Day 40 ~ Acts 1:6-11

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As Jesus was leaving this earth, these were His final words:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.  ~ Acts 1:8

And then He ascended into Heaven.

Jesus gave His disciples a clear directive. They would be His witnesses. They would be on mission with God.

On mission with God.

A phrase I hear a lot these days. Am I on mission with God? This is certainly a question I have asked myself. Perhaps you have as well. And then, often, that question fuels feelings of failure or fear. Comparison.

I’m not doing enough.

I can’t possibly do that.

What I’m doing isn’t good enough.

Look at what that person is doing. It’s better than me.

We are clearly called to be on mission with God. To be His witnesses. And the truth is, that may look different for each and every one of us depending on the season of life that we are in, the giftings that God has given us, and the circumstances in which He has placed us.

Rather than getting caught up in feelings of fear, failure, and comparison, what if, instead, we choose to focus on being obedient and following Jesus right where we are? What would that look like?

For some of you, being on mission with God right now is faithfully raising your children. Pouring into them. Discipling them.

For others, being on mission with God is working through a difficult marriage.  Being faithful to your vows, to the covenant that you made before God, even when things seem utterly impossible.

For some, being on mission is faithfully living out the Gospel at work everyday as people see the light of Jesus in you.

For others, being on mission is leaving behind the comforts of the things we find here in America, going to another country and sharing the Gospel with those who may never have even heard the name of Jesus.

And for some, being on mission with God, means doing something that seems so scary that you feel like you are jumping off a cliff with nothing to catch you. Taking a huge step of faith. Responding to something that you sense God is calling you to do.

Remember that God has created you with specific giftings and a unique purpose. Rather than trying to be on mission with God in the way that you think you SHOULD be, draw near to Him and ask Him how it is that He is calling you to be His witness.

And then remember the amazing promise that Jesus gives. You shall receive power” (Acts 1:8a).

Day 40

To me, these are some of the most comforting words in  Scripture. Why? Because in these words are an amazing promise that you and I are not called to operate in our own strength. And when we do, it usually leads to exhaustion, frustration, resentment, and even depression.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

As we follow Him, walking out our lives on mission with God, He will empower us. All we have to do, what we get to do, is draw near to Him. He will strengthen us through the power of His Spirit.

As we celebrate Easter tomorrow – the amazing resurrection of Jesus, the truth that He died, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father – may we remember that the result of it all is the beautiful truth that we get to be in relationship with Him. We get to abide in Him, draw strength from Him, find healing and wholeness in Him, and one day, we will reign with Him forever.

When Jesus left this earth, He didn’t leave us alone. He left us a Helper. Today, on mission with God, we are not alone. He is with us, for us, and empowers us by His Spirit. Praise Jesus!

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 39 ~ Matthew 28:18-20

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If you ask a Christian what it means to make disciples, you might get a variety of answers: blank stares, jumbled thoughts, statements that it is not necessary to our modern culture, or maybe that making disciples is a task for church staff, seminary grads, and other “experts.”

Matthew 28:18-20 The Message (MSG)

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

I love the way this passage is translated in The Message. We have been commissioned. We are on a mission. That mission is to “train in this way of life” and “instruct them in the practice of all [He has] commanded.” Our mission is simple: train and instruct. We are called to share the Gospel. We are also called to train and instruct disciples.

We can’t lose sight of the fact that we are called to be disciples first. Jesus called the twelve saying, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” before He told them to “go and make disciples.”

What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?

“Discipleship is a call to be with, know and enjoy the Master. In this sense, the call to Biblical discipleship presupposes salvation, i.e., that a person has believed in Christ as Lord and Savior and continues to believe in Him. But discipleship is also a summons to follow Jesus and this is, at times, no easy matter. He demands exclusive, complete, and unflinching obedience to Himself. This is where his summons to discipleship is so radically different from Plato who stressed the freedom of the student from the teacher or even the Jewish religious leaders who focused more on the Torah and steered their disciples away from themselves. Jesus, on the other hand, pointed people to himself9 (and still does) and calls them to radical commitment to him.” – Bible.org

Day 39

When we are disciples ourselves, being trained and instructed through the teachings and presence of Christ, we can then pour out into the lives of others. I used to think “making disciples” was this intense process where we needed a curriculum or something. I just recently realized that much of Jesus’ training of the disciples came through relationship. If I am in God’s word, learning and growing in my relationship with Christ, why not just start there? I changed my devotions with my kids to be more of “this is what God has been teaching me” or “listen to what God’s Word has to say about____.” This has freed me from feeling like I have to follow a set plan or check items off an imaginary discipleship list. It feels natural and real. I wonder if this is what relationships were like in the early church – a process of instructing from overflow and mentoring through life together.

