Monday, October 23, 2017

Temporarily Forsaken by God

Jesus has always enjoyed unbroken fellowship with the Father and the Spirit, except for one 3 hour period while He was hanging on the cross for us. Jesus was crucified at 9 am, but at noon darkness fell over the whole land of Israel until 3 pm. At the end of those 3 cruel hours, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:33,34) It was then that Jesus suffered the wrath of the Father for your sins and mine. We should all be eternally grateful for this and love Him completely for His selfless sacrifice for all of our sins.

Sin separates us from God. (Isaiah 59:1-2) Jesus was the sinless Lamb of God, the God/ Man who could die in our place, since He was God and man. (Romans 3:23; 6:23) However, part of the process of dying for us was to have all of our sins placed upon Him. (Isaiah 53:6) This was done during that 3 hour period of darkness. Jesus suffered the wrath of God and separation from the Father for that time that we all deserved to experience. That is how He paid for our sins with His precious blood. They all had to be laid on Him first, like the hands of the sinner being placed on the sacrificial lambs in the Old Covenant before the lamb's throat was cut and the blood drained out to atone for the sins of that person. Jesus took it all for us, and then, He graciously offers to forgive us totally, if we will confess Him as Lord and believe in Him as the One who died and rose again to conquer Satan, sin, and death, once and for all.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Mark 16 and Luke 1-2.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Foremost is Love

We do not use the word foremost very much in every day conversation. It seems to me to be a word with a special connotation. It means something that is the most important, but also, I think it denotes the highest ideal of a particular thing. Therefore, when Jesus was asked about the "foremost commandment," we need to take His answer very seriously, if we are a disciple of Jesus. (Mark 12:29-31)  What do you think?

Jesus goes back to the most important command in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5. Not only is there only one Lord, but we are to love Him with our whole being, heart, soul, mind, and strength. Half-hearted, less than totally sincere love for Him is not enough. Only the foremost love for the Foremost God will complete the foremost commandment. However, that kind of love is so complete that we will also love our neighbor, all others around us, with an unselfish love, giving them the love we have for ourselves. No other commandments come close to these, and if we love to the foremost we please the Lord and fulfill the other commandments out of our love for Him and others. That should be the foremost goal in our lives, so that we give ourselves to this quality of love fully. The only way to do that is to obey the Lord out of this kind of love, because if we love Him, we will obey Him. Love is not just a feeling, but it is a choice.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Mark 13-15.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Power of Prayer

We underestimate the importance and the power of prayer. Prayer is talking with the Lord about everything, as we are submitting to His will and asking the Spirit to conform us to the image of Jesus. The more we pray in faith, according to God's Word, the more we grow in our faith, because we come to know the will of God, and we do it. Prayer brings the power of God into our lives in a way that nothing else can. (Mark 9:28,29) That is what Jesus taught His disciples when they could not cast out a demon from a man's son.

Demons cannot be defeated by human power or intelligence. Demons know and respect the Lord, but they do not respect us, unless we are so filled with the Spirit that we show we belong to Jesus. Then, we have power to cast out the demons, as we pray and carry out the will of God, not our own will. This does not happen by saying a quick prayer. It comes by being faithful in our prayer times, doing spiritual warfare in prayer, and constantly praying about everything that is happening in our lives. When we do that we have spiritual power in us from our relationship to God, and we have the power of the Word of God in our hearts from praying it and memorizing it, so we can use the Sword of the Spirit well. Jesus was prayed up, so He could cast out the demon. The disciples were deficient in prayer power, so they could not. How is your spiritual power? If it is lacking, it is a prayer problem, and you can solve it by being diligent and faithful in all kinds of prayer every day.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Mark 10-12..

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sharing Christ with Our Family

Most of the time our family knows us better than anyone else. That is why many people say that it is very difficult to share Christ with them. I am not sure that it true, and I am quite sure that it should not be true. Jesus cast many demons out of the man named "Legion." He wanted to go with Jesus after that glorious day. However, Jesus sent him home to share with his people and his family. (Mark 5:18,19) I think Jesus was trying to tell all of us how important this is and what it takes to be effective.

