have done it because he is a liar. But he would have caused Jesus to sin by worshipping him, thus forfeit being the spotless lamb who could take away the sins of the earth. Once again, Satan was tempting Jesus to take the shortcut and get his inheritance now. Jesus didn’t buy it and told Satan to leave. He told him that the Word says that “thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” All three of these temptations had to do with power which would bring notoriety and esteem. Jesus chose to be the suffering servant of Is. 53 instead. He came humbled the first time to be fit to come back the second time in power and glory. That is the way it is with us. If we can succumb to being humbled and let it work character in us, then God will exalt us in due time. When Jesus told the devil to leave, he did. Then angels came and ministered to him. When we win a great victory, God’s angels come and minister to us also. Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thurs.’s Devo - The Second Temptation

Read Matt. 4:5-7 The devil took Jesus and sat him on top of the corner of the temple roof and told him to jump down because the Word says In Ps. 91 that God will give his angels care over him and they will catch him in their hands and not let him be hurt. Jesus’ reply was: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” The definition in the Hebrew of the word “darkness” is “a twist away from the light”. Satan dwells in darkness and this is his tactic. He uses scripture but twists them enough to deceive anyone who is gullible. Jesus was not gullible. Sure, the scripture says just what satan said it did, but we are not to use scripture as a pawn in our hand to show off God’s power in a way that brings us glory. It would be like the snake handlers who bring snakes into their worship services and use them as a display of Mark 16:18: “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We don’t tempt God’s hand. God can do anything he wants, but he always has a reason to display his power and it is for more than showing off. The truth is, Jesus was going to die to the north of that temple one day and his angels would bear him up to heaven. Once again, the devil wanted to tempt Jesus with the very destiny of his life to get him to receive his inheritance before the death. An inheritance comes to those whose names are on the will after the person has died. It is a free gift to the recipient of something he did nothing to receive. The devil wanted Jesus to desire his inheritance and by-pass the cross. Lord, open our eyes to ways we might be twisting your truth or expecting you to meet our selfish desires above your will. We delight to do your will.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - Temptation One

Read Luke 4:1-4 After Jesus received his baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was led to the wilderness to fast for 40 days. Matthew wrote that he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus had to be tempted in all the points that we would be tempted (Heb. 2:18), yet not sin to show us that if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can be tempted and not sin. Jesus had an earthly mother and a heavenly father, just like we do if we have been adopted into God’s family. We have access to the same power, miracles, and relationship if we pursue it with all our heart like Jesus did. Jesus had to learn obedience through the things he suffered, just like we do (Is. 50:4). Jesus was willing to pay the price to have that relationship which is evident in him spending 40 days without food or water to be alone with God in the wilderness. After the 40 days, he was hungry. It is now time to eat so Satan has prepared a quick answer. He says, If you ARE the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Satan will always tempt you with truth with a twist. Jesus was the stone turned to bread. John 1:1 says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus was the bread sent from heaven. The first Word was written on stone tablets and the people couldn’t “eat” it. Instead of it bringing them life, it brought them death. Jesus came as the living Word and gave them truths they could eat. The devil wanted Jesus to command this truth now - before the cross. God’s way is always the slow way that evokes us to mature through the process. The devil’s way is always the quick way that causes the least amount of growth. Jesus’ reply to his suggestion was, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Jesus could wait for his bread because he had been sustained by God’s. Lord, help us to turn from temptation that gives us an easy fix, but by-passes the cross. The way to life is always through death.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - Jesus’ Lineage

