Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thur's. Devo - Who Do You Say That I Am?

Read Luke 9:18-27 When Jesus gets alone with his disciples he asks them who people say he is? They reply, “John the Baptist, or Elijah, or an one of the prophets.” Then he asked them who they say he is. Peter speaks up and says, “the Christ of God.” Then he tells them to keep that secret to themselves. A strange thing to say, but Jesus knows what is up ahead for him, and he doesn’t want them to fall to the same fate. If he can keep them quiet and safe till he dies then he can send the Holy Spirit to give them power to speak the truth and save them from being taken out by the devil. He tells them exactly what is about to happen even though they can’t grasp it then. He is going to suffer, be betrayed by the religious leaders, be killed and be raised up on the third day. That was a hard pill to swallow No wonder they couldn’t grasp it. Then he told them to be his follower they must die to their own self. The only way to live was to die, but if they tried to live they would die. (I wonder if they followed that.) Then he asked them a question: what good is it going to do you if you gain all the riches of the world and lose your soul? He goes on to say that if they are embarrassed to be Jesus’ disciple, then he will deny them in the end. He ends with a statement that I still don’t understand: “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.” I think it means that some of the ones he is talking to were going to realize that he would place the kingdom of God within them. Hopefully, Judas was the only one who didn’t live to see that. I’m sure that after Jesus died all these conversations made much more sense to them and the Holy Spirit brought them all back so they could understand, but I think at the time they just listened and wondered. Lord, we want to see your kingdom come here on earth like it is in heaven. May we walk in your kingdom today and may our lives testify of who you are.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - God’s Provision

Read Luke 9:12-17 The crowd found Jesus in Bethsaida which means “house of provision”. They are about to see the manifestation of this place very shortly. All day Jesus has taught the people and it is now late afternoon. The disciples are hungry so they know the people are too. They go to Jesus and tell him to let the people go so they can have time to make it to a town nearby and find something to eat and a place to stay. But Jesus never does the practical when he can do the supernatural. He told the disciples to give them something to eat. They explained that they only had 5 loaves and 2 fishes which was enough for them and there were 5,000 in the crowd. So Jesus told them to sit the people down in groups of 50 and they did. Then Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fishes and looked up to his daddy and asked him to bless them. Then he started breaking them and distributing them to the disciples. They had enough for everyone and 12 baskets left over. So what does that mean to us? We are living in a day when people are getting laid off of their jobs, prices are inflated, fear is everywhere, and sin is abounding. We need some hope. The hope is that we can live in the place called Bethsaida - God’s house of provision. He will take what we have and multiply it so we can share it to those who need it. Not only will we have material provision but we will have heavenly bread - the Word of Life that we can break and share. To the disciples it meant giving the crowd their provision and they were each left with a whole basket full. Lord, help us to give out of our provision so you can bless it and use it for the kingdom.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - Devine Provision

Read Luke 9:1-11 Jesus had demonstrated healing, deliverance, preaching the kingdom, and even raising from the dead to his disciples. It was now time to commission them and send them out to do the same. He condensed it all down to giving them power and authority over ALL devils and the power to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Then he gave them a few rules of the kingdom: you will need to have nothing with you: no rod, no script, no bread, no money, no extra coat. So what does that look like to us? When we go out to do ministry we are not to be concerned with whether we have a name or position which would stand for the rod. We don’t have to worry about what we are to say. The Holy Spirit will fill our mouth with the right words. We are not to worry about what we will do for food or whether we can afford this ministry. Last of all we are not to worry about preparing for the future. God will provide everything. So they set out preaching and we never hear of them lacking anything. In fact, news of all they were doing made it to Herod, the tetrarch and he was so confused and shocked he thought surely John the Baptist had risen from the grave. He wanted to talk to this Jesus. Others thought that Elijah had come back, and others thought another prophet had risen from the dead. Jesus met back with his disciples and heard their wonderful stories. He took them out of the public to a place they could hide away for a while called Bethsaida. Bethsaida means “house of provision; house of hunting”. To Jesus and the disciples it was a place of provision where they had everything they needed; to the people it was a place of hunting where they were looking for them. They did find them and flocked there to hear his message and be healed by him. Lord, you take away all our excuses of not going out to do your will. You are our provider and we put our trust in you.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mon’s Devo - Jarius’s Daughter

