Where You Go I Will Go (May 5)

May 5

Where You Go I Will Go

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 66:1-4| Judges 21:1 – Ruth 1:22 | John 4:4-42 | Proverbs 14:25

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ruth 1:1-22

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. [17] Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17 NIV). 

Loyalty does not get the credit it deserves. It is a virtue both beautiful and rare in our culture.  The story of Ruth calls us back to rediscover this virtue.

Ruth is described as a “woman of noble character,” a virtuous woman.  It is the supreme compliment given to a woman in the scripture. Why was she given that title?  The text indicates that it was primarily because she was loyal.

Indeed, loyalty was the beautiful quality that Boaz saw in Ruth when he praised her:

Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband–how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” Ruth 2:11-12 (NIV). 

Loyalty is a rare quality in a day of “no commitment.” It is also a praiseworthy and attractive quality.  May its beauty be seen and noticed in our lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be loyal like Ruth. Help me to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that I, too, may become a person of noble character. Amen.

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Second Fiddle (May 4)

May 4

Second Fiddle

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 65:9-13 | Judges 19:1-20:48 | John 3:22- 4:3 | Proverbs 14:22-24

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 3:22- 4:3

You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’  [29] The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.  [30] He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28-30 ESV).  

A famous conductor was asked, “What is the most difficult instrument to play in the orchestra?”  He answered, “Second fiddle.” Why?  I think it is mostly because it requires humility.  Often the person playing in the second chair has worked just as hard and is just as good musically, but he or she has to take the second chair so that there can be harmony.

John the Baptist knew that he was called to play second fiddle. “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John’s disciples struggled with fact that the crowds were now going to Jesus.  John assured them that this was just as God had ordained it.  

He understood that he was the “best man” who was to find joy in attending to the bridegroom and listening to his voice.

We too are called to decrease that Christ may increase.  As we humble ourselves, listen to the voice of the bridegroom and attend to his wishes, we find our joy complete.

Harmony in the body of Christ requires that we learn to “play second fiddle.” The lessons of humility are not easy ones, but they are essential to bringing harmony to lives and relationships.

Heavenly Father, please give me a humble heart that is willing to take second place, that is always willing to serve. May I decrease that Jesus may increase. Amen.

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Born Again (May 3)

May 3

Born Again

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 65:1-8 | Judges 17:1-18:31 | John 3:1-21 | Proverbs 14:20-21

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 3

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again” (John 3:3 TNIV).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 TNIV).

Jesus clearly teaches that we must be born again. There must be a spiritual rebirth to enter into God’s kingdom. It is a transformation that takes place when we place our trust in Christ and accept him as Savior and Lord.  

It is all made possible because God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us. He deals with our sin problem. He brings forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who believe.

It is much like the transformation of a butterfly. Beginning as a worm-like creature we enter the Chrysalis and are transformed to a new way of life. We emerge as a beautiful butterfly. So, when we come in repentance and faith and invite Christ into our lives, he transforms us and we are made new. We emerge from the experience a new creature. In the words of Jesus, we are “born again.”

Life abundant—lived to the full—and everlasting. It results from being born again by the Spirit. It begins with a simple prayer of faith where we confess our need to be forgiven and invite Christ into our lives to become our Savior and Lord.

God loves you and has done everything you need to spend eternity with him through the death of Jesus on the cross. Enter into his life and be born again to a whole new way of life. Open your heart to a relationship with Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for providing a way for us to born again into your kingdom. Thank you for life eternal and all the blessings of your grace. Continue to transform me more and more into the image of Jesus. Amen.

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When Jesus Got Angry

May 2

When Jesus Got Angry

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 64:1-10 | Judges 15:1-16:31 | John 2:1-25 | Proverbs 14:17-19

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 2

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money  changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15-16 TNIV). 

Zeal for his Father’s house consumed Jesus as he overturned tables and chased out the moneychangers from the temple. Jesus was filled with righteous indignation.

The temple was to be a place of worship and prayer. It had become a smelly, noisy marketplace. The true purpose of the temple was being lost in the confusion created by sheep and cattle and doves and money exchange.

It was also an evidence of a lost sense of mission as it was the court of the gentiles that was being used for this purpose. This was to be a house of prayer for all nations, as Isaiah said.

Places of worship too easily lose their sense of purpose, their sense of mission. They become places where our personal comfort and convenience is more important than prayer, worship and witness.