This passage makes one thing very clear:

MAKING DISCIPLES IS NOT OPTIONAL.

Jesus very clearly said “go” and “make.” There were no caveats for whether you feel like it. No loopholes for not having the gift of “teaching.” No red tape for those who feel they aren’t mature enough in the faith yet. If you are a follower, you should be a disciple-maker. You should be sharing your grace story, being honest about the beauty in the broken places of your life, and modeling a life of devotion to your Savior. Of course, all of that is anything but easy or comfortable.

That is why Jesus ended with a promise. “I will be with you always.”

I don’t have to do this in my own strength. I don’t have to do this perfectly. I don’t have to check off boxes.

All I have to do is follow and be teachable. Jesus promises to meet me, work through me, and bring glory to Himself.

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Day 38 ~ Luke 24:36-49

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It could only be described as a whirlwind! What a crazy, surreal roller coaster of emotions the disciples were riding since their last night with Jesus in the garden! How could they even begin to wrap their minds around the events of the last few days, much less process and understand what it meant?

Jesus’ disciples were catapulted from the depths of despair at the death of their Lord, whom they abandoned in His darkest hour, to the heights of joy as they saw the Messiah standing before them alive and well! “How could it be? This is too good to be true,” they must have thought over and over again. But what they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears and touched with their hands was more real than anything they’d ever known: Jesus, Risen Savior!

And at once, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. What had once been so mysterious and confusing suddenly made perfect sense as Jesus showed them for the first time how it all fit together. Yahweh’s plan from the beginning of creation to rescue and redeem a people for Himself had been executed right in front of their very eyes. And these precious, imperfect, beloved souls had been carefully chosen to bear witness to these events. The message was finally made clear and the power to spread it was on it’s way like a freight train. An unstoppable and life-altering force: the Holy Spirit of God.

Two thousand years later, we have also been called to bear witness. Not to the earthly life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but to the power of His gospel to change lives. To preach to the world repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His name. For those who have also been brought from the depths of despair while lost in their sin to the heights of joy in His merciful arms, it is a privilege and joy that cannot be expressed. God has made known to us the riches of His Word and His kingdom and gifted us with divine wisdom the world cannot fathom. And, like the disciples, we receive the ability to carry out His mission through His Spirit which has come to live in us.

How, then, could we ever keep silent? Why would we ever hesitate to share this life-changing truth? This is the message and the mission for which we were made: Jesus, Risen Savior!

Day 38

“Do you want arguments for soul winning? Look up to Heaven, and ask yourself how sinners can ever reach those harps of gold and learn their everlasting song, unless they have someone to tell them of Jesus, who is mighty to save. But the best argument of all is to be found in the wounds of Jesus. You want to honor Him, you desire to put many crowns upon His head, and this you can best do by winning souls for Him. These are the spoils that He covets, these are the trophies for which He fights, these are the jewels that shall be His best adornment.” Charles Spurgeon

May our words speak of His salvation and our actions demonstrate His love for the winning of souls to Jesus.
Held by Him,
Leslie

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Day 37 ~ Mark 15:33-39

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Jesus. Precious Jesus. He hung on the cross, having just endured some of the greatest physical pain one can endure, humiliated, abandoned by His friends, and now taking the sin of the world upon Himself. And in that moment He cried out to His Father. The One to whom He has always turned. The One with whom He is one.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Imagine the pain. Emotional. Physical. Spiritual.

And then Jesus, precious Jesus, breathed His last.

Have you ever felt forsaken? Perhaps by God Himself?

How long O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn to me and answer me, O Lord my God! Light up my eyes or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.  Psalm 13

Listen to the words of David. He feels forgotten. Forsaken. By God no less. Wondering how long; begging God for deliverance. Can you relate?

In this Psalm, as in so many others, David honestly pours out His heart before God. And then there is an extremely important turning point.

BUT I will trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.  Psalm 13:5-6

In the midst of feeling forsaken and forgotten, David reminds himself of truth. Of who God is and what He has done.

In our moments of desperation, we must do the same thing. Perhaps we, like David, like Jesus, feel forsaken. But GOD HAS NOT FORSAKEN US. We can look to the truth of God’s Word and see that even though David and Jesus felt abandoned, in those moments, God WAS AT WORK.

