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Showing posts from March, 2012

Follow the Leader

Prayer: ”The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” [Psalm 23]
Read: John 12:12-36 http://www.esvbible.org/John 12:12-36
Think about It: When we were kids, we played a game called “follow the leader”. It was fairly simple in its execution. The “leader” would take a line of friends on a trek across the playground, trying to make the journey as interesting and perhaps difficult as possible. Usually the game broke up fairly quickly because if you weren’t the leader, intere…

The Sacrificial Life

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Prayer: Dear Lord, into Your hands I commend this time of devotion. Please challenge my thinking and strengthen my resolve to follow You alone. Enlighten my faith and draw me closer to Your truth. Holy Spirit, please speak so that I can hear and understand, filling my mind and heart with thoughts that encourage me and glorify You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read: Matthew 16:21-28 http://www.esvbible.org/Matthew 16:21-28
Think about It: There are few images in the Bible more enduring than that of Christ carrying a lamb. We know how to identify with that lamb as we are transported over the rough spots and out of danger. We identify with the feeling of being carried by the strength of Christ who we are certain will never drop us or hurt us in any way. This is the Good Shepherd we are delighted to know.
In our text for today, Jesus tells Peter that as His disciples we are to take up their cross and follow Him. This seems like a difficult task, and that perception is not wrong. Taking up the…

Rest with the Shepherd

Prayer: Awesome God, may Your name be exalted in my heart and on my lips today. May Your love pour through me onto others, that the world may know You are God. Use this time in study and prayer to correct my thinking, align my will with Yours, and bring glory to Your name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read: Psalm 23:1-6 http://www.esvbible.org/Psalm 23:1-6
Think about It: One of the most oft read passages of the Bible is Psalm 23. Even those who don’t really walk in the Christian faith have probably heard it somewhere in their lives. There is a reason this short 6 verse Psalm is a favorite – it is perfect in its composition, its imagery, and its message. Many of those reading this devotional probably didn’t even have to go and look up the reading for today as you already have it deeply embedded in your memory!     It is a gift to be immediately soaked in the Scripture when the words of this psalm pour through a troubled mind.
While entire books have been written about these six verses we…

Palm Branches

Prayer: Dear Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You have ordained praise from the lips of all creation. I want to join in that praise and lift up Your name with my whole heart. I worship You and honor You today and every day as my Lord and my King. Please let my expressions as praise ring in Your ears and bring You glory. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Read: John 12:12-36 http://www.esvbible.org/John 12:12-36
Think about It: One of America’s truly unique expressions of celebration is the ticker-tape parade. The first such event to take place was in 1886during the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and apparently happened spontaneously. Today, as ticker tape is a thing of the past, confetti is used for these parades instead of the long strips of paper that came from thebrokerage firms in days gone by. But we still like to celebrate a great event together and the parade is a perfect outlet for those joyful emotions. The same was true during the days Jesus walked the earth.
By the…

The Good Shepherd

Prayer: Dear Lord God, Heavenly Father. Into Your hands I bring my day. Into Your hands I surrender my life. Please fill my day with Your love and blessing, and cause me to share those gifts with others. Fill up my heart during our time together, that I might go out and be a bearer of Your great love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read: Ezekiel 34:11-24 http://www.esvbible.org/Ezekiel 34:11-24
Think about It: In 597 BC, the prophet / priest Ezekiel was exiled into Babylon with 10,000 fellow Jews. As the world power-houses of the day used the Palestinian area as a battle ground, the Jewish nation was decimated. Thus Ezekiel finds himself and his family in a foreign land, separated from the Temple and from all of the trappings that made up their religion. But this did not cause Ezekiel to stop telling the people about their God, nor did he cease to speak hopefully about the future of God’s people. As God’s message continues to be shared in desperate times, the image of the Good Shepherd em…

Jesus' Authority

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, You have ordained praise. In Your greatness, You have commanded that we honor You with our worship and adoration. I bring that glory to You today. Fill my mouth with Your name, that I might declare Your greatness to all I meet. Thank You for saving me and for bringing me into Your kingdom. Help me to love You well and serve others because of You. In Your name I pray. Amen.
Read: John 18:1-9 http://www.esvbible.org/John 18:1-9
Think about It: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This phrase is found at least as early as 1872, where it is presented as advice in Tappy's Chicks by Mrs. George Cupples. Many of us were taught this line as children,encouraging us to remain calm when taunted with the words of another. But one of the most intriguing events of the Passion of Jesus comes during His arrest and three words that He speaks. When a battalion of soldiers come to take Jesus to the Sanhedrin, something happens that makes us scr…