Read Luke 3:23-38 I love lineages, especially in the Bible because I know they mean so much more than we comprehend on the surface. On the surface this is really Mary’s line which goes all the way back to Adam who was God’s son just as Jesus is God’s son. (Hint!) If God only had one begotten son, you can’t get more “begotten” than Adam. Romans 5:14 says that Adam was a figure of him to come. 1 Co. 15:45 says, “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” It goes on to say, “46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” They were both God’s son made in his image, but one was made from the dust of the earth and the other was made from the spirit of heaven. I can’t explain it because it is beyond our comprehension but I do know that the Bible says they are both God’s son, and through Adam, sin entered and Jesus took it away. Sin didn’t enter when Eve ate the apple even though she ate it first because she was deceived into eating it. Sin entered when Adam ate it because he chose to eat it. He HAD to eat it or he would have been eternally separated from his bride, Eve. He chose to die with her just as Jesus chose to die for us. The lineage of Matthew is the kingly line. The lineage of Luke is the lineage of priests and prophets. This proves that Jesus was a king, a priest and a prophet. Until then, you couldn’t be all three. This is a promise to us. Don’t limit yourself by saying you are just a psalmist, or just a prophet. Jesus was the embodiment of the 7 spirits of God spoken of in Rev. 4:5, and we can have all of them if we continue to press in and know God. Is. 11:2 gives us the 7 spirits of God: “2 And the spirit of the Lord (1) shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom (2) and understanding (3), the spirit of counsel (4) and might (5), the spirit of knowledge (6) and of the fear of the Lord (7).” Notice that 2 and 3, and 4 and 5 are coupled together because they come as a pair. Wisdom gives you understanding and the counsel of God gives you might. The spirit of Christ dwells in us and can quicken our mortal beings. Wow, today has been a smorgasbord of information! Lord, somehow link all this together and speak to us out of your storehouse of wisdom and grace. You are a wonderful God and we give you honor and praise!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - Jesus’ Debut

Read Luke 3:21-23 While John was still baptizing, Jesus came to him to be baptized. According to Matt 3, John tried to talk Jesus out of being baptized by him. John said that it was Jesus who should be baptizing him. Jesus’ reply was (paraphrased), “Please baptize me now, for I must do this to fulfill all righteousness”. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all wrote that they saw the dove come down from heaven and heard God say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” John gives us more insight. He says that God had told John beforehand, “Upon the one you see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” He also relates that the moment he saw Jesus walking toward him, God spoke this out of John’s mouth, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Then John turned to the people and said, “this is the one whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me, ‘I did not know Him: but that He should be revealed to Israel, so I came baptizing with water.” In other words, John came doing a sign: baptizing in water. This sign was just a picture of what Jesus would do. The water can wash away dirt just like the power of the Holy Spirit can cleanse your heart. John came painting the picture; Jesus walked out of the picture in human form. This act on this day was how God chose to present Jesus to the world. On the day Jesus was born all heaven sang, but only a few shepherds heard it, then Jesus was whisked away to hide out in Egypt. He came back to Nazareth and lived a very secluded life hidden away in a carpenter’s shop. He was now thirty, the age men went to war, and it was time to come out and fight. So it is not coincidental that as soon as he made his debut he was led into the wilderness to take on the devil. Lord, let your Holy Spirit descend on us like a dove and remain.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fri.’s Devo- John - The Baptiser

Read Luke 3:15-20 Who are these people who would travel out into the wilderness to hear a man dressed in camel skin? They are the people that are expecting God to move. They were looking for the Christ that scriptures promised and they believed. They wondered if John could be the Christ but John knew he wasn’t. He told them that he could baptized them in water, but the Christ was going to do much more than that. This Christ they were waiting for was going to baptized them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. The Bible talks about many baptisms: one is the baptism of repentance that John taught (Mark 1:4), another is the baptism in the Holy Spirit that was prophecied by John and fulfilled at the day of Pentecost after Jesus had ascended. We need both. The first has to do with water that washes our sins away and gives us a clean conscience. The other has to do with fire that purifies our hearts and gives us power to be witnesses. Jesus holds the fan that cause the flames to burn hotter. With his fire he will purge the floor of his temple or the hearts of his people. After the fire of adversity has burned up all the flax and excesses in our lives, he will come back and glean the righteous seed that would not burn in the fire. He will reduce us seed and this seed will be gathered into his barn. To John, everything was black or white. He spoke truth no matter who it offended. He even reproved the tetrarch, Herod by preaching he should not be living with his brother’s wife and all the other sins he had done. He made Herod mad enough to put him in prison to silence him. John had been baptized in the Holy Spirit from the womb so he had the power to witness. No guilty tetrarch was going to keep him from preaching the truth. A true prophet speaks the truth and defends it to the end. John did this. Lord, baptize us anew in your Holy Spirit. Give us your strength to stand in the days of adversity use like John did.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thurs.’s Devo - Good Fruit