When Jesus felt utterly forsaken, as He took the sin of the world upon Himself, as He breathed His last, something extraordinary happened.

And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mark 15:38

Day 37

Up until this time, the High Priest had to go into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to ask for forgiveness for the sins of both himself and the people. This Most Holy Place was where the presence of God would dwell. It was separated in the tabernacle by a veil. An enormous veil that would have been about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. This veil separated the people from the presence of God and only the High Priest could go inside on behalf of the people.

Then Jesus, the Son of God, breathed His last. The veil was torn. And in that moment, Jesus made a way for you and me to come directly into the presence of God.

… we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh … let us then draw near with a since heart … let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:19-20, 22-23

Despite the fact that Jesus felt forsaken, God had not forsaken Him. He was doing an amazing and beautiful redeeming work, making a way for you and me to come directly to Him. And of course we know the rest of the story. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. God was not finished.

When we feel forsaken or forgotten, may we remind ourselves of Truth. Our God loves us with an unfailing love (Jeremiah 31:3). His Word says that He will complete the work that He has started in each one of us (Philippians 1:6). And He will never fail us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). How and what we feel is important. Let’s cry out to God and tell Him that. And then let’s remind ourselves that our God IS at work, often times beyond what we can see.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 36 ~ Luke 23:32-43

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The account of the crucifixion in scripture can never get old for me. The Easter story is my favorite one of all. It elicits every emotion I have in my soul and brings forth more joy than I can ever describe. One minute I’m aching with grief over the abuse and torture of my Savior. The next I’m angry with those who nailed Him to that cross. And then again I’m grieving with Mary as she watches her son in agony and in death. Then I’m dumbfounded (is that an emotion?) and heartbroken when one of the criminals, on his deathbed, refuses God’s love. And then elated when the other humbly admits his guilt and asks for salvation – and it is granted! What a beautiful ending to these passages. And my heart is filled with love and joy, even as scripture recounts the last moments of my Jesus.

Do you feel this roller coaster ride as you approach Easter? Are you grieved and joyful at the same time? Join us today as we visit these emotions and the heart from which they come!

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Day 36

The passage for today begins with “two other men, both criminals, were led out with him to die”. Of the three, Jesus was the only one pure and blameless. In verse 41, one of the criminals humbly states “this man has done nothing wrong”.  These three men were led to a place called Golgotha (The Skull) and each placed on a cross, with Jesus in the middle of them.

We are those criminals.

Born sinners, we are all guilty of breaking God’s rules. 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

None is righteous, no, not one.  Romans 3:10

We are all dying and are in need of saving.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

He Himself bore our sins so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.  1 Peter 2:24

We all have the choice to receive salvation. Which man can you identify with? The one on the right or on the left of Jesus on the cross? The one with a soft heart or the one with a hard heart? The one who wanted to be rescued or the one who refused?

Jesus prayed to His father to forgive those who were ignorant and unknowing. Those who didn’t understand that they were crucifying the Savior of the World.

As he died, He cried out on our behalf.

Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

He could have saved himself, but then there would be no perfect sacrifice for me and you – so it was a choice between laying down His life or requiring our blood to pay the price.

He had a choice. He did it willingly.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8  But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 2:4-5  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, evenwhen we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—

1 John 4:9-11  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

He did it….

Because He loves us.

Not an ordinary love, but an extraordinary love. The kind of love that cannot be explained and is hard to understand.

The primary meaning of the word “love” in Scripture is a “purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.” The Greek word for this kind of sacrificial love is “agape”.

Agape love is the highest form of love, which is the love of God for mankind. It is not based on any merit of the individual. It is totally selfless and expects nothing in return.

This kind of love cries out from a cross and begs for forgiveness for someone else!  Christ was in terrible agony, and He cried out for you. And me.

This is love.

Even before He rose from the grave, Christ proved He was Messiah by this kind of sacrificial love.

“Where is God?  Where is He in the midst of human raggedness and suffering and pain?  Somehow it is in the cross that the glory of God and His love are finally revealed.”

~John Ortberg

In Him,

Lisa

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Day 35 ~ John 18:33-40

LentcoverAfter having been arrested and tried by the Jewish leaders, Jesus is taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor, Pilate.  Determined to have Jesus put to death, the Jewish high priests and elders knew they had to go about it according to procedure so that they cannot be accused of any wrong before the Roman government. Pilate, the Roman governor charged with keeping order within Judah and Samaria, seems obviously annoyed with this entire charade. I think he is fully aware of what is happening here, but not understanding the reasons behind it. So he questions Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

 

Jesus’ ultimate answer to Pilate serves to prove that while He IS a king, He is not the kind of King that is any threat to the earthly establishments in place. His kingdom is un-earthly, eternal, and His throne is inside the hearts of men. He came to reign IN men, not over them, establishing His kingdom one person at a time. And He would do that by revealing truth to them. The truth of God.