Who is there with whom we should share Christ who is more important to us than family? Isn't it natural that we would want those we love to know Jesus and experience the abundant life in Him? I would submit that we already have a relationship with them, and if they know we love them unconditionally, then, they should be willing to speak with us about our Lord and Savior. If they do not know that we love them as we should, that must be our first priority. Then, since they know us so well, they should be the ones who see the biggest change in us after we trust Christ. They know the before and after in our salvation. That should make it clear to them that we have met the Lord. Again, if that is not the case, we should repent of sin and get right with God first, so they can observe us living a holy life before them. Finally, once both of these things are true, we should have every opportunity to share Christ with our family.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Mark 6-9.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Jesus' Morning Routine

What did Jesus do in the morning? He did what we all need to do every day. He spent time with the Father, talking with Him and asking Him what He needed to do that day. (Mark 1:35) He had an "unhurried time" with His Father, so that He could stay in close relationship with Him and say and do only what the Father showed Him. If Jesus needed that time each morning, how much more do we need to do the same thing?

This verse has long been an inspirational and instructional verse for me. Just to think that the Lord of all the universe got up from His sleep, left His warm bed, and while it was still dark, left the house and went to a secluded place to pray is amazing. He was perfect. He never sinned. However, He needed this time alone, in the quiet of the day, to focus His heart and mind on the things above and to make sure He stayed on the right track. He prayed to His Father, even though He had been in unbroken fellowship with Him for eternity past, because He was faced with the prospects of another day on earth to carry out the plan of redemption, which He was committed to accomplishing. We need all of these things, so we, as believers, need to make sure we discipline ourselves and make this time a priority each morning. Then, we can accomplish the mission the Lord has for us, one day at a time.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Mark 2-5.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Yet not as I Will, but as You Will

Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He is perfect man and perfect God. Therefore, He is also our example of how to live in right relationship with the Father. Jesus showed us how to pray when He prayed. I think we all know the "Lord's Prayer" or the Model Prayer as some people refer to it. In the garden Jesus prayed another prayer that shows us how to pray about difficult things in our lives. (Matthew 26:39) His humanity was struggling with what His deity knew was going to happen on the cross. We all need to see what He did and hear what He said.

Jesus asked His inner circle of disciples to watch and pray with Him, because He was in agony. He went a little beyond where they were supposed to pray, and He fell on the ground before His Father. He earnestly prayed, "If it is possible, let this cup (the suffering of the cross) pass from Me." He was sincerely asking God to change His circumstances to escape from the suffering, if it was possible. Something we all pray in various ways all the time. However, Jesus added, "Yet not as I will, but as You will." Jesus did not want anything that was not the will of the Father. He did not want His own way. He was simply appealing to the Father because of the burden of His human nature, but even His human nature knew that He should not be selfish in His request. He should be willing to submit to God's will, which is what He did, and He did it fully. We need to pray like that any time we have a serious situation that frightens us in any way, knowing that God will not put us through more than we can bear, and He won't send us anything that is not necessary. Therefore, let's always say, "Not as I will, but as You will."

Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 27-28 and Mark 1.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

When Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross to pay for our sins, so all people could be forgiven and have eternal life, if they would trust Him as Lord and Savior, He gave a solemn lament over Jerusalem. He was genuinely grieved that He had reached out to His own people so many times, but they had rejected the prophets and even the Son of God, Himself. Therefore, they were lost, because they were unwilling to listen to Him, turn from their sins, and put their trust in Him. (Matthew 23:37) Can you hear His heart today? It has not changed.

The difference today is that Jesus is calling not only Jerusalem and all of its inhabitants, but He is calling all of us by name. I know you have heard that still, small voice of the Spirit calling you. What did you answer? Did you say no like Jerusalem, or did you say yes like the woman at the well and Zacchaeus? It is all up to you. If you are unwilling, He will not force you, even though He is offering the greatest gift anyone can ever receive. I pray that you will listen closely for His call and respond to His broken heart for you. Let Him gather you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing to protect them. It will be the best decision you have ever made.

Tomorrow, I intend to read Matthew 24-26.