Authority Understood

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, You are my Master and my God. To You alone, I bow down in worship. You are to be recognized by all, angels and humans alike, as the Creator and Ruler all things. When You speak, worlds are built. When You speak, nations arise. When You speak, all people bow down. And when You speak, I know that I am loved. In Your name I pray. Amen.
Read: Matthew 8:5-13 http://www.esvbible.org/Matthew 8:5-13
Think about It: As we know, Jesus is soundly rejected by those inside of the established Jewish leadership during His three years of ministry; those members of the Sanhedrin who believed they were the authority in the lives of the people at the time. But who does Jesus use to teach His disciples (and us) what authority truly looks like? A Roman Centurion (commander of 100); a Gentile.
In our story for today, Jesus is approached by someone who normally wouldn’t give a Jewish rabbi the time of day. This Centurion knew what it meant to be a person with authority, just as he knew…

Our Protector

Prayer: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gazeupon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I willoffer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and makemelody to the Lord.”
Read: Psalm 27  http://www.esvbible.org/Psalm 27:1-14
Think about It: There are certain readings that should be so familiar to us that when the words are read or spoken they wash over us with a knowing that brings peace. For many, Psalm 23 is best known and oft recited. Among the ranks of familiar and comforting Psalms should also be our reading for this week, Psalm 27. Hopefully, your heart stirs just a little when you hear the words “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I …

Unusual Humility and Grace

Prayer: Dear Lord, You always provide what I need! Thank You for Your Word and Your attention. Please Holy Spirit, enliven the Word in my heart today and help me hear Your message. May Your truth strengthen the faith that You have given. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read: 1 Samuel 24:1-13 http://www.esvbible.org/1 Samuel 24:1-13
Think about It: Authority doesn’t always have to crack the whip and make its presence known. Often, true leadership is manifested in humility, sacrifice, and grace. Of course, Jesus epitomizes these characteristics. One thousand years before Jesus came in human form, David lived as a man after God’s heart,chosen by God to lead His people. Before becoming king in actuality, hesuffered under the cruel and murderous King Saul who tried on numerousoccasions to kill him. But David exercised those characteristics of grace and humility for our example as well.
David has been handed a golden opportunity. The life of Saul, the man who tries to kill him at every opportunit…

By What Authority

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, You are the Lord of my life and the King of mysalvation. To You alone belongs all honor, worship and praise. Please fill my study time with a deepening of my faith and a strengthening of my love for You. Thank You for providing for my every need and for giving me Your Word so that I might know Your story and receive Your truth. Help me to embrace what I learn today and apply to my life. In Your name I pray. Amen.
Read: Luke 20:1-8  http://www.esvbible.org/Luke 2:1-8
Think about It: Most of us can remember a time when our parents told us to do something (we probably didn’t want to do) and their only reason was “because I said so.” That’s authority. As children, we may have argued, but we would have been wrong. Now as parents, we know that the “because I said so” holds weight. In fact, while they often get one, children are not owed an explanation; they are simply to obey because the person in authority “said so.”
Jesus faced His children as well, with the same pro…

The Spirit is Willing

Prayer:Dear Father, there is so much for me to learn; so much growth that needs to happen in my faith life. I surrender that need for more understanding into Your hands and ask that You please increase my faith. Where I am weak and stridently holding onto my own way, please bring a willingness to let go and allow You to work. Where I am simply confused bring insight and depth of reasoning, that I might love You more completely. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Read: Mark 14:32-42 http://www.esvbible.org/Mark 14:32-42
Think about It: Have you ever fallen asleep at an inappropriate time? Likegeometry class? Or during a movie you really wanted to watch? Or during the sermon on Sunday morning? Your eyes simply will not stay open, no matter how hard you try. You can almost feel your eyes rolling back into your head. You might even be able to hold your head up for a while, but eventually even that begins to bob, signaling to the whole room that you are asleep. It’s a miserable and embarrassing f…