Read Luke 8:49-56 Jesus was on his way to see about Jarius’s daughter who was dying when he got surrounded by the mob of people and stopped to talk to the woman with the issue of blood. Before he could make it to the house the ruler of the synagogue’s house sent a message that there was no need for Jesus to come - the girl had died. This didn’t seem to deter Jesus who replied, “Fear not: believe only, and she will be made whole.” When he got there he sent everyone out of the room except Peter, James, John and the parents of the girl. The mourners were all crying but Jesus told them to stop because she was not dead, just asleep. They laughed at what Jesus said because they knew she wasn’t asleep. He had to send them out because of their unbelief. Then, when they were alone, he took the girl by the hand and told her to rise. Her spirit came back into her again and she sat straight up. Jesus told them to feed her some meat then told them to keep this a secret. How do you do that? Everyone knew she was dead and now she is alive! It wonder if he wanted them to ponder on what had happened and let it sink in before facing the unbelieving public. He probably also wanted to protect the little girl. No doubt she saw some things when she died and had a story to tell, but this crowd would not be able to understand, and they would eventually steal the experience from her. The devil loves to steal our experiences with the Lord and make us think it was all in our head. Jesus wanted them to keep this as holy. Lord, help us to know when to share and when to hold close our experiences with you.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fri.’s Devo - The Power of a Testimony

Read Luke 8:35-48 Jesus has just taken down the stronghold of the city and the people are a little afraid. They heard the stories of the shepherds who saw the demons come out of this man and go into their pigs who ran off the cliff. What a story! What I want to know is what a Jewish shepherd is doing raising pigs that are lawfully unclean. Anyway, the city came out to see the crazy man with clothes on and in his right mind sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching. They didn’t know what to think of this supernatural act so they were afraid. That is usually the reaction of something supernatural - fear. They surrounded Jesus and asked him to leave. The man who had been delivered begged Jesus to take him with him but Jesus told him to go back to his house and tell them what God did for him. It seemed like a strange thing to tell a new convert who is wanting to be discipled, but Jesus knew best. This man went back and did what Jesus said and when Jesus came back the whole town was ready and waiting to hear what Jesus had to say. They had seen with their own eyes that what happened to this man was real and there was no denying the miracle. Because their faith had been stirred they could receive many miracles. Jarius, a ruler of the synagogue came and fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house and see his twelve year old daughter who was dying. On his way the crowds were pressing in on him and a lady who had been bleeding for 12 years approached him from behind and touched the border of his garment. She was instantly healed. Jesus could feel the virtue leave his body and go to someone else and stopped to ask, “Who touched me?” The disciples thought that was a strange question since everyone was touching him. But Jesus was talking about a certain person. The lady knew it was herself so she confessed with fear and trembling. Jesus encouraged her and told her that her faith had made her whole. She was worthy of him pointing her out. Lord, this story reminds me that you are never too busy for us and you always notice what we do in faith. It also shows us what power there is in our testimony. May we share it with others today.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thurs.’s Devo - The Men of the Gaderenes

Read Luke 8:22-34 Jesus wanted to take his disciples over to the other side of the lake. Obviously, the devil did not want him to come because he arouses a storm to turn them back. He also chose to bring it while Jesus was asleep. When the storm became so violent the disciples were not able to control their boat and feared death, so they went and woke Jesus. Mark also tells this story and I love how he tells it. When they went to wake up Jesus they said, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” It’s like they think anything happens that Jesus doesn’t perceive first. Jesus never panicked, he just got up and rebuked the storm and it was perfectly calm. Then he turned to them and said, “Where is your faith?” I don’t think he was getting on to them as much as he wanted them to answer that question to themselves. Where was their faith? Was it in their own ability to control the boat, because that wasn’t working for them. Was it in Jesus? When they couldn’t do it themselves they turned to Jesus which was good, but Jesus wanted to train them to exercise their own faith. The first person they met when they got to the other side was the man possessed of devils. They have arrived at the land of the Gaderenes. Matthew says that two men came out of the tombs who were fierce and filled with demons. They were so mean they wouldn’t let people pass that way. They were the personification of a stronghold or a principality. They were unclean because they lived among the dead. They were fierce and scary and allowed no passagee and they were naked and bound by chains. When Jesus talked to the man and commanded the unclean spirit to come out of them, the chains were broken and the devils were driven into the wilderness. These men held the principality that had hold of the city. If they came down, the whole city would be open to the gospel. When Jesus asked his name it was Legion which is a term given to a Roman regimen of men. This tells us they were many, they were organized and bent on war. Jesus was going to send them back to hell but they begged to go into a herd of hogs. Jesus let them and the pigs went crazy and ran off the cliff into to the water where they were choked. And that is how we have deviled ham… just kidding. Interesting: the name Gaderenes means “reward at the end”. The demons got their reward in the end and so did the men who were possessed. The men who kept the hogs saw the whole thing and ran to the city to tell the city what they had witnessed. Jesus, I know you want to ask us that question “where is our faith” and you want us to exercise your faith over the principalities in our cities. Help us to have the faith and discernment to do just that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - Good Seed Planted in Good Hearts