Read Luke 3:7-14 John came preaching repentance followed by baptism, but when the people came to be baptized he rebuked them. He was in essence saying: baptism is not for those who are just trying to escape judgment. Baptism is for those who are willing to change their ways and produce righteous fruits for the kingdom of God. God is not looking for numbers, he can create as many people as he wants; he is looking for good fruit. So the people asked him how they could produce this good fruit. John’s reply was to give when you see a need. When the publicans came and asked the same question they got a different answer. They already gave to the poor. For them the answer was to not ask for more money than was fair. When the soldiers came asking the question of what to do John told them not to act out of violence, nor to accuse people wrongly, and to be content with their wages. They were trained to fight, but there was a way to do it righteously. They were not to falsely rat on their fellow officers to get them in trouble to advance their own cause. The last one was a little closer to home: to be content with their rations. How often do we hear ourselves and others complain about their salaries. If we realized that God was our boss and it was he who decided how much we got payed we might start working on our hearts rather than our mouths to get a raise. The whole point was, everyone has a different answer to “what do we need to do to produce good fruit ”. We all come with different issues that we need to let God address and cleanse us of so we can be baptized into his family. It doesn’t stop when we get saved. These issues continue to be a point of keeping us back from the things God has for us, or advancing us further into his kingdom. Every time we win a battle we get to promote to the next one. The battles get harder but the victories are just a easy to win because we are fit for the task. Lord, let us set our hearts to produce good fruit for your kingdom.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wed.’s Devo. - John Prepares the Way

Read Luke 3:1-6 This first verse could read something like this in a different time: “In the year when Hitler was dictator over Germany, Mussolini was dictator over Italy, Stalin was dictator over Russia and Tojo was Prime Minister of Japan.” That was the atmosphere of the day that Jesus came to earth. The only difference was that there was still a religious system in place, however corrupt, and Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. Interestingly their names mean “gracious” and “beautiful”. Caiaphas was older and his daughter married Annas. They were of the Saddusees. Caiaphas was a member of the council when Jesus was brought before them for judgment. He gave his opinion that Jesus should be put to death "for the people, and that the whole nation perish not" (John 11: 50). In these words he unconsciously spoke a prophecy. Caiaphas had no power to inflict the punishment of death, and therefore Jesus was sent to Pilate, the Roman governor, that he might pronounce the sentence against him (Matt 27: 2 John 18: 28). So it is during their reign as High Priests that God brought the ministry of John. John began his ministry in the wilderness, away from the political/religious systems of the times. He preached in the country around the Jordan River preaching that the people could have their sins washed away through repentance. This was certainly a new concept which by-passed the priests and their offerings. If the people believed this their would be no reason to pay the temple for offerings or sacrifices. John was sent to pave the road of the people’s hearts so that the Messiah would have a path to walk on. He preached that all who were low in the world (the valleys) would be filled. And every leader and elevated person (the mountains) would be humbled. That the things that were morally crooked would be corrected and that the rough life would be made smooth; that all flesh will see the salvation of God. He was speaking of people’s hearts at this time which will actually manifest in the natural when he comes again. Lord, we pray that all flesh will see your salvation and that their hearts would be softened to receive you when you come again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - Jesus in Jerusalem

Read Luke 2:40-52 There were three times a year that every Jewish man was to come to Jerusalem and present his offering to the Lord: the Feast of Passover, Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Since Jesus is now 12 he is considered a man and can go for the first time. Devout women went if their work at home was done, so Mary came also. God didn’t want her to miss this. They went through all the festivities of the passover and left for home. They traveled in great companies of relatives and friends and all looked after one another’s children so it wasn’t strange to not see Jesus for a while. When they did realize he was not with them, they turned back to Jerusalem and searched for 3 days. I can’t imagine the horror that went through their heads. They finally found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the rabbis while they were awed by Jesus’ insights into scripture and asked him questions. What a sight to see! Though Mary and Joseph were amazed, they were still rapt with the emotion of looking frantically for him for days and wanted to know how he could do that to him. Jesus, answer was, “How is it that you sought me? Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” A strange answer unless you understand Jewish culture. It was the custom, once a son reached the age of 12 to start the business with his father. Jesus’ father was God, and his business was in the Temple teaching about himself, so it just made sense to Jesus that that was why he came to Jerusalem. His parents didn’t understand what he was saying and made him come home and be a carpenter. Sort of reminds me of Joseph who was destined to greatness, but instead, got the dungeon. God’s path to the throne is always through humility and death to self and he knows just how to humble us. Jesus was a man like us who had to learn obedience through the things he suffered. (Heb. 5:8) Is. 58 says that it pleased the Lord to bruise him. God writes the end first, then has to get us there without it ruining us. So, bringing us low through trials enables us to hold the position he wants us to attain to. Lord, we trust you in our trials that you are working a much greater work than we can ever imagine. Help us, like Jesus, to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - Jesus’ Education