I love Matthew Henry’s commentary of these verses. He explains well this relationship between the kingship of Jesus and His purpose in bearing witness to the truth.

[Jesus] explains himself, and shows how he is a king, as he came to bear witness of the truth; he rules in the minds of men by the power of truth. If he had meant to declare himself a temporal prince, he would have said, “For this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, to rule the nations, to conquer kings, and to take possession of kingdoms.” No, he came to be a witness, a witness for the God that made the world, and against sin that ruins the world, and by this word of his testimony he sets up, and keeps up, his kingdom. It was foretold that he should be a witness to the people, and, as such, a leader and commander to the people (Isa. 55:4). Christ’s kingdom was not of this world, in which truth faileth, but of that world in which truth reigns eternally. Christ’s errand into the world, and his business in the world, were to bear witness to the truth.

To reveal it, to discover to the world that which otherwise could not have been known concerning God and his will and good-will to men, John 1:18; 17:26.

To confirm it, Rom.15:8. By his miracles he bore witness to the truth of religion, the truth of divine revelation, and of God’s perfections and providence, and the truth of his promise and covenant, that all men through him might believe. Now by doing this he is a king, and sets up a kingdom.

The foundation and power, the spirit and genius, of Christ’s kingdom, is truth, divine truth. When he said, “I am the truth,” he said, in effect, “I am a king.”
He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth;
he rules by the commanding power of truth,
and in his majesty rides prosperously, because of truth, Ps. 45:4.
It is with his truth that he shall judge the people, Ps. 96:13. It is the sceptre of his kingdom.

The subjects of this kingdom are those that are of the truth. All that by the grace of God are rescued from under the power of the father of lies, and are disposed to receive the truth and submit to the power and influence of it, will hear Christ’s voice, will become his subjects, and will bear faith and true allegiance to him. All that are in love with truth will hear the voice of Christ, for greater, better, surer, sweeter truths can nowhere be found than are found in Christ, by whom grace and truth came; so that, by hearing Christ’s voice, we know that we are of the truth, 1 Jn. 3:19.

Praise be to God for sending us the revelation of truth in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who laid down His perfect life so that we might live and reign with Him. Of His kingdom there shall be no end!

Live Free. Live Loved.

~Kerri

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Day 34 ~ Luke 22:66-71

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Jesus makes several extremely important statements in this passage. When asked if He is the Son of God He replies, “You are right in saying that I am.” We have looked before at the need to examine the claims Jesus makes about Himself from the Old Testament. Now, Jesus tells them what His future will look like:

“But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

So what does it mean that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God?

In Romans 8:34 it states, Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

Jesus is now very much alive and active. He is interceding before God for US.  I don’t know about you, but for me that is just MIND BLOWING!

I have had many times in my life where I felt unprotected, alone, exposed.

But before the throne of God we have a ADVOCATE on our side.

1 John 2:1 states, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” In Greek the word is Paracletos, one called alongside to help; or intercessor. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”~ Hebrews 7:25

Right now Jesus Christ is interceding before God for YOU. You are never defenseless or alone.

Jesus can intercede on our behalf because:

  1. He was tempted by Satan but did not sin (Matthew 4:10)
  2. He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrew 4:15)
  3. He came to do the will of the Father (John 6:38-40)
  4. Christ’s sacrifical death made it possible for His righteousness to be given to us (2 Corithians 5:21)
  5. Unlike the priests of the Old Testament, who had to continually offer sacrifices, Christ’s work of redemption is finished (John 19:30, Hebrews 10:12)

Day 34

Only one sacrifice was necessary, because the sacrifice that Jesus offered was his own perfect blood and it perfected the recipients for all time. He did not and does not need to do anything else to secure our redemption, so he sat down….because of Jesus’ one sacrifice we have been perfected for all time. “But don’t I still sin, and don’t I need to change?” Yes! But in God’s sight, because of Jesus’ one sacrifice, you are ‘complete’—not lacking anything. In terms of your relationship with him you are perfect. There is nothing more that needs to be done to reconcile you to God. Nothing more that needs to be done to pay for your sin. Nothing more that needs to be done to deal with his wrath. As Christians we need to continually remind ourselves of the cross, but we also need to remind ourselves of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, because that reminds us that his death on the cross was effective and that we are now perfect in God’s sight.”- Peter Orr, The Briefing

You are complete BECAUSE of Christ.