Read Luke 8:16-21 The parable continues but this time he is expounding on the seed. If indeed the seed is planted in someone’s heart then it is like a candle being lit. The person with the newly lit candle will not want to hide it, but put it in a place where all can benefit from its light. Jesus is the best secret of all and should not be kept a secret, but should be brought to light so that all can come to him. Then Jesus gave us a warning to watch how we hear. How we hear determines if the seed grows or gets stolen. If we hear with a heart to understand then the Word will grow in our hearts and expand. If we hear with a heart of unbelief then the truth that has been given us will be stolen by the devil. Then God gave us an example of what he was teaching. Jesus’ mother wanted to have an audience with Jesus but couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. When Jesus was told his mother was trying to get to him, he saw this as a teaching moment. He turned to the crowd and said, “my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” He was not being disrespectful of his mother. He was including her into his example. He was saying to the crowd of Jews that just because his mother was his mother did not automatically make her a disciple anymore than being a Jew did. The Jews thought they had a corner on God because they were Jews, just like Mary thought she would have favor because she was related to Jesus. That is not the criteria God uses. His criteria is belief and obedience. It is having the good seed planted in good hearts. Mary just happened to have both the relationship and the right heart. I’m sure she got her audience with her son. Lord, help us to be humble and not come to you thinking you owe us an audience; but may we come to you with a humble heart that moves your heart to listen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - The Sower and the Seed

Read Luke 8:4-15 When Jesus taught the people, he always taught in parables so that only those who truly wanted to understand would have to ask God what it meant. He would end the parable with “he that has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus was teaching kingdom principles that he didn’t want to be understood by the devil and his kingdom or they would use God’s tactics for their cause. Today’s parable was about the sower and the seed. He talked about seed being scattered in different places: the way side which was stepped on and eaten by the birds, the rock where it died for lack of moisture, among thorns where it got choked out, and the good ground where it was able to bear much fruit. Out of all the people that listened, only his disciples asked him to explain it to them. He explained to them that they were given the ability to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but the others were not suppose to understand them. The multitudes came to Jesus, but he was only looking for a remnant…a bride. This doesn’t make sense in our evangelistic minds but Jesus knows the hearts of men. Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost by dying on a cross. He chose 12 men who he poured into and taught them how to do the things he did. When he left they were to spread his teachings and his power throughout the world. When the disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable he told them that the seed was the Word of God which was heard by different people. Some of these people had the word stolen from them by the devil, others, had no spiritual roots to keep the Word so they lost it to temptation, others are so distracted with life that they didn’t produce fruit. But there was a small group of people that had good hearts that were hungry, able to hear the word and hold it. These were the ones who would bring forth one hundred fold return. Lord, may we be the ones whose hearts were ready to receive the Word and produce fruit to perfection.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - Three Women