Likewise, each of us is a “temple of the Holy Spirit.” We too need to be careful to guard our life’s mission and purposes. We dare not get too busy with other things so that we forget the real reason we are created: to bring glory to God.

Perhaps it is time to clear the temple of our lives of things that hinder and distract. Indeed it is time to return to God’s purposes for us.

Dear Heavenly Father, may my heart be stirred to whole-heartedly pursue your purposes for my life. Make me a passionate worshipper, a powerful pray-er. Let me bring you glory in all I do. Amen.

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Behold the Lamb of God (May 1)

May 1

Behold the Lamb of God 

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 63:1-11 | Judges 13:1-14:20 | John 1:29-51 | Proverbs 14:15-16

Today’s Scripture Focus: John 1:29-51

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me’” (John 1:29-30 NRSV).

From the beginning to end, the Gospel of John paints a spectacular and exalted picture of Jesus. The testimony of John the Baptist is a case in point. What do we learn about Jesus’ identity through his testimony as recounted in the gospel of John?

Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John paints a picture of Jesus mission through the familiar imagery of sacrifice in the Hebrew Scriptures. Surprisingly, Jesus is the lamb for the sacrifice. In so doing he foreshadows Jesus who will die for our sins.

Jesus is the one who “was before,” hinting at Jesus’ pre-existence as a member of the Trinity. He is pre-eminent and worthy of exaltation and honor.

Jesus is the one who “baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” The eschatological hopes of the prophets find their fulfillment in Jesus. He is the one in whom Israel’s hope (and that of the whole world) is found. He is the one who will ascend to the right hand of the Father as the enthroned Messiah who will pour out the Spirit and empower the church.

Jesus is the chosen one, the very Son of God. There can be no doubt that Jesus is God incarnate in human flesh.

Jesus, the exalted Messiah and King; the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; He is worthy of our praise. Worship him from the depths of your heart!

Jesus, you are the exalted Messiah and King, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Thank you are taking away my sin. Praise the Lord! Amen.

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Message of Life (Apr 30)

April 30

Message of Life

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 62:1-12 | Judges 11:1-12:15 | John 1:1-28 | Proverbs 14:13-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 1 

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13 NIV). 

Jesus–the Word who is God–came in human flesh to live out God’s message to us. The one who created all things comes to live like one of the created to communicate God’s love for us.

To a world in darkness, he brings light. To all who receive him, he brings life. God could have communicated his most important message–the message of salvation, the message of life–only through words. He certainly did spell it out clearly in his scripture. Yet, God’s love for us was so great, that he decided to communicate the message not only through words, but also by a living demonstration as Jesus humbles himself and takes on human flesh. God incarnate–the Word with us.

He demonstrates life lived to the full and calls all to a relationship with him that brings life abundant and eternal. Then he demonstrates his incredible love by dying on a cross to bring us forgiveness and life eternal.

Don’t miss the message clearly communicated through Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. Many do. Yet to all who receive him (who believe in his name) he gives the right to become children of God–children born of God.

God loves you and sent his son to die for you. Jesus’ life and death shine forth the truth that we can be forgiven, that we can live life in vital relationship with him–a life lived to the full for eternity. Open your heart to Jesus, invite him in. Open the door by faith and enter into fellowship with Jesus. He stands at the door and knocks. Let him in.

Dear Heavenly Father, I want to follow Jesus, I want to receive life abundant and eternal. Forgive me from my sin as I turn from my old path and place my confidence in Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I open the door of my heart to a life of fellowship and life. Amen.

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Waiting and Witnessing (Apr 29)

April 29

Waiting and Witnessing

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 61:5-8| Judges 9:22-10:18| Luke 24:13-53| Proverbs 14:11-12

Today’s Scripture Focus:   Luke 24 (NIV)  
    
[48] You are witnesses of these things. [49] I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49 NIV). 

Jesus left us with a big job to do. We are his witnesses to the world. The message must be taken to all nations beginning in your hometown.

But we can’t do the job on our own. We need his power to be effective witnesses. Therefore Jesus tells us to wait and pray.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and empower you. Pray for boldness. Pray for the words to say. Pray for open doors of opportunity.

Pray for God to be at work in those you talk to. Pray that they will be hungry for truth. Pray that they will be convicted of their need. Pray that God will be at work drawing them by his loving-kindness.