You are loved BY Christ.

You are defended THROUGH Christ.

You are raised up WITH Christ.

You are seated in heavenly places IN Christ.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:4-7

 

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Day 33 ~ Matthew 26:47-56

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As we move into our last few days together leading up to the climax of this Lent season, we cannot bypass this profound truth demonstrated in the garden. Here, Jesus faces the betrayal of His disciple and friend Judas, being handed over to endure unspeakable torture, and bearing the sins of the world while dying on a cross. His followers can’t understand it and don’t want to accept it. Yet, Jesus enters willingly into God’s plans and purposes.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.  John 10:17-18

The magnitude of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection cannot be measured. The Son left the glory of the heavens and the Father’s side on a rescue mission. He was chosen, commissioned, and empowered by His Father to bring back the children of the Kingdom of God! He gave Himself entirely to God’s sovereign plan, which was prophesied and recorded in the Scriptures thousands of years before His arrival. The earthly life of Jesus was one of willing submission to the will of the Father, which included unfathomable suffering and scorn. John Piper shares,

“I have to work hard in my imagination to keep before me what iron will this required. Humans recoil from suffering. We recoil a hundred times more from suffering that is caused by unjust, ugly, sniveling, low-down, arrogant people. At every moment of pain and indignity, Jesus chose not to do what would have been immediately just. He gave his back to the smiter. He gave his cheek to slapping. He gave his beard to plucking. He offered his face to spitting. And he was doing it for the very ones causing the pain.”

Day 33

Jesus walked in full obedience to the Father because He had complete trust in the One who sent Him. Never once did He doubt that His Father was good, faithful and just. He knew that God was working out an eternal plan which was perfect in every way and that all would be made right in God’s timing. 

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

Finally, His motivation was love. First, His love for the Father, which demonstrated itself in complete obedience. Second, His love for His sheep. Radical, relentless, forever love. The love of Jesus for you and for me knew no bounds and knows no end. Whatever it takes.

When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  John 13:1

What, then, is our response to this kind of sacrificial love? To Christ’s life of willing submission and obedience unto death on our behalf? How do we follow our Savior’s example in life and in death? Paul sums it up,

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that One has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the world,
Words cannot express our gratitude for the life You lived and the death You died.
How You came to rescue us when we could not rescue ourselves.
When we question Your plan, remind of us Your unwavering trust in the Father.
When we doubt Your love, remind us of Your suffering and death on the cross.
When we are tempted to give up, remind us that You loved us to the end.
May Your love control and compel us every day of our earthly lives.
Because You suffered to give us life eternal.
To You be the honor and the praise and the glory forever.
Amen.

Held by Him,

Leslie

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Day 32 ~ Mark 14:32-36

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Consider a time. A moment. A collection of moments. Desperate for something to change, you have cried out to God. Weary. Full of pain. Burdened to the point of breaking.

“God, please deliver me.”

“God, please change the circumstances in which I currently find myself.”

God, please heal me. Please heal this person I so dearly love.”

“God, please intervene.”

“God, please change his/her heart.”

“God, please provide in this particular way.”

And then there is SILENCE.

Nothing changes. The pain continues. In fact, perhaps something devastating happens despite your prayers.

What then?

It’s in those moments that our enemy quietly whispers in our ears, “God doesn’t really care about you. He doesn’t love you. He’s cruel. He’s not paying any attention to you. If He was listening to you, He would answer you.

It’s in those moments, that we must remind ourselves of what is true, regardless of how things might seem.

Day 32

On His way to the cross, Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. While there, Scripture says that He was “very distressed” and “troubled,” or translated in the Greek, “astonished” and “overcome with horror.”

Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death,” which literally means so intensely sad and overcome with sorrow as to cause one’s death (Mark 14:34).

Jesus was intensely aware of the journey that lay ahead of him. As I think about it, I honestly can’t even begin to imagine the amount of pain that He was in. He knew that He was about to endure enormous physical pain, beyond what our minds can conceive, and the extreme emotional and spiritual pain of being separated from His Father as He took the sin of the entire world upon Himself.

And He fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will but what You will” (Mark 14:36).

And then there was SILENCE.

 It’s not that God didn’t hear Him. But this dreadful death that Jesus would face was a part of God’s plan to save you and me. The silence was a necessary part of God’s rescue plan.