Read Luke 8:1-3 I am always interested in the names God chooses to mention in his Word. Many people gave to the cause of Christ but today he mentions three. All three had been either delivered of demons or healed of infirmities. The first is Mary called Magdalene. Mary is the Hebrew name for Miriam which means “their rebellion” who was from the town of Magdala which means “a tower”. Mary stood with Jesus mother at the cross (Matt. 27:56), and was the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection. (Mark 16:9) Jesus had cast 7 demons from her and delivered from a life of torment. From her life of rebellion came a tower of strength. She was not afraid to stand with Jesus’ mother at the cross or to wait by the tomb because she believed the man who was able to set her free from torment was who he said he was. The second woman was Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward. Joanna means “Jehovah is a gracious giver”. Chuza means “a mound: a measure”. A mound is something that is measurable and her life was found measurable to the Lord. She had been with Mary at the tomb when they found it empty. She and Mary ran and told the disciples what they had seen. The third was Susanna which means a lily. A lily is a beautiful white flower that grows in the valley and gives forth a sweet fragrance. If you put the meanings of the names together you see the plan of salvation. The world was in rebellion and had elevated themselves as a tower. God in his graciousness gave us the gift of his son. He was crucified on a mound and from his life came forth the church - a lily that would spring forth out of the valley and send forth a fragrance to the world. Is says at the end of verse 3 that these women ministered to him out of their substance. Mary ministered to Jesus out of a heart of rebellion that had been set free. Joanna ministered to him from a gracious heart that probably paid a price at home since her husband was Herod’s steward. Though we know very little about Susanna, she represented a rising church that would face much persecution to follow their beloved. All these women gave up much to follow Jesus but were not ashamed to be called his followers no matter the cost. Lord, may we be like Mary, Joanna and Susanna today and stand like a tower, give forth God’s grace and let the fragrance of the Holy Spirit flow from our lives today.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fri.’s Devo - Forgiveness is for the Humble

Read Luke 7:36-50 Jesus was accused of being a winebibber and a friend of publicans and sinners so now we are going to see what that really looked like. He was invited to come and eat with Simon, one of the Pharisees of the city. While they were eating, a lady with a bad reputation came in with an alabaster box and began washing Jesus feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, and anointing his feet with oil. Simon knew the reputation of the woman and wondered why Jesus didn’t perceive this, being a prophet. Jesus not only perceived that, he perceived the Pharisee’s thoughts also and answered his thoughts with a parable. The story he tells is of a wealthy man who has loaned money to two other men. One man owes him 500 pence and the other 50. They couldn’t pay so he forgave them both the debt. Then Jesus asked Simon, “which of them will love him the most?” Simon thought about it and said he guessed the one who owed him the most. Jesus commended him for his right answer and then turned it toward the woman. She was the debtor in the story that owed the most, had been forgiven the most, and now loves the most. Because Simon didn’t think he had sin, being a Pharisee who follows the law to the “t”, he wasn’t humble. He didn’t wash Jesus’ feet, kiss him, or anoint his head with oil. Then Jesus turned to the woman and told her that her sins were forgiven. If Jesus hadn’t already offended the Pharisees with his rebuke of their poor hospitality, this had to put them over. Who was this Jesus that thought he could forgive her sins? Then, to ice the cake, Jesus told her that her faith had saved her so she could now live in peace. The Pharisees had to be seething by now. Jesus never seemed to care about his reputation or well-being. He did not come to save those who didn’t think they needed a saviour, but he came to seek and save the lost who knew they were lost. Our pride keeps us back from so much of what God is all about. He is not impressed with any of the outer fluff we see as acceptable but he is after the heart. Lord, may our hearts be open and bare before you. Show us how we can wash your feet and anoint your head with oil today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thurs.’s Devo - Walking Our Walk

Read Luke 7:31-35 Jesus had just explained that the publicans heard the teachings of John the Baptist and were baptized by him, yet the Pharasees heard the same teaching and were not. Then Jesus compares the men of their generation to the children in the market place. The children sitting in the marketplace are complaining that when they played their music, the people refused to dance and when they gave them a reason to mourn, they refused to cry. They would not be pleased no matter what God did. He was comparing that to himself and John the Baptist. John had come to them fasting and mourning and they said he was possessed, where Jesus came eating and drinking wine and they called him a drunk and a glutton. Then he makes the statement “But wisdom is justified of all her children”. It could read “All the children of wisdom are justified.” In other words, the wisdom of God is what justifies us, not following the law. John’s mission was to call people to repentance which took being sober and empty of self. Jesus mission was to draw people to him in love so that he could die for them and bring them into the kingdom of God. John’s ministry was lonely and not many people could relate to him personally. Jesus’ ministry was filled with people who would do anything just to touch him. He lived with the people and got down on their level. Both were sent by God and both fulfilled their destiny. All who accepted their ministry were wise children. We all are put on the earth with a mission which might not look like anyone else’s. We are not to try to be what others want us to be, just what God wants us to be. That is wisdom and God will justify us when we do His will. Lord, let us walk in the plans you have for us today and be justified in you. Happy Valentines Day, Jesus: you have our hearts!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - The Afflicted Become Beautiful in Christ