Read Luke 2:39-40 Mary and Joseph traveled back to Nazareth which has two meanings. The first is “a branch”. Is. 11: 1,2 says, “ And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;” So, from the branch of Nazareth shall come forth THE branch of the Lord. The second meaning of Nazareth is “preservation”. Verse 3 of Is. 11 says, “3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. Nazareth was the place God chose to preserve Jesus and give him understanding in how to walk on the earth. In Luke, verse 40 says that Jesus grew and was empowered in his spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. What a great prayer to pray over your children. Being a Jewish boy, he would start to learn at home by his father at the age of 5 where he would be taught Hebrew letters. His text would be Leviticus, of all books! At age 6 he would start to school. If he proved an excellent student he was able to stay at school and advanced to learning the Talmud (their civil and religious laws), the rest of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Dueteronomy), the Prophets, and last, the Hagiographa (the remaining books of the Old Testament). Jesus would have been one of those students who was invited to stay and learn the whole Old Testament which would prepare him for tomorrow’s devotion. Lord, forgive us for being so lax in memorizing your Word. Give us a fresh desire to hide your Word in our hearts.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fri.’s Devo - The Prophets Speak

Read Luke 2:34-38 Simeon gives Mary a “blessing” which doesn’t fall under our typical meaning of blessing. He said that her baby, Jesus, was appointed for the fall and rise of many and a sign that many would dispute. She would have her own soul pierced and many people hearts would be barred to all. The only way to Jesus is to die (the fall) and then for him be born again in our hearts (the rise). Many would dispute whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. And Mary would stand before the cross and watch her son, God’s son, crucified on a cross and be asked to have faith. Jesus revealed the ugliness of the Pharasee’s and the Sadducee’s hearts as they tried to trick him with hard questions. He blew them away with his answers and finally silenced them. When they couldn’t out-smart him, they thought they would just have him killed. They did, but instead of silencing him it only made his message louder and more powerful. Of course, Mary couldn’t understand how all this was going to play out but we have the advantage of seeing it as a whole. Anna, was also there at the temple that day. She was a prophetess and since it went into detail about her we might as well see why. He name mean “gracious”. She is from the “face of God” and the tribe that means “happy”. She was very old and her husband had only lived long enough to be married 7 years. It has now been 44 years since he died. She has spent her life being an intercessor. Since she lived at the temple it would be safe to say, she doesn’t have any children. She had every reason to feel rejected and pitiful, but instead she was gracious and happy. Four means “rule” so she has a double rule. She had a complete marriage but that ruler or leader is dead and God is sending an even greater husband and ruler in the form of this little baby and she is getting to see it. This baby would be the redemption of all Israel and eventually the whole earth. Lord, thank you, once again for sending your son to earth to show us who you are and to carve out a passage to heaven.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thur.’s Devo - I Wonder…

Read Luke 2:16-33 “They came with haste”… I would think the shepherds ran the whole way after their heavenly encounter. I wonder how many mangers they checked before they found the one with Mary and Joseph in it. When they did, they told them the whole story of the angels. I wonder if Mary and Joseph shared the stories of their angel visits too. Then the shepherds left and told everyone they could about what the angels said about this baby. Mary didn’t brag about her God-baby but held her secret deep in her heart. There are some things too holy to utter. I wonder if other people came to see this baby the angels sang about. We don’t know, but we do know that 8 days later, Jesus went under the knife of circumcise. I wonder how long he cried. They named him JESUS, the name the angel named him. When he was healed, they brought him to the temple to dedicate him to the Lord, because he was the first born. God claims all first-borns for himself. According to Lev. 12, the turtledove and the two pigeons are for the sin offering and the burnt offering. These offering are a sin and a burnt offering not for the baby, but for the mother. They are to cleanse her from the shedding of blood. While they were there, they were confronted by Simeon, an old prophet who was promised by God that he would see the Messiah in his life-time, and was patiently waiting. He was not disappointed. God led him to the temple that day and when Mary and Joseph arrived he knew. He took Jesus in his hands and prophecied. He said Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of the Jews. He knew he could now rest in peace. Lord, you revealed your plan to those who were humble and looking for your appearing and you will come back for the same people. May we encounter you today.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - The Shepherd’s Visit