We are his witnesses. But we are not alone. Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit to be our helper and our guide. In his strength we can overcome our timidity and fear and be his witnesses.

Heavenly Father, fill me with your Holy Spirit. Empower me to be your witness. Open doors and make me sensitive to your leading. Fill me with love and compassion and help me to listen and serve. Give me the words that will point people to Jesus. Fill me today and use me. Amen.

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Listen (Apr 28)

April 28

Listen

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 61:1-4| Judges 8:18- 9:21| Luke 23:44-24:12| Proverbs 14:9-10

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Psalm 61:1-4

 “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer” (Psalm 61:1, NIV).  

Like the Psalmist, we often wonder if our prayers are getting through. We want to make sure we have God’s full attention. We cry out, “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.”

Sometimes in the process of waiting for the answer “our hearts grow faint” (2). It is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to lose hope.

But know that God is listening. He is the rock we can stand upon (2). He is a place of refuge when we need a place to run to. He is a strong tower to protect us from our foes (3).

He is there to shelter us in his presence and his “wings” (4) are there to protect us and shield us from danger. There is no reason to fear.

We may feel alone, but we are never alone. We may wonder if anyone is listening, but he is always there. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t lose hope.

Open up your heart to God–pour it all out. He listens and he cares.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. You are the rock I run to. You are my strong tower. You are the one who shelters me, protects me. I pour out my heart to you and wait in your presence. Amen.

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Mighty Warrior (Apr 26)

April 26

Mighty Warrior

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 60:1-4 | Judges 6:1-40 | Luke 22:54-23:12 | Proverbs 14:5-6

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Judges 6

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” [13] “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian”(Judges 6:12-13 NIV).   

The Bible often shows us that God sees the potential in us long before we do. Such was the case for Gideon. Based on what we read about Gideon, we might be tempted to see only his fears, his questions and his doubts. Gideon himself was surprised by God’s call: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15 -ESV).

Yet God saw Gideon’s potential. In complete contrast to Gideon’s confession of his weakness, God calls him “Mighty Warrior!” He reminds Gideon that he has no reason to doubt or fear. He is being called by God to lead the people of Israel. What matters is not his inability, but God’s ability. The one God chooses can depend on him to provide all they need to accomplish the task they are given. When God calls us to a task, we need only know that He is with us.

When you are tempted to focus on your failures and your weakness, open your heart in prayer to God. Pour out your questions, doubts and fears. Then be silent. Perhaps in the silence, you too will hear God’s affirming words. Allow him to rename you according to your God-given potential. Don’t be afraid of the future. Press ahead in God’s strength to accomplish your God given calling.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your call. Thank you for providing everything necessary to accomplish the tasks you have given. Give me the strength and courage this day to be a Mighty Warrior for you. When I feel inadequate or discouraged, remind me of the potential I have in you. I wait in quietness—ready for a new name, ready for affirming words. Walk with me today as together we accomplish the tasks you have given. Amen.r

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The Strength to Go On (Apr 25)

April 25

The Strength to Go On

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 59:14-17| Judges 4:1-5:31| Luke 22:35-53| Proverbs 14:3-4

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Luke 22:35-53

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. [46] “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:45-46 NIV). 

Facing denial, betrayal, mocking, scourging and a cruel painful death on a cross, Jesus went to his usual place to pray: The Mount of Olives. This solitary place was a regular place of refuge for Jesus where he would pour out his heart to the Father.

He was tempted, as we all are, to take the easy way out. But he didn’t give in to the temptation. Strengthened by an angel, he resisted and persevered in prayer.

He, like his disciples, was undoubtedly exhausted by sorrow from the difficulties of the past week, and the prospect of the future. But unlike the disciples who fell asleep, he pressed in to the heart of the father and found the strength that he needed to resist temptation and take the needed steps of obedience under the Father’s direction.

We all have times where we face temptation. We all have times where the circumstances we face seem overwhelming. There are times when what God calls us to do seems more than we are able to handle. In those times, Jesus example reminds us that the best thing we can do is go to our solitary place where we pour out our heart to the Father and look for his strength.

Father, when I am facing times of trial and temptation help me to run to you, to pour out my heart to you, to wait upon you. You are my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Ever Present Help in Trouble. Fill me with joy, with peace and help me to overflow with hope. Amen.

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