Read Luke 7:11-30 The next day Jesus traveled to the city of Nain. Nain means afflicted: beautiful. That is an oxymoron so let’s see what was afflicted and how it became beautiful. As Jesus was nearing the city with his disciples, a man is being carried out dead to be buried. This man is the only son of a widow lady. Jesus was touched with compassion so he told her to stop crying. Then he reached out and touched the coffin and told the dead man to arise. He did just that, and everyone was amazed and praised God. What was afflicted became beautiful. Word spread pretty quickly throughout Judea and eventually made it to John the Baptist. John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus was in the middle of a miracle meeting so after they had witnessed all Jesus did, he told them to go tell John the Baptist what they had seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor. All these things had been prophesied about the Messiah. This was the evidence that he was truly the sent one. When they had left, Jesus turned to the crowd and asked them why they went to hear John the Baptist speak. He was definitely not the refined priest of the synagogue. Although John was wild and crazy looking, he was a prophet with the Word of the Lord. Jesus explained that John was one of the greatest prophets, but what is coming was going to be even greater than John’s ministry. Those that had been able to accept John in all his nonconventional ways and were baptized by him were able to accept Jesus. Those that refused to accept John and be baptized, refused Jesus. John was Jesus’ forerunner. God loves to offend our flesh to speak to our spirit. That is why it takes faith to believe. It does not always make sense to our natural mind. Lord, expand our hearts to accept you and your ways which are always higher and require faith to believe.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - The Centurion’s Faith

Read Luke 7:1-10 Jesus did thousands of miracles, but the writers of the New Testament were led to tell the story of only a few. Matthew and Luke, both tell this story. It is a picture of what faith should look like and how powerful God is. Let’s look first at the centurion. A centurion is a Roman soldier who has been entrusted with 100 men. This soldier had a pastor’s heart and loved his men. One of his servants was dying and he wanted him healed at any cost. He apparently feared God because he had built a synagogue and was a known patriot. He sent the Jewish elders, since they would know how to approach Jesus to ask Jesus to come to his house and heal his servant. Jesus agreed to come, but on his way he was met by friends of the centurion with news from him. He had changed his mind about Jesus coming to see him because he was not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. Then he gave them a lesson on authority and how it works. The commander says a command and it is obeyed. Since Jesus is the commander of the spiritual world, all he has to do is command and it will happen. Jesus was amazed at his understanding and faith. Matthew tells us that Jesus told him to go his way because his servant was healed - and he was. What a picture of how prayer works. Jesus and the centurion never met face to face. They communicated through messengers. Jesus never had to physically lay a hand on the man. His declaration and the centurion’s declaration healed the man. When we agree with what God’s word says we will have what we say. Lord, help us to agree with you over what you want to do today.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - Lord, Lord

Read Luke 6:46-49 Our way to salvation is down an aisle, to pray a rote prayer, then be baptized and told to attend church. This is all fine IF that person really allows God to have their whole heart. If they do, they will become a new creature and desire to follow their new Lord. Jesus told his disciple the only way you can call me your master is if you obey me. Obedience is the fruit of salvation. That is why he went to so much trouble in the verses before to talk about the seed in their heart. If God’s seed is not firmly planted in their hearts they can not produce good fruit. If it is then their heart will be to obey their master. Then they will be like a man who built his house on the rock of Christ Jesus and when adversity and the storms of life come, they will stand firm. If the seed has not been firmly planted and brought forth roots to hold them, the storms of life will blow them right off their foundation (which is sand). The sad thing is that in the end, many will try to convince the Lord that they “walked an isle” or “prayed a prayer”, or did “good works” but he is going to tell them to depart from him because he never had a relationship with them and they never knew him or they would have done what he said. God is always talking - his Word never stops speaking, so there will be no excuse of not hearing it. We stop hearing God’s voice when we allow our ears to grow dull and eyes blinded. What we listen to and allow our eyes to watch does make a difference in our hearts. Just watching the news can allow fear and dread to rob us of the truth the Word says. We are on a fast pace toward some really dark times if our country doesn’t cry out for God but we have the light inside us. We should never be afraid of what mere men can do to us because God is on our side!!! Lord, you are our strong Commander of a very strong army of which we are privileged to be a part of. Arm us with your love and your Word and keep our eyes seeing and our ears hearing.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fri.’s Devo -Fruit