Read Luke 2:8-15 Today we have the shepherd’s account. How appropriate of God to let them in on the Great Shepherd’s birth. They were carefully watching over what Jesus came for: sheep. Jesus called the multitude “sheep without a shepherd” in Matt. 9:36. In Matt. 10:6 Jesus instructed his disciples not to go to the Gentiles but to first go to the lost sheep of Israel. Matt. 10:11 goes on to predict Jesus’ mission: “the Shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” So God chooses to show his glory to the meek of the earth who are doing his mission. It takes long hours, dedication, compassion, and patient endurance to be a shepherd. They spend hours laying underneath the stars gazing up to heaven, fighting off wolves, nursing hurt sheep and carrying the weak ones on their shoulders; so what a great choice. They were overwhelmed with God’s glory coming to earth and giving them a heavenly show of beauty and power. I know it scared them half to death, so the angel spoke to them and told them not to fear, because they were bringing them great news. The Savior, Christ the Lord had been born that night in the city of David, and they were invited. Then the angels gave the shepherds a sign: the baby is wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. They of all people knew what a manger was but don’t you know that shook them. What is the Savior of the world doing in a manger? Then, before they could comprehend what the angel had said, the whole sky filled to capacity with angels, all singing: “Glory to God in the highest , and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Then they were gone and the shepherds were alone in the field. They all agreed to go to Bethlehem and find this baby in the manger. Lord, today, watch over your sheep and prepare them for what is coming.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Every New Years I ask the Lord for a word for the next year. Last year’s word was “forever”. I talked about how God has written eternity in our hearts and how this life is a portal to the next. Little did I know that my mother would leave us this year, or that our son would lose his son this year. I have heard of more deaths this year than I can remember so I know it was a year God harvested some of his saints. This year, I felt like my word was “blue skies”. It thought it strange so I contemplated what God might mean by it. Blue skies usually come after a storm or a trial. At least, that is when you notice it the most - when it has been absent for a while. I know that the world is only going to look bleaker, but for us it will be blue skies when it is over. God works all things, ALL THINGS, for our good. There is nothing that He can’t redeem and use. When Jesus died on the cross there was darkness and thunders, but on the 3rd day there were blue skies and Jesus appeared to the disciples. There will be dark times but don’t be afraid, because the blue skies will follow and you will be able to see clearly. America seems to be slipping further and further away from God, but I read in Ezekiel 34:11 that the True Shepherd will search and seek out his sheep. He will bring them to good pasture, to the mountains, where He will cause them to lie down and feed in rich pastures. There he will bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick. He will judge the unrighteous. God’s flock will no longer be a prey. We will be a blessing and be blessed with fruit and safety. Lord, thank you for a year of walking with a faithful God who never changes and always comes to the aid of those who call on you. You never disappoint or abandon us, but you are forever faithful. We are your devoted servants.

Tues.’s Devo - Jesus’ Humble Beginning

Read Luke 2:1-7 I guess the Mayan Calendar was wrong and the Bible is right… we’re still here. (Not surprised. I just can’t’ wait to hear their reason for why it didn’t happen.) For us, we get to advance to Luke 2, finally! Caesar Augusus was the first Roman Emperor over Rome and he decided to tax his kingdom which was so large it was termed “all the world”. Interesting that Jesus would be born into a one-world system and he will come back under one. “Augustus” means “radiant” which is how the world saw him. Everyone was to go back to their home town to give their tax. Usually the Romans taxed from where they lived not where they were from, but prophecy had Jesus being born in Bethlehem, so God needed to get Mary there. God often uses ungodly sources to get us into his will. Since Mary and Joseph were both from Bethlehem, they had to leave Galilee and Nazareth and go to Judea to the town of Bethlehem which was called the city of David. This would be the same road Jesus would walk on his own feet during his ministry. Bethlehem was the “house of bread” and since Jesus was the bread of life he needed to start his life there. The hard thing was that Mary was about to deliver. (God doesn’t seem to pamper us when it comes to what is important to him. He does not mind a little adversity to stir us up and keep us dependent on him.) Because of all the people coming to Bethlehem and them having to walk so far and so slowly, they were late for finding a place to stay, so they found a stable where Jesus, the king of kings would be born. She delivered right there in the barn with the manure and the animals. I’m sure it was totally unsterile. What a honeymoon! But God knew what he was doing and was totally fine with all of it. Sometimes, I forget that God is not after my comfort, but my heart, which is always in need of conforming. Lord, help us not to center our lives around ourselves and what we might feel is entitled us, even from God. Give us a humble heart and remind us, you chose to bring your son into the world in the most humble way.