How did Jesus continue on? Knowing the continued, horrific pain that awaited Him? How, after pouring His heart before God and asking for any other way, did Jesus keep pressing on?

YET NOT WHAT I WILL, BUT WHAT YOU WILL.

Complete surrender to the plans of purposes of His loving, sovereign Father. Absolute trust. Perfect submission.

Friend, keep crying out. Keep telling God how you feel. Keep persisting in your pain asking Him for what you need and desire. We see multiple examples of men and women who did just this throughout Scripture like blind Bartimaeous (Mark 10) and the persistent widow (Luke 18). And then, after pouring out your hearts before God, you must surrender the results.Not my will but Your will.”

Our Father is a good, good Father whose plans and purposes are for our good and His glory. Even when He’s quiet. Even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. Even when we are waiting in pain and facing a very difficult trial.

In whatever situation you find yourself today, ask God to give you a picture of Jesus in that garden, pouring out His heart before God. Jesus was the all-knowing Son of God. He knew what the answer would be and yet He still asked God, “Please let this cup pass from me.” This is a beautiful picture of true intimacy.

Jesus knows your pain. He has experienced every physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that you have ever and will ever experience. He not only sympathizes, He empathizes.

We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

And as we draw near, would our heart’s cry be, “Not what I will, but what You will.”

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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Day 31 ~ John 17:20-26

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Here in John 17, we get the most sacred privilege of listening in on a beautiful and powerful conversation between God the Son and God the Father. It is most certainly the “holy of holies” of the gospels, and a passage that has major impact on us as followers of Jesus Christ. Though we are focusing in on the last part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer, I strongly encourage you to read all of John 17 and meditate on His words with careful reverence and awe! This is our Savior, praying to our Father, first for Himself, then for His disciples, and finally for all believers for all time. What a gift to us as it so beautifully displays the heart of Jesus toward those He loves!

In our focus scriptures for today we get to see our Savior’s heart for His body to be one! How I long to truly experience the reality of this! As I picture God in His three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, all completely one, in perfect unity, perfect communion, I stand in awe that we would be invited into that circle. And yet, that’s exactly what Jesus is asking the Father to do.

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us

He is asking that we might be there, included in that circle of perfect communion as the family of God. One with God and with one another.

In Ephesians 4, we find Paul’s exhortation for unity in the body of Christ, and more specifically, the difference between unity of Spirit and unity of faith. These differentiations can help us as we process what it means to be one.

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit.  ~Ephesians 4:3

The fact that Paul says we must keep ourselves united in the Spirit indicates that we already have unity of the Spirit. We, as believers in Jesus, have the same Spirit of God living in each one of us – the same glory, as Jesus stated in John 17: 22 ~
The glory that you have given me I have given to them

Day 31

We believe in one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and the glorious hope for the future – all the core doctrines that make us Christians. This unity is something that is given to us as we enter the family of God, I believe. And this is what we must make every effort to keep. We are a family!

Jumping down to verse 12 (after Paul describes the 5-fold ministry given by Christ to the church):

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Unity of the Spirit has to do with what we are all given at salvation, as we enter into the body of Christ, as we become part of the family of believers. Unity of the faith has to do with the end result of what we are all learning as we grow in our knowledge of God and our experiences with Him. I believe that the body of Christ suffers because we elevate the importance of unity of faith above unity of the Spirit – oneness in Christ. We should love each other above all else, bind ourselves together in peace, protect one another, and celebrate the fact that we are one body.

If we disagree on issues of faith, it should not bring division, but rather should drive each of us to seek God more deeply and to trust the Holy Spirit working in each other as we all grow to maturity. We can and should serve the Lord together, even if we don’t agree on every facet of doctrine. Because we are family, we love and protect each other despite our differences. This is the body of Christ.

“Christians may belong to different fellowships, but they all belong to the Lord and to each other. Christian harmony is not based on the externals of the flesh but the internals and eternals of the Spirit in the inner person. We must look beyond the elements of our first birth – race, color, abilities, etc., – and build our fellowship on the essentials of our new birth.” ~ Warren W. Wiersbe

that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ~John 17:23

The purpose of unity is not solely for our own sense of communion, but ultimately, we are one so that the world may know Jesus, and through Him, know the Father.  As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus – the means by which all of this relationship is possible – let us also reflect on how God is inviting us to pursue greater unity as part of His body here on earth!  

Live Free. Live Loved.

~Kerri

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