Read Luke 6:38-45 We could talk all day about this first verse. It is another way of saying you reap what you sow. On the third day of creation God produced plants with seeds in their fruit. These seeds would produce after their kind. If they were an apple seed, it would produce apples, but if it is a thorn bush it will reproduce thorns. Whatever you give will be multiplied back to you. If you plant seeds of unforgiveness, then you will reap bitterness and you will impart unforgiveness and bitterness to others. If you plant love and trust, then people will love and trust you. The principle of seeds is that the produce should be multiplied which is a problem if it is bad seed. We all have good and bad seeds in us but if we implant the spirit of God in our hearts, his righteous seed can supersede our bad seeds. Verse 41 talks about noticing someone else’s weaknesses but being blind to our own. Usually what we notice and hate the most in others is our mote. It blinds us from seeing the same fault in ourself. I think judging others is our self-conscious way of justifying our own sin. When I find myself frustrated about something someone else does, I try to remember to ask myself how that same problem resides in me. I am unpleasantly amazed at the answer. If we have had a problem with unforgiveness and God helps us to forgive, then we have a testimony that can help someone who is struggling with unforgiveness. If we allow our unforgiveness to stay there, then we will reap bad fruit and could eventually become a bitter and corrupt tree. If we have the good treasure of God in our hearts then our fruit should be godly. If we want to know what kind of fruit we are producing then we should listen to our conversation. What is in our heart will come out of our mouth. Lord, help us to produce fruit fit for the kingdom. Help us to rid our hearts of any bad seeds that will seek to kill us and taint our testimony.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thur.’s Devo - It Is Not Easy to Follow Christ

Read Luke 6:29-37 We have all heard the expression “turn the other cheek” as if it is a passive act, but after looking up the meaning of “smite” used here it means to pummel. In other words, to strike repeatedly, not just a slap in the face. So, once you have been pummeled on one cheek, you should be willing to turn and let it be done again to the other side. Ouch! It gets worse: it someone takes your outer garment, you are to offer him your inner garment leaving you basically naked. I’d rather be plummeled, I think. If anyone asks something from you, you are to give it, and if they take something you are not to ask for it back. Where are boundaries??? Does this mean that I have to give to every televangelist that calls? I honestly don’t think so. I think Jesus wraps it up in his next sentence: “As you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” In other words, we are to treat others like we would want to be treated. If we are truly Christians we will not only strive to do good to those who love us but especially to those who don’t. We are to love our enemies, give without any strings attached, and show mercy because that is how God loves and shows mercy. If we don’t want to be judged, then we don’t need to judge others. If we don’t want to be condemned, then we don’t need to condemn others, and if we want to be forgiven, then we need to forgive others. The truth is, it is not easy to follow Jesus unless we allow God’s love to flow through us, then it becomes easy. If Jesus could stand to be beaten, abused, misunderstood, and lied about without sinning, he can give us the grace to overcome too. Lord, I’m sure your words from that mountain turned the carnal away but we don’t want to be among them. Help us to love our enemies and lay down our life today to follow you and overcome.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wed.’s Devo - The Beatitudes

Read Luke 6:17-28 Jesus is at the height of his popularity. People from all around are coming to hear his words of life, be healed from every disease, and delivered from demons. Everyone wanted to touch him because the Holy Spirit rested on him and they knew if they could just touch him they would be complete. On the shore of Tyre and Sidon he taught them what has come to called “The Beatitudes”. He begins with blessing. He blesses their circumstance then gives them a promise of a spiritual blessing that is so much better. For the poor and destitute - they can have the kingdom of God. For those who are hungry now - they will be filled. For those who weep now - they will one day laugh. If you are being hated, rejected, and ridiculed for your faith - rejoice because it will bring you a reward. To comfort yourself, remember that there were many prophets and believers who have gone through the same thing too. But…. if you are rich now and have no need for God, then this is all you will get. You have nothing better to look forward to. If you are full and have no hunger for God, you will hunger for him later when it is too late. If you laugh and party now and leave God out, then you will be weeping when the Bride is rejoicing. If you are popular with the world, remember the world loves lies. God’s ways are upside down from the world’s. God’s way is to love your enemy, to do good to those who hate you. Give a blessing to those who curse you and pray for those who do things to you out of spite. We know these verses by heart but they are hard pills to swallow in real life. It is not a quick response to do good to those who are hurting you. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to do this. I can remember a friend who turned against my family and spread some pretty bad and false accusations about us. I saw her one day and without thinking, walked up and hugged her neck and greeted her. My close friend saw this and asked me how I did that. I told her “I didn’t - God did”. It was the truth. I couldn’t have done that on my own, but God who is inside me loves her, and He could. Lord, help us to be hungry for you and allow you to do the impossible through us.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tues.’s Devo - Choosing His Disciples

Read Luke 6:12-16 Jesus didn’t do anything he didn’t first see his father do, so he chose to spend hours in prayer to be able to see what God was doing. God told him to pick 12 men to follow him and be his disciples. After that night of prayer Jesus was ready to name them. He chose Simon (Peter) and Andrew who were brothers, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, Judas and Judas Iscariot. When you read it you see that they are paired together. When he sent them out, he sent them in pairs so I guess this is how they paired up. Interesting that he would pair the two Judas’ together. Since the first Judas was James brother, and we know that their father was Alphaeus, I looked up the meaning of Alphaeus and it means “produce or gain”. Judas means “he shall be praised”. Iscariot means “he will be hired”. Put all that together and we see that Judas Alphaeus was praised for his fruit and what he produced. Judas Iscarot was praised for what he was hired out to do. Judas A. was praised by the Lord and his followers. Judas I. was praised by Satan and his followers. They were both chosen by Jesus. For the next 3 years Jesus would pour into these men’s lives. He would explain the meaning of the parables he told to the multitude. He would teach them to pray, to heal the sick, to cast out devils, and to do miracles… even Judas. He taught them to let the tares grow up with the wheat because in the harvest the tares would be burned and the wheat saved. Judas heard all Jesus’ teaching and experienced his miracles at Jesus’ hand and at his own. How was Judas picked to be the traitor? I don’t understand destiny and predestiny (is that a word?) All I know is that God knows the end from the beginning. He needed a traitor and Judas must have had that kind of heart - so he got the job. How do you get picked to be one of Jesus’ “twelve”? There are a multitude of people who claim to be Christians and even attend church on a weekly basis but they don’t communicate with him and have a relationship like the twelve did. I have always wanted to be a close disciple not a distant believer. The Bible says that as we draw close to the Lord, he draws close to us. He finds those he can trust with his secrets, and those become like the “twelve”. Lord, we want to be your devoted followers that you can trust with your secrets and your power. Help us walk close with you today.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mon.’s Devo - The Withered Hand

Read Luke 6:6-11 I often wondered why Jesus seemed to always be healing people on the sabbath, but I realize that he healed on other days too, but on the sabbath, the Pharasees and Saducees were present and he was in the synagogue. This put him on display under their “laws”. Today we find Jesus at the synagogue on the sabbath and a man with a withered hand walks up to be healed. It is a test to see if Jesus will heal on the sabbath which they deemed as “work”. Jesus knew what they were thinking and told the man with the withered hand to rise up and stand in the middle so all could see. Then he asked the crowd this question, “Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it?” He looked around to give any of them a chance to answer. When no one would take his challenge, he told the man to stretch out his hand and it was restored, right before everyone. The law keepers were enraged with envy and indignation. How dare Jesus defy them in such a powerful way! They started plotting how they could shut down his ministry. I have seen this play out in our world so many times. God will anoint a person with a gift of healing or prophecy and the Christian media will do everything they can to ruin their reputation. So will the devil. It is ashamed that we can’t look at each other as our brothers and sisters. We will never all agree but we can still be unified under what we have in common which is Jesus. How about us? Is there someone we have trouble liking? Maybe it is because we are jealous of their gifts. We are all given gifts to edify one another, so instead of being jealous of their gift, we might want to try being blessed by it. Lord, help us to enjoy what you are doing in others and grow in our own gifts that we might bless others with them.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sat.’s Devo - My Batman Car

I don’t always blog on Saturday, but felt led to write today. I want to share this with you to open your heart to our Father’s great love for us and how he loves to play with us. God speaks to me often in dreams, so I take my dreams serious. I keep a journal by my bed where I write down the dreams I remember even if they are crazy. I wrote back in July that I dreamed my car was totaled. A week later I dreamed I was getting a new car. Then several months went by and I dreamed my son, Josh walked up and handed me his keys. I went to get in his car and it was the Batmobile! I was shocked because I didn’t know he drove the Batmobile. I was amazed at how easy it was to drive and how I knew what to do. It was great until I tried to turn off the main road and turn around. I ended up stuck. When I woke up I felt like the Lord was telling me to get a car with all the bells and whistles and not deviate from that. I know that we serve an extravagant God, but my husband is not quite as free-falling as I am in my faith, so I knew he would be the roadblock. I shared the dream with him and waited. To confirm my dream, I got an e-mail the next day from a lady in my community group that started: “Holy rusted nails!” For those of us old enough to remember, that is a saying from the Batman series. I couldn’t believe she was using Batman terms! I had no idea what car God had in mind for my Batmobile, but I started noticing cars. One day I was out shopping and I saw this new white Lincoln MKX that I thought was beautiful. Later that day I was at a red light and noticed the car in front of me. It was a new white MKX. So, I started researching on line. The only car I went to look at was a Lexus because someone suggested I look at them. I loved all its tricks but I still didn’t know what God wanted me to do. On New Years Eve, I had gone back to sleep to see if God would give me a dream to tell me what to do. I was rudely awakened by the phone ringing. It was the man from the Lincoln place wanting me to look at this preowned MKX. We had been e-mailing. It was cold and rainy but he told me if I would come, he would make it worth getting out in the weather. When I got there he told me to leave my car with him and drive his car all day. It was black and really nice. I drove it and while I was out I passed a place that said Batman Auto! How fun of God! I still wanted to look at the new ones so when I got back he told me he had also priced a new white one! I smiled to myself and asked him to go with me on a test drive. We took it out and he showed me all the updated bells and whistles. I called Dave from the car and told him I had found my car. I was getting the new one. He said, “Now, why does that not surprise me?” So, God brought me full circle back to what he had for me. God is an extravagant God who loves to bless his children. If you are listening, he is talking. He loves to play! Jeremiah 33:3 Thank you Lord, for your extravagant love!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fri.’s Devo - Lord of the Sabbath

Read Luke 6:1-5 Why does verse one say, “It came to pass on the second sabbath after the first” as if that was significant? It is because it is significant. The first sabbath would be Tishri 7. Tishri 1 is the first day of the Jewish year. The first sabbath would be Tishri 7 and the second sabbath would be Tishri 14. This is the season of Yom Kippor where the people repent of their sins and come to God to atone for them. In the end it will be the time when the church has been taken to heaven and there will be great tribulation on the earth. There will be much tribulation, but many will be reaped into the kingdom during that time. So lets look at what Jesus teaches us about that time. Jesus and his disciples are walking through a cornfield and they pluck some of the ears of corn and rub the kernels off and eat them. The Pharisees come to him and ask him why he breaks the sabbath laws by reaping the ears of corn which they call “work”. Jesus reminds them of what David did when he was running from Saul and hungry. He went to the priest and the only bread the priest had was shewbread from the altar. David was in a war and needed that to sustain him. He did what was necessary. David understood spiritual things and knew that he was sustained daily by God’s Word so his heart won him God’s mercy. Mercy always triumphs over judgment. On the last Yom Kippor it won’t be a sabbath of rest but of reaping. Everyone will need to work for the kingdom during that time and do whatever is necessary just to stay alive. That is why Jesus ended with the statement, “the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath”. He was speaking of not only himself but of his disciples that would come after him. It is the argument of grace over law. Grace always wins. Lord, help us to choose mercy over judgment and grace over law.